Video: Joe Biden and the Middle East

Here’s my latest Zoom webinar, with Prof. Joel Beinin, Emeritus Professor of Middle East History, Stanford University. We take a look at what Trump has wreaked in the region and what Joe Biden might do differently (spoiler alert: not much, actually).

Joel was my first guest when I launched Other Voices TV a little over 23 years ago (November 1997). Back then the format was a lecture followed by Q&A with the studio audience. We broadcast live in those days and that could be pretty exciting. As in nerve-wracking.

With the pandemic, we’ve been doing the program online, of course. And that makes another connection to Joel. Back in July 2014, Joel was the guest for our very first online edition of Other Voices. It was an “emergency” broadcast to address the massive Israeli assault on the Gaza Strip that was known as Operation Protective Edge. We wanted to have a program on the war ASAP, but the TV studio was all booked up. So we tried out the fairly new Google+ Hangouts program and broadcast live over YouTube. It worked pretty well! If you’re interested, that video can be found here.

If you had told me back then that in seven years we’d be doing all our programs online, well, you know how that kind of thing goes …

Get well, Trump. I’d much prefer to see you die in prison.

When former President Richard Nixon died in 1994, my Nixon-loving parents called me to talk about it. They were genuinely saddened at his passing. It was obvious during the call that I didn’t share their bereavement. My mother asked “Aren’t you even a little sad that he died?” I responded, “I’m sad that he didn’t die in prison.”

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The Battle of Portland

I and my friend TD are relaunching a video series that we created way back in the George W. Bush Error … um, Era. It’s called Orwell Was An Optimist. They’re short satirical videos. Think of them as live action editorial cartoons. Why are we doing this? To rephrase Lenin, sometimes you just have to be “as ridiculous as reality itself.”

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You will not be on Mount Rushmore.

“I shook his hand, and I said, ‘Mr. President, you should come to South Dakota sometime. We have Mount Rushmore.’ And he goes, ‘Do you know it’s my dream to have my face on Mount Rushmore?'” (Sioux Falls Argus-Leader)

You will not be on Mount Rushmore.

No building will be named for you. Federal, state or local. No school. There will be no fort.  Not even a single post office will bear your name.

Your name will not be memorialized by any freeway, expressway, parkway, highway, boulevard, street, avenue, road, lane or alley. 

No park, recreation area, historic site or natural preserve will preserve your memory.

The Space Force will not name a starship after you.

No children will be named after you.

Your image will not appear on a penny, nickel, dime, quarter, half dollar or silver dollar. Harriet Tubman will grace our currency. You will not.

You won’t appear on a postage stamp.

Your name will live on only as a curse, a foul aspersion. An epithet for disease. A synonym for disaster and depravity. 

Those honors you will have earned.

Photo: Jo Naylor / Flickr (Creative Commons BY 2.0)

“Unprecedented, historic corruption”: Impeach him again

In case it needs pointing out, Congress is not restricted to one impeachment per president. Nor is there any required waiting period between impeachments. It is not some sci-fi death ray that needs time to be powered up again after a discharge. Previous impeachments that failed to end in conviction are not disqualifying. And there is no “double jeopardy” if the president commits a whole new crime.

The House of Representatives should impeach Trump again. They should do it first thing Monday morning.

Trump’s commutation of Roger Stone’s prison sentence is blatantly corrupt, staggeringly corrupt even by Trumpian standards. He wielded his Article II powers for his personal benefit. And he didn’t even bother doing it behind closed doors on a perfect phone call. He broadcast it for all to hear.

I am well aware of strong arguments that can be made about the political dangers of going down the impeachment road again. Better to vote him out in November. I can’t really say I disagree. But I think there’s an equally distinct political danger in not trying to push back against Trump.

In the time since the Senate Republicans dealt Trump a get out of jail free card, he has fired five Inspectors General, independent government watchdogs against corruption and malfeasance. He has directed his always-happy-to-comply Attorney General to interfere in numerous Justice Department cases. Reducing Roger Stone’s now aborted jail sentence. Trying to get Mike Flynn off the hook entirely. Ousting the federal prosecutor in New York who has been homing in on Trump’s consigliere Rudy Giuliani.

But the tipping point for me — and where I see real electoral danger — comes from the various investigations that AG Bill Barr has launched to look into the “Russia hoax” — reviewing the actions of everyone from FBI agents to former president Barack Obama and … wait for it … Joe Biden. Barr is also still sniffing around the whole Ukraine, Burisma, Hunter Biden garbage dump. Sen. Lindsey Graham has the Senate Judiciary Committee formally re-investigating the same dump.

In other words Barr is pursuing Trump’s political opponents. At the very least, we should expect revelations of scandals, leaks of documents involving the Bidens in … something. There will undoubtedly be damned emails. At worst, there may be indictments. The potential political damage that Barr and a corrupt Justice Department could inflict on Joe Biden, with no time for Biden or common sense to respond, is enormous.

I don’t know if another impeachment would have any effect on these autocrats or not. I don’t know if even a handful of Republican senators would finally do the right thing in the face of blatant corruption. But to do nothing would certainly invite only more corruption. And the corruption machine is going to be aimed at Joe Biden from here on out.

Oh, and then there’s the whole protecting democracy thing. I think the House needs to impeach. Again.

P.S. – Props to Mitt Romney. And a wan smile to Pat Toomey of PA, who called Trump’s move a “mistake”. At least he was able to choke out that much. There are 53 Republican senators and this is the best they can do? If you have a Republican senator they need to hear from you.

Celebrating a revolution with a revolution

As I see it, America started “celebrating” this year’s Fourth of July holiday on May 26, when the first protesters took to the streets of Minneapolis to denounce the police murder of George Floyd. Those earliest actions have since led to nearly 5,000 protests in 2,500 towns and cities with an estimated 20 million people participating. It is, simply put, the most massive protest movement in the history of the nation and it is revolutionary, a fitting tribute to our Founders.

The revolution that is taking place in our streets, in our schools, in our churches, in our homes, is not the armed revolution of popular imagination. It is instead a revolution of values, the very sort of revolution called for by Martin Luther King, Jr. in his famous Riverside Church speech in April of 1967.

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Policing the Police: A Conversation with Judge LaDoris Cordell

Here’s the latest online version of Other Voices TV, a deeply moving conversation with Judge LaDoris Cordell.

Judge Cordell has been in residence in my personal pantheon for a long time. She is a brilliant and fierce advocate for justice, in the broadest possible sense of that word. And she is tireless.

She has spoken at so many rallies that I’ve organized that I’ve lost count. And she always — always — gets the loudest cheers for her speeches. Deservedly so.

Here’s a speech she gave — “Necessary Trouble” — at Unity Rally: Stand Against Hate, Racism and Misogyny, in December 2016, on the eve of the Electoral College vote.

She has also been on Other Voices TV multiple times:

Courting Disaster: The Supreme Court (Sept. 2018)
Jeff Sessions’ Dept. of INjustice (Oct. 2017) Remember Jeff Sessions?
Broken Justice: Rethinking Our Cops and Courts (July 2015) Sound familiar?

As long as I’m strewing your path with links, early on in this conversation a brief reference is made to Prof. Clay Carson of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Institute at Stanford. His appearance on Other Voices Online a couple of weeks ago, which prompted the reference, can be found here. (h/t to SR for suggesting this link)

Judge Cordell has a very long CV, so I’ll let her tell you herself. I lifted this from her website. Watch the video.