tag:husseini.posthaven.com,2013:/posts Sam Husseini 2017-02-17T13:08:57Z Osama Husseini tag:husseini.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1131417 2017-02-15T00:58:27Z 2017-02-17T13:08:57Z 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. 

Trump had just reportedly turned down Elliott Abrams' bid to be number two at the State Department. That was a good thing. Elliott Abrams was part of the Iran-Contra scandal and needed a Christmas Eve pardon from George H.W. Bush. He backed death squads in Central America. He then did a stint in the George W. Bush administration in charge of "democracy promotion" and was almost certainly behind still unaccountable horrors by Israel and in Iraq and elsewhere. 

But he somehow gets depicted as "reasonable" by many. In fact, just as the major media were closing in on Flynn, Elliott Abrams appeared on CNN, saying he thought Steve Bannon was behind him not getting the job. Damn that crazy Bannon for apparently blocking a certifiable war criminal. 

Trump won the presidency in large part because he was a Republican who could with minimal credibility talk about being against the "establishment." I didn't buy it, but lots of people did. He won an election that I doubt many in the vast Republican field could have. Trump talked about non-intervention, he talked about preserving Social Security and Medicare. 

One upshot of the Flynn resignation is that Vice President Mike Pence, a white "Christian" nationalist, who is also is a darling of both Wall Street and the "neo con" interventionists comes out smelling like roses. Trump is a twisted narcissist who is a political opportunist. But Pence is likely what a lot of people claim Trump is. 

Flynn was compelled to resign in large part because what is euphemistically called the "intelligence community" apparently had recording of his dealings with Russian representatives that he allegedly mischaracterized. 

This implies that people will be held accountable for their falsehoods if -- and only if -- their stance upsets the CIA, NSA, et al. 

It's worth keeping in mind that when Trump seem to challenge this part of the permanent government in January, leading Democrat Chuck Schumer said Trump was "really dumb" for attacking the intelligence agencies. Said Schumer: “Let me tell you, you take on the intelligence community, they have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you.”

And what else did we just see happening as Flynn was resigning? Steven Mnuchin, from the good folks at Goldman Sachs was confirmed as Treasury Secretary. The case against Mnuchin is so massive and his Wall Street / Goldman Sachs / Soros / foreclosure king / Skull and Bones pedigree is so not "populist" that it's quite remarkable that he was able to get through. 

Virtually all the Democrats in the Senate did vote against Mnuchin. But they all knew that that wouldn't stop him. Schumer got to put out some populist rhetoric, conveniently ignoring his own deep ties to Wall Street. 

Four of Schumer's top funders through his political career are in insurance and finance: Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase & Co, Credit Suisse Group. Heck, he even took money from Mnuchin himself. 

Wall Street and other corporate interests are quite firmly in control of the Democrats in Congress and Trump has put them in power in his cabinet. Part of the twisted dynamic is that the populist / nationalist wing of the Trump administration would disappear were he to disappear as Flynn has. 

Trump is an obvious con artist and is not to be trusted. I'd bet his attempts at a detente with Russia have to do with profiteering -- or worse, with trying to go after China or such. But the crit to date bares more resemblance to the Republican obsession with Benghazi than with an attempt to meaningfully try to change U.S. agressions around the world. 

But any meaningful critique of Trump can't possibly be one that demonizes the other major nuclear power, especially given the litany of U.S. illegal aggression around the world, including it's provocations against Russia -- such as violating promises and expanding NATO to Russia's border. Besides, Putin makes U.S. allies like israel and Saudi Arabia look like idyllic democratic wonderlands. 

If only all these liberals scrutinized presidents when they want to go to war like they do Trump when he wants to make peace with Putin.
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Osama Husseini
tag:husseini.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1126495 2017-01-27T07:55:14Z 2017-01-27T07:55:14Z 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.

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Osama Husseini
tag:husseini.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1117321 2016-12-21T20:52:16Z 2016-12-31T18:33:29Z 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." 

In contrast, that wasn't what Schumer was saying in his opening remarks at all. Like other speakers, he criticized Rep. Tom Price, Trump's HHS nominee, who, like House Speaker Paul Ryan is a longtime nemesis of Medicare, but then he said the following: "Doctor Price seems to say we ought to let doctors run the whole show because he's a doctor. There are some good doctors and there are some not such good doctors. We've all seen both. And too many doctors and other health care providers, without some oversight, will charge every senior as much as they can. That's what privatization means: Let your doctor charge you whatever he or she wants. We don't want that to happen." [at 11:30 in the video.]

So, when question time rolled around [at 26:30], I asked: "You claimed just now that privatization of Medicare would mean your doctor gets to charge you whatever they want. That's not my understanding, privatization of Medicare would mean that they would cut a deal with the insurance companies." I also noted that his comments almost seem to minimize the role that the insurance companies, which he of course, along with other sectors of finance, takes a lot of money from -- including Trump's nominee for Treasury secretary, Steve Mnuchin, a former Goldman Sachs partner. (Indeed, four of Schumer's top funders through his political career are in insurance and finance: Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase & Co, Credit Suisse Group.)

So I asked: "Can you defend that remark?" 

Schumer responded: "Yes absolutely. I can absolutely defend it. First of all of course it lets the insurance companies do what they want. --

Husseini: Right. 

Schumer: But it also lets individual doctors do what they want and they're going to tell the insurance companies together will get together and decide the price. 

Sam: Right -- 

Schumer: Right now Medicare --

Husseini: So why did you -- 

Schumer: -- No no no. I'm going to answer your question now please sir. Medicare right now sets limits on prices because it's government run. Privatization means the private sector, both the insurance companies and the doctors, set the price without regard with what the patients can afford. OK. Yes.

Schumer tried to forestall a follow up with: "Yes, go ahead, next question!" 

I noted, though barely audible on the video: "I trust you'll include the role of insurance companies from now on."

Basically, what Schumer wants to have happen is people to blame their doctors for all the ills -- pretending that the insurance companies are not a huge part of the problem and threat. Only after confronted did Schumer acknowledge the role of insurance companies in threatening to privatize Medicare. His closeness to finance means that he can't speak honestly about problems and threats even when he's taking a reasonable stance of "Hands off Medicare."

Still, it was somewhat satisfying to basically shame Schumer into talking about the role of the insurance companies. It illustrates that asking pointed, timely questions can change to course of a politician's remarks on an issue. 

But this highlights a real problem in the current setup of the Democratic Party. Sanders -- whatever shortcomings he might have -- is in the position of largely of bringing people in with his populist rhetoric as "outreach chair" for the Democrats in the Senate. But ultimate policy is largely determined by Schumer as minority leader, who is very closely tied to big finance and will act as a sophisticated apologist for it on the major issues at any opportunity. 

Video of event:

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Osama Husseini
tag:husseini.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1116016 2016-12-16T17:21:27Z 2016-12-16T19:33:17Z Great Song Debate: "Big Yellow Taxi" vs "(Nothing But) Flowers"
We have lost a sense of semantics in our music. We categorize things by genre. Pandora, etc connects music by musical style rather than the substance of the song. I love associating songs by meaning. Here's a little example: 

"Paved paradise, put up a parking lot"

Vs

"Once there were parking lots, now it's a peaceful oasis"
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Osama Husseini
tag:husseini.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1108733 2016-11-16T23:36:36Z 2016-11-21T17:40:44Z 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.”
]]> Osama Husseini tag:husseini.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1108479 2016-11-15T23:58:04Z 2016-11-21T17:41:11Z 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.
]]> Osama Husseini tag:husseini.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1106982 2016-11-10T09:21:53Z 2016-11-11T09:55:05Z 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
]]> Osama Husseini tag:husseini.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1104589 2016-11-01T15:23:06Z 2016-11-01T15:23:07Z 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. 
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Osama Husseini
tag:husseini.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1103147 2016-10-28T17:55:54Z 2016-11-21T17:41:47Z "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]]> Osama Husseini tag:husseini.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1102114 2016-10-25T20:27:44Z 2016-10-25T20:27:44Z The Huge Problem with Polls: My Letter to Frank Newport
This letter was sent on Sept. 24 -- via an intermediary who knows him well -- to Frank Newport of Gallup, the pollster adviser to the bipartisan Commission on Presidential Debates. I've received no response. Ironically, Newport is author of Polling Matters: Why Leaders Must Listen to the Wisdom of the People. I think a close reading of the letter shows that Newport has hardly taken his own advice. 
-- Sam Husseini


Dear Frank Newport --

I believe I have found a significant blind spot in the exclusion criteria used by the CPD. When some suggested alternative criteria for inclusion in presidential debates, like if a majority wanted another candidate to be in the debates, the heads of the CPD rejected the effort. Then-CPD Director and former Republican Senator Alan Simpson said: “The issue is who do you want to be president. It’s not who do you want to do a dress rehearsal and see who can be the cutest at the debate.” Similarly, Paul Kirk, the then-co-chair of the CPD (now co-chairman emeritus) and former head of the Democratic National Committee, said: “It’s a matter of entertainment vs. the serious question of who would you prefer to be president of the United States.” (Citation in google books, "No Debate" by George Farah.) 

But none of the polls the CPD is relying on for its exclusion criteria actually ask the "serious question of who you would prefer to be president of the United State" -- nor do they ask "who do you want to be president."

They all ask some minor variation of "if the election were held today which of the following would you vote for". I hope that it's apparent to you that for many people who they "want" to be president among the choices given (Clinton, Trump, Johnson and Stein) is different than who they would vote for. Voting is a tactical choice based largely (especially in this election) on wanting to ensure the candidate you least like does not become president. Thus, millions intend to vote for Trump because they don't want Clinton and millions more will vote the opposite. But many of those people prefer or actually want Johnson or Stein. Those who "want" or "prefer" Johnson or Stein could even constitute a plurality and we'd never know it because the question that would gauge that is never asked. 

[This wording, "if the election were held today] -- which David Moore has described as starting as a "gimmick" may well ironically now be a serious impediment to understanding the affirmative preference of the public, since it has displaced other measurements of public opinion and preference in this critical regard. 

As the pollster adviser to the CPD, it's my view that it's incumbent upon you to ensure that the polls the CPD relies upon actually gauge the "serious" question the CPD officials publicly claim the CPD is concerned with: Who do you prefer/want to be president. 

I hope you will concur, but in either case, I would most welcome your thoughts on this important matter. As I've talked to pollsters since submitting a legal brief on this matter in June, it's become apparent that many pollsters are not free to ask the questions they want to ask, they are frequently at the mercy of the media outlets they work for. I hope that your intellectual honesty will compel you to address this potentially fatal blind spot immediately. (See "How Presidential 'Non-Opinion' Polls Drive Down Third Party Numbers and Facilitate Debate Exclusion")

Look forward to your positive and enlightened response.

best regards, 

Sam Husseini 
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Osama Husseini
tag:husseini.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1100447 2016-10-20T12:44:51Z 2016-10-20T12:44:51Z Trump vs Reality on Syria
The scam between Clinton and Trump is that (other than an occasional decent statement from Trump that I began noting last year), Trump portrays the problem with U.S. policy as pacifistic or naive, when it's actually Machiavellian. As Clinton noted in her emails: She has public and private positions. 

An example from last night's "debate": 

TRUMP: We should have — wait one second. They had a cease-fire three weeks ago. A cease-fire, the United States, Russia, and Syria. And during the cease-fire, Russia took over vast swatches of land, and then they said we don’t want the cease-fire anymore.

FACT: Reuters reported on Sept 18: “U.S.-led coalition air strikes reportedly killed dozens of Syrian soldiers on Saturday, endangering a U.S.-Russian brokered ceasefire and prompting an emergency UN Security Council meeting as tensions between Moscow and Washington escalated.” See: "U.S. Violation of Syrian Ceasefire Prompts Emergency UN Meeting."
]]> Osama Husseini tag:husseini.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1099897 2016-10-18T18:14:59Z 2016-10-18T18:14:59Z Questioning Kareem Abdul-Jabbar on Israel and Saudi
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was at the Press Club yesterday (Oct. 17). A couple of questions I submitted got asked: 

MR. BURR: Another question from the audience. You apparently passed on going to Israel several years ago. Desmond Tutu has called Israeli’s treatment of Palestinians apartheid. Do you think the U. S. needs to stop arming Israel and do you support the boycott investment sanctions movement against Israel by the South African anti-apartheid? 

MR. ABDUL-JABBAR: I would just say that the occupation stinks. That's the only thing that stinks over there. The Israeli state is a model of democracy and transparency. But, I think the occupation stinks. It's got to end, I hope it ends soon. 

MR. BURR: Another question in foreign affairs. Do you condemn the Saudi bombing of Yemen? Should the U. S. cut off weapons going to Saudi Arabia? 

MR. ABDUL-JABBAR: I don't know enough about that to have an accurate opinion. So I'm not going to answer that question. 

Full PDF

A couple of others I submitted didn't get asked:

In your DNC address, you quote the words etched atop the Jefferson Memorial: "I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man". Doesn't Clinton's backing of wars in Iraq, Libya, Syria, and elsewhere, as well as NSA surveillance, and other policies, constitute a threat of such tyranny -- as Trump's bigotry and misogyny do?

Prof As'ad AbuKhalil (who runs the "Angry Arab" blog) has criticized U.S. Muslim groups like the Council on American Islamic Relations for, among other things, parroting Saudi sectarianism. Do you think Muslim American groups can do a better job of ensuring they are independent of influence from authoritarian regimes like Saudi Arabia? 
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Osama Husseini
tag:husseini.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1098218 2016-10-12T20:14:27Z 2016-11-21T17:43:13Z A VotePact Dialogue
Steve: Why Jason, will you be my votebuddy?

Jason: What ever are you proposing?

Steve: You've been a rightwinger for as long as I've known you. I dare say you've not ever voted Democratic?

Jason: I avoid doing things that would lead me upon reflection to blow my brains out.

Steve: Well, I should admit to you I've voted Democratic at times. Why just this election, I voted for Bernie Sanders.

Jason: Yet you seemed so reasonable.

Steve: Too kind. Now, it's fair to say we've agreed and disagreed on things, yes?

Jason: Well, you're kind of a pinko, aren't you?

Steve: Ayn Rand cultist! -- err -- Let's avoid the name calling, shall we?

Jason: Only in jest.

Steve: Excellent.

Jason: I'm looking at this website here, VotePact.org -- I think I see where you're going --

Steve: Yes, well, succinctly, I say neither of us vote either for Clinton or Trump.

Jason: You know, I do agree with some of the things Trump says, but he's so horribly unreliable, you don't know what he's going to do. 
]]> Osama Husseini tag:husseini.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1094022 2016-09-27T16:47:30Z 2016-11-21T17:42:32Z The Biggest Lie Was from Lester Holt. It's Killing Our Democracy. Here's How to Solve It.
Before the faceoff between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, many were pleading that Lester Holt, the NBC anchor and moderator Monday night, be a "fact checker." 

Any delusions in that regard should have been dashed right away as he perpetrated a root falsehood at the very start of the event. 

Holt claimed that the event was "sponsored by the Commission on Presidential Debates, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization. The commission drafted tonight’s format, and the rules have been agreed to by the campaigns."

While the CPD certainly controls much of the event, it's not a "nonpartisan" organization at all. It's about as far from nonpartisan as you can get. It's totally bipartisan. It's a creation of the Democratic and Republican parties designed to solidify their dominance over the public. 

Its origins are in an agreement "Memorandum of Agreement on Presidential Candidate Joint Appearances" from 1985 signed by Frank J. Fahrenkopf Jr., then Chairman of the Republican National Committee, and Paul G. Kirk Jr., then Chairman of the Democratic National Committee. The two would go on to head the CPD. 

But that original agreement didn't even have the word "debates" in it. This Commission is the mechanism by which the Democratic and Republican parties came together to push aside the League of Women Voters, which had organized presidential debates before 1988. It was to make sure that the campaigns, not some independent entity, would decide on moderators, on formats -- and to critically exclude other participants unless both sides agreed. They simply wanted to ensure "televised joint appearances" -- which became emblematic of a pretense of democratic discourse.

Holt's fabrication -- he can't possibly be ignorant of this -- is really a root problem of our politics. All the lies and spin from Clinton and Trump largely manifest themselves because each side excuses them because "the other" is worse. That isthe very "bipartisan" structure of our elections is in large part responsible for the dynamics we're seeing. 

Normally decent people ignore all of Clinton's deceptions because they loathe Trump and normally decent people excuse Trump's fabrications because they detest Clinton. That's why candidates with incredibly high unfavorability ratings -- as Clinton and Trump famously have-- may still have millions voting for them, like two crumbling buildings help up by each other.

And the voters have "no where else to go" because they are in effect held prisoners by fear. Millions of people who might agree with other candidates -- Jill Stein of the Green Party or Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson or the Constitution party or socialist parties -- do not actually coalesce around those candidates because they fear helping Trump or Clinton. This mindset probably prevents stronger challengers to the duopoly from ever coming forward in the first place. 

There are two ways out of this that I see: 
]]> Osama Husseini tag:husseini.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1093714 2016-09-26T17:43:57Z 2016-09-26T22:57:08Z "Memorandum of Agreement on Presidential Candidate Joint Appearances"

This is the text of the original "Memorandum of Agreement on Presidential Candidate Joint Appearances" -- from November 26, 1985. It would eventually lead to the creation of the so-called "Commission on Presidential Debates." 

Many are now wondering why moderators are not "fact checkers" at the "debates". It's partly because of this. These were never envisioned as "debates" -- they were "televised joint appearances" designed to take control of the debates away from the League of Women Voters or any somewhat independent entity. Notice the word "debate" does not appear in this document. The were designed especially to prevent inclusion of other candidates -- unless both sides wanted it. 
Frank J. Fahrenkopf Jr., Chairman of the Republican National Committee, and Paul G. Kirk Jr., Chairman of the Democratic National Committee, acknowledge and recognize that nationally televised joint appearances by the presidential nominees of both parties have often played an important and constructive role in recent presidential campaigns. We hope that they will play a similar role in future presidential campaigns, and we hereby commit ourselves toward achieving that goal. We recognize, of course, that the ultimate decision regarding participation in joint appearances will necessarily be made by the nominees themselves. Nonetheless, this memorandum of agreement is intended to express our strong belief that joint appearances deserve to be made a permanent and integral part of the presidential election process and our determination to bring this about.

It is our bipartisan view that a primary responsibility of each major political party is to educate and inform the American electorate o its fundamental philosophy and policies as well as its candidates’ positions on critical issues. One of the most effective means of fulfilling that responsibility is through nationally televised joint appearances conducted between the presidential and vice presidential nominees of the two major political parties during general election campaigns. Therefore, to better fulfill our parties’ responsibilities for education and informing the American public and to strengthen the role of political parties in the electoral process, it is our conclusion that future joint appearances should be principally and jointly sponsored and conducted by the Republican and Democratic National Committees.

We believe that the format and most other details of joint appearances for each general election campaign should be determined through negotiations between the chairmen and the nominees of the two political parties (or their designees) following the nominating conventions of each presidential election year.

We thank the League of Women Voters for having effectively laid the groundwork on which we are building today. We hope that the League will continue to offer it experience advice and resources to the joint appearance process.

[signed by Frank J. Fahrenkopf Jr., Chairman of the Republican National Committee, and Paul G. Kirk Jr., Chairman of the Democratic National Committee.]

For critical context and background, see "'Debates' -- or 'Televised Joint Appearances'?"

Document via George Farah, author of No Debate: How the Republican and Democratic Parties Secretly Control the Presidential Debates. For later Memorandum of Understanding between campaigns, see: opendebates.org/key-documents

]]> Osama Husseini tag:husseini.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1093638 2016-09-26T14:21:07Z 2016-09-26T14:21:07Z Talk on Media and War
My talk on Friday at the No War 2016 conference on "Remaking the Mass Media for Peace":
]]> Osama Husseini tag:husseini.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1085429 2016-08-31T16:37:41Z 2016-09-09T20:30:44Z Trump Going to Mexico is not the Real Irony. NAFTA Is.
Many are shocked that Donald Trump announced he is going to Mexico today. That misses the real ironies here: NAFTA -- and how this should be a boon to the Green Party. 

First the obvious stuff: Donald Trump is playing to xenophobic sentiments. His "solutions" are in large part twisted or beside the point, for example, U.S. government has largely already built the wall.  

One real irony is that Trump is appealing for votes based on trade issues. His criticism of NAFTA rightly resonates with many in the U.S. Lots of workers have lost out because of NAFTA and other so-called "trade deals." These deals are actually largely investment protection agreements that help the huge corporations and the wealthy in the U.S., Mexico and other countries. That's people like Trump and people and corporations like those who fund Hillary Clinton. Meanwhile, these secretive deals often rook regular folks wherever they live. 

But Trump -- and many other critics in the U.S. -- only talk about how NAFTA has hurt U.S. workers. Largely unacknowledged in the U.S. is how it has devastated Mexican family farms and small industry -- which leads to desperate migration from Mexico to the U.S. (along with the drug war). 

So, redoing NAFTA would actually help stem desperate migration that is the source of much of Trump's support. 
]]> Osama Husseini tag:husseini.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1085190 2016-08-30T16:34:20Z 2016-09-03T01:05:35Z The Anti-Muslim Origins of "The Star-Spangled Banner"
As several writers have noted -- before and after the furor surrounding quarterback Colin Kaepernick's refusing to stand for “The Star-Spangled Banner" -- the national anthem is racist. Specifically, the third stanza: 

No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave,
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.


Even less well know, the song originates in slaveowner Francis Scott Key's "When the Warrior Returns" -- which was set to the same tune. 

As Alex Cockburn, the deceased and much missed co-editor of CounterPunch, noted following President Obama's much celebrated 2009 address in Cairo:

An early version of the “Star Spangled Banner” by Francis Scott Key, written in 1805 amid the routing of the Barbary states, offered a view of Islam markedly different from Obama’s uplifting sentiments in Cairo:

]]> Osama Husseini tag:husseini.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1083962 2016-08-25T15:02:18Z 2016-08-25T15:02:18Z How Disenchanted Democrats and Republicans Together Can Break the Two Party Duopoly
]]> Osama Husseini tag:husseini.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1083741 2016-08-24T16:35:51Z 2016-08-27T00:04:45Z Selling a Lifetime Subscription to the Politics of Fear
The Washington Post -- and much of the establishment -- wants you to buy a lifetime subscription to the politics of fear.

Dana Milbank, a columnist for the paper, popped up at Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein's news conference that focused on climate change. After Stein noted that Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have gotten billions in free media, he chimed in: "Dana Milbank with the Washington Post segment of the corporate media. I have a conundrum I want to present to you. I could write about today and others could report here about what an important issue climate change is. And we would publish it or broadcast it. The fact is very few people will read it. They will go read or view stories about Trump's staff machinations or Clinton's e-mails. I'm not sure the issue is necessarily a corporate media but what people are demanding. Why is that? What is the way around that if there is one?"

Milbank is pretending to be so concerned about what it is people want. What came to mind for me was John Milton's aphorism: "They who have put out the people's eyes reproach them of their blindness."
]]> Osama Husseini tag:husseini.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1083534 2016-08-23T19:56:37Z 2016-08-25T14:26:46Z Jill Stein: On Debates and "the Politics of Fear"

I may write more about this later, but here's a transcript (based on the C-Span transcript) of my questioning Green Party candidate Jill Stein at a news conference today at the National Press Club that largely addressed climate change and the election. Recommend people see the full video -- there were several interesting exchanges. I tried and failed to get another question in later in the news conference. 

]]> Osama Husseini tag:husseini.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1082181 2016-08-18T12:06:26Z 2016-09-12T18:54:59Z How Presidential "Non-Opinion" Polls Drive Down Third Party Numbers and Facilitate Debate Exclusion
This week, the bipartisan Commission on Presidential Debates announced what polls it will utilize in excluding candidates from its debates. 

The CPD says candidates like the Libertarian Party's Gary Johnson and the Green Party's Jill Stein must get 15 percent in polls conducted by "five national public opinion polling organizations" -- ABC/Washington Post, CBS/New York Times, CNN/Opinion Research Corporation, Fox News, and NBC/Wall Street Journal.

Not only -- as several have correctly argued -- is the 15 percent threshold arbitrary and exclusionary, but these polls don't actually ask voter preferences at all. 

They all ask "If the presidential election were being held today for whom would you vote?" or some minor variation of that.

Who you want or prefer and what you would do in the voting booth may be very different things. These "public opinion polls" don't actually measure opinion -- they are a non-opinion polls. They ask a false hypothetical regarding a future action. 

A better public opinion question would be: "Who do you want to be president" or "Who do you prefer to be president?" or "Who is your first choice to be president?" 

By contrast, the question that the CPD relies on from these media organizations -- if held today, who would you vote for -- is a tactical question. As has become increasingly clear, there are many people who would like Gary Johnson or Jill Stein to be president. However, many who fear Trump or Clinton are currently planning on voting for Clinton or Trump. 

Each of the dominant candidates is using fear of the other to prevent public opinion from manifesting itself. 

Our voting system puts voters in a bind, making it difficult for them to vote their true preference. 

But public opinion polling should be a relief from that. Such polling should find out what the public thinks and wants -- especially if the electoral system doesn't allow for those choices. But that's not what's happening. The "tracking" poll question that's being used over and over and obsessed over by all these organizations is actually disguising public opinion. And then the CPD, acting on behalf of the two major parties, is using that to exclude third party candidates from the debates, further marginalizing any public thinking that questions the establishment parties. 

This is more egregious since the CPD has basically asked for the "who do you want/prefer to be president" question to be used. When some suggested alternative criteria for inclusion in presidential debates, like if a majority wanted another candidate to be in the debates, the heads of the CPD rejected the effort. Then-CPD Director and former Republican Senator Alan Simpson said: "The issue is who do you want to be president. It's not who do you want to do a dress rehearsal and see who can be the cutest at the debate." Similarly, Paul Kirk, the then-co-chair of the CPD (now co-chairman emeritus) and former head of the Democratic National Committee, said: "It's a matter of entertainment vs. the serious question of who would you prefer to be president of the United States."
]]> Osama Husseini tag:husseini.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1081638 2016-08-16T14:53:54Z 2016-08-29T14:48:55Z Wording of the Polls the Commission on Presidential Debates Inclusion Criteria Relies Upon Below is the wording of the questions used by each of the polling organizations that the Commission on Presidential Debates is utilizing as best as I could determine from internet searching. (Two of them -- Fox News and CBS/New York Times -- apparently currently exclude Jill Stein altogether.)]]> Osama Husseini tag:husseini.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1081636 2016-08-16T14:41:52Z 2016-08-29T14:51:11Z My Brief Regarding the Commission on Presidential Debates
I submitted a Proposed Brief in the case Level the Playing Field, Peter Ackerman and the Green and Libertarian parities filed against the Federal Election Committee regarding the CPD. Here's the argument I made: 
]]> Osama Husseini tag:husseini.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1076217 2016-07-26T12:06:55Z 2016-08-25T14:28:57Z Why Sarah Silverman is a Comedian
In remarks from the Democratic National Convention stage applauded by big media, Sarah Silverman lauded the Democratic Party primary process as "exemplary".

I guess that's why she's a comedian.

Perhaps she doesn't know who Debbie Wasserman Schultz is. Perhaps she doesn't know that Schultz just resigned as head of the Democratic National Committee after the release by WikiLeaks of DNC internal emails showing evidence of them conspiring against Sanders. Of course, Schultz was then immediately named "honorary chair" of the Clinton own campaign. Schultz as "honorary" anything -- now that's funny. 
]]> Osama Husseini tag:husseini.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1074625 2016-07-21T02:46:04Z 2016-08-25T14:29:18Z Mike Pence: The Leading Member of the "Israel, What Nuclear Weapons?" Flat Earth Society
Last night, Pence addressed the Republican Convention: "And if the world knows nothing else, it will know this: America stands with Israel." 

I've heard him say that before. 

Being a journalist based in the Washington, D.C. area, I try to ask tough questions of political figures when I can. Perhaps my favorite question is some variation of "do you acknowledge that Israel has nuclear weapons?" I've asked this of many political figures and virtually none have given me a straightforward response.

But the most surreal -- almost comical -- response came from Donald Trump's VP pic, Mike Pence, in 2011. At the time, he was a congressman and vice-chair of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia:

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Osama Husseini
tag:husseini.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1072450 2016-07-13T16:37:49Z 2016-07-13T16:37:49Z Could the Republican Party Use its "Crack up" to its Benefit, Different Parts Controlling Different Branches of Gov?
Some Republicans are trying to do "Dump Trump" at convention. I suspect that what they are doing is trying to distance themselves from him so that they can keep House and Senate if he goes down. And they might be wanting to tell the "Tea Party" types a big "I told you so," so they can retake full control of party after the election. 

But, my channeling Theodore J. Lowi (who wrote The End of the Republican Era about the breakup of the Republican coalition) leads me to wonder: They might be experimenting with the notion of having different parts of the GOP in charge of Executive and Congress as a way of keeping the different elements of the party together. That is, resolving their factions by having each in charge of different part of government. It might fail, it might work, especially because of the hatred toward Hillary Clinton. 
]]> Osama Husseini tag:husseini.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1069672 2016-07-04T14:27:43Z 2016-12-13T14:31:54Z Garrison Keillor's Prophecy and Apostasy
On what was billed as his last show, Garrison Keillor, host of "A Prairie Home Companion" got a call from President Barack Obama and they traded extensive compliments, with Keillor telling Obama he was "the coolest president." 

Keillor's signing off on July 4 weekend was likely calculated to accentuate his presumed ties to all things Americana, but for me it actually highlighted his hypocrisies and contradictions. 

For one, my favorite story of his was set on the Fourth. I'd long thought that any reasonable person who hears that story would concur it was his greatest. Unfortunately when I asked him about it last year, Keillor himself clearly wouldn't fit into that category. 
]]> Osama Husseini tag:husseini.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1064725 2016-06-18T17:46:11Z 2016-06-18T17:51:55Z To #PPLSummit friends: VotePact -- Toward defeating Trump and Clinton Dear friends, 

I'm sorry I couldn't make the #PPLSummit. I've been swamped dealing with backlash against Muslims after the horrific Orlando shooting. This week began with Trump brazenly blaming Muslims for not fingering terrorists (and Clinton doing so subtly), a story line based largely on questionable anonymous sources around the shooter's widow. That story line seems to have slowed, largely to information I've been able to get out the last 72 hours

But I'm writing to you because I want you to know about a path toward defeating Clinton and Trump while you're at the Summit: VotePact.org. There's a way out of fear, out of silence in not knowing what to do when faced with the "choice" of Clinton or Trump. If you can't vote for either fine, vote for who you most really want, but you'll want to share this with comrades who are trapped and torn. 

If you're trapped, there's a way out. It requires work, but it's a real path: Sanders supporters and other progressives can reach out to conscientious conservatives they know -- friends, relatives, neighbors, debating partners, etc. -- and both vote for the independent candidates of their choice. That way they don't change the balance of between Clinton and Trump, but both individuals -- who have to trust each other -- get to overcome their fear and get a greater measure of political freedom. 

You become free of the prospect of voting for Clinton's and all her wars and Wall Street ties and your "votebuddy" is free of voting for Trump's misogyny and bigotry. 

It's about really breaking down barriers, reaching out and instilling fear into Trump and Clinton instead of each of them using fear people have to keep them trapped in that "choice".

There are lots of benefits to this, some outlined in my latest piece from earlier this month, below. 

Happy to hear back from people on this, please feel free to share this email and idea with others at conference. 

all my best, 
Sam Husseini

PS: And here's my latest piece on VotePact: #BernieAndBoom
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Osama Husseini
tag:husseini.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1064709 2016-06-18T16:50:29Z 2016-06-18T16:50:29Z VotePact flyer
From VotePact.org
]]> Osama Husseini