“We retain the dignity of the revolution’s early days” – Marcell Shehwaro

The following is written by Syrian writer, Marcell Shehwaro. I came across it this morning on a facebook page called ‘Ghouta’. She is a journalist and activist from Aleppo, and executive director of Kesh Malek, a group that ran schools in opposition-held areas of Aleppo.

Two things strike me about the post. First, the question of ‘surrender’. There is a view among some in what passes for ‘the left’ today that the Syrian people could never win their struggle against the Assad regime. It has even been put to me that they were wrong to challenge an ‘unbeatable’ regime. This view, logically, also opposes the entire Arab Spring – or, more precisely, the bourgeois democratic revolution occurring in the region. As with Iraq, the stability of fascism, with all its regime horrors, is regarded as preferable to the chaos of revolutionary democratic change, with its potential for liberation.

The writer makes it clear why surrender is not an option.

Secondly, a profound point is made in the following sentence:

‘I and my group of friends never imagined as we hid from the bullets that shot at our peaceful demonstration that we could defeat Russian planes all by ourselves’. 

Who, other than a US-led coalition, can provide the military support necessary to defeat the Russian (and Syrian regime) planes? Failure to confront this reality results in the absurd proposition that one should oppose both Russian/Iranian and US/UK/French military intervention; that the recent bombardment and destruction of a chemical weapons storage facility, a research centre and command post by the US/UK/France was morally equivalent to the death toll of about 500,000 and refugee toll (half the population), for which Russia/Assad are overwhelmingly responsible. Not to mention the destruction by aerial bombardment by the regime and Russia of vast areas of cities, towns and camps, schools, hospitals, markets, mosques, and bakeries.

Trump persists with his pledge to wash his hands of Syria but has targeted the regime in a way that Obama never did. The epithet ‘Animal Assad’, used by Trump in a tweet, is now used by the Syrian and Arab democrats.

Meanwhile, the overt far-Right and the pseudo-left take to the streets demanding ‘Hands of Syria!’

Where is the moral compass?

We find one in the Syrian voice in the following post.

 

* * * * * *

 

What if we accept Bashar Al Assad?

Let’s discuss “peacefully” that “elephant in the room”, as you say, what if we accept that Assad remains in power?

We are asked the question sometimes obliquely, and sometimes filtered through the closed circles that decide on Syrian affairs without the attendance of any Syrians. Sometimes it is brought up in ways that infantalize as if we are children who don’t dare to confront the “truth realistically”.

In the harshest times, this question is posed to us as a negotiation over the bodies of our children. Instead of the answer of “why we don’t accept that Assad remain in power” is obvious because he killed our children and the scars of their smiles are etched on our hearts. The blackmailing question becomes: He will kill your children and their smiles, why don’t you just accept him?

Excuse us for a moment! We need some time to understand this world’s logic, the world ruled by Trump, Putin and a bunch of politicians who only care about their 4-year period in office.

Hafez al-Assad has blocked us from the outside world. Now his son follows in his footsteps. The liberationists amongst us gazed towards the United Nations Charters and the Universal Declaration for Human Rights. Some of us believed that those charters mean something. When the revolution broke out, we discovered that those charters are ruined due to the misuse of the members in the U.N.’s Security Council.

Apologies for the digression. So: why don’t we accept Assad?

We wish you tell your people the “harsh truth”. We want to challenge your empty words and courtesy rhetoric. We know you mean nothing when you say things like: using chemical weapon is a red line, or Aleppo is a red line, or Assad lost his legitimacy.

The truth is that Assad is more your ally than the naïve group of dreamers that we are, believing like we do in democracy, justice and accountability.


Isn’t this the message of bombing in Idlib and Ghouta today? To convince us, “gently”, to accept a political solution—the only solution that you lectured us about—as we are being killed?

You say that we are defeated. Well, gentlemen, I and my group of friends never imagined as we hid from the bullets that shot at our peaceful demonstration that we could defeat Russian planes all by ourselves. We never thought that we can win the “war” while we were being tortured, or suffocated by chemical weapons, destroyed by shelling, rape and detention.


It may be true that we have lost. But this defeat made me aware of something I never wanted to know.

I know today the terminology of violence: The Golan cluster bombs, the difference between Sarin and Chlorine, and the new version of bunker blaster that can destroy our “safe” basements. I learned even how to pronounce these words in English.

You say we were defeated in Sochi! We were not even at Sochi. Sochi was the costume party that gathered the regime himself with you.

You have all our sympathy for the time you are forced to spend with them.
I keep digressing away from that nightmare, Bashar Assad’s ruling Syria, excuse me!

What if we “accept” that Bashar al-Assad stays in power? First, Who are “we”? The cities that are besieged and bombed, the people that must cross a thousand barriers to visit one another. Who are “we”? The refugees who fail to have a proper family reunion? Or need an official permission to breathe?

And if some of us actually accept Bashar al-Assad as president, what can we do with all those of us who are “rude” enough to reject giving up their dignity? What can we do with all those who still believe in their right to their homeland? What if mothers who buried their sons refused to believe that justice had died also? We have to let them die.

So the suggestion is that some of us surrender, so that others die in silence. Or maybe we can give you the names and coordinates of all those who oppose Bashar al-Assad, so that you and your Russian friends can ensure their disappearance?

What if some of us actually accepted that Bashar Al Assad stays in power, do you guarantee that the war will stop? That the brutal dictator won’t celebrate his victory with taste of our defeated blood?


You say that you want him to stay for a transitional period. Funny joke, this one. Do you logically believe in your power to pressure Russia and the regime?

We have asked you for years to stop the shelling. We then felt sorry for you so we minimized our demands and asked you to stop the shelling of hospitals and schools. You failed here too. For years we have asked you to send relief convoys to the besieged areas; to move the sick for a distance of 10 kilometers, or to guarantee the families’ right to know the fate of their disappeared sons , and you failed to do so. You repeatedly explained that you are failing to put pressure on “Damascus.”

What logic do you want to believe, that “You cannot stop a school bombing and you can guarantee Bashar Assad’s removal after a transitional period?”


So the offer, that you are in a shock that we are refusing is, that we have to surrender without restriction, guaranties or condition and preferably silently.


Even if that means killing those who do not give up, we have to accept.
Even if that means that the form of death going only to change from one form to another, we must accept.

Even if that means that he will rule us with iron and fire, and that our children, who will believe again in their own freedom, will may be killed by nuclear weapons this time, we must accept.
So the equation is
Whether

To accept Bashar Al Assad, surrender and die.
Or oppose Bashar Al Assad, resist and die.

We reject the whole equation then, and learn to resist the idea of choosing between death and death through thousands of borders that limit us every day.

And we retain all the anger caused by the killings of our people, who we were unable to grieve amidst the ongoing massacre, we retain the dignity of the revolution’s early days. We retain all of our memory and the choice of life. We retain the fragment of a beautiful dream we had one day to have a homeland.


* * * * * *

Open Borders Manifesto

In light of recent revival of an anti-immigration push in Australia, which seems to have divided the two major parties internally, I’m rerunning this post from 2015.

Also highly recommend this article by David McMullen (originally published at On Line Opinion).

 

workers have no country

* * * * * *

I have added my name to this Manifesto for Open Borders because in principle I believe in freedom of movement and that the workers of the world have no country. Also, I think the various groups in Australia who oppose the policies of the Labor and Coalition parties need to think beyond the paradigm that divides people into genuine and non-genuine, and political and economic, asylum seekers. It doesn’t matter. Just let them in and share the chaos. It’s time for ‘open borders’ to be part of the public discussion and debate on immigration.

****

On Open Borders Day 2015, the 16th day of March, we marked the third anniversary of Open Borders: The Case. We also published the Open Borders Manifesto, a brief document summarising the objectives of the open borders movement.

The list of signatories is in alphabetical order, based on surname, and is current as of March 16, 2015. If you would like to add yourself to the signatory list, please contact us (preferably via email: openborders@googlegroups.com) and provide your name, with professional or academic affiliations if applicable.

Open Borders Manifesto

Freedom of movement is a basic liberty that governments should respect and protect unless justified by extenuating circumstances. This extends to movement across international boundaries.
International law and many domestic laws already recognise the right of any individual to leave his or her country. This right may only be circumscribed in extreme circumstances, where threats to public safety or order are imminent.

We believe international and domestic law should similarly extend such protections to individuals seeking to enter another country. Although there may be times when governments should treat foreign nationals differently from domestic citizens, freedom of movement and residence are fundamental rights that should only be circumscribed when the situation absolutely warrants.

The border enforcement status quo is both morally unconscionable and economically destructive. Border controls predominantly restrict the movement of people who bear no ill intentions. Most of the people legally barred from moving across international borders today are fleeing persecution or poverty, desire a better job or home, or simply want to see the city lights.

The border status quo bars ordinary people from pursuing the life and opportunity they desire, not because they lack merit or because they pose a danger to others. Billions of people are legally barred from realising their full potential and ambitions purely on the basis of an accident of birth: where they were born. This is both a drain on the economic and innovative potential of human societies across the world, and indefensible in any order that recognises the moral worth and dignity of every human being.

We seek legal and policy reforms that will reduce and eventually remove these bars to movement for billions of ordinary people around the world. The economic toll of the modern restrictive border regime is vast, the human toll incalculable. To end this, we do not need a philosopher’s utopia or a world government. As citizens and human beings, we only demand accountability from our own governments for the senseless immigration laws that they enact in our name. Border controls should be minimised to only the extent required to protect public health and security. International borders should be open for all to cross, in both directions.

Signatories, listed in alphabetical order by surname:

Thorvald Aagaard, Associate Professor, Director of Theater, Pacific Union College
Brian C. Albrecht, PhD candidate, Economics, University of Minnesota
Pedro H. Albuquerque, Associate Professor, KEDGE Business School
Jesús Alfaro, Professor of Law, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid
Shanu Athiparambath
Ben Bachrach
Dave Barnes
Simon Bedford
David Bennion, Attorney
Daniel Bier
Niklas Blanchard, PhD candidate, Human Capital Management, Bellevue University
Luke Blanshard
Joseph Bonneau, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Computer Science, Stanford University
Donald J. Boudreaux, Professor of Economics, George Mason University
Sam Bowman, Deputy Director, Adam Smith Institute
Geoffrey Brand
Jason Brennan, Assistant Professor, Philosophy, Georgetown University
Beno Brito, Projects Director, Instituto Liberal do Centro-Oeste
Steve Buller
Jason Lee Byas, Fellow, Center for a Stateless Society
Bryan Caplan, Professor of Economics, George Mason University
Leonel Caraciki
Ryan Carey
Simon Cartledge
Richard Yetter Chappell, Lecturer in Philosophy, University of York
Grieve Chelwa, PhD candidate, Economics, University of Cape Town
Lars Christensen
Andrew Jason Cohen, Associate Professor, Philosophy, Georgia State University
Phillip Cole, Senior Lecturer in Politics and International Relations at the University of West of England
Paul Crider
Christopher Dobrogosz
Bryan Joseph Dodson
Eli Dourado
Charles DuHadway
Robert Eckerson, Attorney
Margaret A. Elberson
Ross B. Emmett, Professor of Political Economy and Political Theory & Constitutional Democracy, James Madison College, Michigan State University
Mustafa Erdogan, Professor of Political and Constitutional Theory, Istanbul Commerce University
Daniel Fernández Méndez, Professor, Economics, Universidad Francisco Marroquín
Luis Figueroa, Professor of Ethics of Freedom, Universidad Francisco Marroquín
Bryan T. Fine
Nicholas Fletcher
Scott Freeman
Joshua Gans, Jeffrey S. Skoll Chair of Technical Innovation and Entrepreneurship, University of Toronto
Paul Geddes, Economics Instructor, Columbia College
Jacob Aaron Geller
Giuseppe Germinario
Casey C. Glick, Graduate Researcher in Physics, UC Berkeley
Zachary Gochenour, Visiting Assistant Professor of Economics, Western Carolina University
Nathan Goodman, Lysander Spooner Research Scholar in Abolitionist Studies at the Center for a Stateless Society
Maithreyi Gopalan, Ph.D. candidate, School of Public and Environmental Affairs, Indiana University
Manick Govinda, Visiting Artists Co-ordinator, Manifesto Club
Jameson Graber
Joe Green, Associate Professor of Political Science, Dixie State University
Priscila Guinovart
Jeff Hallman
John Halstead, PhD candidate, Political Philosophy, St Anne’s College, Oxford University
Robin Hanson, Associate Professor of Economics, George Mason University
Mikael Hellstrom, Instructor, Political Science, University of Alberta
Christopher Hendrix
Javier S. Hidalgo, Assistant Professor, Jepson School of Leadership Studies, University of Richmond
Fergus Hodgson, Editor-in-Chief, PanAm Post
Jeffrey Horn
Steven Horwitz, Charles A. Dana Professor and Chair, Department of Economics, St. Lawrence University
Michael Huemer, Professor, Department of Philosophy, University of Colorado
Giancarlo Ibarguen, Former President, Universidad Francisco Marroquín
Tom Jackson
Peter Martin Jaworski, Assistant Teaching Professor, McDonough School of Business, Georgetown University
Scott A. Jenks, Instructor, Department of Medicine, Emory University
Nathan Jones
Emmanuelle Baya Julien
Valdenor M. Brito Júnior, Attorney
Angela Keaton
Rick Kelo
William Kiely
Milo King
Gavin A. Kitchens
Thomas L. Knapp, Director, William Lloyd Garrison Center
Anna Krupitsky
Chandran Kukathas, Chair of Political Theory, Department of Government, London School of Economics
Michelangelo Geovanny Landgrave Lara
Daniele Latella
Mark LeBar
John Lee
Daniel Lin, Professorial Lecturer, American University
Anthony Ling, Editor-in-Chief, Caos Planejado
Raffaele Lo Moro
Ryan P. Long
Roderick T. Long, Professor of Philosophy, Auburn University and President, Molinari Institute
Ray Lopez
Trent MacDonald, PhD candidate, School of Economics, Finance and Marketing, RMIT University
Pedro Magalhães, Attorney and PhD candidate, Law and Economics, Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität Frankfurt
Akiva Malamet
Rafael Bortoluzzi Massaiol
Kevin McGartland
Jeremy McLellan
Justin Merrill
Jared Meyer, Fellow, Manhattan Institute for Policy Research
Gary Miguel
Walter Morris, Director, Acton School of Ballet
Joe Munson
Darren Nah, PhD candidate, Politics, Yale University
Vipul Naik
Janet Neilson, Program Developer, Institute for Liberal Studies
Chad Nelson, Attorney and Fellow at the Center for a Stateless Society
Russell Nelson
Jeremy L. Neufeld
Joel Newman
Sebastian Nickel
Eric Nielsen
Federico Oliveri, Research Fellow, Sciences for Peace Interdisciplinary Centre, University of Pisa
Yaël Ossowski, Programs Director, European Students for Liberty
George Pareja
Andrew Pearson
Ryan Pelkey
Luis Pellicano
Alicia Perez
Graham Peterson, PhD candidate, Sociology, University of Chicago
Kaveh Pourvand, PhD candidate, Political Theory, London School of Economics
Lukas Puettmann, PhD candidate, Economics, University of Bonn
Shaun Raviv
Jose L. Ricon
Dylan Risenhoover
Fabio Rojas, Associate Professor, Department of Sociology, Indiana University
John Roccia
Trish Ruebottom, Assistant Professor, Goodman School of Business, Brock University
Antonio Saravia, Assistant Professor of Economics and Director, BB&T Center for Undergraduate Research in Public Policy and Capitalism, Mercer University
Paul Sas
Philip Saunders
Yaakov Schatz
Eric Schmidt
James Schumacher
Andrew Scobie
Hafiz Noor Shams, Founding Associate, Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs
Jay Shooster
Joshua Shurley, PhD candidate, Politics, University of Manchester
Sarah Skwire, Fellow, Liberty Fund, Inc.
Ben Smith
Evelyn Smith
Nathan Smith, Assistant Professor of Economics and Finance at Fresno Pacific University
Ilya Somin, Professor of Law at the George Mason University School of Law
Piero Stanig, Assistant Professor of Political Science, Università Bocconi
Marilyn Steffen
Wouter Stekelenburg
Barry Stocker, Assistant Professor in Philosophy, Istanbul Technical University
Drew Stonebraker
Scott Sumner, Professor, Economics, Bentley University
Kyle Swan, Assistant Professor of Philosophy, California State University Sacramento
Alex Tabarrok, Bartley J. Madden Chair in Economics at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University
Batur Talu
Laron Tamaye
Fernando R. Tesón, Tobias Simon Eminent Scholar, Florida State University
Pedro Trujillo Alvarez, Director, Department of Political Science, Universidad Francisco Marroquín
Bas Van der Vossen, Assistant Professor, Department of Philosopy, UNC Greensboro
Brian Wagers
Tyler Walker
Hansjörg Walther
Ladan Weheliye
Nicholas Weininger
Christoph Widenhorn
Michael Wiebe, PhD candidate, Economics, University of British Columbia
Samuel Wilson
Stephen Winkler
Barrett Young
Barry York OAM, Historian
Zachary Yost
David Zetland, Assistant Professor of Economics, Leiden University College
Matt Zwolinski, Associate Professor, Philosophy, University of San Diego
* * * * * * *

Crippling Assad and bringing him to justice is an international responsibility

free syria fsa

 

The National Coalition of Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces (ETILAF) has issued a statement calling for the continuation of military strikes against the Assad regime with a view to stopping it, and its allies, from massacring Syrian civilians. ETILAF sees the air strikes as “an important new step”.

The statement calls for enforcement of the Geneva Communique of 2012 and UN Security Council resolutions 2118 and 2245 as a strategic objective of the military strikes. In other words, for the political transition from Assad dictatorship to democracy.

ETILAF and the Free Syrian Army and the Local Coordinating Committees are the ‘good guys’ that reactionaries like Tony Abbott and John Pilger say don’t exist. They are the equivalent of the National Liberation Front in Vietnam in the 1960s and the fighters against apartheid in South Africa.

Whether secular or Islamist, those fighting for democracy must be supported by the international community, as the massacres and suffering have gone on for way too long. The ‘international community’ is a euphemism for ‘United States and anyone else willing to take effective action against the fascist regime in a way that strengthens the hand of the people relative to the regime’.

ETILAF is recognized as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people by 120 states and organizations, including the United States, the European Union, the Arab League, and the Gulf Cooperation Council. ETILAF seeks a “democratic, inclusive and pluralistic civil state” for Syria.

The big question now is whether the recent US-led air strikes will be a ‘one off’ or develop into a strategy along the lines sought by ETILAF.

An important lesson to those who fear ‘war with Russia’ is the very weak response of the chest-beating Putin. Russia is unlikely to go to war with the US over Assad. It would be his downfall if he did, with the Russian economy already feeling the effects of sanctions, and the Russian opposition leader, Alexei Navalny, saying: “Bashar al-Assad is not our friend. Putin is now saving Assad with the money of Russian retirees. This must be stopped.”

 

Here is the ETILAF statement:

30729033_1676360065783105_975233167063515136_n

 

 

 

 

 

 

Notes on Trump 25

0. Not attempting to cover Syria in this Notes on Trump series. Will post any comments to other articles. Focus here on Trump, whose focus is on domestic politics. There is a relevant connection – I see far more advantages than disadvantages for Trump in mid-terms and 2020 if he does more than token gesture about Syria. Also I view recent announced appointments of Bolton and Pompeo as not shedding direct light on foreign policy but indicating that it will feature in domestic politics, and needs people who can present well on cable TV. Likewise for CBS commentator Larry Kudlow appointment for domestic TV coverage on trade issues. As AP reports, Trunp is staffing for TV just as he twitters for TV. His TV skills are what got him where he is:

https://apnews.com/df7f515f065e41aa87d21236bb780ce1

Here’s Brooking’s think tank expecting and advocating that after November Democrat Congress will try to take control of foreign policy from President – which would of course give an isolationist President the best of all possible worlds. Not having to do anything much and blame the results on paralysis from Congress.

https://www.brookings.edu/blog/order-from-chaos/2018/03/14/trump-is-taking-foreign-policy-into-his-own-hands-will-congress-respond/

And here’s the sort of words of wisdom that the State Department is being deprived of because so much of the foreign policy established is now is now stuck in think tanks instead of actually running moronic policies.

https://www.brookings.edu/blog/order-from-chaos/2018/03/12/9-things-trump-should-do-before-he-meets-with-kim-jong-un/

1. Most important recent development is on steel and alumininium tariffs. Unlike other policy issues like immigration, gun control and North Korea, there are quite a few news and opinion articles about this that actually focus on policy rather than just spreading more hysteria. However these are mainly from Republicans, business people and economists. Democrat politicians not even spreading hysteria. Democrat unions openly backing the tariffs as usual. Too early to be sure what is actually happening. But reinforces my expectation of a two party system with both parties protectionist instead of both parties globalist.

I was expecting Trump to wait longer before moving beyond posturing and just keep promoting an atmosphere shifting towards protectionism worldwide. That may still turn out to be the case, for example he could just be aiming to intimidate negotiations over NAFTA and with China while provoking more GOP incumbents into quitting or getting primaried and/or attempt avoid losing the special election in Pennsylvania, a steel state.

Timing and chaos may also have been influenced by knowledge of internal discussions having started to spread widely enough for plausible accusations of insider trading.

Either way it does already seem clear that protectionism will be a big issue in GOP primaries and subsequent mid-terms. Predictable result is more globalist GOP incumbents replaced by Trumpists in “red” states, and more globalist GOP incumbents being replaced by anti-globalist Democrats in “purple states”. For example the Democrats ran (and won) with a very pro-union candidate who doesn’t rave on about Trump in the Pennsylvania special election and will presumably do the same in other “purple rustbelt” contests.

https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2018/2/23/17013730/conor-lamb-rick-saccone-pennsylvania-special-election

With strong union support for protectinism Trump could even get some Democrats replaced by Trumpists in “rustbelt” purple states or at the very least some incumbent GOP replaced by protectionist Democrats who will more reliably vote for his agenda.

As usual, this just confirms to liberal media and Democrats how stupid Trump is, though there does seem to be significantly more seriousness in concern from business people. Too early to tell whether they will actually get their act together. If they do they have left it awfully late and will be faced with recovering from a very different House of Representatives in 2019 with both their parties having basically collapsed. In some ways that makes it easier to establish a viable third party like Macron in France. But Trump has successfully maintained the extremely intensified partisanship between the two parties that preceded his emergence. So splits from both parties still look more likely to result in a four way contest than in the GOP and Democrat spin-offs uniting into a single party. In a four way split Trump’s party would be the largest and a deadlocked Electoral College in 2020 could result in Trump winning in the House of Representatives voting by States.

Alternatively Bernie Sanders or a younger version could win, again ending up with a Presidency and two major parties both supporting protectionism.

This is the most damaging realistic outcome of the Trump saga. Actual disruption of globalism does slow down the historical forces making capitalism obsolete by maintaining barriers dividing an increasingly international working class. The other stuff is basically “noise”.

Lots of indications that there won’t actually be a trade war any time soon and with Trump letting worried interests know that he isn’t serious about withdrawing from NAFTA and could even join TPP etc eg:

https://www.politico.com/story/2018/04/12/trump-tpp-trade-pact-519128

His new cable TV economic advisor saying China tariffs may not actually happen:

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/trumps-new-economic-adviser-says-its-possible-china-tariffs-wont-happen/

But that isn’t the problem. By whipping up support for protectionism to appeal to his base he is already shifting the whole spectrum of views on it and opening the way for Democrats inclined that way, with likely result of two protectionist parties in Congress and a protectionist President when it becomes a more live real issue with global crisis some time after 2020. That does real damage.

Here’s the extremely mainstream and extremely anti-Trump USA Today editorial board endorsing Trump’s tariffs against China:

https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2018/03/25/trump-china-tariffs-make-sense-editorials-debates/450914002/

2. Most interesting recent development is Trump v Sessions saga. Here’s the first sign I have seen of anyone else presenting a similar analysis to mine. It is from a Trumpist which makes the lack of any such insight from opponents of Trump all the more interesting:

https://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2018/03/understanding_the_strategy_behind_president_trumps_twitter_slam_of_ag_sessions.html

“…I always see Donald Trump as a master of the video narrative, an expert crafter of story arcs that work to his advantage, and which often lure his opponents into positions that redound to his benefit once all the facts and drama have played themselves out before the nation’s eyes. Never forget that Donald Trump is the most successful reality television producer in the history of the medium. And never forget that he played the media like a Stradivarius violin during the campaign, exploiting their predictable outrage.

What if A.G. Sessions is already conducting serious investigations and has developed evidence that will result in indictments for misbehavior in the surveillance of the Trump campaign and in the FBI? The very last thing Sessions (or Trump) would want is for Sessions to be seen as Trump’s hit man, going after his political opponents. Wouldn’t it better, instead, for Sessions to be regarded by the mainstream media as someone sympathetic, because the POTUS has attacked him?

This dispatch from Trump-hating CNN makes my point:

Here’s what is actually disgraceful: The president of the United States is engaged in a one-sided smear effort against the man who, less than 18 months ago, he nominated to be the top law enforcement official in the country.
Consider:

In May 2017, following the news that Sessions would recuse himself from the Russia investigation, Trump, according to The New York Times, called Sessions an “idiot” and said he should resign.

Professor Larry Schwiekart yesterday posted an interesting Twitter thread in which he made the same case I am making here. Read the whole thing, but the key points are:

Trump MUST avoid the perception that he is “going after” political opponents. (I know, it’s ok for DemoKKKrats to do this – but that’s not an argument[.]) …

[lots omitted]”

That was shortly before Sessions sacked McCabe on recommendation of Obama appointed FBI Inspector General. Duly reported as Trump sacking McCabe and/or Sessions in fear of Trump.

3. Very detailed recent Poll from Morning Consult/Politico shows significant increase in both Trump and GOP support and decline in Democrats.

Not directly comparable to Gallup polls previously noted here but potentially more relevant to outcomes as only registered voters.

https://www.politico.com/story/2018/02/14/trump-polling-democrats-republicans-407315

Full (273pp) details in last link at bottom of story.

The Atlantic worried that mid-terms already no longer look like an easy win for Democrats.

https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2018/02/trump-bounceback/553337/

Gallup polls this year have not provided breakdown separating Conservative Republicans from all Republicans.

Weekly results for all Republicans peaked at 90% Jan 29 to Feb 4 then 2 weeks each of 86% and 85% up to 87% then down to 82% Mar 12-18.

Latest is 89% April 2-8:

http://news.gallup.com/poll/203198/presidential-approval-ratings-donald-trump.aspx

I’m not paying attention to overall approval ratings as irrelevant until after mid-terms. But its interesting that Rasmussen recently reported approval of 50% at end of February.

http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/trump_administration/prez_track_feb23

This was an outlier with others at around 40% and below. Rasmussen consistently higher for Republicans as reports on people who say they are “likely voters” only (more selective than “registered voters” used by some and everyone used by others). Also said to be higher for Trump because uses automated phone calls instead of personal calls (said to disinhibit some people too embarassed to admit approving of Trump, perhaps also difference in willingness to respond to robot calls). But that just makes Rasmussen likely to more closely reflect election outcomes which are decided by actual opinions of people who actually vote – just as direction of politics in period leading up to 2020 will be determined by outcome of mid-term primaries not overall approval rates.

Interesting thing is that this blip to majority approval and greater approval than Obama at same stage wasn’t even mentioned in US media among the 10 pages of Google news on Trump I just scan. Only item included was from UK Daily Telegraph.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/02/23/donald-trumps-approval-rating-rises-50-per-cent/

Two most recent Rasmussen polls also reached 50% as of 13 April. Peak this year was 51%. (4 April):

If he isn’t careful he might not get a Democrat majority Congress in November. (But Democrats will still be mobized to turnout in unusually large numbers in November and won’t get fully demoralized until after a year or so of having a Democrat Congress).

All time Rasmussen peak was 59% approval just after inauguration:

http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/trump_administration/trump_approval_index_history

Nearly all the “news” on Trump reflects a picture of the world in which it would be quite difficult for the authors to imagine a majority approving him. The US media has gone way beyond cognitive dissonance to outright derangement. To the extent that they are aware a lot of people disagree with them or have stopped paying attention to them they regard those people as either deranged or victims of Russian propaganda (which has currently displaced concern that Trump is mentally incompetent as the “existential threat” against which the U.S. media is mobilizing).

Lots of reports confirming that GOP now Trump’s party, though not much on actual primary contests so still unclear how many GOP incumbents currently keeping their heads down and collaborating with Trump will be replaced by active Trumpists. (Some will be replaced by Democrats who could actually be more cooperative on deficits etc).

Speaker Paul Ryan’s retirement is a very big deal. Adds to unusually long list:

http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/record-gop-congressional-retirements-2018-midterms-loom/story?id=54017010

Focus of article is that many of these incumbents in purple states will be replaced by Democrats. True, but they will be protectionist Democrats and GOP replacements will be Trumpists. Next leader of GOP in House likely to be Trumpist which makes a huge difference whether they are speaker or Minority leader. Senate GOP retirements far more likely to be replaced by Trumpists than Democrats of any kind.

4. Anybody remember the Democrat memo drama? Has been released:

https://democrats-intelligence.house.gov/news/documentsingle.aspx?DocumentID=358

As unexciting as the GOP memo. Refutes suggestion FISA surveillance of Page was effort to monitor Trump campaign for electoral purposes. Does not dispute that FBI publicity given to Steele dossier was partisan warfare against Trump.

Stuff about not releasing this memo briefly dominated media as intensively as theme that Trump is mentally incompetent and now that it has been released with agreed redactions it has disappeared even more quickly than the “mentally incompetent” theme.

Current theme (when drafting this) is that Trump might be about to sack Mueller, which seems to be the last hope they have for actually getting him. Quotes Republicans explaining to idiot reporters that doing so would end his presidency as signs of GOP revolt against Trump rather than attempt at explaining to idiot reporters that they are just fantasizing.

Trigger for this was that FBI Never Trumper Deputy Director McCabe who got fired after internal inquiry which once again proves whatever…

Who knows what next week’s theme will be? Possibly back to Stormy Daniels. Or danger of nuclear war with Korea, or whatever…

(Update looks like mid-April theme will be “grave danger of war with Russia in Syria”. Plus “Mueller will get Trump on intimidating stormy Daniels” or perhasps “Access Hollywood pussygrab tape”. Hard to keep focus on all of these with a straight face, but they don’t seem to be even trying to look as though they take themselves seriously any more.)

5. Now trying again to just dump lots of open windows.

6. Trump conspiracy theories are becoming a global meme. Al Jazeera (Qatar) has “connected the dots” and found a connection to its enemies in the UAE for Mueller to investigate. Russians in there too, but UAE looms far larger in the Qatari interactive slide show and extensive breathless coverage:

https://interactive.aljazeera.com/aje/2018/visualising-mueller-investigation/

https://www.aljazeera.com/topics/spotlight/mueller-probe.html

7. CNN explains that Trump is a lying demagogue. Seems accurate enough. But only talking to people who already knew that.

https://edition.cnn.com/2018/04/06/politics/donald-trump-immigration-politics/index.html

8. Here’s a rather mild description of the media’s state of denial about there being no sign Trump is in danger from Mueller investigation.

http://thehill.com/opinion/judiciary/381593-when-will-the-media-accept-that-trump-is-not-a-criminal-target

Its getting pretty difficult to sustain anybody’s interest in this total diversion, but FBI raid on Trump’s personal lawyer should be enough to keep them fantasizing for at least a few more weeks. (Trump has dodgy lawyers who are paying off women he had sex with, what a breakthrough, “who knew?”)

Here’s a fairly solid analysis of the reality that the bizarre media focus on “Russia” has and will work to Trump’s advantage and that his seeming blunders in handling it help immunize him against more plausible attacks:

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/commentary-what-if-trump-is-right-and-there-is-no-collusion/

9. Fox news analyst predicting doom for GOP due to Democrat turnout against Trump this November. Seems plausible, which would give Trump two years of presenting himself as the anti-Washington elite President while the Washington elite confirms it by spending most of their energy doing nothing but trying to get rid of him. If that doesn’t get him re-elected in 2020, nothing could.

http://thehill.com/opinion/campaign/381201-juan-williams-gop-fears-anti-trump-wave

A rather trivial analysis by Australian “experts” on US politics does get one thing right – post November Congress will have more Democrats and be more protectionist than before:

https://www.sbs.com.au/news/could-the-us-midterm-elections-break-trump-s-presidency

Will also be more inclined to run the bigger deficits that Trump needs for re-election. But they don’t mention that.

10. Former bank of England Monetary Policy Committee expert expects “overheating” leading up to 2020 election followed by crash. I wouldn’t know, but that strikes me as more likely than other scenarios. Trump needs all the overheating he can get for re-election, is likely to get it from 2019 Congress dominated by Democrats and Trumpists and he doesn’t have magic powers to avoid subsequent consequences, which will as usual be regarded as both a complete mystery and (truthfully), long overdue.

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2018/03/25/former-bank-england-guru-warns-trumps-economic-madness-will/

Here’s the Atlantic boasting that the huge budget just passed is what Obama would have dreamed of but could not get from GOP Congress.

https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2018/03/trump-obama-omnibus-spending-budget/556436/

Of course that doesn’t stop Trump from also complaining and threatening to veto the Bill and using it to campaign to replace GOP incumbents with Trumpists at the primaries:

http://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/380154-trump-i-need-allies-in-congress

11. A reasonably objective summary of the Stormy Daniels saga:

https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2018/03/25/stormy-daniels-donald-trump-60-minutes-death-shame-column/457264002/

A more typical example of the attempts to explain to jaded cynics that it is really all about abuse of power:

https://www.vox.com/2018/3/25/17162622/stormy-daniels-60-minutes-michael-avenatti-abuse-power-bullying

and of course, not prurient interest but concern that the POTUS could be blackmailed by a foreign intelligence service.

https://www.vox.com/2018/3/25/17162750/stormy-daniels-foreign-blackmail-60-minutes-anderson-cooper-donald-trump

Short response from Trump supporters in Boston Herald:

http://www.bostonherald.com/news/columnists/howie_carr/2018/03/carr_stormy_sex_reveal_doesn_t_matter_to_trump_supporters

Stormy Daniels? Read our lips: we don’t care.

Tonight’s the night that the former porn “star” will be appearing on “60 Minutes” to reveal what we already knew, that she had a, gasp, consensual extramarital affair with Donald J. Trump more than a decade before he became president.

Stop the presses!

Fact check. Actually it wasn’t an affair, it was a one-night stand.

But according to liberals, Republicans are supposed to get really upset about such things. They simply don’t get it that above is a natural response from people who despise liberals to the liberal hysteria (and that Trump’s non-denial and sueing on non-disclosure agreement instead adds to his credibility).

It reminds me of the “Australian Republicans” so desperate to get a head of state of our very own so that they go to garden parties and look up to “our” sovereign as a national figurehead (to be worshipped like POTUS Obama rather than ridiculed like our future King Charlie). They are far more monarchist than their the rest of us.

12. Clinton’s running mate for Vice-President says John Bolton should be refused a security clearance for advocating that Russians should have the right to bear arms:

https://www.politico.com/story/2018/03/25/kaine-boltonsecurity-clearance-russia-483912

Masses more windows still open but I had better post this now.

More bogus ‘anti-war’ responses to Ghouta chemical attack

With thanks again to Bill Weinberg, of Countervortex.

 

6. “Do you want a nuclear war?” This is some high irony. The “anti-war” (sic) left has basically been saying for five years that the Syrians should submit to genocide as the price of world peace. It’s really been working out great, hasn’t it? All the “anti-war” fools who abetted Assad’s genocide over the past five years by denying it or making excuses for it are utterly complicit in having brought the world to the brink. They helped make use of WMD acceptable. They helped place us on the slippery slope to Armageddon that they now sanctimoniously warn against.

7. “I’ll bet you believed there were WMD in Iraq too.” Talk about fighting the last war! To say this days after a deadly chemical attack (once again) betrays an unthinking analogy to Iraq, overlooking obvious, overwhelming context. This is akin to denying that Saddam had WMD after the Halabja chemical attack in 1988—not in 2003, when he had long since been disarmed and Dubya was looking for an excuse to go to war. Assad has had a blank check to carry out acts of genocide for years now. That analogy is bogus to the core.

Alas, we’re even hearing this crap on the deplorable Amy Goodman‘s ironically named Democracy Now, in which co-host Juan Gonzalez joins with the left’s perennial Mideast expert Phyllis Bennis to spin this as Iraq redux, recalling “the horrific stories about the invasion force of Saddam Hussein in Kuwait marching into a hospital and killing babies.” This is of course a reference to “Nurse Nayirah,” whose bogus testimony about non-existent Iraqi war crimes in Kuwait helped lubricate Operation Desert Storm in 1991. Except that Nayirah testified before Congress months after the Kuwait invasion, and was groomed by the Kuwaiti regime’s public relations firm Hill & Knowlton. So what does this have to do with fresh reports from aid workers from several organizations on the ground in Douma (Syrian-American Medical SocietyWhite HelmetsSyria Civil Defence), with harrowing video evidence, and not even enough time for any PR grooming? Oh that’s right, nothing.

Bennis skirted the edges of denialism after the 2013 Ghouta chemical attack. She seems to be getting worse. (Note, by the way, that Nurse Nayirah was invoked by some paranoid bloggers to plug the notion that the shooting of Malala Yousafzai was a hoax.)

8. “Assad is innocent until proven guilty.” This is more high irony. The same people who will refuse to believe what the facts all indicate until there is an exhaustive investigation are the last ones to protest when Russia uses its Security Council veto to block an investgation. Apparently, they prefer the comfort of their ignorance.

Putin’s useful idiots on the Internet are also avidly reposting clips from Russian state media (RTSputnikTASS) to the effect that the Red Crescent found no evidence of poisonous gas having been used at Douma. Look past the headlines (heaven forbid), and the claims come from two individual workers with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, and the quotes make it ambiguous whether they are refering to the current attack or previous ones. These are completely misleading headlines, and those who share them without even bothering to read them (let alone vet them) are spreading bullshit. Go to the actual website of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, and there is not a word about any of this. Their most recent update from Eastern Ghouta is dated Feb. 23.

BBC also quotes Moscow’s foreign minister Sergei Lavrov saying: “Our military specialists have visited this place, along with representatives of the Syrian Red Crescent… and they did not find any trace of chlorine or any other chemical substance used against civilians.” OK, could we please get a quote from the Red Crescent on this? They can presumably speak for themselves, rather than through the Russian foreign minister. Thank you.

This innocent-until-proven-guilty line is kind of a soft-sell on the “false flag” tack, but possibly even loopier when you really scratch it, since it implies the attack didn’t even happen. Maybe all those traumatized children in the videos are “crisis actors”?

9. “You sound like John Bolton.” OK, we are to judge facts on the basis of their convenience to imperial propaganda (or our own)? Talk about “post-truth.” And you denialists, by the way, sound like Fox News. Their predictable Tucker Carlson was last night spewing identical shit: “All the geniuses tell us that Assad killed those children. But do they really know that? Of course, they don’t really know that, they’re making it up. They have no real idea what happened. Actually, both sides in the Syrian Civil War possess chemical weapons. How would it benefit Assad, from using chlorine gas last weekend?”

As Mediaite notes, Carlson then brought on the grievous Glenn Greenwald (who is turning into a regular on Fox News) to spin bankrupt Iraq analogies.

So don’t lecture me about strange bedfellows, Assad-suckers.

Bogus ‘anti-war’ responses to Ghouta chemical attack

Bogus ‘anti-war’ responses to Ghouta chemical attack – republished with permission of the author, Bill Weinberg.

You can already hear them coming. Expect to see on Facebook and the “anti-war” (sic) blogosphere in the coming days the following propaganda tactics:

1. “False flag.” Even the increasingly problematic Noam Chomsky is parroting this malarky. Every time there is a chemical attack in Syria, it is speculated, on no evidence, that the rebels did it as a provocation—even as the attacks come amid massive Assad-Putin bombardment of the same locales. Funny how the rebels have so much poisonous gas yet they only ever seem to use it against themselves. Has there been one single report of a gas attack on regime-held territory throughout the course of the war? This is contemptible denialist bullshit of the lowest order.

What’s particularly ironic is that the folks who spew this jive think they are such cognescenti, seeing through the lies of the dreaded “mainstream media.” In fact, it is mainstream outlets like Newsweek that are increasingly floating such theories, particularly in the recent writings of a self-promoting ex-spook named Ian Wilkie.
Meanwhile, his transparent lies are being called out by truly alternative media such as EA Worldview, which closely and seriously monitors the Syrian war, and independent investigative websites like Eliot Higgins’ Bellingcat.
Serial pro-Assad propagandist James Carden has also engaged in such baseless theorizing in The Nation—a publication which has now repeatedly served as a vehicle for the Assad regime’s lying propaganda. (Carden may protest that he is not “pro-Assad,” but when you rally to the defense of the regime every time it carries out some ghastly atrocity, we would love to know in what sense this does not constitute support.)

2. “Not our problem.” This response is an exercise in imperial narcissism which makes every question about “us.” There are obvious problems with any extension of US military power in Syria or anywhere else, which we presumably do not have to elaborate on here. But if you have greater outrage for whatever military action Trump takes in response to this attack than you do for the attack itself, there is something seriously wrong with you.
It was just a year ago, when “anti-war” types took to the streets of New York to protest Trump’s air-strikes in response to the chemical attack on Khan Shaykhun, that I was quoted on Eyewitness News calling out their hypocrisy. Even if you think we have no responsibility to protest any atrocity not directly carried out by the US or its client states such as Israel (itself a problematic position), note that in the weeks prior to Trump’s air-strikes in response to Khan Shaykhun, some 600 (overwhelmingly civilians) had been killed in the US bombardment of ISIS-held Raqqa and Mosul—eliciting no street protests whatsoever. But an Assad regime airbase gets bombed and a few warpanes destroyed, and then they all take to the streets. Whatever else this may be, it is certainly not a consistent “anti-war” position! Sadly, we are probably looking at a replay of such morally depraved “anti-war” (sic) protests in the coming days.

3. “But what about Gaza?” Amnesty International calls this tactic “”Whataboutery“” and notes that Bashar Assad uses it himself when cornered by interviewers about his campaigns of mass murder. When you talk about Syria, you have to talk about Syria, and not immediately change the subject. Those who use Gaza as a distraction from Ghouta are exploiting dead Palestinians. Why is the response to the latest ghastly news from Gaza never “What about Ghouta?” (Except, of course, from reactionary Zionists who we’re all supposed to hate.)

4. “The CIA stirred up trouble, so Assad isn’t to blame.” File this one under “blame the victim.” For starters, it is based on a lie. The Syrian revolution was sparked by an incident in which school-children were tortured after painting anti-regime slogans on a wall in Deraa in March 2011. And now, seven years later, Assad is getting a pass for gassing children. Even if the Syrian Revolution was entirely CIA astroturf (which is total ahistorical baloney), it would in no sense justify mass murder and chemical attacks.

5. “The rebels are all al-Qaeda.” Again, that is (first of all) not true (the make-up of the rebel factions at Ghouta is clear for those who care to look), and (more to the point) irrelevant even if it were true. Justifying war crimes and acts of genocide as necessary to counterinsurgency against a demonized enemy is the logic of Guernica and My Lai. Nice company you are in, “anti-war” (sic) fools.

It’s an indication of just how far through the looking glass we are that Seymour Hersh, who broke the My Lai story in 1968, has now become an open supporter of the genocidal Assad regime.

Once again, there is nothing worse than pro-war “anti-war” jive.

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