tag:husseini.posthaven.com,2013:/posts Sam Husseini 2017-04-26T17:13:50Z Osama Husseini tag:husseini.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1146482 2017-04-14T23:23:03Z 2017-04-26T17:13:50Z How Trump and Obama are Exactly Alike
Not until faithfulness turns to betrayal
And betrayal into trust
Can any human being become part of the truth.
-- Rumi

Trump won the 2016 nomination and election largely because he was able to pose as a populist and anti-interventionist "America Firster". 

Similarly, Obama won the 2008 election in good part because he promised "hope and change" and because he had given a speech years earlier against the then-impending invasion of Iraq.

Short of disclosure of diaries or other documents from these politicians, we can't know for certain if they planned on reversing much of what they promised or if the political establishment compelled them to change, but they both eventually perpetrated a massive fraud.

What is perhaps most striking is actually how quickly each of them backtracked on their alleged purpose. Particular since they were both proclaimed as representing "movements".

Even before he took office, Obama stacked his administration with pro-war people. He incredibly kept Bush's head of the Pentagon, Robert Gates; nominated Hillary Clinton for Secretary of State, who he beat largely because she voted for giving Bush authorization to invade Iraq. Other prominent Iraq War backers atop the administration included VP Joe Biden, Susan Rice and Richard Holbrooke. Before he was sworn in, Obama backed the 2008 Israeli slaughter of Palestinians in Gaza. See from 2008: "Anti-War Candidate, Pro-War Cabinet?
]]> Osama Husseini tag:husseini.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1146256 2017-04-13T20:18:57Z 2017-04-13T20:27:08Z Ted Postol Updated Assessment of U.S. Gov Claims Regarding the Khan Shaykhun, Syria Attack
I just received this updated critical assessment from Theodore A. Postol (professor of science, technology, and national security policy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology) of U.S. government claims. 

"A Quick Turnaround Assessment of the White House Intelligence Report Issued on April 11, 2017 About the Nerve Agent Attack in Khan Shaykhun, Syria." 
]]> Osama Husseini tag:husseini.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1145532 2017-04-10T21:40:04Z 2017-04-13T03:51:21Z Executing Birth

Today [April 9] is my dad's birthday, he died on January 26. The song that's been going through my head about him the last month or so is "The Mercy Seat". It overlays with my dad in many ways. World weariness at the end, a pleading to be with Jesus. It's about a man being executed while maintaining that he is innocent, though he admits at the end of the song that he lied, but not about what. The Mercy Seat my dad climbed into was his mother's grave, with her bones now upon his abdomen.
]]> Osama Husseini tag:husseini.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1144863 2017-04-07T21:17:43Z 2017-04-11T02:24:42Z Is U.S. Policy to Prolong the Syrian War?
Many are claiming that Trump is being inconsistent in illegally attacking the Syrian regime with cruise missiles. 

After all, he had been saying the U.S. should focus on defeating ISIS, and now he seems to be going after Assad. But contradictions from Trump are a dime a dozen. 

A closer examination shows a deeper pattern of remarkable consistency in U.S. policy toward Syria that is far more critical than the perennial contradictions of politicians like Trump.  

To summarize U.S. actions and non-actions in terms of direct publicly announced U.S. air attacks targeting the Syrian regime: In 2013, when Assad was losing the war, Obama refrained from strikes that may well have ended his regime. Now, four years later, when Assad seems close to winning the war, Trump with a revamped NSC does a 180 on his previous pronouncements and attacks Assad.

Push away the personalities. Dispense with the rhetoric. Free yourself from the spin cycle that much of the media obsess over. Just follow the policy. 

The evidence is that the underlying U.S. policy -- whether the president is Obama or Trump -- is to prolong the Syrian war as much as possible. Let Assad off the hook when he's cornered, hit him when he's about to win. 
]]> Osama Husseini tag:husseini.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1143466 2017-04-03T01:18:53Z 2017-04-07T13:25:55Z Martin Luther King Escalated his Attack on Vietnam War and Establishment Media 50 Years Ago

After Martin Luther King, Jr was denounced by major media following his April 4, 1967 speech at the Riverside Church in New York City, he actually responded in stronger terms, including in this Sermon at the Ebenezer Baptist Church on April 30, 1967:

Excerpts on YouTube:

The sermon which I am preaching this morning in a sense is not the usual kind of sermon, but it is a sermon and an important subject, nevertheless, because the issue that I will be discussing today is one of the most controversial issues confronting our nation. I'm using as a subject from which to preach, "Why I Am Opposed to the War in Vietnam." 

Now, let me make it clear in the beginning, that I see this war as an unjust, evil, and futile war. I preach to you today on the war in Vietnam because my conscience leaves me with no other choice. The time has come for America to hear the truth about this tragic war. In international conflicts, the truth is hard to come by because most nations are deceived about themselves. Rationalizations and the incessant search for scapegoats are the psychological cataracts that blind us to our sins. But the day has passed for superficial patriotism. He who lives with untruth lives in spiritual slavery. Freedom is still the bonus we receive for knowing the truth. "Ye shall know the truth," says Jesus, "and the truth shall set you free." Now, I've chosen to preach about the war in Vietnam because I agree with Dante, that the hottest places in hell are reserved for those who in a period of moral crisis maintain their neutrality. There comes a time when silence becomes betrayal. 

]]> Osama Husseini tag:husseini.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1141346 2017-03-24T21:23:55Z 2017-03-24T21:23:55Z Ilan Pappe Response to Questions on Expulsion And Genocide

I asked author Ilan Pappe what -- exactly --was preventing Israel from doing another mass expulsion. The following question was about why he doesn't use the term genocide. I don't agree with all Pappe said, and will likely come back to this with some depth, but it was a thoughtful reply on some of the core, long term issues. (I'd be happy to post if someone transcribed this.)

]]> Osama Husseini tag:husseini.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1135133 2017-03-01T13:30:42Z 2017-03-01T21:24:57Z Behind the Liberal Embrace of Trump's Speech
I can't say I'm surprised by the liberal turn on Trump. I said a couple of weeks ago that Trump and the establishment media were like George and Martha in "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" What I meant was that they are a deranged, destructive couple who argue like mad, but ultimately collude to destroy others. So, anger and hate give way to insidious bond and admiration in how they each fulfill their roles in the larger manipulative project.

So, Van Jones is admiring of Trump now really "becoming the President" because of Trump's emotional manipulation in the person of Carryn Owens. Jones did this because he's a triangulator himself and because he is very much part of the continuing imperial project.

Some of this rather reminds me of how the media used Jessica Lynch to pretend she was in danger to continue selling the invasion of Iraq at a critical moment in 2003. The actual scandals are pushed aside: The criminal invasion of Iraq then; the US-backed Saudi destruction of Yemen now.

Disinformation and emotional manipulation for the privileged "race" of USians is the order of the day. Feminism and femininity are weaponized as all emotion is focused on one person to the exclusion of the suffering of others. I imagine it's how The Passion Plays were used to fuel hatred of Jews; it's how Israel uses the Nazi Holocaust to excuse all its criminality.

The other major such manipulation last night was highlighting African American "victims" of public schools and "illegal immigrants". This allows Trump to ridiculously pose as an anti-racist xenophobe. As Martin Luther King warned in his final days: "We're integrating into a burning house."
]]>
Osama Husseini
tag:husseini.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1134971 2017-02-28T20:53:57Z 2017-03-01T19:00:54Z Video: Schumer Eventually Calls Israel's Nuclear Arsenal a "Fact", Cuts off Further Questioning A day before President Donald Trump's address to a joint session of Congress, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer spoke at the National Press Club Newsmaker on February 27, 2016. 

Sam Husseini questioned Chuck Schumer about Israel's nuclear weapons arsenal:


Full exchange here

Sam Husseini: You voted for the 2002 Iraq War Resolution, claiming Iraq was vigorously pursuing nuclear weapons. Do you acknowledge that Israel has nuclear weapons?[another question directed at Nancy Pelosi] ...

SH: Senator Schumer -- on Israel's nukes -- do you acknowledge --

Chuck Schumer: I didn't get your question.

SH: Do you acknowledge that Israel has nuclear weapons, sir?
 
CS: I'm not -- you can -- go read the newspapers about that. [walks away from podium] 

SH: You can't acknowledge that Israel has nuclear weapons, sir?

CS: It is a well known fact that Israel has nuclear weapons, but the Israeli government doesn't officially talk about what kinds of weapons and where, etc.

SH: Should the U.S. government be forthright?

CS: Ok, that's it.

Jeff Ballou (National Press Club President, news editor at Al Jazeera): Ok, we'll move on.

----

There are a number of problems with Schumer's response. 

Roger Mattson, author of Stealing the Atom Bomb: How Denial and Deception Armed Israel notes: "First Schumer tried to duck the question, then, trying to be forthright, he went further than anyone of his stature has gone before, at least to my knowledge. Too bad the moderator did not realize you were plowing new ground, or maybe he did realize that and cut [it] off intentionally."

Another is that Israel does not simply not "officially talk about what kinds of weapons and where" -- it refuses to acknowledge that they exist at all. This has been echoed by U.S. administration after U.S. administration which have refused to acknowledge the existence of Israel's nuclear weapons arsenal. See: The Absurd U.S. Stance on Israel’s Nukes: A Video Sampling of Denial." 

Grant Smith of Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy has noted: "DOE Classification Bulletin WPN-136 on Foreign Nuclear Capabilities’ forbids stating what 63.9 percent of Americans already know -- that Israel has a nuclear arsenal.” See: "Israel Silently Lapping Field in “Mideast Nuclear Arms Race

Smith suggests: "So a final question would be: 'Since aid to non-NNPT countries is subject to the Arms Export Control Act sanctions, why do you keep passing it?'"

More coming on this issue. 

[Thanks to Ingrid Monkiewicz and Andrew Stewart] 
]]> Osama Husseini tag:husseini.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1134966 2017-02-28T19:57:41Z 2017-02-28T21:43:55Z Video: Pelosi Ducks Question on Impeachment
[A day before President Donald Trump's address to a joint session of Congress, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer spoke at the National Press Club Newsmaker on February 27, 2016.] 


Sam Husseini: "You said that there are no grounds for impeachment against Donald Trump, but legal scholars from Catherine Ross at GW to Laurence Tribe at Harvard say there is. Laurence Tribe recently said, 'Congress cannot give consent to a President's violation of the domestic emoluments clause.' Are you not giving such consent?" 

Nancy Pelosi: "We have to -- the case is being made about the emoluments, and you have to have evidence, and the rest, but the case has not fully been made.

"The fact is, is that when I was Speaker, after we won in '06, and in '07 people wanted me to impeach President Bush because the war in Iraq. But there's a big -- I've never recovered with the left on this subject for not impeaching President Bush because of the war in Iraq. Well, you don't impeach somebody because you don't like their policies. When they break the law, that's when you have grounds for impeachment. And at the time of the war I said, as a top Democrat on the Intelligence Committee: 'The intelligence does not support the threat,' and so did Senator Bob Graham. 

"But the administration was making this strong case with the American people, and perhaps misrepresenting [to] the American people could be cause for impeachment. If so, there's plenty of grounds right now with the current President, but it just, just isn't the case. That doesn't mean nobody's listening to cases that are being made in a very scientific, methodical way, as to whether there are grounds for impeachment. But the fact is, is that many of, we're trying to unite the country, and many of the president's supporters are just not ready to accept the fact that their judgment might not have been so great in voting for him, and by the time the case is made perhaps they'll be ready to accept that. It's very hard, impeachment. It's very hard.

Thanks to Ingrid Monkiewicz and Andrew Stewart. 
]]> Osama Husseini tag:husseini.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1133654 2017-02-23T15:26:19Z 2017-02-23T15:26:19Z On Alan Colmes
I'm genuinely saddened to hear of death of Alan Colmes, but to be honest, next thought to go through my head was that perhaps his death shows you can only be a liberal punching bag for so long before major health risks arise. I think Alan would appreciate that in his own way.... I remember the first time I went on the old "Hannity and Colmes" Show and they explained Colmes would be in my corner. I joked he'd take a bullet for me. He was like, yeah, right and we all had a good laugh.... Colmes' death is a good time to note that at the beginning, in the 90s, FNC -- while it obviously skewed right -- did offer up serious debate. Lots of allies would get on regularly. That's actually how it built up its audience in large part. It's rather similar to how Al Jazeera Arabic built up its viewership around the same time -- by offering up freewheeling debate. And, after building up an audience, both networks would use that power to push their own horrible agendas.
]]> Osama Husseini tag:husseini.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1133142 2017-02-21T17:46:51Z 2017-04-12T19:07:52Z The Irony of Trump's Sweden Comment: What Bin Laden said
Re Trump's recent comments on Sweden

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

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

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

-- Osama bin Laden in a 2004 videotaped address to the American people on the September 11, 2001 attacks. 
]]>
Osama Husseini
tag:husseini.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1131417 2017-02-15T00:58:27Z 2017-02-21T21:56:01Z 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. 
]]> 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.

]]> Osama Husseini tag:husseini.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1117321 2016-12-21T20:52:16Z 2017-02-21T21:55:36Z 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." 
]]> 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"
]]> 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. 
]]>
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? 
]]>
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