I won't rebut point for point what she writes, because I think it will continue to fuel the CrossTalk™ that began on the program -- she continues to alternate between talking about people "capable of questioning U.S. policy motives" on the one hand and then on the other referring to U.S. government policy as "blunders" and having "obvious flaws" -- tepid crits from my point of view.
I think that's a simplification of what I was saying, but the fact is that in the first segment of the program, at 6:30, I stated about U.S. government policy: "If you can't have subservient state -- and I think that's a difficult thing to do in countries like Libya, like Syria, like even Iraq under the circumstances -- then a failed state is a relatively positive outcome. That you have the Saudi ally/client, whatever you want to call it, being ever more dominant in the Middle East. You have Israel having evermore carte blanche in the Middle East. You have the alliance between Iran, Syria and Hezbollah being hit at its weakest point." [video]
I can understand her not having quite heard this given the CrossTalk™ on the program, I found it difficult to communicate under the circumstances as well, but she really should be able to have figured it out by watching the program after the fact. She'd then be free to respond to the substance.
I've gotten a number of emails from folks about the substance of my remarks and hope to write a longer piece on that.
Too bad this infernal new locomotive technology interfered with the audio...
But they are often not even transcribed, thus programs, including those from NPR and Democracy Now, become less accountable. This means in some respects, there's no record of the most powerful thing these outlets broadcast.
Wednesday morning (Oct. 28) -- before officer Ben Fields was fired -- NPR Morning Edition said at top of the hour about the video: "It seems to show a white officer slamming a black student to the floor." "Seems." A segment was aired later in the hour without the word "seems" -- and is available and transcribed online, but I'm unable to find the header online in any form, even on Nexis.
Similarly, with Democracy Now, on Monday's program (Oct. 26), at the top of the show, before a strong program featuring Charles Glass, host Amy Goodman talked about "international leaders meet in Vienna to find a solution to the conflict" in Syria. As if that's what the government representatives are clearly doing regarding Syria: trying to "find a solution to the conflict" -- when there's substantial evidence they've avoided that and have instead been pursuing their various geostrategic and political agendas. The segment with Glass is transcribed, the header isn't, though it is in video form, since Democracy Now does post entire programs, unlike NPR's Morning Edition.
I know Dimitri as a expert on Greece, but he's a partner at a Canadian corporate law firm and ran for a seat in the Canadian election with the Green Party.
He summarized the quandary of running as a third party quite well:
Well you know, I did knock on a lot the doors. I had a lot of interactions with voters through a variety of methods, including canvasing, but also online debates, other campaign events, and I was pummeled in the sentiment that we had to do whatever it takes to get rid of the Harper government. I would say that you know, some 60-65 percent of the people I spoke to were intensely hostile to the Harper government and that was their singular objective, and the strategic voting argument had a great deal of appeal to them. You know, if I had a dollar for every time I heard "I want to vote Green, but I want to beat Harper more" I would be richer than Bill Gates. I mean, it was something that was a constant refrain in the campaign, and you know, I think it's reflected in the results. The Liberal candidate won handily in her riding, the incumbent Ministry of Science Ed Holder after two terms has been soundly defeated.
The NDP candidate was a distant third, and I did not manage to improve substantially on our party's last result in the 2011 elections with 2.7 percent. I'm currently standing at about 3 percent with about 82 percent of the votes counted. so it was really the only way to describe it was a toxic environment for which a small party to operate in, this environment in which you have a "first-past-the-post" system and intense hostility to the conservative incumbent government, and everybody looking to the most viable option to defeat that government.
Unfortunately, most discussions by progressives, mirrored by discussions among conservatives, debate simply working within or outside either of the establishment parties without a real strategy.
Both these positions are wrong. The people saying you have to work with the Democratic party are entering a situation where they have no leverage -- they will end up backing whoever the nominee is and have little leverage over that person.
The ironic solution, in my view, is for disenchanted Democrats to team up with disenchanted Republicans so the bases have a chance at actually breaking down the two party system and actual victory -- and, regardless, some leverage over the party apparatus.
Just prior to the news conference this morning, Democracy Now was good enough to have Norman Solomon (my boss) and Holly Sterling on the program.
The problem is how Democracy Now introed -- and therefore, framed -- the segment: "Sterling is serving a three-and-a-half-year sentence for leaking classified information to New York Times reporter James Risen about a failed U.S. effort to undermine Iran’s nuclear program. Risen later exposed how the risky operation could have actually aided the Iranian nuclear program."
I had some suspicions along these lines, and had been cautioning people from accepting the keystone kop narrative without definitive evidence, but David Swanson is the person who really moved the ball on this. His piece “In Convicting Jeff Sterling, CIA Revealed More Than It Accused Him of Revealing,” which analyzes a secret cable that was made public in the course of the Sterling trial. Swanson writes: “During the course of Sterling’s trial, the CIA itself made public a bigger story than the one it pinned on Sterling. The CIA revealed, unintentionally no doubt, that just after the nuclear weapons plans had been dropped off for the Iranians, the CIA had proposed to the same asset that he next approach the Iraqi government for the same purpose.”
Swanson wrote back in January: “CIA on Trial in Virginia for Planting Nuke Evidence in Iran,” which states: “The stated motivation for Operation Merlin is patent nonsense that cannot be explained by any level of incompetence or bureaucratic dysfunction or group think.
“Here’s another explanation of both Operation Merlin and of the defensiveness of the prosecution and its witnesses … at the prosecution of Jeffrey Sterling which is thus far failing to prosecute Jeffrey Sterling. This was an effort to plant nuke plans on Iran.” (I featured David and former CIA analyst Ray McGovern -- and noted some interesting insights from Marcy Wheeler in "Operation Merlin: Did CIA Seek to “Plant a Nuclear Gun” on Iran and Iraq?"
In more news from the campaign trail, Republican presidential candidate and former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina has endorsed the use of waterboarding in order to "get information that was necessary." A 2014 Senate report said waterboarding is tantamount to torture and that it has produced little useful intelligence. In her interview with Yahoo News, Fiorina attempted to discredit the report, calling it "disingenuous" and saying that it "undermined the morale of a whole lot of people who dedicated their lives to keeping the country safe."
The truth is that torture did work, but not the way its defenders claim. It worked to produce justifications for policies the establishment wanted, like the Iraq war. This is actually tacitly acknowledged in the report -- or one should say, it's buried in it. Footnote 857 of the report is about Ibn Shaykh al-Libi, who was captured in Afghanistan shortly after the U.S. invasion and was interrogated by the FBI. He told them all he knew, but then the CIA rendered him to the brutal Mubarak regime in Egypt, in effect outsourcing their torture. From the footnote:
"Ibn Shaykh al-Libi reported while in [censored: 'Egyptian'] custody that Iraq was supporting al-Qa'ida and providing assistance with chemical and biological weapons. Some of this information was cited by Secretary Powell in his speech at the United Nations, and was used as a justification for the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Ibn Shaykh al-Libi recanted the claim after he was rendered to CIA custody on February [censored], 2003, claiming that he had been tortured by the [censored, likely 'Egyptians'], and only told them what he assessed they wanted to hear. For more more details, see Volume III." Of course, Volume III -- like most of the Senate report -- has not been made public.
Sanders spoke at Liberty University, founded by Jerry Falwell on Monday, arguing that despite their differences, they both should work on economic inequality. [video and transcript*] And it was certainly important for someone to talk to people at Liberty University about the idolatry of money.
"And when the question was read out loud, the students started cheering, and there was this big standing ovation. It was by the far the biggest applause line of the whole event, and that was for the question. Sanders pivoted on the answer to talk about the Republican budget. And given his support for abortion rights, there wasn't really any way that the students were going to be satisfied with his answer."
Sanders not engaging in a more meaningful way on this allows a continuation of mutually assured stagnation. Liberals who defend abortion rights and those who oppose abortion rights can feel mutually superior to each other while continuing the status quo.
Sanders received kudos from all round for speaking to an audience that he disagrees with on many issues. But the fact that Sanders is unwilling or unable or simply insufficiently interested in issues of war and peace to raise it in this setting totally deforms our national dialogue.
No one is more interested in meaningful dialogue between left and right than I am. I founded a website and voting strategy on the premise that there's an anti-establishment center: VotePact.org/about -- and that a solution to our current predicament would be for disenchanted Democrats and disenchanted Republicans who know and trust each other to have a real dialogue and pair up and vote for the third party or independent candidate(s) of their choice, thus siphoning votes in twos from the establishment parties.
And, as someone who has spent a fair amount of time with self described Christian conservatives over the course of my life, I think there's a way -- with a lot of work and dialogue -- to make a real change.
But that dialogue is constricted and twisted when the stated policy position of the "progressive" in the dialogue is not meaningfully pro peace and seeks a more dominant Saudi Arabia in the Mideast. See here and here.
I'm critical of people who are sufficiently certain in their own world view that they assert and seek to use the power of the state to coerce women into not having abortions they feel they need or want because they know that a fetus should be afforded personhood.
Most of the attendees at Liberty University likely don't comprehend the humanity of the people in the Mideast because they proclaim their Islamic faith. Or most of them do. Or their humanity is portrayed as one in need of the faith the attendees of Liberty University profess. But of course, the bulk of "Christian conservatives" are quite Zionist in their outlook. That is, their presumed affinity for Christian communities in the Mideast, be they in Palestine or Syria or where ever, is insufficient for them to overcome the imperial impulses of "Christian Zionism." This is in part because they haven't had a meaningful dialogue with enough people from the region.
The imperial assumptions from liberal and conservatives are therefore silently accepted and therefore re-enforced, even as those all around applaud the great dialogue they are having.
* A non-correction: at one point in his speech, the transcript from the Washington Post incorrectly has Sanders saying: "And that vision is so beautifully and clearly stated in Matthew 7:12, and it states, 'So in everything, do to others what you would have them to do to you, for this sums up the war and the prophets.' That is the golden rule. Do unto others, what you would have them do to you. That is the golden rule, and it is not very complicated." In fact, what Sanders quoted Matthew, which states that "this sums up the law and the prophets."
But, indeed, it is not very complicated. Now, if only Sanders and self-professed Christians would work toward applying it to our global policies.