Archive | February 6th, 2020

Questions for the Iowa Caucus Counters

by FRED BAUMGARTEN

Who decided there needed to be a “better” way to tabulate the results, and why?

Why was the development of the app kept secret?

Why was it rushed into use with no training or testing?

What was the exact nature of the reporting “inconsistencies”?

Do we have certainty that every precinct’s results were tabulated and reported?

Why are the final results still being withheld?

What is being done to verify the results, how is it being done, and by whom?

Why did Buttigieg’s campaign quash the final poll — supposedly on the basis that someone wasn’t given his name to choose?

Can we see the script(s)?

Why did he declare victory before any results were released?

What exactly did the Buttigieg campaign pay the app development company for?

What exactly happened when precinct captains tried to phone in their results?

Why were they hung up on?

Why were those who took the results by hand, in person, turned away?

Why were party officials unprepared to receive phoned-in results?

Were there technical issues with the phones?

Were they understaffed?

Why aren’t caucus results proportional (i.e., a discrepancy between “popular vote” and delegates)?

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The “Final Solution” for Palestine?

Image result for NAZI Final Solution CARTOON

by JEROME IRWIN

President Trump and PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s so-called “Peace Plan” for Palestine and Palestinians won’t remotely bring about peace in the Middle East. This latest lunatical American Fundamentalist Christian & Orthodox Jewish Kamikaze plan can only but bring about another world war; because the sought after conclusion of such a war, in some key power circles of the world, draws upon the dream of a fanciful End of Times Biblical prophecy and overwhelming desire among its believers to be Raptured up into heaven forever along side God, no matter what the ultimate cost to human life and humanity’s future existence.

This grimmest plan yet proposed as a so-called successful resolution to the decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict simply represents the madness of yet another horrendous future world war driven, as other world wars have been, by the similar skewed dreams of other past madmen who also were prepared to bring about two previous world wars and the deaths and destruction to hundreds of millions of human and non-human lives, human civilization and the earth itself towards any people idea or philosopy that remotely threatened their dreams.

Trump and Netanyaho are cut from the same bolt of cloth. Ruthless rulers, dictators and conquerors today are no different than were their counterparts of other past centuries who conducted themselves in the most savage of primitive ways; prepared to cannibalize their enemies or exterminate their own kind to conquer whatever new lands, resources and achieve more and more power at whatever the cost to the world.

Trump and Netanyahu’s ‘Peace Plan’ is simply a clarion call to the world that “Look Out! The Next Big WWIII is Coming Sooner Than You Think!” It durges up within the mind dreaded, abhorrent fears about the dire future of humanity and the planet as a whole. What the orthodox Jew and fundamentalist Christian American now describes as “the deal of the century” for the human race is, more truthfully,“the betrayal of the century”.

The only thing that might ever work to stop such ad absurdum plans is if every nation were to shout in unison, with one loud, clear voice, “For Pity’s Sake! Stop All the Brutality, Racism and Apartheid Actions Against the Palestinian People, NOW, OR ELSE!” But then that didn’t ever work very well with Hitler and Nazi Germany before and until millions of Jews and others had to die first in the process.

If more rational minds don’t ultimately prevail, and this insane plan for Palestine and the Palestinians is allowed to continue on its present course, which will end up creating for them a way of life that is a cross between a bandustan of a divided South Africa and a WWII-type concentration camp, it will only further fuel, and bring that much closer to reality, the armageddon that, even before President Trump and PM Netanyahu unveiled to the world their latest ill-conceived kamikaze ‘peace’ plan, the world’s most pre eminent scientists and thinkers already had announced,  in their Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, how close they believe the world’s current precarious, unstable nature is to apocalypse. As a result, they adjusted their Doomsday Clock, used as a metaphor for the end of the world, to move dangerously-forward to just 90 seconds before midnight. One can only imagine now how this so-called ‘Peace Plan’ will nudge forward even more so the hands of that clock, its pendulum as if a Damocles Sword, inching ever more menacingly closer to midnight.

But it’s like trying to reason with a stone wall. Perhaps there’s no longer any further point to continue to argue and debate the rights or wrongs of America’s and Israel’s new plan to be further imposed upon Palestine and Palestinians without so much as their say; or debate the countless violations of UN Security Council decisions and abrogated international laws and agreements, like separate but equal states between Israel & Palestine or the ‘Right of Return’ of Palestinians to return to their ancient birthright, that Israel has flagrantly flounted with impunity over the past seventy years that have grossly violated the civil and human rights of Palestinians, and the State of Palestine’s inherent right to exist as a free and independent state. Both will continue to be victimized by Israel’s arrogant apartheid policies because the majority of Democrats and Republicans within the American political system and its citizens financially, morally, politically and militarily support these apartheid policies without question.

America and Israel’s unilateral decision of how to proceed with the fate of Palestine and the Palestinian peoples could perhaps best be characterized as The Final Solution to the Palestinian Problem. The majority of Americans and Jews, under the regimes of Trump and Netanyahu, seemingly about as hateful towards the Palestinians and unaware of, or indifferent to, their fate as the average Germans once were about the fate of the Jews during WWII under the regimes of Hitler, Mussolini and other European leaders and countries who hated them equally as much.

Posted in Palestine AffairsComments Off on The “Final Solution” for Palestine?

UK Zionist Campaign Against Antisemitism under investigation

UK Zionist Campaign Against Antisemitism under investigation by the Charities Commission and may be heading for a police investigation

CAA under police investigation
Gilad Atzmon writes:

On 30 January the Jewish “charity”, the Campaign Against Antisemitsm (CAA), declared that it would “be selecting a number of future dates on which to picket the 606 [jazz] club over its decision” to present a jazz performance by yours truly. With this threat, the CAA crossed the line. This time it wasn’t just going after me or my band, this time its threat was directed at an entire community of musicians and music lovers for whom the 606 club is a pre-eminent venue, and none of whom has anything to do with me or my ideas.

Shahrar Ali tweet

Such threats are anathema to British and Western values; the way to counter ideas with which they don’t agree is to present their own position. The tactic of gross intimidation, of menacing an entire community over the lawful speech of one member are more characteristic of organised crime than of a British charity.

On 2 February I reported the CAA’s actions to the police. They took my complaint very seriously and I was interviewed for two hours. I had the strong impression that the matter was already known to the police. 

During the time the police interviewed me, I received a message that the CAA is under investigation by the Charities Commission. 

I was advised that every musician, music venue, promoter or audience member who is or has been subject to any intimidation or harassment by the CAA should contact the police immediately.

No one should be harassed, especially by a “charity”, and I want to believe that the threats to British politicians, artists, intellectuals, journalists, venues and ordinary people are about to come to an end. Such a development would make life safer and more comfortable for Jews and gentiles alike.

Related

Zionist terror in London: Why I have withdrawn from my commitment to play at the great 606 Jazz Club on 1 February

Zionist terror in London: Why I have withdrawn from my commitment to play at the great 606 Jazz Club on 1 February

In “QuickPress”

Exposed! How Britain’s anti-Semitism scaremongers operate

Exposed! How Britain’s anti-Semitism scaremongers operate

In “British stooges”

Debunking the lies spread about musician and writer Gilad Atzmon by Zionists and other Israel apologists

Debunking the lies spread about musician and writer Gilad Atzmon by Zionists and other Israel apologists

In “British stooges”

Posted in ZIO-NAZI, Campaigns, UKComments Off on UK Zionist Campaign Against Antisemitism under investigation

How to Not Remove a Fascist

by PAUL STREET

Photograph by Nathaniel St. Clair

Danger, danger, there are fascists in the White House, it’s up to us to drive them out.

– A chant heard at Refuse Fascism marches in Chicago, 2019 and 2020

“America[ns] First”

As we know from a recently released Hillary Clinton documentary, Barack Obama called Donald Trump a “fascist” in a 2016 conversation with Hillary Clinton’s then-running mate, Sen. Tim Kaine. “Tim, remember,” Obama said by phone, “this is no time to be a purist. You’ve got to keep a fascist out of the White House.”

Obama had an accurate read on the orange menace. He had enough college history and political science and enough vicious targeting by the onetime leading Birther Trump to have known that The New Yorker’s Adam Gopnik was on to something in May of 2016:

“There is a simple formula for descriptions of Donald Trump: add together a qualification, a hyphen, and the word ‘fascist.’ …his personality and his program belong exclusively to the same dark strain of modern politics: an incoherent program of national revenge led by a strongman; a contempt for parliamentary government and procedures; an insistence that the existing, democratically elected government…is in league with evil outsiders and has been secretly trying to undermine the nation; a hysterical militarism designed to no particular end than the sheer spectacle of strength; an equally hysterical sense of beleaguerment and victimization; and a supposed suspicion of big capitalism entirely reconciled to the worship of wealth and ‘success.’… The idea that it can be bounded in by honest conservatives in a Cabinet or restrained by normal constitutional limits is, to put it mildly, unsupported by history.” (Adam Gopnik, “Going There With Donald Trump,” The New Yorker, May 11, 2016, emphasis added).[1]

Please pay special attention to the italicized portions of the above quote in the wake of the Republican Senate’s arch-authoritarian decision to release Trump from the threat of removal without even the hint of a serious trial. The Midtown Mussolini has purged his administration of so-called “honest conservatives” – of anyone who might oppose his chaotic and authoritarian agenda. He is now escaping UkraineGate – a monumentally criminal abuse of presidential power – after his white-nationalist party has made a mockery of the U.S. Constitution by refusing to hear witnesses and consider new evidence in the Senate’s farcical impeachment-dismissing non-trial. So what if 75 percent of the population opposed this refusal? Who cares?

The president’s successful argument for exoneration included the claim that Trump can do anything he wants – anything – if he believes it will help his re-election. The Dershowitz argument, carried to logical if absurd extremes, makes it legal for Trump to detain, torture, or murder activists, journalists, candidates or really anyone who he sees as a barrier to his re-election. It’s an argument for dictatorship.

But I digress. Back to the previous president. After properly but privately identifying Trump (to a fellow conservative Democrat) as a fascist and shortly before leaving office to go kite-surfing with Richard Branson and become a multimillionaire (a deferred reward for his dutiful service to the nation’s corporate and financial masters), Obama said this to the American public: “We are now all rooting for [Trump’s] success in uniting and leading the country…Everybody is sad when their side loses an election, but the day after we have to remember we’re actually all on one team. We’re Americans first, we’re patriots first, we all want what’s best for this country.”

“America[ns] first” …“patriots first”… “all on one team.”

That was some heavy Weimar (see below) shit.

Thanks, Obama.

The Dismal Weimar Dems

Let me offer a useful translation of “Tim, this is no time to be a purist”: Tim, don’t get all crazy populist and advocate anything to the portside of the centrist policies endorsed by Citigroup and the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), don’t rock the Wall Street and military-industrial boat. Stay within the playbook of the Washington consensus: stay-the-course austerity state capitalism serving the wealthy Few under the deceptive flag of fake progressivism.

The irony is that the neoliberal corporate-Democratic center-right politics of Obama and the Clintons was no small part of why Herr Donald won. Beyond the advantages conferred to it by the Electoral College and by racist-partisan vote suppression in key Republican-controlled states, the Trumpenstein owes its presence in the White House primarily to the Democrats’ long and cringing captivity to elite corporate and financial interests. The Clinton-Obama dollar Democrats’  not-so “progressive neoliberal” commitment to corporate globalization, capitalist austerity (for the Many, not the Few) and imperial interventionism has worked insidiously to demobilize and demoralize the nation’s all-too silent progressive majority in ways that have opened the door to “history’s most dangerous party” (Noam Chomsky’s interesting description of the Ecocidal G.O.P.) again and again.

This is much of what I meant to convey when I called the nation’s 44th president “Barack Von Obamenberg” in a November 2018 Counterpunch commentary. The analogy was with Paul von Hindenburg, the German Weimar Republic president who appointed Adolf Hitler chancellor of Germany in 1933.

The dreadful 2016 Hillary Clinton is a classic case in fascism-enabling point. It was a depressing, elitist, and nauseatingly neoliberal “Dollar O’bomber” presidency. By defaming and cheating the authentically progressive Bernie Sanders and running a deeply conservative and openly conceited, heartland-insulting establishment campaign in an obviously anti-establishment election year, the dismal Clinton-Obama Dems and their allied media handed the keys of the imperial presidency to a vicious monster whose person, party, and base pose existential threats to what’s left of democracy at home and abroad – and indeed to life itself.

Then came three years of the imperialist Democratic establishment trying to cover its own deeply conservative ass by absurdly blaming Trump’s ascendancy on Russia.

The House of Representatives had strong constitutional ground (and probably little choice but) to impeach Trump for his brazen arms-for-dirt try with Ukraine. Still, UkraineGate. informed and compromised by top Democrats’ imperial foreign policy agenda, stands well below other removal-worthy Trump crimes and abuses when it comes to Trump’s eco-fascistic transgressions against humanity.

Adam Gopnik was On to Something

Here we are three years after Trump “took over the country” (his words). The demented orange oligarch has proven to be precisely the neofascist menace that Obama all-too privately sensed during the 2016 general election campaign. Trump has done and gotten away with one outrage after another: blanket defiance of Congressional subpoenas; denouncing elementary efforts to exercise Congressional oversight and constitutional checks and balances as “treason” and an attempted “coup;” calling African nations and Haiti “shithole countries;” stacking the federal bench with Christian fascist advocates of female neo-slavery and environmental destruction; tearing up environmental protections and accelerating the capitalogenic conversion of the planet into a giant Greenhouse Gas Chamber (the biggest crime in history); telling progressive Congresswomen of color to “go back to where [other countries, supposedly] you came from;” a racist and ethnocultural travel ban; pardoning sociopathic war criminals and a fascist pig sheriff; encouraging Border Patrol agents to shoot asylum-seekers and to otherwise break the law; threatening political and media opponents and critics with violence and jail; threatening not to honor an election count that doesn’t go his way next Fall; turning the Attorney General and the U.S. Senate into his personal legal and political protectors; denigrating women; demonizing and criminally harming Mexicans, Mexican-Americans, and Central Americans (replete with child separations, child theft and caging, and mass detention/concentration camps!); cultivating armed support from white-supremacists; demonizing socialism; falsely conflating centrist neoliberals with the “radical Left;” encouraging police to “take the gloves off” and crack down on inner-city poor people of color; exploiting the presidency to line his own business pockets; threatening nuclear war; assassinating a foreign military commander in cold blood; posing as a populist friend of the working-class while increasing the upward concentration of wealth and power (in an already savagely inequal and plutocratic nation); kicking 700,000 needy people off of Food Stamps….and, the list goes on and on and on…

“There is,” as New York Times columnist Charles Blow wrote today, “a never-ending stream of dishonesty, offense and hostility emanating from this administration, sometimes too much to properly track.” Further: “It at times overwhelms people’s capacity for outrage. And, in that deluge of grief and distress, many simply chose to disconnect….I cannot tell you how often I meet people — intelligent, interested and interesting people — who say that they have simply had to disengage from the news as an actual means of mental health and spiritual survival.” (emphasis added).

Indeed. It is maddening.

All this and more terrible to contemplate has occurred to the enthusiastic cheers of the president’s millions of white-Amerikaner Trumpenvolk backers, many of whom are ready to respond with violence if the 2020 election doesn’t go their Great Orange God’s way.

It looks like Adam Gopnik was on to something back in May of 2016.

Still, even after all this, Democrats hold back from publicly acknowledging that there’s a fascist with a lethal mass base in the White House. The Democrats still don’t want to accurately call Trump and his backers fascist – at least, not in public. It’s a designation meant only for private hearing, as in Obama’s conversation with Tim Kaine in 2016.

The Party is a Powder Keg of Class Conflict

Why this persistent insistence on refusing to publicly and forthrightly name the disease for what it is? The answer is complex, requiring more reflection than I have space for in this commentary. Still, one part of the explanation can be mentioned here. Naming the threat for what it really is would mean that you would have to do something serious about it: working hard to mobilize thousands and then tens of thousands and then hundreds of thousands and then millions of people to rise up and take to the streets to fight back against the government in a mass popular movement – a great popular rebellion.

That’s the last thing the Democrats want to do. The Democratic Party establishment has no interest in encouraging much less sparking true grassroots movements, which have a nasty habit of bringing up questions the neoliberal business and professional class “elite” would rather keep suppressed: savage class inequality and political oligarchy, capitalist Ecocide, plutocracy, racism and sexism (deeply understood), militarism, the insanely gigantic Pentagon System, the police state, mass incarceration and more.

The Democratic Party, Megan Day writes in the social-democratic journal Jacobin, is riven by class divisions that “make unity neither possible nor, from the socialist perspective, desirable.” According to Day:

“The Democratic Party represents Blue Cross and people whose medical claims are denied by Blue Cross. It represents Blackstone and people evicted by Blackstone.”

“The Democratic Party represents banks that foreclose on homes, while also claiming to represent people struggling to pay their mortgages. It represents corporate polluters, while also professing to represent working-class children who are at risk of developing asthma from corporate pollution. When the side that has more money and structural power in the economy pursues its own interests, it does so at the expense of the side with less money and power.”

“The party is a powder keg of class conflict.”

Indeed it is. But notice the shift between the first and second paragraphs in Day’s passage – from “represents people whose medical claims are denied” and “represents people evicted by Blackstone” in the first paragraph to “claiming to represent people struggling to pay their mortgages” and “professing to represent working-class children” in the second paragraph.

Go with the second paragraph. The Democratic Party is run by the bourgeois interests, not the working-class. That’s who it really represents. The different and opposed forces Day mentions are not co-equal actors in the party.

Bourgeois Panic

For those ruling interests, it isn’t just about keeping people off the streets and locked into the electoral process on the disastrous theory that the most significant thing a citizen can ever do on behalf of democracy and social justice is go into a Caucus room and/or a voting booth and stand with or make a mark next to the name of a major party candidate once every two or four years[2]. It’s also about making sure that even that narrow sliver of democracy – the electoral process – is inoculated from progressive, popular and democratic infection. The Clinton-Obama-Citigroup-Chase-CFR Democrats are in panic mode because the Democratic presidential nomination might go the kind of actually progressive Democrat who could rally enough lower- and working-class voters to overcome the Inauthentic Opposition Party of Fake Resistance ’s demobilization of the nation’s silent progressive majority to defeat the orange menace, forcing him and his Trumpenvolk to make good on their dangerous threats to defy an election. Hence:

+ The establishment Democrats repeated dire warnings over the late surge of the supposed “radical Leftism” of the mildly social-democratic Senator Sanders.

+ The Democratic Party’s emergency meeting to reinstate the authoritarian veto power of unelected corporate “superdelegates” on the first ballot of the Democratic National Convention – a move clearly driven by fear that Sanders could accumulate enough delegates to sweep to a first ballot victory under current rules.

+ The Warren-CNN hit job in the last Iowa debate, the one where the Warren campaign and the cable network conspired to falsely smear Sanders as some kind of sexist.

+ MSDNC’s (I mean MSNBC’s) efforts to portray Sanders’ supporters as “divisive” just because Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib responded honestly to Hillary Clinton’s malicious personal attacks on Sanders with an undisciplined and ill-timed reaction that MSDNC absurdly blew up into “the boo heard around the world.”

+ MSDNC playing along with the Big Lie that Sanders didn’t work his ass off on behalf of Hillary Clinton to block Trump during the 2016 general election.

+ A recent spate of New York Times op-eds warning falsely about the supposed “radical extremism,” fiscal irresponsibility, rudeness and nonviability of Sanders and his backers.

+ The Democratic Party’s ugly, plutocratic decision to change its presidential debate qualification rules so that the mega-billionaire center right Demublican Mike Bloomberg can magically ascend to the stage after skipping the exhausting campaign process in the early caucus and primary states.

Beyond the Election Cycle

Do I hope that Sanders wins the Iowa Caucus? Sure. I hope that enough to walk down to Iowa City High tonight (I am writing in the morning of Monday, January 3rd) and stand in a group with his backers in my precinct. At the same time, I will try to impress upon Sanders backers the urgent necessity of building a real grassroots peoples’ movement beneath and beyond the major parties and the election cycle – a popular anti-fascist and anti-capitalist movement that ready, willing, and able to respond meaningfully to any number of electoral outcomes including the slightly possible ascendancy of Sanders to the White House and the equally or more likely possibility of Trump refusing to honor an electoral count that doesn’t go his way next November. A Sanders presidency would spark a major capitalist counter-offensive including provocations from normally Democratic corporate and financial elites who frankly prefer a second Trump term (how about a third?) to first Sanders one. Truth be told, a serious popular uprising against the increasingly more fascistic American political order might be the best way to convince elites to let Sanders into power and achieve something decent for human beings – something as basic as making health care a human right.

Endnotes

1.Gopnik’s list was decent enough if too brief. Other characteristic worth mentioning include the following: a relentless assault on truth; contempt for intellectuals and science; militant anti-socialism; a largely petit-bourgeois sociopolitical base; savage sexist patriarchy; the purging of the “disloyal;” attacks on the media and press freedoms; constant propaganda; use of alternative media for direct communication with the fascist base; relentless demonization of racial, ethnic, cultural and /or political Others; cult of personality; glorification of instinct (especially the Leader’s instincts) over rational though; embrace of political violence against one’s enemies; savage cruelty towards the poor and minorities.

2.“The election cycle,” Charles Blow writes today (in the column already linked above), “is stressful, but voters must remain enthusiastic and determined. Republicans in the Senate are poised to acquit Donald Trump without even truly putting him on trial. They have allowed no new witnesses and no new evidence. And why would they? If they know that their plan all along was to let him get away with his corruption and stonewalling, more evidence only reveals their treachery in sharper relief. So, once again, Trump not only survives his venality, he is emboldened by the lily-livered cowards’ fear of crossing him. This is the dawn of American authoritarianism, and Republicans are not only not trying to stop it, many are openly cheering it. The rest of us — many of us, anyway — are aghast, overcome and exhausted…I see,” Blow continues, “two main groups of people who want Trump gone: the exhausted and the excited. The exhausted just need this nightmare to draw to a close. The excited have a replacement candidate about whom they are passionate. The former, I believe. lean more on the electability argument, and the latter promote the more transformative candidate. Both groups can be highly motivated to vote, but I will concede that it is a much better feeling to vote for someone rather than against someone. The exhausted contingent simply lacks the spark of excitement. Outrage, while essential, isn’t by itself sufficient. So, I say to the people who have tuned out: I get it. Take some time. But re-engagement is essential. The resistance is not dead. It’s not even flagging. I know that it can be dispiriting that Trump has done so much but suffered so little for it. But this is your season of action and influence. On Monday the electoral stretch kicks off with the Iowa caucuses. America has a choice to make, and you will be part of the choosing. Get excited! Manufacture enthusiasm if you must. Democrats have options. Yes, they each have hurdles and negatives, but there are also some striking positives. But none of this will matter if, in November, Trump’s opponent isn’t pushed over the top with overwhelming electoral energy. You simply can’t afford to stay disconnected.” Notice Blow’s failure to conceptualize popular resistance/engagement to fight Trump and Trumpism outside the realm of major party, candidate-centered electoral politics on the savagely time-staggered quadrennial schedule. The only democratic “energy” Blow can envision is “electoral energy.” The only popular “choosing” that matters comes through Caucusing and/or voting once every four years. That’s politics – the only politics that matters. “Resistance” is about voting for candidates. So is “engagement.”

Posted in USAComments Off on How to Not Remove a Fascist

Re-Contextualizing Fascism

by PETER HARRISON

In her recent book, ‘Being Numerous: Essays on a Non-Fascist Life,’ Natasha Lennard expresses dismay that her joyful reaction to the video of alt-right poster boy Richard Spencer being punched in the face in 2017 was not wholly shared by the liberal establishment. Let me state at the outset that I shared Lennard’s joy and found the video hilarious.

Her piece on fascism and anti-fascism – which can be found in earlier article-form here – explores the apparent motivations for fascism developed by Wilhelm Reich (‘The Mass Psychology of Fascism’), Michel Foucault, and Deleuze and Guattari (henceforth: D&G) – who all find its roots within the personal traits of people living in capitalism.

Following Reich, Lennard treats fascism as a pathology. My argument below attempts to indicate that fascism is best not considered a pathology, but a consequence of the inevitable instances of the failure of Representative Democracy. Furthermore, we have misunderstood fascism because we have, despite Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s early advice, misunderstood the State and Democracy. Bear with me on this!

The rejection of the notion of political motivations – that we find objectionable – being determined by pathology is expressed by Jan-Werner Müller in his treatise, ‘What is Populism?’ Müller argues that populism is “the permanent shadow of representative politics” in which it is always possible “for an actor to speak in the name of the ‘real people’.” He contends that it is not “a kind of pathology caused by irrational citizens,” and that if one wants to engage populist voters they should be “understood as free and equal citizens, not as pathological cases of men and women driven by frustration, anger and resentment.” Müller’s thesis can be extended to fascism. He argues that the real threat of populism is its anti-pluralism: “Populists are not against the principle of political representation; they just insist that only they are legitimate representatives.” So, one can see how fascism begins in populism but doesn’t stay there. What fascism adds to the populist strategy is the eventual closing down of pluralism and Representative Democracy.

When Reich writes: “In it’s pure form fascism is the sum total of all the irrational of the human character… Fascist mentality is the mentality of the ‘little man,’ who is enslaved and craves authority and is at the same time rebellious” – we can get an inkling of Reich’s feeling of superiority over those not as enlightened as himself. And when he writes: “In our society, love and knowledge still do not have the power at their disposal to regulate human existence” – we can discern that Reich sees himself as central to the task of raising up humanity.

Indeed, his project was not only directed against fascism. He argued that the Russian “masses” of the 1920s and ’30s demonstrated that humanity was still too “structurally” immature to escape their cravings for authority because they failed to eradicate capitalism.

Reich locates the root of political fascism in the repressed psyche of ordinary ‘little’ people. D&G do the same thing, but they would call the root a rhizome. All three effectively demonstrate and encourage – despite D&G’s more cautious articulations – an attitude of intellectual, emotional, and rational superiority over ‘ordinary’ people. Should we follow the course marked out by them? Should we self-appoint ourselves as the only ones who really know what is wrong with the world and how to put it right? Or would putting ourselves on such a lofty shelf just be inviting a long fall?

Reich writes: “Fascism is the basic emotional attitude of the suppressed man of our authoritarian machine civilization.” D&G write: “What makes fascism dangerous is its molecular [personal traits] or micropolitical power.” This is what they term ‘micro-fascism’ and, for D&G, it explains why ‘the masses’ can’t help but “desire [their] own repression.” It is when these traits link up, they argue, that things get really nasty:

“Fascism is inseparable from a proliferation of molecular focuses in interaction, which skip from point to point, before beginning to resonate together in the National Socialist State. Rural fascism and city or neighborhood fascism, youth fascism and war veteran’s fascism, fascism of the Left and fascism of the Right, fascism of the couple, family, school, and office: every fascism is defined by a micro-black hole that stands on its own and communicates with the others, before resonating in a great, generalized central black hole.”

In the preface to D&G’s ‘Anti-Oedipus,’ as Lennard notes, Michel Foucault suggests the work is an “Introduction to the Non-Fascist Life,” and D&G explain in their follow-up book, ‘A Thousand Plateaus’: “It’s too easy to be antifascist on the molar [citizen] level, and not even see the fascist inside you, the fascist you yourself sustain and nourish and cherish with molecules both personal and collective.”

It is this struggle with the ‘inner fascist’ that Lennard is seeking to pursue on a practical and day-to-day level. But while this is a worthy way to behave I am not convinced that people can change themselves before their circumstances are changed. That is, I think that change happens on other levels to that of the human will. We are all social functions of the society we inhabit and everything we do in a capitalist society is used and recuperated by capitalism. Capitalism always benefits from the revolutionaries who claim to oppose it and the charities that claim to put people before profit. An awareness of the stifling absurdity of our social situation in capitalism should not, however, prohibit us from doing kind things. Though one should always place one’s actions within a context of meaninglessness that confers upon oneself no nobility and no sense that what one is doing is right and/or good in ultimate terms.

When people provide solutions to ‘problems’ they generally only create new problems. Lennard quotes Paul Virilio: “When you invent the plane, you also invent the plane crash.” We could also examine how the various ‘solutions’ of people such as Jesus Christ, James Watt, the Jacobins, or the Bolsheviks panned out. And one cannot, for example, cure one’s genuine grief by rationalizing it or trying to expunge it by sheer force of will. The ‘cure’ arrives on different levels: that of time and changed circumstances. We cannot make people ‘nice’ – and to try to do so would, if one maintains the notion of micro-fascisms, merely be another micro-fascism.

Foucault writes, “The Christian moralists sought out the traces of the flesh lodged deep within the soul. D&G, for their part pursue the slightest traces of fascism in the body.” So, however they put it, the message is that fascism is a corporeal sickness. This is consistent with their philosophical premise that everything in human society is already there in the human being, waiting to be crystallized or enabled.

D&G, I think, got over-excited by their post-Heideggerian (‘always already’), post-Reichian (machine civilization/desire) enthusiasms and only managed to spread more confusion. It is a lot less mystifying – and more practical: we cannot make people nice – to simply treat fascism as an ever-present political threat in a Representative Democracy.

Earlier I mentioned that the reason we tend to misunderstand fascism is because we misunderstand the State and we misunderstand Democracy. Most narratives of the emergence of the State begin with the rise of a chief who bullies people, which leads to a Royal Family, which leads to a retinue that eventually forms a bureaucracy. It is this bureaucracy that then wields the real power. The bureaucracy spreads out over the land and becomes a kind of closed proto-democracy. Eventually there are so many people helping to run the State directly through supervisory – the nascent ‘middle class’ – and entrepreneurial means that it becomes clear to them that the real power is in their hands and that they should have that power recognised. They begin a movement based on the new circumstances. Oliver Cromwell was landed gentry. Gerrard Winstanley – the leader of the Diggers, the far left of the revolutionists of the ‘English Civil War’ – was a middle-class businessman. Robespierre was a lawyer. Lenin was famously middle-class. Castro was born into a prosperous farming family and studied law at university. Guevara was a doctor. The workers and peasants get behind them because they also like this new ‘democratic’ idea and because they need some improvement in their lives. There is a revolution (we are not talking about ‘revolts’ here), sometimes it is bloody. The new leaders realise that the workers and peasants had a slightly different idea about how things should proceed and begin a clampdown. Often the first leaders of the revolution are kicked out, and new people, with a more reasonable agenda step in.

I agree with the whole of this narrative except for the very first part. My research into how peoples prior to the rise of a State (including present-day ‘uncontacted tribes’) organised themselves socially shows how one of the priorities was to keep group numbers small, and if numbers did start to escalate these groups would ‘fission’ – they split. Robin Dunbar has famously done work on optimal group sizes and he argues that for humans to operate successfully without coercion they must be able to have regular face-to-face interactions – everyone must know everyone else. Once the group becomes too numerous for everyone to know each other it becomes necessary for laws to be laid down.

My research suggests that the key element in the emergence of a new State – Mesopotamia, the Indus, Mesoamerica, etc – was not agriculture or alluvial valleys but the fact there was a rise in the population and for some unknowable reason the group was unable to split.

The classic narrative for the rise of a chiefdom/State is that a rapacious thug organises a group and takes over the tribe. But the anthropological record suggests that humans were able to resist vainglorious thugs for thousands of years. And how come there are ‘egalitarian’ tribes outside of States right now? There must be something else. Many anthropologists and historians suggest that advances in technology – for example, irrigation – led the way for numbers to rise and for people to become enslaved. But how come modern ‘uncontacted tribes’ haven’t invented modern farming techniques, increased their numbers and set up a ruthless dictatorship to serve under? Are they just stupid? No.

The reason powerful Chiefs emerged was because the populace reluctantly agreed that the new circumstances demanded a new way of organising things. Everyone did not know everyone else anymore and so people could get away with things, cliques could form, ‘crimes’ could be committed. Laws had to be made and people had to follow them – but the people who didn’t like the laws just ignored them. Finally, and this probably happened very quickly, a charismatic person seized the chance for self-aggrandisement… and in the end the populace agreed. A strong leader backed up by thugs would at least keep some peace.

Of course, the power would usually go to the Chief’s head and atrocities would be normalized, and if the people weren’t totally down-trodden they might support a rival Chief’s bid to topple the present one… and so history was written… right up to Representative Democracy.

The State itself is neither evil nor good, it is a managerial solution to the problem of a large population. Imagine the scene: “Yeah, Bob and his gang reckon they can sort out all the problems as long as everyone does what he says and gives him a tribute by sending daughters and sons to work for him, and building him a really good place to sleep in. The whole place will be a lot easier to live in, less chaos, but we’ll have to stay where we are and work harder to make sure he gets enough recompense for his trouble. We don’t want him to put his thugs on us, but it will be good if he sorts out those lazy thieving bastards who live up by the chickpea bushes…”

The State is often viewed as an obstacle to the ideals of peace and love – and communism – but maybe there is no escaping an authoritarian State when there are so many people jammed together? Perhaps this is one of the many lessons of the Russian Revolution? (Anyone who suggests here that perhaps the way to peace, love, and communism is therefore to reduce the human population is – apart from articulating real evil – missing the point that as functions of capitalism they would merely be recreating capitalism in a new situation, just as the Bolsheviks did in 1918.)

Jean-Jacques Rousseau opined for the freedom had before the advent of the State and civilization, but he recognized that living in a society where everyone – no matter their place in the hierarchy – was dependent upon everyone else meant that humans could not go back. He decided that we had to make the best of a bad job.

When things in society start to get tough or confusing and political leaders show no real capability or honesty then the opportunity for populism is provided. When people see that things are not being managed well – which becomes evident when politicians all look the same and government appears weak and flabby – then they may tend to favour a populist leader over the pluralism that just offers continued chaos or the same-old-same-old. The Clinton’s and Obama (same-old-same-old) paved the way for Trump. But, if populism enables an actual fascist takeover then the people become trapped and must simply work out a way to survive as enthusiastic or reluctant functions of that dictatorship, or as opponents.

Fascism is not a pathological desire deep within us that only the enlightened can control. And to categorise supporters of fascism – or populism – as being unable to control an illness is an elitist mystification we don’t need.

We have all the means to fight populism and fascism if we want to – without becoming holier-than-thou about our motives: ‘the fight against fascism begins with the fight against capitalism,’ etc. But we may lose, and we may have to endure. We should recognise, however, that the fight against fascism can never be about making a revolution that brings peace, love, and equality to the Earth: because our mass society denies that Enlightenment delusion. Rousseau was right: the only way to proceed – like Greta Thunberg appears to be doing – is to tenaciously attempt to keep the bastards, and ourselves, honest.

Despite this, as I am sure Lennard would agree, punching a fascist in the face – for an instant and no more – puts one on the side of the angels.

Posted in USAComments Off on Re-Contextualizing Fascism

A Radical Call To Action

by ROBERT HUNZIKER

Refinery, Tulare. Photo: Jeffrey St. Clair.

A radical call to action has never been more vital than today, as the abomination of capitalism known as neoliberalism tears apart society from stem to stern, continuing the grand experiment that originated under the watchful eyes and vision of aristocratic plantation-owners like Washington and Jefferson as wealthy patriots.

In honor of their hard fought war to avoid taxation as much as possible, Trump retroactively honored them with a gigantic tax cut for their distant namesakes, the wealthy.

Lo and behold, he has hardened the battle lines between them (1%) versus us (99%). Will the lines be crossed and how so?

The Trump tax cut for corporations and rich individuals drops a trillion and a half ($1.5T) out of the hands of federal tax collectors, helping to sustain a $1trillion unsustainable deficit that makes Democrat deficits look like small potatoes. “Instead of trickling down to workers, the 2017 tax cuts have largely served to line the pockets of already wealthy investors—further increasing inequality—with little to show for it.” (Trump’s Corporate Tax Cut Is Not Trickling Down, Center for American Progress, Sept. 26, 2019)

Meanwhile, assuming Trump gets away scot-free with his impeachment proceedings, he’ll likely use that miscarriage of justice to enhance his standing among easily swayed impressionable voters as well as solidifying his overt ownership of dumbed-down members of Congress. It’s mind-numbing and would be comical if not for the tragedy that’s unfolding.

Forthwith, it’s time to sharpen swords, as the onset of full-dress authoritarianism by the least qualified president in history is sure to ensue, aka: fascism in full living color. The previews are over.

A radical call to action, similar to the 60s, may be the country’s only salvation. In that regard, a guidebook to what ails society is a requirement so that radical fighters thoroughly understand why, who, and what they’re fighting.

Fortunately, there is a good radical textbook already in publication. It explains what eco-warriors encounter during the late stages of capitalism, like today. It just so happens that’s the underlying footnote on almost every page of The Big Heat (AK Press, 2018)

It’s a wonderful tome filled with eyewitness events, brass tacks explanations of rampant ecological damage, and it explains how humanity and the planet have become incompatible largely because of wrong politics and upside-down economics that wreak havoc for the great majority of people that purportedly live in a democracy, as a rank odor drifts by.

Meanwhile and of utmost importance, the prescient words of Jeffrey St. Clair and Joshua Frank, co-authors of The Big Heat: “The world may be changing faster than humans can properly grasp which only means we must alter our perspective and change our tactics to defend it. In short, it’s time to get radical.” (pg.2)

The Big Heat comprehensively, very comprehensively, covers the anthropogenic footprint, from loss of wolf habitat – stupid humans trampling landscape – oceans without fish – and lots more but most importantly it’s a Full Monty exposure of America’s insanity politics. As for one example of one among many: “Pesticides, Neoliberalism and the Politics of Acceptable Death.” (pg. 183)

Really? “Acceptable Death”

But, first to start at the start, the initial article, “The Wolf at Trout Creek” finds co-author Jeffrey St. Clair on a field trip in Yellowstone National Park, or thereabouts, to observe bison and wolves. Along the way, he accidentally (of course it’s accidental) plunges down a mossy cliff at “a waterfall in the Absaroka Mountains, ripping the nail off my big toe.” (pg. 8)

That article includes the fate of one of the most important animals (the wolf) for maintaining healthy ecosystems. And, sorrowfully, it includes mention of the state of Idaho granting 6,000 hunting licenses to gun down, in cold blood, “an allotment” of 220 wolves. How could they miss?

Not only that, but with so many trigger-happy guys/gals out and about, it’s a wonder they don’t shoot and kill each other (shades of Dick Cheney) They probably do kill somebody but we’ll never, tongue in cheek, hear about it, Evidently, wolf eradication is a big political draw in the great state of Idaho.

The Big Heat, inclusive of 387 pages and 50 stand alone articles, is an exposé of the detrimental impact of the neoliberal brand of capitalism, as, time and again, it feasts upon ruination of federal rules and regulations which impede corporate profits, even if only by a slight margin.

Indeed, the book brings to surface, for all to see, some behind scenes maneuvers initiated by powerful lobbyists to upend safeguards for all of the citizenry, which, one would think, could also impact their own families (the lobbyists). But, then again, when playing in the big rough and tumble playground of payoff politics, money talks, people get hurt, who cares?

For example, in the article: “Pesticides, Neoliberalism, and the Politics of Acceptable Death” (Pg. 183-188) the food and chemical industries lobbied hard for decades to remove the Delaney Clause, which served to block carcinogens in processed foods ever since the 1950s, but that blockade was removed by Congress in 1996, signed by President Clinton.

“With the Delaney Clause dead on the floor of Congress, some 80 pesticides that were about to be outlawed as carcinogens now remain in use.” (Pg. 184) The shock value of that one simple sentence speaks volumes.

It should be noted The Big Heat isn’t the only one to take note of harmful alterations to federal regulations, especially regarding food safety. According to the irrepressibly brilliant Donella Meadows (The Limits to Growth – a classic): “It’s probably just as well that the clear, brave language of Delaney no longer stands to deceive us into thinking that our food supply is risk-free.  How much risk there really is, no one knows.” (Donella Meadows, Farewell to the Delaney Amendment, Sustainability Institute, 1996)

Really! “How much risk there really is, no one knows.” Hmm.

Meanwhile, back to St. Clair/Frank for more on toxic stuff: According to Dr. Joseph Weissman, professor of medicine at UCLA, cancer killed 3 out of every 100 Americans in 1900 but nowadays it’s 33 out of every 100. “Weissman reckons that a fair slice of this explosion in cancer mortality can be laid at the door of petro-chemicals, particularly those used by the food industry.” (Pg. 183)

Then, does that mean that Americans are consuming cancer-causing foods, which, over time, alter or destroy human cells? Well, for starters: “The average apple and peach has eight different pesticides embedded in it. Grapes have six and celery five. Children get as much as 35 percent of their likely lifetime dose of such toxins by the time they are five.” (Pg. 185)

After all, toxins cumulate in the body over time before striking hard at tissues, and such, otherwise known as human organs, blood, and bone. Along those lines, here’s proof that something is horribly wrong: According to a Rand Corporation 2017 study (Chronic Conditions in America: Price and Prevalence) nearly 150 million Americans are living with at least one chronic condition of which 100 million have two or more chronic conditions.

Meaning, nearly fifty percent (50%) of Americans (whew!) live with at least one chronic condition, like diabetes, high blood pressure, Alzheimer’s, high cholesterol, arthritis, Parkinson’s, and heart disease. Sound familiar? Almost every family in America has at least one family member with a chronic condition.

Is that normal, to be expected, or is something somewhere somehow horribly wrong?

Rand calculates that, over time, it’ll translate into more than $1 trillion per year in overall health care costs. Then, what of universal health care? It’ll soon become an absolute necessity. Alternatively, millions will suffer and then, of course, they’ll die while suffering even more.

The Big Heat is an important book. It exposes disasters that ricochet straight out of neoliberalism dicta like bolts of lightning. And, it humanizes the importance of fighting back. It brings to light individual heroes who sacrifice their own safety to benefit society at large, yet mainstream news and governmental officials inevitably label these real American heroes as terrorists or criminals. That’s one more sign that something is horribly wrong.

“On the Front Lines of the Climate Change Movement: Mike Roselle Draws a Line” brings to light society’s stupid treatment of eco heroes. (pg. 295) Roselle, a co-founder of Earth First, stood up to mountain top coal removal. After all, somebody had to stand up to such a deadly, putrid business that was responsible in December 2008 for a major spill of more than 500 million gallons of highly toxic coal ash into the Tennessee River, 40 times larger than the Exxon Valdez in Alaska. The total costs for toxic water of downstream cities and assorted environmental costs are still not known to this day.

Because Mike Roselle stood up to the coal interests, a Fox TV affiliate aired a story about him, labeling Roselle: “An eco terrorist… tomorrow night don’t miss the ‘Roselle Report’ when we’ll take a closer look at how this man’s radical methods of protest may put lives at stake in West Virginia.” (pg. 295)

In Fox News’ view: The man standing nose-to-nose to stop a caterpillar tractor from razing a mountaintop is a dangerous terrorist.

The Big Heat is a treasure trove built upon blood, sweat, and tears, compiling years of hard work and astute research to help people better understand a bastardized psycho-socio-politico-economic system, i.e. neoliberalism, which is kinda like an outer space soulless alien devoid of humanity taking control over the planet.

The most critical portion of The Big Heat is found on pages 373-377, the Epilogue, The End of Illusion. It nails down the overriding issue, exposing the illusion of “hope… hope is the enemy. The antidote is action.”

After all “hope” and “groupie protests” are dead-enders to nowhere.

Then, what is a radical call to action?

Here’s what it’s not: It is not marching a couple of times a year; ii is it not typing your name on a MoveOn petition; it is not a selfie with a celebrity protesting fracking in front of the governor’s mansion.

“Action is standing arm-in-arm before water cannons and government snipers on the frozen plains of North Dakota… hanging from a fragile perch 150-feet up in Douglas fir tree in an ancient forest grove slated for clear-cutting…chaining yourself to a fracking rig… or camping out in the blast zone at a Mountain Top Removal site in the hills of West Virgina…Action is stopping bad shit from going down.” (pg. 374)

The time for one-off protests is over. They don’t work. And, most likely none of them work, one-off or not.

If they did work, especially when consideration is given to the number of global climate change rallies and demonstrations worldwide these past few years, then CO2 would not be continuing at ever-faster rates (setting new record levels in 2019) blanketing the atmosphere, where it stays for at least 100 years. That’s the problem.

Earth’s sister planet Venus’ atmosphere is 96.5% CO2 by volume. Its temperature is 864F.

Carbon counts!

Posted in USAComments Off on A Radical Call To Action

Trump and Palestine

by SHELDON RICHMAN

Photograph Source: Neil Ward – CC BY 2.0

The fundamental flaw at the heart of Trump’s Palestine/Israel plan, presumptuously titled Peace to Prosperity: A Vision to Improve the Lives of the Palestinian and Israeli People, is that Trump — like his predecessors — believes that the Israelis are the aggrieved party and the Palestinians are the not-fully-human aggressors inherently unworthy of even the minimum trust accorded fellow human beings. You can see this premise throughout Trump’s corrupt blueprint for the future of Israel and Palestine.

But this premise has the aggressor and the victim roles switched in defiance of the facts. The Palestinians are the aggrieved party. They were dispossessed in 1948 and 1967 and then denied full and equal rights within Israel and all rights in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip. We see Trump’s attitude in a key part of Peace to Prosperity, namely, section seven on security and the associated appendices.

Before we get to that, let’s start by recognizing that although Trump brags that the Palestine he envisions would be bigger than what the Palestinians now control under the Oslo Accords, he is blowing hot air in his typical way. The Palestinians control nothing. Whatever internal security the Palestinian Authority (PA) administers in part of the West Bank is merely the result of Israel having subcontracted to the Palestinian elite the dirty internal-security work that Israel used to have to do itself. But Israel is free to override the PA whenever it sees the need and take internal security into its own hands. This is not autonomy.

So if Palestinian control is to be doubled, as Trump says, it would be a doubling of zero. Moreover, as Jonathan Cook writes, Trump’s plan misleads when it touts that Palestine would consist of 70 percent of the lands Israel has (illegally) occupied since the 1967 war. Several decades ago the main Palestinian organization and spokespeople agreed to reduce their claim to only the occupied territories, a mere 22 percent of the Palestine they had inhabited for millennia. That stunning concession never got the notice is deserved. (Only Israeli “concessions” are described as generous.) Yet Trump is demanding that the Palestinians accept only 70 percent of the 22 percent — which comes to 15 percent of the original territory the Israelis (that is, Zionists) took by force in what is called the Nakba, or catastrophe. And, Cook adds, that’s “after Israel has seized all the best agricultural land and the water sources.”

The security section and associated appendices make clear that in Trump’s (and Jared Kushner’s and Benjamin Netanyahu’s) eyes, the Palestinians are the bad guys who deserve nothing less than the closest surveillance lest they commit mass murder because they (so it is alleged) hate Jews qua Jews. So, despite the apparent creation of a sovereign State of Palestine, the Trump plan in reality would create a gerrymandered archipelago of Palestinian towns that nevertheless would contain many “Israeli conclave communities” (see the map above) and be surrounded by the State of Israel. Palestinians would have highly limited home-rule, but ultimate control would remain with Israel. That state would have complete authority over Palestine’s borders, airspace, and even the electromagnetic spectrum. Palestine would have no access to the Jordan River, because Israel would annex the Jordan Valley (as it’s about to do), or the Dead Sea. To quote the plan:

Upon signing the Israeli-Palestinian Peace Agreement, the State of Israel will maintain overriding security responsibility for the State of Palestine, with the aspiration that the Palestinians will be responsible for as much of their internal security as possible, subject to the provisions of this Vision. The State of Israel will work diligently to minimize its security footprint in the State of Palestine according to the principle that the more the State of Palestine does, the less the State of Israel will have to do…. [Emphasis added.]

As you can see, any so-called concessions are for Israel’s convenience and not out of respect for the Palestinians’ long-denied rights.

Of course, the Palestinians would be watched closely. Appendix 2B sets criteria for “Palestinian security performance,” and they contain an inducement: “As the State of Palestine meets and maintains the Security Criteria, the State of Israel’s involvement in security within the State of Palestine will be reduced.” That sounds like the League of Nations’ old mandate, that is, colonial, system under which Great Britain ruled Palestine after World War I.

But as we’ll see, those criteria are hardly objective and leave plenty of leeway for Israel to give Palestine a failing grade — which is exactly what we can expect.

We read that the “State of Palestine will have security forces capable of maintaining internal security and preventing terror attacks within the State of Palestine and against the State of Israel, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and the Arab Republic of Egypt,”  except that “these specific capabilities (i) may not (A) violate the principle that the State of Palestine in all its territory, including Gaza, shall be, and shall remain, fully demilitarized or (B) derogate the State of Israel’s overriding security responsibility, and (ii) will be agreed upon by the State of Palestine and the State of Israel.” (Emphasis added.)

And the kicker:

Should the State of Palestine fail to meet all or any of the Security Criteria at any time, the State of Israel will have the right to reverse the process outlined above. The State of Israel’s security footprint in all or parts of the State of Palestine will then increase as a result of the State of Israel’s determination of its expanded security needs and the time needed to address them. [Emphasis added.]

Just in case, of course, “the State of Israel will maintain at least one early-warning stations [sic] in the State of Palestine as designated on the Conceptual Map, which will be run by Israeli security forces. Uninterrupted Israeli security access to and from any early-warning station will be ensured.”

And: “To the extent reasonably possible, solely as determined by the State of Israel, the State of Israel will rely on blimps, drones and similar aerial equipment for security purposes in order to reduce the Israeli security footprint within the State of Palestine.” (Emphasis added.)

What a relief to know that Israel’s security footprint will be reduced through Israeli aerial surveillance — solely as determined by the State of Israel.

Let’s move on to the appendices, where some details are filled in.

Appendix 2C states that “Palestine will not have the right to forge military, intelligence or security agreements with any state or organization that adversely affect the State of Israel’s security, as determined by the State of Israel.” (Emphasis added.)

Israel of course would be free to make whatever agreement it likes, no matter how much it adversely affects the State of Palestine.

Moreover, a “demilitarized State of Palestine will be prohibited from possessing capabilities that can threaten the State of Israel.”

That is obviously vague. Defensive (and deterrent) capabilities can be always be called threatening. Israel does this with Hezbollah in Lebanon all the time. I note for the record that Israel is not similarly “prohibited from possessing capabilities that can threaten” the State of Palestine.

Congruent with the above, “any expansion of Palestinian security capabilities beyond the capabilities existing on the date this Vision is released shall be subject to agreement with the State of Israel.” Thus the Israeli state would have to approve virtually any change inside Palestine because, after all, almost anything could be construed as related to Israeli security.

We are assured that “while the State of Israel will use its best efforts to minimize incursions into the State of Palestine, the State of Israel will retain the right to engage in necessary security measures to ensure that the State of Palestine remains demilitarized and non-threatening to the State of Israel, including from terrorist threats.” There’s another blank check.

Now regarding those criteria:

The State of Palestine’s counterterrorism system must encompass all elements of counterterrorism, from initial detection of illicit activity to longtime incarceration of perpetrators. Included in the system must be: intelligence officers to detect potential terrorist activity, specially trained counterterrorism forces to raid sites and arrest perpetrators, forensics experts to conduct site exploitation, pretrial detention officers to ensure the retention of prisoners, prosecutors and judges to issue warrants and conduct trials, and post-trial detention officers to ensure prisoners serve their sentences. The system should include stand-alone detention facilities and vetted personnel.

I’m assuming, in light of Israel’s and the United States’ record in the matter, that “all elements of counterterrorism” include mass surveillance of all kinds, road checkpoints, torture, use of informants, and indefinite detention without charge, trial, or any reasonable notion of due process.

Just so the Palestinians are clear about what is expected of them, “the breadth and depth of the anti-terror activities of the State of Palestine will be determined [by Israel] by”:

+ The extent of arrests and interdictions of suspects, perpetrators and accomplices;

+ The systematic and comprehensive nature of investigations and interrogations to root out all terror networks and infrastructure;

+ Indictments and the extent of punishments;

+ The systematic and comprehensive nature of interdiction efforts to seize weapons and explosives and prevent the manufacturing of weapons and explosives;

+ The success of efforts to prevent infiltration of terrorists and terror organizations into the security forces of the State of Palestine.

Apparently, the Israelis will know the appropriate extent of all those things. But how? That’s not for us or the Palestinians to wonder about. But if the Palestinians fall short of expectations, you can bet the Israelis will maximize their “security footprint” inside the sovereign State of Palestine.

And speaking of vagueness, Palestine will be expected to “prohibit all incitement to terrorism.” Considering what the Israelis have regarded as incitement in the past, this sounds as though the Palestinian government will be expected to limit free speech.

And just so there’s no misunderstanding:

During the negotiations the parties, in consultation with the United States, shall attempt to create acceptable initial non-binding metrics with respect to the Security Criteria that are acceptable to the State of Israel, and in no event less stringent than the metrics used by either the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan or the Arab Republic of Egypt (whichever is stricter) with respect to the Security Criteria. Because security threats evolve, the metrics are intended to be used as a guide, and will not be binding. However, the establishment of such non-binding metrics will allow the State of Palestine to better understand the minimum goals they are expected to achieve, and take into account regional minimum benchmarks. [Emphasis added.]

To call the proposed Palestinian status one of indefinite probation with inherently subjective criteria interpreted by a sadistic probation officer would be a gross understatement

It’s clear to see that Trump’s plan is all about Israel (and its American partisans) and has nothing whatever to do with the rights of Palestinians to control their own destiny. All considerations appear subordinate to Israel’s alleged security concerns, but in fact, what really counts (since Israel faces no existential threat) is a pseudo-ethnic chauvinism. (I write pseudo because Judaism is a religion, not an ethnic or racial group, that is embraced by people of many ethnicities. See my Coming to Palestine.)

The Palestinians just don’t count. To the extent they would get anything out of Trump’s plan, it is to save Israel some trouble. Better to have Palestine elite do Israel’s dirty work.

Posted in Palestine Affairs, USA, ZIO-NAZIComments Off on Trump and Palestine

Live From Iowa: Caucus Night

by MATTHEW STEVENSON

This is the second part of periodic reports from the primaries in Iowa and New Hampshire, and perhaps beyond, should the republic last until South Carolina and Nevada. This was written before the voting in Iowa.

Elizabeth Warren’s campaign bus in Iowa City. Photo by Matthew Stevenson.

With the three horse-persons of the impeachment—Senators Sanders, Warren, and Klobuchar—glued to their desks during last week’s trial, I fanned out across Iowa in search of the second team.

One of the myths about the Iowa caucuses is that the state is rural and small, with few urban centers, enabling candidates to meet-and-greet their way through Grange halls to a primary victory.

In fact, while Iowa is largely an agricultural state, it also has a population of three million and a number of small cities—Council Bluffs, Sioux City, Iowa City, Cedar Rapids, Waterloo, and Davenport among them. To get from one side of the state to the other requires five hours of driving.

In 1976 Jimmy Carter won in Iowa, giving him the halo of the people’s choice, but in general all that matters in the caucus is to acquire the aura of having exceeded expectations—whatever they may be.

Hence the winner might simply be the candidate with the best spin doctors, and not necessarily the candidate who wins the most votes on caucus night.

Nor does winning in Iowa guarantee a candidate his or her party’s nomination. At stake are 41 delegates, out of some 4000 national delegates that will go the summer party nominating convention. Among those who have won in Iowa but failed to get the nomination are Rick Santorum, Ted Cruz, Mick Huckabee, and Dick Gephardt.

That said, if Bernie Sanders wins the Democratic caucuses this year in Iowa—at the moment he’s ahead in the polls—and wins in New Hampshire, he will be hard to beat in the remaining Democratic primaries.

Andrew Yang: The Democratic App

I wanted to connect with Andrew Yang, who was on an extended bus tour in eastern Iowa, and to do that I had to drive to Grundy Center, a one-horse town not far from Waterloo.

Yang was speaking in the community center that is in the same building as the town hall. When I got there, everyone was seated on plastic chairs, as though waiting to see someone about a building permit.

The room had space for about forty people, but about one-third were media, who filled the back of the room with bulky TV cameras. In the campaign, for the most part, towns like Grundy Center are Potemkin villages in which the candidates put on their one-act plays for the evening news.

At this point, I am a little surprised no one has come up with a virtual green screen that would allow the candidates to film their small-town docudramas in a studio and spare everyone in their wake (groupies, staffers, media types, and TV trucks) from having to drive halfway across Iowa to hear them say exactly what they said at the previous stop.

Yang’s schtick is that of a tech and corporate guru, for whom government, if not the presidency, is yet another start-up in need of private equity to get things running better. In many respects he’s the perfect millennial candidate, who sees government as yet another dinosaur of the fossil fuel era.

By the standards of this election, he’s young—45 years old—and he has the air of someone who doesn’t need to watch a YouTube tutorial either to install his router or run Linux on his laptop.

To my knowledge he’s never held or run for elective office. His parents were immigrants from Taiwan, and after coming to the United States they worked to get advanced academic degrees.

Part of the second generation, Yang went to elite private schools, including Philips Exeter (George W. Bush went there too) and Columbia Law School, which may explain why Yang is comfortable addressing audiences.

I suspect Yang would solve many of the problems of American government or society with an app.

Yang speaks softly and gives no evidence of wielding a big stick. At the beginning of his talk in Grundy Center, two activists decided to gate crash the event and held up a small, hand-printed sign (“Andrew Yang is a robot…”), accusing Yang of having funded artificial intelligence that would take jobs away from Iowans.

Had it been a Trump or even a Sanders rally, and had some hacktivist rushed the podium with a grievance, security guards would have dragged away the protester, in the same way that the Chicago police cleared the streets around the 1968 Democratic convention. In this case, Yang simply stood still and did nothing, until the audience booed and chided the interlopers to leave, which they did.

Yang owes his primary longevity (he’s lasted longer in the race than several professional politicians) to his plan to pay every American over age eighteen $1,000 a month.

He calls it the “freedom dividend” and claims the idea dates to the early days of the republic, when Tom Paine (Common Sense) talked up the payout (he presumably wanted to pay over the money in pieces of eight). In modern times, the state of Alaska pays its residents an annual dividend based on energy production.

To pay for the giveaway, Yang would tax large tech companies, such as Google and Amazon, because, he argues, they have grown rich on gathering and selling the metadata of average Americans, who should be paid for the use of their assets.

People could spend their $1000 any way they choose, although he quips, “You might even get your own Netflix password.” Mostly the money would end up back in the local economy, so it’s hardly different from other government grants, including social security, if not the bailouts of large banks.

Most of the other candidates in the primaries do not speak so much as they bark at their audiences. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren often sound like truant officers lecturing runaway students.

Yang’s approach is calmer. His tone is that of a corporate consultant, and he speaks in the voice of a facilitator at a company offsite, explaining how employees (well, voters in this case) can live happier, more productive and efficient lives (especially if they download the Yang voter app).

He has a number of stock phrases, repeated at most events, that play well with an audience that, truth be told, only half listens to the campaign talks and spends the rest of the time skimming their iPhones.

On addressing climate change, Yang says, “I am the ideal candidate. I am an Asian man who likes math.” He doesn’t blame Trump for every ill in the society, preferring to target the Big Brother qualities of large tech companies, who are turning citizens, especially children, into automatons (“computer dopamine” is one of his phrases).

His warnings about the brave new world include vignettes about jobs disappearing when self-driving trucks replace the some three million truckers on the road (and with them go waitressing jobs in truck stops and many motel clerks), and he makes the larger point that “corporate profits don’t equate to our well-being.”

Mostly Yang talks about the Manichean world—hey, I said he was new age—of technology, which can be your friend but also the cause of unemployment, hunger, suicide, drug dependence, gun violence, and health issues.

To combat this, he wants all Americans, in effect, to be shareholders in their enterprise, and at least to earn some money while Google and Amazon are mining your data. And he would transform government (“it’s twenty years behind the times”) into a responsive web site.

If you sat next to Yang on a flight to Dayton and if he talked about “corporate change and technology” for the entire trip, you would not give him another thought after you said good-bye and “Good luck at your conference.”

But for the moment he’s a presidential candidate, complete with his own chartered bus and a road show across Iowa—in the tracks of earlier faith healers who looked for souls to cure on the frontier.

It says something about current times that so many candidates in the race—Tom Steyer is another—have never run for or served in any public office, before they decided—Trump-like—“I think I would make a good president.”

Then if they can pay the campaign bills, they can have a chartered bus, front yard signs, media attention, and, for a brief shining moment in Iowa, some name recognition in the political world.

The Yang event lasted about thirty-five minutes, and when it was done he shook a few hands and posed for selfies—obligatory for everyone except Bernie in this campaign. Then Yang vanished through the back door to his waiting bus, to continue his fourteen-stop tour in the days before the Iowa voting.

The Andrew Yang getting on the bus—looking at his phone, surrounded by young men who could themselves be working for a tech company—didn’t have the look of someone who lives to drink the Kool-Aid  of modern political campaigns.

He ignored greeting a few kids with Yang signs who were hanging around the parking lot (Biden would have given them an encouraging word), and there was no wave to the faithful, even if they were just a few crazies mumbling to themselves about Google running our lives.

I did like the Yang approach to politics, although during his talk I was reminded of something Speaker Sam Rayburn said in the JFK era about “the best and the brightest” of Ivy Leaguers then determined to engage the United States government in a VietnamWar.

Rayburn said to his friend Lyndon Johnson: “I’d feel a lot better if some of them had run for sheriffjust once.”

Tom Steyer: The Californians Run For President

Tom Steyer is a billionaire in the Democratic presidential race who has never served in public office. His picture is on billboards all over the state, and usually the picture shows a humble Tom chatting up an Iowa farmer or union worker about the big issues of the day. (It’s either that or he’s trying to persuade the farmer to invest in Steyer’s twenty billion-dollar hedge fund.)

Under the words TOM STEYER, the sign reads: “Democrat for President,” just so that passing motorists have some clue who Steyer is and why his picture is on billboards in places like Madison County (of romantic movie fame).

Otherwise, as Tom bears a slight resemblance to Clint Eastwood (Meryl Streep’s love interest in the film), Iowans might think that Tom was on the lookout for their wives and that these billboards were retro Tinder ads.

I caught up with Steyer in a Des Moines restaurant where he had come to lobby for union support in the upcoming caucuses. The room was tiny, and American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) members, about twenty or so, were seated in a semi-circle facing the front of the room, where candidates were coming to make their pitch.

From the questions I got the impression that most in the room were school teachers or health-care professionals, all of whom had problems with their bosses (most of whom probably looked and sounded a lot like Tom).

Steyer is one of the few candidates who campaigns in a suit and necktie (Trump and Bloomberg are the others—it must be a billionaire thing). But his blue suit was rumbled and poorly cut—think of a homicide detective—and his necktie was a bright tartan plaid, as though the office he was seeking was that of Scottish highland chief.

I don’t want to suggest that Steyer’s eyes are rolling in his head, but he does have the look and air of a true believer—at least in the greater good of Tom Steyer.

He speaks in the clipped phrases of democratic earnestness and corporate efficiency, and during most of his presentation, while making it clear that he had a billion big ones stashed away in some bank (“I can beat Trump his own game…”), Steyer suggested that what had really fueled his professional career was a love of the working class (especially those in AFSCME locals).

Steyer’s entrance ticket to the Democratic primaries (leaving aside that he has a billion dollars burning a hole in his pocket) came through his advocacy of Donald Trump’s impeachment. For a while, he was funding those running for office who would pledge to support impeachment.

After some time, he must have figured, as Winston Churchill joked, “Why talk to the monkey when you have the organ grinder in the room?” and he declared his own candidacy for the presidency (mostly with billboards in the Iowa fields of dreams).

Now that Trump (for a little while longer) is under impeachment, Steyer has shifted his platform to climate change, economic redevelopment, and education for the young (he said to the unionists: “I’m an education bug” and talked their ears off about how kids need to be reading by the age of three…).

I have to assume that the Democratic candidates, including marginal ones such as Tom Steyer, tailor their pitches based on what they hear from their pollsters.

For example, no one out here is beating the drum over Quemoy and Matsu, capital punishment, inflation, or the Laffer Curve. Instead all anyone talks about is health care insurance, climate change (using only the vaguest platitudes about saving the planet), and student debt, and when they need a metaphor for foreign policy, the only issue worth mentioning is Iran and the killing of General Qasem Soleimani.

Although Steyer would love to convince the electorate that he’s an enlightened plutocrat and more at home in a trailer park than on his 1800-acre eco-ranch outside San Francisco, he still speaks like a guy hustling assets under management. So, in prefacing his rap on education, he says: “So here’s my deal on student debt.”

His plan involves free community college and debt forgiveness for those who work in the military or serve others (that category is a bit hazy), and like all the other Democrats in the race he will pay for his gravy trains by taxing polluters, monopolies, tech giants, and freebooters—in other words, a list of companies that, back in the day, I am sure, helped to make Tom his first billion.

Steyer didn’t linger too long in the union cell meeting. Even he could tell that his pitch was falling on deaf ears and that most were just killing time until Bernie turned up.

Steyer drifted back into the restaurant, where there were a bevy of television reporters and enough cameras and klieg lights to make even Steyer think that his message was being heard. (Meth must give off the same highs, and it doesn’t cost $25 million or require chartering a campaign bus.)

Steyer took a few desultory questions from the professional chorus (he batted away one about peace in the Middle East), and then settled into a longer, more intimate interview with network television—always in search of the perfect soundbite that would somehow propel him into fourth place.

But the moment Bernie walked through the front doors of the restaurant, all the cameras around Steyer vanished, and he was left alone standing next to a large pile of pizza boxes. “So here’s my deal on pepperoni…”

Bernie: Same Speech for Forty Years

Bernie had not been scheduled to appear at the AFSCME meeting, but apparently he could not resist the chance to stop by and flash his union credentials.

His wife came with him, and Bernie only spoke for about eight minutes, ticking off the highlights of his union activism, which began when he was mayor of Burlington, Vermont, in the 1980s.

There were palpable gasps in the restaurant when he came through the door, as though maybe Jesus himself had decided to drop by a local church and teach a Sunday school class. (“I was born in Bethlehem…”)

As it happened, I was on my way to a full-blown Bernie event at Simpson College, in Indianola, which is south of Des Moines by about 12 miles. So I got to hear him speak twice in less than two hours, which is a touch trying, as at all his events Bernie repeats the same speech, word-for-word, syllable-for-syllable.

After the second hearing of the stump speech, I did begin to wonder how anyone could take pleasure in repeating the same words over and over again. Then I bumped into one of Bernie’s political rivals, who joked: “He’s been making the same speech for forty years.” I guess maybe that’s part of the appeal, but in person it’s like listening to the loop on a call center’s Muzak.

In the four years since I had seen Sanders (I heard him speak several times in New Hampshire in 2016), he has turned into a saint. This time there was a little more order to his hair (I am sure the campaign staff has strategy meetings with his barber). Otherwise Bernie still dresses like an unmade bed and has the air of wandering hermit.

(When traveling around the United States in the early 1960s for the book that became Travels with Charley, John Steinbeck wore casual clothes. At one point he ran into someone on the Great Plains who remarked of Steinbeck’s threads: “You gotta be awful rich to dress like that.”)

Actually, the best outfit for Bernie would be a hair shirt, as the message he delivers (at each stop along the wandering road) is a gospel of penitence—for how the United States deals with health insurance, student debt, climate change, minimum wages, women’s rights, homelessness, big pharma, corporate greed, immigration, teacher salaries, the 1%, tax breaks, prescription drugs, and the criminal justice system. (If I am leaving out some his outrage, you can fill in the blanks.)

In front of the AFSCME members, he boiled down the set speech into several minutes—stressing his union affiliations—but in Indianola he gave the full pre-recorded message, which lasted about 45 minutes.

At Simpson College, a pretty liberal arts school, Sanders’ staff went out of their way to humanize the candidate (which I am sure isn’t the easiest task in presidential politics).

On the undercard there were a number of speeches from supporters, including one by Representative Ilhan Omar, best known today (at least in the popular press) for ditching her husband for a campaign consultant and for her work alongside Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in what is called “the Squad.”

In person Ilhan is a dreary speaker whose voice rarely misses a monotone beat, and as she spoke everyone around me was checking their phones or chatting with a neighbor.

Her job as a warm-up band was to emphasize, at least to the press gaggle that had packed the hall, that Bernie is “electable,” which is the adjective of choice among Democratic operatives.

Biden, Buttigieg, and Klobuchar all make the point that Bernie and Warren are “un-electable,” meaning they would lose to Trump in the general election. Too much shining, not enough path…

Hence all the Bernie TV spots running in Iowa insist that he’s not only leading a revolution but that he can beat Trump (“the most corrupt president in our history….and a pathological liar…”). And that message is also delivered by his spin doctors, Representative Omar among them.

After Omar spoke, Bernie’s wife, Dr. Jane Sanders, introduced her husband, again as part of the humanization process. She didn’t talk about her honeymoon in the Soviet Union (a staple at the Trump rally), but said that Bernie at home was the same Bernie on the road—honest, caring, and always fighting for social justice.

As she spoke about her perfect husband, I imagined her asking him to take out the garbage, and Bernie responding: “What we have seen is that while the average person is working longer hours for lower wages, we have a huge increase in income and wealth inequality, which is now reaching obscene levels. This is a rigged economy, which works for the rich and the powerful, and is not working for ordinary Americans … You know, this country does not just belong to a handful of billionaires.” And then Jane saying: “I know, Bernie, and put the lid on the cans so the raccoons don’t get in them…”

Bernie greets a few voters after his orations, but not many. He’s not Elizabeth Warren with her selfie lines or Joe Biden working the velvet rope to reconnect with his firemen friends.

In his persona, Bernie’s a professor of sociology at a left-wing university—say the New School in New York City—who is happy that you take his courses but who has no interest in drinking beer with you on a Thursday night after his Thorstein Veblen seminar.

If Sanders wins the Iowa caucuses, and right now the polls are saying he will, and then goes on to win in New Hampshire, which would make him a front-runner for the Democratic nomination, what will have turned the tide in his favor is that his ideas, once on the fringe, are becoming more mainstream, at least among younger voters.

Twelve or even eight years ago, no one, not even the saintly Barack Obama, could have run for president on universal health care, the forgiveness of student debt, a wealth tax, and a green new deal that by some estimates could cost $23 trillion to implement.

Now, at least in a few early state primaries, Bernie’s celebrity as a truth-teller (think of Savonarolapreaching his bonfires of the vanities in 15th-century Florence) outweighs any scrutiny of Bernie’s plans, whether they would pass, and how Congress would pay for them.

Bernie has become a primetime player, and that means he can campaign in an old blazer and build (publicly-owned) castles in the air by taxing climate abusers, the 1%, and greedy tech titans. I suspect, however, that voters in a general election would not be as reverential in their assessments as are his wife and Representative Omar.

Another advantage that Bernie enjoys in the early primaries is that he has been here before and has a network of activists in place, all of whom want nothing more than to knock on doors in Cedar Rapids and to drive senior citizens to caucus locations. (And he’s something of a favorite son in New Hampshire, which is next door to his home state of Vermont.)

Bernie’s campaign is a children’s crusade and that should lead to heavy turn out in places such as Des Moines, Iowa City, and Ames, all of which are student cities. And as Bernie said at Simpson College: “If we get a large turnout, we will win. If it’s a low turnout, we will lose.” And at least for a large turnout, he will have an ideal weather day—sunny and dry.

Finally, I think Bernie benefits from what might be called the Zelig vote—the inclination of voters to see in him whatever they don’t like about other candidates.

Bernie is a windbag who, as his critic said, “has been giving the same speech for forty years.” His record in Congress is that of a moral purist, with few legislative achievements, and I suspect Hillary was speaking for more than herself when she said he had few friends in Congress and didn’t play well in the sandbox of democracy. But in 2020, prickliness plays.

Look at the Republicans in the thrall of Donald Trump. Could the Democrats want some of that stridency on their side? If so, Bernie is the delivery drone of moral clarity, more so than Elizabeth Warren or Joe Biden, both of whom (less so Warren) feel somewhat tethered to terrestrial life.

Bernie’s home district is the cosmos, and I can well imagine voters, on both sides in 2020, wanting a spirit in the sky.

Elizabeth Warren: Pilates in Chief

From Indianola I had to hot-foot it out to Iowa City, more than a 2-hour drive, if I was going to catch Elizabeth Warren at Iowa City West High School, which is a few miles outside the university town.

At least the ice on the roads had melted, and I could set the rental car on cruise control to race through such towns as Marengo (named, I presume, after the Napoleonic battle in Italy), Grinnell (where a good friend went to college), and What Cheer (an odd name for a decaying coal town).

Along the way, I reflected that none of the Democratic candidates even make a pretense of speaking to Iowa farmers. (Their audience is a network producer in New York City or Los Angeles.) It used to be a truism that Democratic candidates—including even urbanite JFK—had a farm policy.

Now farmers are on the wrong side of the climate change barricades, and they rarely get a shout-out, except when they are enlisted (presumably against their will) to go green. It’s surprising, as Trump screwed over Iowa’s soybean farmers with his China tariffs. China retaliated by not buying Iowa’s beans.

Warren’s staff was all over the entrance the gymnasium at West High School, and they were doing their best to get the email and phone number of every person who entered the event. (The Biden people just smile and wave you inside.)

The event set-up was like that of all other campaigns. The candidate speaks from a raised podium at the center of a hollow square surrounded with chairs. Behind the chairs, at least on one side but sometimes two, there are risers and platforms for television cameras; they get the box seat views.

Behind the risers are desks for print journalists, bloggers, and influencers, but those seats come with no view of the candidate. So while I have seen many events across Iowa, I have had to struggle just to see the candidate speaking. And no candidate wastes their time talking to print journalists, who might as well be throwing their dispatches on night trains heading for Chicago.

The Warren speeches I have attended have had a lot more buzz and bigger audiences than the Sanders events. And Warren turns out a broader demographic than the pollsters, 538 included, have picked up.

Her supporters are mostly women, but they are all ages, and they are more passionate about their candidate than are the Sandernistas who, I suspect, now communicate more through texts than by showing up at Bernie’s rallies.

At the Warren events I have attended, I have seen a number of supporter groups that include a mother, daughter, and grandmother all wearing Warren t-shirts or stickers.

Warren blamed her late arrival on Donald Trump and the impeachment hearings, which stuck her in the Senate until late Friday night, but she still arrived with her trademark bountiful energy, as if about to lead a pilates class for about four hundred people.

I don’t think she was carrying a mat or boom box, but there was jazzercise music coming from the rafters and Elizabeth kept punching the air, especially when Aretha Franklin hit some of her high notes (“R-E-S-P-E-C-T…Find out what it means to me…”).

I have now heard Warren speak three times and the set speech has never varied, down to her attempts at humor, as when she talks about her divorce and says: “Well, it’s never a good thing when you have to number your husbands…”.

Elizabeth Warren is not stupid (she was a Harvard Law School professor, which must count for something). Her campaign is meticulously organized (about twenty minutes after I signed in, her press office invited me to a Super Bowl party). And I imagine that she has some of the best pollsters and speech writers in the business crafting her image (that of a struggling single mom who worked her way through law school and now wants to be president).

But at each event, instead of hearing a political argument, I felt as though I were watching a Broadway production—with Aretha’s music, some song and dance, and tragedy at the end of the second act (the evil 1% takes over America).

Then in the finale, a big chorus number called “Hope Over Fear,” Elizabeth is elected president and, with her 2% wealth tax on fortunes over $50 million, she leads the country out of Winkie Country (it’s in Oz) to a place somewhere over the rainbow.

Best of all, after the play, the lead actress comes down from the stage and poses for selfies with members of the audience. Or if she’s pressed for time, she leaves behind her faithful golden retriever, Bailey, who, a bit like Lyle the Crocodile’s close friend Hector P. Valenti, has become “a star of stage and screen.”

Bailey did the heavy lifting for the campaign when Elizabeth was stuck in the impeachment trial, and I suspect more than a few voters wish it was Bailey Warren who could get their vote at the caucuses. (He doesn’t talk as breathlessly and has fewer plans.)

The soliloquies in Warren’s I Am Woman play tell the story of her childhood in Oklahoma (not on an Indian reservation). Her mom worked at Sears (at the minimum wage) while her older brothers joined the military. Her childhood dream was to teach second grade in a public school (emphasis for AFSCME members on the word “public”).

At age 19 Elizabeth was led into temptation, got married, and had children, until she divorced the man in the libretto called “Husband Number One,” and started working her way through law school. That led to various professorships, consumer protection agencies, the U.S. Senate, and now a presidential bid, based on the premise that “Men in Suits” (it’s a fairly catchy tune) are responsible for most American problems.

For someone who has spent much of her life in two of the most exclusive clubs in America—Harvard University and the U.S. Senate—Warren is, nevertheless, basing her campaign as an attack on wealth and privilege. (Harvard and the Senate don’t seem to figure much in her presidential job interview.)

I don’t think I need to hum all the refrains, but basically her many plans provide universal health care, free tuition and education, subsidized child care, climate change correctives, gun safety in the schools and malls, jail time for polluters and corporate embezzlers, affordable public housing and prescription drugs, write-offs of student debt, and a livable minimum wage.

And if that sounds worthy if a touch expensive, she assures her audience, it’s not, because to pay for everything in Oz, all that is required is to impose a wealth tax on 2% of American fortunes that are greater than $50 million. Who would not sign up for that?

In the number entitled, “All I Need for Christmas is My Two Percent”, Warren hits the high notes of all of the social programs that a wealth tax will cover, and it’s a bucket list of every American ill—from the opioid crisis and teen pregnancy to the gig economy and the Amazonian jungle. And all you have to do is elect Elizabeth Warren as president and wait for the 1% to hand over their 2%.

Needless to say, from her devoted fans, Warren gets rave reviews: “Breathtaking…the best play since Evita….Judy Garland could not have done better….When do we start marching?” And at the beginning of the event, I was impressed with the size and energy of the crowd packed into West High’s gymnasium. But then about half-way through the talk, I started to notice people streaming out of the gym, such that, at the end, I suspect that about half the crowd had voted with their feet.

It was the Saturday before the caucuses, when many Iowans are window shopping candidates, and I still think Warren’s base is motivated for a good result. Plus she’s been everywhere in the state, as has Bailey, and if you are from Iowa and don’t have a selfie with Warren, you only have yourself to blame.

The Iowa polls have Warren finishing third, behind Bernie and Biden, but I think she will do better than Biden (she has more than the firemen behind her) and her supporters are well organized and enthusiastic. I doubt that she will outpoll Bernie, but I would not rule it out entirely.

If supporter energy means anything, Warren’s people seem more numerous and more committed to their candidate than are the Sandernistas, who were hard to find amongst all the TV reporters. Bernie may have more media cred, but I suspect Warren has more a more energetic base.

The Cautionary Tale of Herbert Hoover

To get from the Warren musical to Mayor Pete’s get-out-the-vote rally, I took the slow roads. Instead of driving directly from West High School to Cedar Rapids, I detoured through Iowa City (home to Iowa’s Writers Workshop) and West Branch, where President Herbert Hoover was born and raised (it’s about 11 miles east of Iowa City and the university).

Hoover is a cautionary tale in the election of presidents, as few men have ever brought to the presidency his sterling credentials, and few have ever failed as miserably as he did in office.

Before his election, Hoover had worked in business, made a modest fortune, saved millions of European refugees from starving after World War I, and worked in a senior capacity in the cabinets of Presidents Harding and Coolidge. He wrote well and had creative ideas, but as president he failed to anticipate or ameliorate the Great Depression, and Hooverville became the word to describe encampments of the homeless across the United States.

I am not sure Hoover deserves all the blame history has given him, as Franklin Roosevelt had no more success in ending the Depression than did his predecessor. But FDR understood the mythical aspects of leadership better than Hoover, whose only response to the economic collapse was to preach faith in American capitalism. And the times were not on his side.

His boyhood home was closed when I got there, as was his library, but I enjoyed my brisk walk in the cold around West Branch, which has saved a number of houses from Hoover’s Quaker community, including the small cottage (almost a log cabin) in which he was born.

It’s thanks to Hoover that we now have the ritual rite of passage of post-presidential memoirs. He wrote his in two volumes, and it took him 18 years to finish them. But two volumes were not enough to change the verdict of history, and he’s remembered as uncaring.

Mayor Pete’s Big Job Interview

Mayor Pete, as he is called, although he’s no longer in office, had started speaking by the time I slipped into the hall. Again I was seated at a desk behind the television cameras (think of those obstructed view seats in Fenway Park), so to watch more closely I walked around the perimeter  and took up a post closer to where Pete (in a necktie but no jacket) was speaking.

I had seen Pete in the springtime, just after he announced his candidacy, and at that event he spent a fair amount of time speaking about being a Rhodes Scholar and what it meant to get “a first” at Oxford. (As he explained, it was a grade; he wasn’t first in his class.)

On this occasion, he didn’t review his school transcript in such detail, and after a few prepared remarks he answered questions, which is something he does better than giving set speeches (in his formal remarks he sounds a bit like an awkward valedictorian).

What struck me about Pete was the extent to which—consciously or not—his speech patterns have come to mimic those of Barack Obama. I noticed a slight southern drawl (South Bend isn’t any farther south than the South Side of Chicago), and he drops the word “folks” into his delivery on many occasions.

Like Obama, he’s taken to delivering what might be called dramatic truisms, as was the case when he told the crowd that he would never cut any benefits associated with social security. Of course they cheered and clapped, but I don’t think even Herbert Hoover would run today on cutting entitlements (a word Pete dislikes, as the good working “folks” of Iowa have earned their payouts).

I was also struck by Pete’s drugstore cowboy patriotism, in all his talk about “restoring the credibility of the United States” around the world, and the necessity of having a military “second to none”.

That said,  he might re-order the priorities of military spending so that, while maintaining the capacity to make the rubble bounce, we could also have first-rate schools, job training centers, renewable energy, voter security, gun safety, and more efficient government.

Pete is actually more an heir to Jimmy Carter than Barack Obama, in that his appeal is largely that of someone new and untainted with the sins of Washington. Despite all of Jimmy Carter’s talk about zero-based budgeting and restoring “trust” in the post-Watergate White House, essentially the Carter appeal was that he was unknown.

Author and essayist Lewis Lapham wrote at the time in Harper’s Magazine that Carter was elected “to redeem the American soul, not to govern it,” and, if elected, the same might said about Mayor Pete, who on stage in Cedar Rapids looked a bit lost and out of place, like some fan at a Cincinnati Reds game who is picked out of the stands and asked to play right field against the Cardinals.

Although I hardly put them in the category of daring ideas, Pete’s platform includes some tepid criticism of the electoral college (“I might get in trouble for saying this…”) and the number of justices on the Supreme Court (nothing in the Constitution caps the number at nine).

He also speaks about passing as a constitutional amendment a new voting act for the 21st century, that would put an end to voter suppression and end the discrimination that amounts to a kind of poll tax.

Pete is running as the first openly gay candidate, and he makes reference in his set speeches to 2008, when he was knocking on doors in Iowa for Obama, and the fact that he would not then have been able to marry his partner legally.

To Iowans, he says of his wedding band: “You made it possible,” and that’s an effective applause line, as popular as when his partner Chasten joins him on the podium and they work the crowd for selfies.

Logic suggests that, at best, Pete is running for consideration as a vice presidential nominee, and for that he might well pair with the older Sanders or  Elizabeth Warren, although she might not want another Harvard alumni on her ticket.

In the Iowa polls, Pete is the wild card, as he has invested heavily in what is called out here his “ground game” (staff on the ground in far-flung counties), and because he’s a centrist who has both right and left appeal.

If he doesn’t get to the “viable” threshold level of 15%, the question is whether he releases his supporters to Amy Klobuchar (another centrist) or makes a deal with one of the big three, Biden, Sanders, or Warren.

Once the Iowa caucuses are over, Pete will lose whatever influence he might have as a kingmaker, as Iowa is one of the few places where there is ranked choice voting, and those behind in the polls can throw their weight to another candidates.

My guess is that Pete isn’t at ease with the backroom deal aspects of presidential politics, and I think he would be most comfortable, on a personal level, dealing with another midwesterner, Amy Klobuchar, although the risk for both of them is that, if behind, they would, in military terms, be reinforcing defeat.

Based on little more than head counting at Super Bowl parties, I would say that Klobuchar will do better than Pete in Iowa (she’s a good organizer), and that Iowa (and then maybe New Hampshire) will be the end of Pete’s golden resumé to the presidency.

Republicans Against Trump: William Weld

To my surprise and pleasure, I found out that two Republican candidates were in Iowa campaigning against Donald Trump for the Republican nomination. I say pleasure because rarely, if ever, do I hear any Republicans put the boot into Trump, and both William Weld and Joseph Walsh—the candidates out here—hate Trump with a passion. Plus they are mostly campaigning around Des Moines at coffee shops and universities, so are easy to meet, and only a stray media person or two ever goes to their events.

I met William Weld at Waveland Café, which is in the Des Moines suburbs. He served in the Reagan justice department and two terms as governor of Massachusetts. He graduated from Harvard in classics and is what was once called a “Rockefeller Republican,” meaning a Republican from the northeast with fairly liberal positions on social issues.

Weld was governor from 1991 to 1997, and in 2016 he ran as the Libertarian candidate for president. This time he has ruled out running as a third party candidate (he’s 74 years old) but he would like, especially in New Hampshire, to shake up the Trump campaign and pull in Republican voters who share his values and hate Trump.

Weld showed up at the Waveland with his wife and a campaign volunteer. It looked as though they arrived in a rental car; there’s no chartered bus in the Trump opposition.

Weld is very tall, with a full head of gray hair, and a pleasing, if slightly reserved, personality. He shook hands with the five people on hand to greet him, including two women who had voted for him as a Libertarian in 2016. Then a supporter with a dog showed up, and Weld tried to stoop over enough to get both him and the dog in the picture. It wasn’t easy.

I asked Weld if he had ambitions beyond New Hampshire, and he said he did, adding that he hoped there were enough Republicans “out there” who want to reclaim the party from Donald Trump.

He also pointed out that he had more executive experience than did Trump, before his election, and more familiarity with foreign affairs. “I am one of the few,” he said, “who has ever counted among his friends both Benjamin Netanyahu and Shimon Peres.”

Weld worked his away around the Waveland Café, shaking hands with people eating breakfast. The customers were more accepting of the campaign intrusion  than the waitresses, who kept complaining that they had people to serve.

I still wonder if most of those who shook Weld’s hand knew that he was running against Trump on the Republican ballot, but they all seemed gracious , and during the meet-and-greet some local television people showed up to tape a brief interview. On the last Sunday before the Iowa caucuses, there are enough camera crews on hand to film games of pick up touch football in the parks.

Unlike the Democrats, the Republicans do not caucus in the clusters of supporters, but vote for the candidates of their choice.

Just to be sure nothing gets out of hand, however, Trump is sending in a planeload of senior Trump officials, including his sons Don Jr. and Eric, to speak on Trump’s behalf when the Republicans gather to vote.

Among those in the entourage is Mick Mulvaney, the White House chief of staff who refused to testify in the House impeachment hearings. He’s on his own at an elementary school in Waukee, Iowa, a town just west of Des Moines. I thought of showing up and trying to issue a citizen’s subpoena, but that might mean having to listen to Don Jr. speak on some close-captioned hook up, and that would be more painful than a double dose of Bernie and Elizabeth Warren.

Republicans Against Trump: Joe Walsh

The most engaging personality in the Iowa caucuses belongs to a former Republican congressman, Joe Walsh, who is also running against Trump in the caucus and who has zero chance of winning. It’s too bad, as he hates Trump as much as Adam Schiff does. In fact, he sounds very similar to Adam Schiff on the subject of the sitting president.

In making the caucus rounds, I had thought about skipping the Walsh campaign and only focusing on those who might have a chance to figure in the news.  Then I decided I needed to see and hear every candidate in Iowa, and that lead me to track down Walsh on the campus of Simpson College, where instead of speaking in the main event hall, he was appearing in one of the classrooms.

Walsh is from the South Side of Chicago, and he was elected to Congress as a Tea Partier in 2010. He only served one term before getting “redistricted” and then he lost where he tried to stand for reelection.

I get the sense that, politically, he’s been all over the map. Early in his career he was a social worker and history teacher. Then he was a moderate Republican before becoming a Tea Partier.

After leaving office, he was a right-wing conservative radio host, but since then he has become one of the most out-spoken members of the Republican Party in wanting Trump out of office—to the extent that he’s now funding his own run for the presidency, just to have a platform for his Trump-hating.

He begins his talks by saying, “I am a Republican, and I think Trump is unfit for office.” He goes on to say, and said it more than once, that “Trump lies every time he opens his mouth,” and to say that “all Trump cares about is Donald Trump. Nothing else.”

Walsh says Trump is absolutely guilty as charged by the House of Representatives, and when I asked him what other Republicans in the House and Senate think about Trump he said: “They all know he’s a moron. They are just scared to keep their jobs.” He says everyone in Washington knows that Trump is “mean and cruel and bigoted.”

Walsh believes that the Republican Party is threatened with extinction if it continues to roll over and play dead rather than take on Trump. He thinks the Senators who will vote for acquittal “will pay a price” in the fall elections. He added: “They will get smoked.”

He does not believe that climate change is “a hoax,” as Trump does, and while he is pro-life, he would love to position the Republican Party to attract more women.

He believes Trump is driving women from the party in record numbers. He does not think the plans of Warren or Sanders make sense economically, but he said (and you don’t hear this often from a Republican): “I love Bernie Sanders because he genuinely believes what he believes.”

He calls the killing of Qasem Soleimani a “bad and stupid thing to do,” and he’s the only politician I have heard in Iowa who has said nice things about Iran as a country and as a place he would like someday to visit. “It could even be,” he said, “an American ally.”

Whatever the subject, Walsh always comes back to Trump, “this crazy man show…this horrible human being in the White House.”

Walsh said he was getting death threats out on his campaign, and that it was personally costing him time and money to make his stand against Trump. He said he was running because: “I want to surprise him….I want get under his skin…and I want to wake up Republicans…”

In less than an hour, he was done talking. He had engaged a roomful of students, listened to their questions, stated his views, and spoken with civility.

I suspect he will get less than a thousand votes in the Republican caucuses, but I bet that any Republican who has gone to his events and met him will vote for him.

Joe Biden’s Last Stand

My day ended with Joe Biden’s pre-election in Des Moines and Amy Klochubar’s Super Bowl party in Johnston.

I had seen Biden in Council Bluffs, but I had missed Klobuchar as she had been in Washington at the Trump impeachment hearings.

Biden’s get-out-the-vote rally was held at Hiatt Middle School, which is on the edge of downtown Des Moines, not far from the state capitol but in a pawn shop district.

The doors for the rally opened at 3:45 p.m. and well before that there were lines of Biden supporters snaking along the school’s sidewalks.

Inside the school gym, there were literally hundreds of media types crammed into the corners. I talked to journalists from Washington, Israel, France, and Australia, and I could see big-name anchor people squeezed up against security barriers.

At that point in the day I was more interested in the Super Bowl than in hearing  another Joe Biden address, but I hoped that he might wrap things up quickly so that everyone present could get on the greater matter of state—that of the Chiefs and 49ers. It wasn’t to be.

It took forever for the state senators and members of Congress to give their speeches, and then Joe’s wife Jill had to sing her husband’s praises. For some of her remarks, she was speaking into a dead mic, although I don’t think many in the room were there to catch Jill’s encomium.

Then someone had to introduce the extended Biden clan that was seated in the bleachers, and some of the honored guests, including former presidential candidate and Secretary of State, John Kerry, who was later overhead in a Des Moines hotel saying Biden was “dead man walking” in the race and that he might have to jump in to save the republic. I am sure the Bidens were happy that they invited him to rally and gave him a shoutout.

By the time Joe was ready to speak, the mic and the acoustics remained weak. (We were in a middle school gymnasium with concrete walls…) So as much as Biden wanted to sound like William Jennings Bryan, the Democratic candidate in 1896 and in two other elections (“… we shall answer their demands for a gold standard by saying to them, you shall not press down upon the brow of labor this crown of thorns. You shall not crucify mankind upon a cross of gold…”), he made me think of an assistant principal telling seventh graders not to throw snowballs at recess. His voice was reedy, he sounded tired, and no one was listening. Yes, people cheered at the applause lines, but only because Biden would stop talking and wait for the clapping. In the end, with family present, it felt more like a retirement party or last hurrah than a new frontier.

Amy Klobuchar’s Super Bowl Party

I only went to Amy’s Super Bowl party because I had yet to hear her speak and because I didn’t think either Bernie or Elizabeth would have much to say about Patrick Mahomes or Deebo Samuel. One of the problems of this election is that I can’t think of any candidate with whom I would want to watch the Super Bowl.

Amy’s Super Bowl party wasn’t in her basement wet bar, but at Jethro’s BBQ n’ Pork Chop Grill, in Johnston, about ten miles from Des Moines.

By the time I got there, the place was packed, and the only place I could stand and watch some of the game was near the podium where Amy was supposed to speak at halftime.

When I arrived, the game was 3-0, and Jethro was doing a land-office business with pitchers of beers, nachos, and guacamole, but despite all the televisions around the bar I didn’t sense many people were watching the game. (Good for Amy, but bad for America.)

Only ten minutes after I got there, the front doors opened, and, surrounded by a flock of television cameras, Amy walked into Jethro’s. According to one of her handlers, Amy had to fly back to Washington to attend more impeachment hearings. She could not watch the game with everyone, and she would be speaking right away. (No one asked, but I wondered: What would Troy Aikman think?”)

On her arrival Amy’s super fans (“…real good, Bob…”) took up an “Amy, Amy, Amy…” chant. Only when she climbed on to the podium did things quiet down.

Klobuchar apologized to the party for not being able to stay for the evening and mix with the crowd. She said she had the people’s work to do back in Washington, and she was sure the crowd would understand her absence and work hard to turn out voters for the caucus.

She attempted to make a football joke, involving the goal line and a touchdown, but, to extend the analogy, she fumbled the ball and took the speech elsewhere.

For the substance of her talk, Klobuchar spoke about her roots as a political, grass roots organizer. She even told a self-deprecating joke about an early attempt in a political campaign, when she went into a room that was to have been full of Democrats, only to find only six people present. She braced herself for disappointment and began to give her speech, when one of the men listening said, “This is the golf club. The Democrats are next door.”

If Klobuchar exceeds expectations in Iowa, it will be because she’s good at grassroots politics, and because her home state of Minnesota shares a long border with Iowa. She’s also vying for center space with Biden and Mayor Pete.

Iowans might appreciate her midwest accent and sensibility, but I sense she will fail to make the 15% cut in most precincts, and thus be left to decide whether to make a deal with a frontrunner (say Joe Biden) or to team up with someone like Pete.

Her best prospect is to become a vice-presidential nominee, but that will only happen if, to use a Trump phrase from the impeachment hearings, she has “the deliverables.” Something tells me she does not, as no Democratic candidate needs Amy to win in Minnesota.

Her strength lies in her claim that she is adept at getting legislation passed in Congress—to distinguish her from the other senators running, Sanders and Warren, who are better at the talk end of politics than in getting bills passed.

Either Bernie Sanders or Joe Biden could pick her as a running mate, but I suspect both would lean more toward Senator Kamala Harris, if only to solidify the African-American vote, which failed to turn out for Hillary in 2016 to the extent that it voted for Obama in 2012.

No sooner had Klobuchar greeted her guests than she headed toward her bus and presumably the airport for the flight to Washington. To my knowledge she didn’t have any of the wings being passed around or one of the 16-ounce beers that were sitting on the bar. I left at the same time, figuring I would see more of the game back in my hotel.

As it turned out, the Klobuchar bus, “Amy For America,” was parked near my car, so that I could see her walking back to her bus while I was fumbling for my keys.

It spoke well of her that she was willing to fly all the way back to Washington to hear closing arguments in the impeachment trial, even though the acquittal is a foregone conclusion.

At the same time, at the Super Bowl party or in the many Democratic debates, I have never heard from Klobuchar exactly why she wants to be president. I heard that she will be a careful guardian of the state and work hard and pass bills with the Congress, but as for the substance of her campaign, it felt a little like some of Jethro’s wings.

Who Wins Iowa?

Having taken readers this far, it’s only fair for me to venture my predictions for the Iowa caucuses.

Keep in mind, that I read the same polls as you do, and have no inside knowledge from some operative in Des Moines.

At the same time I think Iowa is the state in the primaries where polling means the least. Voters in school gymnasiums will literally be voting with their feet (they stand in clusters, around the name of their candidate), and when a candidate fails to get to the 15% threshold, they move on. Hence much of the polling data for Iowa has to divine not just first but second and third choices, and align them correctly.

One advantage to being on the ground in Iowa is to sense some of the buzz in the event rooms and to gauge a candidate’s organization. But it’s not rocket science. In that regard, my predictions for the Iowa caucuses are as follows:

Warren

Sanders

Biden

Buttigieg

Klobuchar

Yang

Steyer

Gabbard

The big winner, even if she doesn’t win the caucus, will be Warren, and the big loser, no matter where he places, will be Biden. I think Klobuchar will throw any votes she has to give to Biden, while I think Buttigieg, if given the chance, will pitch his delegates to Warren.

Overall, I think Bernie will do well enough in Iowa, even if he doesn’t win, to carry momentum into New Hampshire, and from victory there, I don’t see him losing the nomination to either Biden or Michael Bloomberg, who has not showed up in Iowa. (He’s Oz behind the curtain somewhere on the Great Plains.)

The only other candidate not in Iowa is Tulsi Gabbard. She is only here symbolically—her face adorns dozens of billboards across many fields—but she failed even to host a Super Bowl party or a get-out-the-vote rally. I guess she’s not as present as she believes.

Posted in USA, CampaignsComments Off on Live From Iowa: Caucus Night

The occupation stormed the prisoners’ section in Ashkelon Prison

By: Sammi Ibrahem,Sr

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Ramallah – Quds News: The “Yamaz” repression forces stormed the prisoners ’section of Ashkelon prison, conducted an inspection, and caused massive damage in the room designated for the“ Kentina ”.

The Prisoners Club, in a statement, this evening, Thursday, that a confrontation took place between the prisoners and the oppression forces after that, and that the prison administration transferred the prisoner Nasr Abu Hamid to the cells, and that the prisoners decided in response to this to close the section.

The Prisoners Club indicated that the prisoners of Ashkelon prison, numbering about 50, were subjected to repeated and continuous repression, isolation, and isolation, which escalated since October 2019, noting that among the prisoners who were in the only section devoted to security prisoners in the prison, Ashkelon A number of sick prisoners, pointing out that this process of repression is the second since the beginning of this year, when it witnessed a repression in January.

It is noteworthy that the Occupation Prisons Administration has escalated repression of prisoners since the beginning of last 2019, which witnessed the most violent repression in more than ten years.

Sanad Torman: a guerrilla tale that every Palestinian sings

The factions comment on the recent events in the West Bank and Jerusalem … so what did they say?

Blocking is ongoing .. The judiciary dismisses a lawsuit to interpret the Cyber ​​Crime Law


The occupation announces the arrest of the person who carried out the run over operation in occupied Jerusalem

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Ramallah – Quds News: The Israeli occupation forces arrested, on Thursday evening, the perpetrator of the run-up operation that took place at occupied Jerusalem.

A statement issued by the occupation army said that: “The accused of carrying out the run-over operation was transferred to investigation after extensive intelligence and operational efforts carried out by the occupation army in cooperation with the” Shin Bet, police and other special units “, while he did not provide any other details.

The Prisoners’ Information Office stated that the arrested bomber is “Sanad Khaled Al-Turman” from occupied Jerusalem, and he was arrested in an ambush at the Etzion settlement intersection, north of Hebron, in the occupied West Bank.

The run over operation in occupied Jerusalem resulted in the injury of 12 soldiers, including one seriously injured, as the two men managed to withdraw, while the occupation confiscated his car in Beit Jala, before announcing his arrest at a later time.


  1. News

Updated | Seven Palestinians were arrested from Jerusalem and the West Bank, including two boys

Arrest

Occupied Palestine – Jerusalem News : The occupation forces arrested at dawn today, Thursday, seven Palestinians from separate areas in the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem.

Local sources said that the occupation forces arrested Hassan Al-Amor and Ahmed Al-Amor after they stormed their homes in the town of Tuqu ‘s southeast of Bethlehem.

She added that the army forces also arrested the young Bakr Bassam Eid Al-Hawarin from Al-Dhahiriya, south of Hebron, and Ahmed Khaled Abu Halouq from Al-Taybeh, the Jenin District.

The leader of the Popular Front, Ahmed Soufan, from Ramallah, was also arrested.

In Jerusalem, the occupation forces arrested the boy, Mustafa Karama, from the town of Al-Ram, north of the city, while the occupation police re-arrested the boy, Musab Ghazala, from Jerusalem one day after his liberation, where he spent two months in solitary confinement in the criminal prison “Ofik”.

Posted in Palestine Affairs, ZIO-NAZI, Human RightsComments Off on The occupation stormed the prisoners’ section in Ashkelon Prison

Debunking the lies spread about musician and writer Gilad Atzmon by Zionists and other Israel apologists

Gilad Atzmon - truth and lies
By Gilad Atzmon

For more than a decade and a half I have been subjected to a relentless and sometimes violent smear campaign. I have been accused of all sorts of “hate crimes”, including the totally ludicrous claim that I advocate the “burning of synagogues”, “incitements of violence”, and have routinely been labelled, among other slurs, a “notorious anti-Semite” and a “holocaust denier”. Of course, if any of these accusations had merit, I would have spent time behind bars. The truth, which should be embarrassing for the name callers, is that I have never been charged with hate speech or any other crime. No law enforcement authority anywhere has ever even questioned me about anything I wrote or said. I perform and teach all over the world, including in Germany and Austria, where “holocaust denial” is vigorously prosecuted.

My detractors boast that they intend to ruin my reputation, smear and impoverish me and any others they deem improperly critical of Israel. I should have written this piece long ago but I found it demeaning to deny baseless accusations founded on lies and misquotes. For the record, I am not an anti-Semite, a holocaust denier or a conspiracy theorist.

My detractors are now terrorising the extended music community in an attempt to accomplish their insane mission. I defy the idea that we live in a “post truth era”. Athens, for me, is a core of inspiration and truth seeking, and is my life time adventure. Here, in response to the fabrications attributed to me by various Jewish institutions such as the Jewish Chronicle (JC) and the Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAA), are the actual statements I made. 

Gilad on “burning synagogues: Rationality vs justification

Zionist pressure groups have claimed that I advocated burning synagogues. The origin of this preposterous assertion is a misquote attributed to me in a Guardian article in 2005. According to the Guardian, “Gilad Atzmon, a pro-Palestine advocate, gave a talk to students this month, arguing: ‘I’m not going to say whether it is right or not to burn down a synagogue, I can see that it is a rational act.’” A week later the Guardian agreed to publish my letter in which I explain and refute this claim.

Your quote… [of me] is inaccurate and taken out of context. By no means did I justify any form of violence against Jews, Jewish interests or any innocent people. In the School of Oriental and African Studies we were debating the question of rationality of anti-Semitism. I claimed that since Israel presents itself as the ‘state of the Jewish people’, and bearing in mind the atrocities committed by the Jewish state against the Palestinians, any form of anti-Jewish activity may be seen as political retaliation. This does not make it right.

At the time, pro-Zionist online discussion groups complained that the police failed to charge me with incitement of hatred. The reason for that is obvious: there was no evidence, I never advocated burning synagogues. I have always opposed any form of violence against Jews or anyone else! The British authorities understood that I was discussing the “discourse of rationality” (reasoning) and not the “context of rationalisation” (justification). Horrendous war crimes are grossly unethical but may also be rational. The decision to nuke Hiroshima, for instance, was a rational decision, although insanely immoral. The same applies to Israel shelling Gaza with white phosphorus. A calculated military decision was made to engage in these vile war crimes. Examining the rationale for such crimes may be our best hope to prevent them. Rationality and morality are categorically distinct concepts, as my actual words made clear.

Is Gilad Atzmon a “holocaust denier?”

I have been accused of being a “holocaust denier” or a holocaust revisionist. This is simply false. I have never denied the holocaust nor have I written a single revisionist text as I am not an historian of any sort. I guess no need to mention once again that my mother’s family suffered enormously in that terrible period. 

I am a philosopher. As such, I argue that this chapter in our past should be treated not as a religion or dogma, but must, like all other past events, be subject to scrutiny and open discussion. If history is the art of narrating the past as we move along, then revising our understanding of the past is the true meaning of the historical endeavour. In my work I argue that engaging in a discourse of history that is open to revision is at the core of the ethical insight.

It is also crucial to mention that the notion of “holocaust religion” was actually coined by the legendary Israeli philosopher professor Yeshayahu Leibowitz  back in the 1970s. Leibowitz was followed by Adi Ophir, another prominent Israeli philosopher, who offered his own criticism of the holocaust religion in his paper On Sanctifying the Holocaust: An Anti-Theological Treatise.

Did Gilad Atzmon really say Hitler was right after all?

My words as they appear in my 2011 book, The Wandering Who? show that I said the opposite: even the thought by some that Hitler might have been right is presented as an unacceptable scenario. In the book, I wrote:

We, for instance, can envisage an horrific situation in which an Israeli so-called “pre-emptive” nuclear attack on Iran escalates into a disastrous nuclear war, in which tens of millions of people perish. I guess that among the survivors of such a nightmare scenario, some may be bold enough to argue that “Hitler might have been right after all”. The above is obviously a fictional scenario, and by no means a wishful one, yet such a vision of a “possible” horrific development should restrain Israeli or Zionist aggression towards Iran.” (The Wandering Who? page 179)

As you can read, my actual words are diametrically opposed to the fabricated misquotes attributed to me by various Zionist pressure groups. I used the extreme example of a nuclear war to argue that Israel should finally seek peace with its neighbours to deny anyone the thought that Hitler was right after all.

Did Gilad Atzmon ask Jews to apologise for the holocaust?

In 2014, in the light of huge anti-Jewish protests in Paris, I wrote a piece titled “Holocaust Day – The time Is ripe for a Jewish apology“. In the article I briefly elaborated on historical hatred of Jews and the Zionist promise to prevent the Jewish fate by “fixing” the Jews and making them “people like all other people” [as stated in Theodor Herzl’s Der Judenstaat]. I closed the article with the following paragraph.

Many Jews around the world are commemorating the holocaust this week. But if I am correct, maybe the time is ripe for Jewish and Zionist organisations to draw the real and most important lesson from the holocaust. Instead of constantly blaming the goyim [gentiles] for inflicting pain on Jews, it is time for Jews to look in the mirror and try to identify what it is in Jews and their culture that evokes so much fury. It may even be possible that some Jews would take this opportunity to apologise to the gentiles around them for evoking all this anger.

Nowhere in the article did I suggest Jews apologise for the holocaust. I accept that my words may be infuriating to those who are contemptuous of conciliatory efforts. I reckon that it would not be such a bad idea for the Campaign Against Antisemitism to apologise to Labour Party members and Jeremy Corbyn whom they smeared mercilessly. The British Chief Rabbi could join them, as might the editors of the three British Jewish papers who literally referred to Corbyn as an “existential threat” and practically equated him with Hitler. Such a peace-seeking approach on the part of some Jewish institutions will help to diffuse the anger these bodies engendered during the 2019 General Election among many segments of the British left.

Is Gilad Atzmon a “promoter of classic anti-Semitic conspiracy theories?”

According to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), I’m an “outspoken promoter of classic anti-Semitic conspiracy theories and a fierce critic of the State of Israel”. I am indeed a fierce critic of Israel and I am outspoken. But not only do I not promote “anti-Semitic conspiracy theories”, but as I repeatedly state throughout my entire body of work, “there are no Jewish conspiracies. Everything is done in the open” and in front of our eyes. 

What I do observe is that we cannot speak about any of that: Jewish power, as I define it, is the power to suppress criticism of Jewish power. The Israel lobby dominates American foreign policy, it pushes for a conflict with Iran. Similarly, the Congress’s performance of one standing ovation after the other for Netanyahu wasn’t a secret ritual. In Britain, Jewish institutions such as the Jewish papers, the Chief Rabbi and a Jewish charity declared an open war on the opposition party and its leader. None of that was “conspiratorial” or secretive. We are dealing with mainstream news, yet we dare not talk about it, let alone criticise it.

Evoking animosity in others

In 2013 I was interviewed by Swiss writer Alimuddin Usmanani who asked me to define what it means to be a Jew. My answer was short and conclusive: “To be a Jew is to evoke animosity in others.” My answer was provocative and at least as challenging as the official Tikun Olam’s answer to the same question, i.e., “to be a Jew is to fix the world”. However, while there are no statistics that show that Jews are actually engaged in fixing the world, my critics within the CAA, the ADL, The Jewish Chronicleand other Zionists institutions publish polls on an almost daily basis that suggest that Jews are hated globally and locally.

The ethos that drove early Labour Zionism both ideologically and politically was the acceptance that, for one reason or another, Jews can’t assimilate and would be safer somewhere else where they would  be turned, through political training, into “a people like all other peoples”. I do not say that Jews should be hated. Rather like those early Zionists, I contend that Jewish institutions must self-reflect. Instead of accusing goyim, Britons, Labour members, Americans, etc. they should engage in a true introspective process. Crying about anti-Semitism and/or terrorising jazz clubs and music venues won’t solve the Jewish problem; it will make it worse and the situation is clearly deteriorating as the ADL/CAA/CST [“Community Security Trust”] statistics on anti-Semitism reveal.

Is David Duke a humanist?

I oppose all forms of biologically-oriented politics. I oppose all forms of politics that are defined by race, gender or sexual orientation. I contend that politics ought to unite us as equals rather than divide us on the basis of biology. David Duke and I hold distinctly opposite positions on this and other fundamental issues.

In March 2014 I gave an interview to larmurerie.fr/ I can’t trace the original French article but a Google translation of the French original exists on my site. I was asked by the French journalist the following question: Many French people share your opinion. For example, there is a French thinker, Hervé Ryssen, who uses the same metaphor as you when you talk about the mirror, saying that when a Jew accuses you of being an anti-Semite, you just have to read the mirror image of the argument to reveal his racism towards goyim.”

My answer was as follows.

I actually use the word projection, but the mirror image is no doubt similar. And projection, by the way, is something that Freudtaught us about. You know, we have to admit that some of the most interesting humanists in the history of the West are Jews: Christ, Spinoza, Marx were Jews. Why is that?… Now there is something very interesting and it’s again the first time I’m saying it. The left is devastated by David Duke, for instance. He was in the KKK when he was young. But here is something quite amazing: I read him and I was shocked to find out that this guy knows more about Jewish identity than I do! How could a supposedly “racist” gentile who probably never entered a synagogue knows more than I do about Judaism? The reason is in fact very simple: he is a proud white man. He’s interested in nationalism, in the culture of his own people, so he understands things that I am not even allowed to think about. Believe it or not, even as a Jew, I wasn’t allowed to think of myself as a racist. I was a racist, maybe I am still one, but I was not allowed to acknowledge it. Once he acknowledges that he’s talking about white people’s rights, in a way he thinks like Avigdor Lieberman! But in fact, he is way better than Lieberman. David Duke is a humanist because he says, “I want to celebrate my right and you should celebrate your rights” whether you are Muslim or black or whatever. He believes that all people should celebrate their rights; this is his current philosophy. Avidgor Liberman is not a humanist, because he wants to celebrate his rights at the expense of other people.

In my book. humanism is primarily a universal adventure. Duke is no doubt a separatist. He prefers to see people living in partitioned enclaves, his political thought is racially oriented. Yet, if I understand it correctly, he believes that all people, regardless of their race, ethnicity, skin colour or religion, should enjoy such a right. At least in comparison with the right wing Zionist philosophy that adheres to the idea that one people should celebrate its self-determination at the expense of another people, Duke’s current offering is more ethical, universal and humane. I understand that some Jews may be upset by the comparison; however, the way to deal with disagreement is to produce a counter argument rather than terrorising the music community. I myself hold completely opposing views to Duke’s on the matter: I believe that people should learn to live together and seek harmony. This is why I left Israel. However, despite my disagreement with Duke on some fundamental and crucial issues, in line with the Western intellectual tradition I take pride in making an effort to understand positions before I criticise them. 

Does Gilad Atzmon hate Jews?

As I have stated time and time again, I have never criticised Jews or anyone else as a people, a race, an ethnicity or a biology. I challenge my detractors to produce a single reference in my work that contradicts this. No one has ever produced the goods. In my work there is no hatred whatsoever against Jews or anyone else. Many years ago, I accepted that some Jews regard me as a “self-hater” yet, I fail to see how me hating myself is so unsettling for other Jews.

In 2014 I produced a statement that some mistakenly saw as an admission of “Jew hatred” and racism. At the time, I engaged in a brief twitter exchange with @OnePoundOne, an Israeli nationalist who frequently urged the murder of Palestinians, Muslims and Arabs.

On one occasion @OnePoundOne insisted that “as a Jew” I should support his violent anti-Arab/Muslim rampage. I replied:

“@OnePoundOne. 1. I am not a Jew anymore 2. I indeed despise the Jew in me (whatever is left) 3. I absolutely detest the Jew in you.”

@OnePoundOne’s Twitter account was suspended shortly after our exchange for spreading hate speech and advocating violence. 

Despite the suspension of @OnePoundOne’s account, some examples of his hateful communications survive on the internet in the form of screenshots. 

I have never before publicly addressed the criticism over my answer to @OnePoundOne. Anti-Semites are people who hate Jews for being Jews. Anti-Semites do not accept that Jews can stop being Jews and morph into something else. My response to @OnePoundOne dismantles this racist doctrine:

 1. I suggest that one can choose to stop being a Jew. In this view, Jewishness is a cultural or religious construct and is not either racially or biologically determined. 

2. To the extent I myself retain that culture, I admit that I detest that cultural aspect in myself.

3. Further, I rejected any cultural impetus that may exist in @OnePoundOne’s hateful statements that called for violence against Arabs, Palestinians and Muslims “as a Jew”.

But there is a fascinating intellectual exercise to apply here that helps explain my reaction to @OnePoundOne’s vile incitement of violence. Replacing the word “Jew” with “Protestant” in my answer to @OnePoundOne would read as follows: “1. I am not a Protestant anymore 2. I indeed despise the Protestant in me (whatever is left) 3. I absolutely detest the Protestant in you.” While some might find this offensive, it is not racist as Protestantism is a belief system rather than a racial identification. If we proceed with this exercise and replace the word Jew with a biological category such as skin-colour or race, the statement collapses instantly as “I am not black anymore’ is a meaningless statement for someone who is black. Similarly, ‘I am not Caucasian anymore” is just as silly and hollow. In other words, my answer to @OnePoundOne could never be grasped as a “racist” offensive statement as it defies the idea that Jews are actually a race, as I myself managed to stop being one.

I am afraid to inform my detractors once again, that at least intellectually, I operate as a philosopher. If they want to fight my ideas, they will first have to invest some energy in understanding what I am saying. 

Look at these clueless British students recycling misquotes without verifying their authenticity or their meanings.

Final words on the matter

I accept that my deconstruction of Jewish identity politics upsets some Jews: no one likes to be scrutinised or criticised. But my work is limited to questioning politics and culture. I have never criticised Jews or anyone else in racial, biological, physiological or ethnic terms. I dig into ideology, politics and culture assuming that these three must be subject to criticism. The fact that I am smeared and defamed for doing so, only suggests to me and others that in the eyes of some self-identified Jews, their politics, ideology and culture are beyond criticism. In fact, this is exactly the supremacist view I deconstruct in my work.

I would expect that by now, considering their relentless efforts to destroy me, my detractors would have managed to spot a single incriminating line in my work so they don’t have to keep fabricating quotes and taking words out of context while terrorising jazz clubs in between. So far they have failed to do so. This raises the assumption that their insane campaign against me, one that reflects very badly on my detractors, suggests that I have something very important to say.

I honestly believe that if my detractors would engage with my writing instead of attempting to burn my books, anti-Semitism wouldn’t be an issue in Britain or anywhere else. Jews would enjoy their lives and live in harmony with their neighbors. I guess that in the minds of some Zionists, crucifying me is the way forward. Some people must be foolish not to see that they turn me into an intellectual martyr, a Jazzus figure.

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