The meeting was held today (January 15, 2017) at the Jefferson County Public Library in Lakewood (20th and Miller in Lakewood). It was called by Jefferson Country residents, members of “MoveOn.Org.” A notice was placed on the internet and the responses were so active that the organizers had to close to invites. As it was an overflow crowd came, more than 100 people. Jefferson County is a large, sprawling county west of Denver, part of which is on the plains, but a good portion of which lies in the foothills of the Rockies. People came from all over the county, from Lakewood, Arvada, Golden in the main but also a few from some 25 miles away in Aurora, on the other side of Denver.
Not a bad for a Sunday afternoon with the National Football League playoffs on tv. Imagine, a group of Coloradans who put politics before football!
Not a bad for a Sunday afternoon with the National Football League playoffs on tv. Imagine, a group of Coloradans who put politics before football!
It was a feisty, determined group, from what I could tell, overwhelming white and middle class, with a few exceptions most people there over the age of 50. There were there to get involved, to do what they can to oppose the Trump agenda and cabinet appointments. At the outset several people commented on pleased they were “not to feel alone.” According to the event chair, one “Ralph,” this MoveOn.org event was one of more than 500 taking place all over the country that includes 13,000 people nationally, an indication of the mounting opposition nationwide to “the Trump era” and all the negative wonders it has in store for the country and the world.
The event was well-organized, with a focus on what are referred to as “breakout groups” – small groups of people who focused on a particular issues. The issues included Healthcare, Immigration, Corporate excesses and from all appearances another breakout group was coming together to deal with climate change as well. The audience was serious, one could say deeply worried about the administration to come, and clearly committed to challenging Trump on his policies and cabinet choices, to engage in what might be called “damage control.”
Concerns about saving the Affordable Care Act, stopping “Trump’s deportation machine,” opposing the privatization of Medicaid and Medicare, the importance of saving funding for Planned Parenthood were all mentioned by participants. A number of participants expressed their anxiety about Trump reversals on climate change too. It was apparent that both the organizers and participants were connected in one way or another to the Democratic Party through the Jeffco Political Action Task Force and a number of other connected organizations.
While overall the meeting was overwhelmingly positive (from where I am sitting), there was a repeated insistence on keeping the political tone “in the center,” “of discouraging negativity,” and concerns about possible disruptions (which apparently have taken place at other MoveOn events). It all sounded a bit over-cautious, and a touch “anti-left” as if people whose politics might be a notch or two left of the organizers were looked upon with suspicion. And, given there was an overwhelming emphasis on domestic issues, there was no mention – or concern it seemed – about American’s wars abroad and global military build up, which concerned me.
Be that as it may, the good people of Jefferson County are – as we used to say – getting their act together, preparing for will be a long-term political battle for the fate of the nation. To be successful, they will have to find common ground with people from other political perspectives (and backgrounds). This is a moment when the moderates need to find common ground with the left and likewise, more radical elements need to develop good working relationships with their more moderate partners. …a time for alliances, for “united fronts” as we used to say, for political flexibility and maturity. No political trend, “centrist” or “left” can succeed alone.
Among the activities planned by MoveOn.org are January 24, pickets and demonstrations at the offices of U.S. Senators to oppose the Trump cabinet appointments. The bigger the turnout, needless to say, the better. More details on this later.
“Billionaires,War Mongers and Climate Change Deniers: Donald Trump’s Emerging Middle East Foreign Policy: Interview with Ibrahim Kazerooni and Rob Prince. KGNU Boulder. “Hemispheres – Middle East Dialogues” November 29, 2016. Part Three
The KGNU interview is concluded here.
But because Trump does not intend to spend much time in Washington D.C. and these people (Flynn, Mattis, etc) will by default, run U.S. foreign policy, they will have to rely upon what are referred to as the “regional allies” which are the Saudis, the Israelis, the Turks, giving them much more room to maneuver, a green light for military action
Rob Prince: There is another one, Ibrahim. The position for Secretary of Defense has not yet been decided but the man who has gotten the most publicity in the media is retired General James Mattis. His nickname is James “Mad Dog” Mattis. After 41 years of military service he retired; at least as the media puts it, he is loved by his troops. He’s a bit like Michael Flynn, quite quotable, although I can’t use his vivid descriptions on the air because KGNU would be fined. But I wanted to give you an idea of the quality of the man who is being seriously considered for Secretary of Defense.
This is a quote Mattis made from the San Diego Union Tribune:
“I come in peace. I didn’t bring artillery. I’m pleading with you with tears in my eyes. But if you f&*k with me I’ll kill you all.”
He’s made the statement on how he enjoys killing people. He’s stated that on a number of occasions.
Flynn, Mattis are people “beyond the pale,” “one toke or two tokes over the line” as they say, and they will be essentially running this country’s foreign policy. We use these examples of Flynn, Mattis, Giuliani, but really they are all cut out of the same mold. They are all from the ultra-right, their foreign policy is rather simplistic and militaristic in nature. There is the sense that these guys are going to run into a buzz saw – they can do great damage for sure – but it is the almost complete absence of political solutions and that it will be the military solutions that will carry the day.
Ibrahim Kazerooni: There is another problem here, Rob. It is not just a case of being mindful of those who are being presented or appointed, and it does not appear that Congress is going to challenge anyway. By all appearances they are going to get the jobs. But because Trump does not intend to spend much time in Washington D.C. and these people (Flynn, Mattis, etc) will by default, run U.S. foreign policy, they will have to rely upon what are referred to as the “regional allies” which are the Saudis, the Israelis, the Turks, giving them much more room to maneuver, a green light for military action.
They will become a more integral part of what we discussed earlier, the Obama Doctrine of remote control, allowing the regional lap dogs to do the dirty jobs. They are going to do the same thing. So now we are going to have more room for the Saudis, Israelis and the Turks to come forward to play a more decisive role in the period ahead in shaping and forming regional policy. Read more…
No to the Climate Denying Trump Cabinet: Colorado Environmental Groups Picket at the Offices of Senators Bennet (D-CO) and Gardner (R-CO)
We call on you, our elected representatives to the U.S. Senate, to block Mr. Trump’s Cabinet picks including:
– Rex Tillerson, Secretary of State nominee, spent his career at Exxon and has been CEO since 2006. Exxon has paid 40 organizations to create doubt about the settled science of climate change, using some of the same PR people the tobacco companies used. They are manipulating the media to convince the public that fossil fuels don’t hurt our environment. They’re lying.
– Scott Pruitt, EPA head nominee, is a climate change denier who wants to abolish the EPA. He has fought and sued the agency he’s being asked to run. He opposes the EPA’s ability to regulate carbon and has demonstrated an anti-environmental agenda throughout his career. As Attorney General, Pruitt has done nothing to protect the people of Oklahoma from the alarming influx of earthquakes caused by fracking and waste disposal in the state.
– Ryan Zinke, Department. of the Interior nominee, has a 3% lifetime score from the League of Conservation Voters, saying he is a “climate denier who supports drilling in the Arctic and continuing outrageous subsidies for dirty energy development on public lands–positions that align with the oil and gas companies that have spent nearly $350,000 on his campaigns.”
– Rick Perry, Department of Energy nominee, doesn’t accept the scientific consensus on the importance of reducing carbon emissions to slow the impact of human-induced climate change. He is on the board of directors of Energy Transfer Partners, the company building the Dakota Access Pipeline, which has attracted global negative attention for its horrific abuses of Native Americans and allies attempting to protect their ancient burial grounds, unceded territory and drinking water for million of Americans.
Denial Is Not An Energy Policy
Considering that it was a weekday the turnout for the picket at Senator Michael Bennet’s office was sizable. My informal estimate is that 200+ people turned up there at noon today (Monday, January 9,2017) to “Stand Up Against Trump’s Anti-Climate/Environment Cabinet.” A huge banner read “Denial Is Not An Energy Policy.” Other picket signs included “Oil, Coal and Gas = Climate Chaos,” “Climate Denial = Climate Disaster,” “Stop Trump’s Big Oil Climate Denial Cabinet,”Protect The Generation.”
Organized by 350Colorado, representatives handed Rosalie Rodriguez, from Denver’s office staff, a petition calling on the Congress to reject the nominations of Rex Tillerson, C.E.O of EXXON as Secretary of State, Scott Pruitt, EPA head nominee, a climate change denier who wants to abolish the EPA, Ryan Zinke, Department. of the Interior nominee who who supports drilling in the Arctic and continuing subsidies for dirty energy development on public lands and Rick Perry, Department of Energy nominee and former Texas governor, on the board of directors of Energy Transfer Partners, the company building the Dakota Access Pipeline. Read more…
“Billionaires,War Mongers and Climate Change Deniers: Donald Trump’s Emerging Middle East Foreign Policy: Interview with Ibrahim Kazerooni and Rob Prince. KGNU Boulder. “Hemispheres – Middle East Dialogues” November 29, 2016. Part Two
The discussion begun in Part One continues.
Jim Nelson: With all that negativity, I do want to jump in here. She (Hillary Clinton) did win the popular vote, and did so by a lot.
Rob Prince: Yes, but it’s kind of a pyrrhic victory though isn’t it, given the way in which the electoral college is constituted. But in the end, more primary factors were at work: Despite his billionaire background, his crooked business dealings, his cynical bigoted comments against virtually everyone – be it women, physically handicapped, people of color, Muslims, immigrants – he won the electoral vote and thus the presidency. Few – if any – presidents-elect are less qualified for the job, with less foreign policy experience. Be that as it may…Donald Trump will be inaugurated as this country’s 45th president.
I want to emphasize something else, that has been downplayed, not talked about that much – and that is what was going on from the angle of political economy that contributed to Clinton’s loss and Trump’s victory. Not only in these past years, but over the past forty years a decline in the standard of living of the majority of the American people. What had developed out of that decline is a slow simmering unending political crisis – I see it going back well before Obama came to office in 2008 frankly.
Think about this: the same people in the Midwest who voted for Barack Obama in 2008 voted for Donald Trump in 2016. What was Obama’s message, his promise in 2008? Simple, in a word change! He told the American people to “Be the Change.” There was a movement here in Colorado called “Be The Change.” Having said that, we know that Obama did not deliver on that promise, or certainly he didn’t deliver in the manner in which he promised both on domestic and foreign policy.
Now what was Donald Trump’s message – beyond the xenophobic, racist rhetoric? It was Obama’s message of 2008! He, too promised change.
Jim Nelson: Exactly
Rob Prince: Donald Trump promised change too and people in the Midwest especially listened. Trump was able to mobilize the base of the Republican Party, itself having moved to the right over the past decades while Hillary Clinton did not do likewise for the Democrats. So here we have an element of the population that veering in 2008 to the left – it doesn’t care that Barack Obama is Black, on a personal level, certainly one of the most liberal presidential hopefuls ever. Midwesterners voted for him because he promised change! Eight years later, this same population veers rightward. Now they don’t care – I don’t even know how to begin to describe Trump – a billionaire, with a record of economic damage, personally obnoxious, racist, sexist and from all accounts ignorant of both domestic and foreign policy. But these Midwesterners don’t care about that either. Like Obama before him, Trump promised change. They figured that liberal Dems couldn’t deliver the change, maybe a conservative Republican billionaire whose father had ties to the American Nazis of the 1920s and 1930s can do it.
So here we have an element of the population that veering in 2008 to the left – it doesn’t care that Barack Obama is Black, on a personal level, certainly one of the most liberal presidential hopefuls ever. Midwesterners voted for him because he promised change! Eight years later, this same population veers rightward. Now they don’t care – I don’t even know how to begin to describe Trump – a billionaire, with a record of economic damage, personally obnoxious, racist, sexist and from all accounts ignorant of both domestic and foreign policy. But these Midwesterners don’t care about that either. Like Obama before him, Trump promised change. They figured that liberal Dems couldn’t deliver the change, maybe a conservative Republican billionaire whose father had ties to the American Nazis of the 1920s and 1930s can do it.
That is the thread between the two. Obama failed to address in any meaningful way the deep crisis, so basically what we are seeing is a part of the country saying “OK, that (the Obama Presidency) didn’t work: let’s try something different, let’s try Trump. Read more…
Obama’s abstention at the U.N. was meant to throw a monkey wrench into the Trump-Friedman program, slow it down enough so that in the end it cannot be implemented and in so doing, save what little bit of prestige and good will is left for the United States in the region. It is not a serious peace initiative that will result in the fading goal of a two state solution, more simply a kind of holding action, damage control meant to prevent Trump and Netanyahu from doing their worst. It remains to be seen whether this will work or not.
Riyad Mansour, Palestinian Ambassador to the United Nation from the Palestinian Authority
On a chilly day with a cold wind whistling down urban wind tunnels of Manhattan, along with a mutual old friend, we met for lunch in Manhattan. He was on a tight schedule but managed to carve out an hour to sit with two old friends and companeros. Although I hardly expressed it, I was moved to see my old friend – now in a position of some authority – after all these years. Riyad Mansour is currently Palestinian Ambassador to the United Nations from the Palestinian Authority. We knew each other long ago and far away when we were both peace activists in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Good organizing…and he was among the best. It had probably been around thirty-five years since I saw him though, maybe more.
I had requested the meeting, not to get into any nitty-gritty movement dirt or gossip about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but to get a sense of how close – or off the mark – my thinking on the current situation of the Palestinians in the Occupied Territories and to hear it from a trusted Palestinian voice. Mansour stated the general approach succinctly: to underline in the United Nations and other international organizations the seriousness of the Palestinian acceptance and support of international law as the Israelis violate it with impunity. Read more…