The Immigration Con: How the Duopoly Makes the Public Forget about Roots Causes of War and Economics

June 26th, 2018

Many are focusing on the travel ban, largely targeting Muslim countries, and the separation and detention of asylum seekers separated from their children at the U.S.-Mexico border. The the U.S. media and political establishment has put the issue of immigration front and center, causing all manner of political venting and pro and anti Trump venom to spew forth.

A silver lining seems to be that it has helped raise issues that — unlike the Russiagate story much of the establishment media has obsessed over — at least have some currency with the general public.

But the manner in which immigration issues have been focused on has obscured the root causes of those issues. Desperate migration is ultimately caused by economics, like so-called trade deals, corrupt Central American governments, often U.S.-backed, U.S.-backed coups and other policies.

And refugees desperately flee countries like Syria largely because of prolonged U.S.-backed wars.

In virtually all these instances, there is left-right opposition to the establishment policy that is often at the root of the problem. The establishment of the Republican and Democratic party have rammed through trade deals like NAFTA and CAFTA and global pro-corporate policies. The U.S. government — with both Obama and Trump administrations — has backed coups like Honduras in 2009 or rigged elections like in 2017.

Corporate deals and coups and such give rise to governments unresponsive to their citizens, enacting economic policies that have impoverished most of the people of these countries. It’s a testament to the long term effects of U.S. interventions that regions like Central America, which have been the focus of so much U.S. government attention over the decades, are in such dismal condition.

Such circumstances breed gangs, which means a lack of safety, causing desperate migration. Parts of grassroots economies, like small farmers growing corn, have been decimated because deals like NAFTA allow for dumping of U.S. agribusiness corn. Drug cartels rise as a way to make money for some — and to fulfill a demand for narcotics in the U.S., an escape for USians form their own economic plights and often nihilistic lives. Meanwhile, transpartisan efforts at drug legalization and pushed to the background.

Similarly, many leftists and some rightwingers, like Ron Paul, oppose constant U.S. interventions in the Mideast as well. The invasion of Iraq lead to the rise of ISIS, the destablization of Syria, Libya and other countries. The U.S. establishment and its allies, Saudi Arabia and Israel have effectively sought to prolong the war in Syria and to destabilize other counties in the region for their geostrategic designs.

The rank and file bases of the Democratic and Republican parties are largely against NAFTA, CAFTA, etc. — while the elites in both parties are for them, so they get done. Clinton and Obama were duplicitously for them (pretending that side deals on labor and environment will do much and thus to distract from their pushing corporate agenda). Trump rants and raves about much, but hasn’t put forward a serious crit of them.

So, the bases of the two parties end up fuming at each other over status of migrants from Central America and travelers from largely Muslim countries. They become further entrenched into either establishment party structure while the people running those structures continue to perpetuate policies that the bases agree with each other about.

Wars cause refugees. Then, the left and right scream at each other over the refugees, forgetting how the establishment continues the wars that the left and right are significantly opposed to.

All this has the effect of further entrenching people in their partisan boxes. Progressives with problems with the Democratic Party do their duty to fight against the Trumpsters and vice versa.

So, you get more war and more pro-corporate policies.

The manner of these debates tears people apart just enough to prevent dialogue. Sarah Sanders is told to leave a restaurant, but pundits on CNN urge the public not to be out in the streets arguing. Voting is the one and only path to making your voice heard. Shut up and get in line.

The debates rarely question national myths. Quite the contrary, they are an opportunity for “both sides” to appear to more loudly vocalize how they embody the goodness inherent in the U.S. “We need to reclaim our values… We’re a good nation, we’re a good people. And we should be setting a standard on this planet of what humanity should be about,” says Sen. Cory Booker after the Supreme Court upholds President Trump’s travel ban.

What “humanity should be about”. This from a member of a Democratic Party establishment that has fueled polarization with the other nation on the planet with thousands of nuclear warheads. From a party establishment that has dismissed apparent progress toward finally ending the bloody Korean War. Just this week, Senators from both sides of the aisle voted to allocate more and more money for wars. The recent increases in the Pentagon budget are more than the entire military budget of the great threat, Russia.

But pay no attention to that. National piety is upheld. The U.S. is so wonderful, the immigrants want in. That proves it. Never mind U.S. government policies helped impoverish them. Never mind U.S. government wars destroyed the countries of millions of refugees. Never mind what you think might be wrong with the country, just be grateful you’re here.

U.S. benevolence is to be proven by taking in a nominal number of refugees to some self-proclaimed liberals. So-called conservatives preserved the dignity of the nation not by insisting that the rule of law be applied to high officials, but that we should have zero tolerance for helping some desperate souls.

They diminishing economic state of USians emanating from economic inequality is largely off the agenda of both parties. They entrench the partisan divide, but in a way that obscures deeper issues. Party on.

How Trump and Obama are Exactly Alike

April 25th, 2017

Not until faithfulness turns to betrayal
And betrayal into trust
Can any human being become part of the truth.
—Rumi

Trump won the 2016 nomination and election largely because he was able to pose as a populist and anti-interventionist “America Firster”. Similarly, Obama won the 2008 election in good part because he promised “hope and change” and because he had given a speech years earlier against the then-impending invasion of Iraq.

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

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

Even before he took office, Obama stacked his administration with pro-war people. He incredibly kept Bush’s head of the Pentagon, Robert Gates; nominated Hillary Clinton for Secretary of State, who he beat largely because she voted for giving Bush authorization to invade Iraq. Other prominent Iraq War backers atop the administration included VP Joe Biden, Susan Rice and Richard Holbrooke. Before he was sworn in, Obama backed the 2008 Israeli slaughter of Palestinians in Gaza. See from 2008: “Anti-War Candidate, Pro-War Cabinet?

Predictably, the Obama years saw a dramatic escalation of the U.S. global assassination program using drones. Obama intentionally bombed more countries than any other president since World War II: Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Libya, Somalia, Yemen and Pakistan. Obama talked about a nuclear weapons free world, but geared up to spent $1 trillion in upgrading the U.S. nuclear weapons arsenal. At the end of his administration, attempts at the UN to work toward banning nuclear weapons were sabotaged, efforts that the Trump administration continues. At his first news conference as president, Helen Thomas asked Obama if he know of any country in the Mideast that had nuclear weapons. Obama passed on the opportunity to start unraveling the mountain of deceits that constitutes U.S. foreign policy by simply saying “Israel” and instead said that he didn’t want to “speculate” about the matter.

As many have noted recently, Trump seemingly reversed himself on Syria and launched a barrage of cruise missiles targeting the Assad regime. It’s part of a whole host of what’s called “flip-flops” — Export-Import Bank, NATO, China, Russia, Federal Reserve — but which are in fact the unraveling of campaign deceits.

Fundamentally, Obama and Trump ran against the establishment and then helped rebrand it — further entrenching it.

And of course it’s not just foreign policy. Obama brought in pro-Wall Street apparatchiks Tim Geithner and others around Robert Rubin, like Larry Summers. Some were connected to Goldman Sachs, including Rahm Emanuel, Gary Gensler and Elena Kagan and Obama would back the Wall Street bailout. Trump campaigned as a populist and brought in a litany of Goldman Sachs tools, most prominently Steven Mnuchin as Treasury Secretary and Gary Cohn as chief economic advisor. The Trump administration even seems to be targeting Social Security.

The nature of their deception is different. Obama is lawyerly and, like jello, hard to pin to the wall. Many of his broken promises are actually violations of the spirit of what he said, not the letter. He can promise to withdraw “all combat troops” from Iraq — but doesn’t inform voters that “combat troops” in his parlance is not the same as “troops”. And most certainly many of his backers were utterly infatuated with him and seemed incapable of parsing out his deceitful misimpressions. Obama did however outright violate some promises, most obviously to close the the gulag at Guantanamo Bay in his first 100 days.Trump triangulates by being an electron. He can say X and not-X in the span of a minute. Like an electron, he can be in two places at the same time. Trump is just an extreme example of what should be evident: It’s largely meaningless if a politician declares a position, especially during a campaign. The question is: What have they done? How have they demonstrated their commitment to, say, ending perpetual wars or taking on Wall Street?

These people are largely salesmen.

Nor are these patterns totally new. George W. Bush campaigned against “nation building” (sic: nation destroying); Bill Clinton campaigned as the “man from Hope” for the little guy; George H. W. Bush claimed he was a compassionate conservative. All backed corporate power and finance. All waged aggressive war.

In both the cases of Obama and Trump, the “opposition” party put forward a ridiculous critique that pushed them to be more militaristic. Obama as a “secret Muslim” — which gave him more licence to bomb more Muslim countries while still having a ridiculous image of being some sort of pacifist. Much of the “liberal” and “progressive” critique of Trump has been focusing on Russia, in effect pushing Trump to be more militaristic against the other major nuclear state on the planet.

One thing that’s needed is citizens aided by media that adroitly and accessibly pierce through the substantial deceptions in real time.

Another thing that’s needed is that people from what we call the “left” and “right” need to join together and pursue polices that undermine the grip of Wall Street and the war makers. They should not be draw into loving or hating personalities or take satisfaction from principleless partisan barbs.

Only when there’s adherence to real values and when solidarity is acted upon will the cycles of betrayal be broken.

Sam Husseini is founder of VotePact.org, which encourages cooperation between principled progressives and conscientious conservatives.

Election helps bring into view serious issues in polling

November 10th, 2016
I just posted this on the American Association for Public Opinion Research listserve.

While I certainly agree that framing etc huge problem, doesn’t seem to me that this gets at critical issues made evident from what happened.

There of course is a spiral of silence with regard to “third party” candidates. Stein and Johnson supporters concluded that voting was futile, as was the framing in media and polling reports throughout.

What I think is happening is the public is lurching for real change and the political system doesn’t want to give it to them. Pollsters role in this is that the “prediction” of election has totally outweighed actually understanding the public’s views. No poll asked who people WANT or PREFER to be president. Why?

No scientific poll asked the preference question in RCV or Range Voting form. A wealth of information could be gotten this way. A huge part of this is that this is just no on agenda of major media. But if polling is to be anything other than an accessory for media framing of whatever corporate media want to frame, then something very real has to give here.

There’s a volatility in the polls because of the hunger for change and the sense that the choice (apparently feasible choices) are probably phony. There could be a plurality for a “third party” and we’d never know it because the right question isn’t being asked, much less reported prominently, understood.

Sam Husseini
VotePact.org

Should “Third Parties” Embrace VotePact?

November 7th, 2016

From “Should Third Parties Support ‘Vote Pacts’ To Avoid ‘Spoiling’ Elections?” by Kit O’Connell at MintPress:

“A lot of people have basically grown to depend on the confines of the two-party system and have a hard time getting their brain around a constructive, strategic path out of it,” Sam Husseini, a political activist, told MintPress News.

Husseini proposed an alternative strategy in which voters form “voting pacts” across party lines. For example, a Democrat and a Republican might each agree to vote for a third-party candidate of their choice, rather than the two major parties’ candidates. The strategy reduces the potential for “spoiling” votes, as long as voting pacts don’t cross state lines, because each of the major candidates loses voters equally.

Husseini operates the website VotePact.org to encourage this method of vote sharing or vote pairing female viagra.

“It has the potential for being a catalyst for genuine realignment and perhaps even for a victory for a so-called third party or independent candidate creative enough to use such a strategy,” Husseini said. [Full article]

“It is a neat concept”

November 3rd, 2016

Human rights activist and former British Amb. Craig Murray writes:

With two such appalling candidates, there is a major problem. Many people are voting Trump to stop Clinton, even though they don’t like Trump. Many others are voting Clinton to stop Trump, even though they don’t like Clinton. Both Republicans and Democrats fear that if they support a third party candidate, they will let the other in. This is a kind of lesser of two extremely evil evils approach.

Sam Husseini has come up with Vote Pact. It enables pairing – a Republican and Democrat who trust each other should agree both to vote for a third party candidate casino. Both Trump and Clinton have therefore lost one each, and you can vote third party with no fear of having contributed to letting the greater evil in. It is a neat concept. Of course it will not catch on and will have no overall effect. I note it as an aid for those struggling with their conscience.

Whatever the outcome of this “election process” — we do hope that VotePact will be the shape of things to come.

“This Political Activist Created A Meaningful Way For You To Vote Third Party”

October 29th, 2016

From Bustle.com: “This Political Activist Created a Meaningful Way For You To Vote Third Party” by Amée LaTour:

One of the main appeals of Vote Pact is that it allows people to vote for candidates they actually support without begrudgingly helping their least-preferred major-party candidate in doing so, since one vote is denied each candidate. Husseini suggests that part of the reason third parties have remained so unsuccessful is that they haven’t effectively acknowledged and responded to the spoiler argument. “[Ralph] Nader, [Jill] Stein, and [Gary] Johnson have all responded defensively to the spoiler allegations,” he says. “They have this, in my regard, somewhat empty appeal to principle, and they end up in the low single digits time and time again.”

Husseini thinks that these candidates should adopt a more empathetic approach to voters grappling with the threat of the spoiler effect and develop a “meaningful strategy” to make themselves viable candidates. One way to do so, according to Husseini, is to guide voters to participate in the Vote Pact method, telling them, “Here’s your solution. Team up with your friend, your neighbor, your brother-in-law, your co-worker, and both vote for me instead of one of you voting for Trump and the other voting for Clinton.”

“Most people who advocate the so-called safe state strategy have an eye for getting a third party to 5 percent to make a more viable party,” Husseini says. “But that just kicks the can down the road to the next election, at which point you need to make a break and to have a strategy to actually win, or at least have a theoretical chance of winning.” The safe state strategy allows people to vote third-party while avoiding the spoiler effect, but ultimately props up the major parties by helping to solidify their victory, while failing to significantly improve the position of third parties.

The Huge Problem with Polls: My Letter to Frank Newport

October 25th, 2016
This letter was sent on Sept. 24 — via an intermediary who knows him well — to Frank Newport of Gallup, the pollster adviser to the bipartisan Commission on Presidential Debates. I’ve received no response. Ironically, Newport is author of Polling Matters: Why Leaders Must Listen to the Wisdom of the People. I think a close reading of the letter shows that Newport has hardly taken his own advice. 
– Sam Husseini

Dear Frank Newport –

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

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

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A VotePact Dialogue

October 12th, 2016

Steve: Why Jason, will you be my votebuddy?

Jason: What ever are you proposing?

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

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

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

Jason: Yet you seemed so reasonable.

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

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

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

Jason: Only in jest.

Steve: Excellent.

Jason: I’m looking at this website here, VotePact.org — I think I see where you’re going –

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

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Lester Holt Told the First Big Lie

September 27th, 2016

Before the faceoff between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, many were pleading that Lester Holt, the NBC anchor and moderator Monday night, to be a “fact checker.”

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

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

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

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

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Debates: Another Level of Bipartisan Control

September 26th, 2016

From accuracy.org:

– “Televised Joint Appearances”: In 1985, the national chairs of the Democratic and Republican parties, Paul Kirk and Frank Fahrenkopf, signed a remarkable agreement that referred to future debates as “nationally televised joint appearances conducted between the presidential and vice-presidential nominees of the two major political parties … It is our conclusion that future joint appearances should be principally and jointly sponsored and conducted by the Republican and Democratic Committees.”

– “Exclude Third-Party Candidates”: In February 1987, Democratic Party chair Kirk and GOP chair Fahrenkopf together issued a press release and held a D.C. news conference to announce the formation of the Commission on Presidential Debates (“Commission on Joint Appearances” apparently didn’t sound right) — with themselves as co-chairs. The press release called the new group “bipartisan.” According to the New York Times, Fahrenkopf indicated at the news conference that the CPD was “not likely to look with favor on including third-party candidates in the debates.” The Times reported: “Mr. Kirk was less equivocal, saying he personally believed the panel should exclude third party candidates from the debates aller.” The newspaper quoted Kirk: “As a party chairman, it’s my responsibility to strengthen the two-party system.”