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Brexit: Chasing Their Tails

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More Brexit dithering, but at higher velocities.

When Do We “Impeach the Motherfucker”? (With Rashida Tlaib)

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 17/01/2019 - 10:00pm in

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In the wake of the 2018 midterms, the Democratic Party in Congress is looking a lot more diverse—not just in terms of gender and ethnicity, but in ideology as well. There are now actual leftists (a tiny minority, but still), with ambitious policy agendas and big social media platforms, making noise and taking no prisoners. Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, a self-declared democratic socialist, is among those newcomers. She wasn’t elected to Congress to manage the status quo; she was elected to overturn it. Rep. Tlaib kicks off season 3 of Deconstructed, joining Mehdi Hasan to discuss Palestine and the BDS movement, her plans for 2019, and the possible impeachment of Donald Trump.

Op-Ed referenced in this podcast: Now Is the Time to Begin Impeachment Proceedings Against President Trump, Detroit Free Press January 2019

Rashida Tlaib: We ran because being on the outside ring wasn’t going to be an option for us anymore, being silent wasn’t going to be an option anymore. People like us deserve a seat at the table and we’re at the table now.

Mehdi Hasan: Hello and a belated happy new year. I’m Mehdi Hasan, and welcome back to a new season of Deconstructed, for a new year. I hope you had a great break, if you had a break, and I hope you’re ready for an action-packed 2019. Is this the year President Trump finally—finally!— gets his comeuppance? Is this the year the Democrats finally grow a spine, and kick some ass? Some Congressional Democrats, new Congressional Democrats, are up for a fight.

RT: Look, it’s not a waste of time to hold the President United States accountable. We need to understand our duties as members of Congress and I believe looking at even Nixon’s impeachment, it was Republicans and Democrats coming together and putting country first.

MH: That’s my guest today, Representative Rashida Tlaib, who was sworn in on January the 3rd and grabbed the headlines instantly. So, on today’s Deconstructed, we’re taking a cue from the congresswoman and asking, among other things, when do we impeach the mother-[beep]?

2019 already looks like it’ll be as batshit crazy as 2018. I mean, where to begin? There was the big dinner at the White House this week for the Clemson Tigers national championship-winning football team. And when I say big dinner, I mean Big Macs, Quarter-pounders, Wendy’s Burgers, Domino’s pizzas. Yes, cold and shit fast food ordered by, and apparently paid for by, the President of the United States himself.

Donald J. Trump: We have pizzas. We have 300 hamburgers, many, many french fries, all of our favorite foods. I want to see what’s here when we leave.

MH: Sorry, which self-styled billionaire orders fast food for his guests and then brags about it on Twitter? Especially when that alleged billionaire owns a posh hotel down the road from the White House which serves gourmet steaks, but yeah, he’s too cheap to pay for that. Of course, the reason he had to get fast food in the first place was because of a lack of staff in the White House kitchen due to the government shutdown. A shutdown which is now the longest in U.S. history. Well done, Donald. What’s more, this is a shutdown which President Donald Trump told us was his shutdown. We all heard him say it to Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi in the Oval Office, on camera, just a month ago, a clip which the Democrats should be probably playing on a loop by the way.

DJT: I am proud to shut down the government for border security, Chuck, because the people of this country don’t want criminals and people that have lots of problems and drugs pouring into our country. So, I will take the mantle. I will be the one to shut it down. I’m not going to blame you for it.

MH: But now — surprise! — he says it’s all the fault of the Democrats. That’s what he proclaimed in his live address to the nation from the Oval Office last week which the TV networks idiotically allowed him to give.

DJT: The federal government remains shut down for one reason and one reason only: because Democrats will not fund border security.

MH: Perhaps he has amnesia. Or dementia. Or maybe he’s delusional. I mean, this is also the same president who told Fox News last Saturday:

DJT: Well, I haven’t actually left the White House in months.

MH: For months? Are you kidding me? He was in Texas just two days before that interview. He was in Iraq two weeks before that. Is he demented? Is he delusional? Is he just a fabulist? But I guess that’s always been the basic message from this reality-star president: Reality doesn’t matter. And anyways, who you gonna believe, me or your lying eyes?

But I don’t just want to talk about Donald Trump today. I don’t. Even though I suspect we’ll spend much of this coming year talking about Trump, just as we did last year, and the year before that and the year before that. He’s taken over my life, professionally and personally. I want to talk about the Democrats today because not only is this the year that the Democratic presidential race heats up, and we had Senator Kirsten Gillibrand telling Stephen Colbert on Tuesday that that she plans to run too. Elizabeth Warren’s looking at a bid. Tulsi Gabbard has declared. Joe Biden’s testing the waters. But not only is this the year the Democratic race kicks off, in earnest, but it’s also of course, the year the Democrats can hold this president to account for the first time.

The new Democratic majority in the House is already locked in a struggle over the shutdown. You have Democratic committee chairs threatening to get the President’s tax returns and dig into his foreign dealings and corruption and emoluments. And you have some of the newest Democrats in the House making some of the most noise.

Representative Rashida Tlaib, the first ever Palestinian-American woman elected to Congress, turned up at her swearing in ceremony in a traditional Palestinian gown, a thobe, which immediately started trending. That evening, though, she really grabbed the headlines when she said this at a meeting of liberal activists.

RT: When your son looks at you and says: “Mama, look, you won. Bullies don’t win.” And I said: “Baby, they don’t, because we’re gonna go in there and we’re gonna impeach the motherfucker.”

(cheers)

MH: Now whether or not you agree with the, uh, colorful language used there, are we supposed to be upset that a new Democratic member of Congress wants to impeach Trump, which is what a majority of Democratic voters want? By the way, Tlaib didn’t just give a speech and swear, she also co-authored an op-ed that day explaining why we don’t need to wait for Mueller or the Russia investigation to conclude. There’s already enough evidence in the public domain of abuse of power, obstruction of justice, campaign finance violations, the imprisonment of children at the border to justify impeachment.

But that was all lost in the brouhaha over her use of the M-word. Republicans were outraged. Outraged, I tell you! Yeah, are we really supposed to believe that the same Republicans who helped elect to office a president accused of raping his wife and sexually assaulting more than a dozen women, who was caught on tape bragging about grabbing women’s genitalia, who referred to African countries as ‘shithole’ countries, and who just last weekend was accused of telling his own chief of staff that he had “fucked it all up,” we’re supposed to believe that those same Republicans were offended or shocked by Rashida Tlaib’s remark? If you believe that, I have a degree at Trump University to sell you.

By the way, Trump claimed to be offended by Tlaib’s “disgraceful” use of the M-word, he said, even though here’s Trump speaking back in 2011.

DJT: Listen, you motherfuckers, we’re gonna tax you 25 percent.

MH: But worst of all is that not only did the media and the Republicans and Trump pile in on Tlaib, but so did some conservative and centrist Democrats too. Well, pretend Democrats like Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia who said this on — where else — Fox News.

Joe Manchin: Oh, so disgusting. It was horrible, Neil. No one should approve of that. And I hope she doesn’t talk to her son that way either. To act like that, just awful, and to speak like that is even more deplorable. I’m so sorry. I want to apologize to all Americans.

MH: Sorry, Joe Manchin voted to put Brett Kavanaugh, a man accused of sexual assault by three different women, on the Supreme Court. Joe Manchin says he might vote for Donald Trump in 2020. Does he really think anyone gives a damn what his views are on bad language? I mean, seriously?

The reality is that the ludicrous Joe Manchins of this world are, thankfully, the past, not the future of the Democrats. In fact, the Democratic Party in Congress now looks a lot more like the Democratic base. In fact, it looks a lot more like America itself. And, crucially, it’s not just diverse in terms of ethnic or gender diversity, welcome though that is, but it’s more diverse in terms of ideology.

We now have actual leftists, still a tiny minority yes, but actual leftists, with ambitious policy agendas and big social media platforms, making noise and taking no prisoners. Rashida Tlaib, like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, is a self-declared Democratic Socialist. She didn’t just get elected to manage the status quo, she got elected to overturn it. So earlier, I went to her new office on Capitol Hill to talk to Congresswoman Tlaib about her plans for 2019, her comments about Trump and her position on Palestine.

[Music interlude.]

MH: Rashida Tlaib, congratulations on your election, on being here in Congress making history. One of the first two Muslim American women and the first Palestinian American woman to be elected to Congress. I want to start by asking a question that’s been asked of some of your new colleagues as well. Do you consider yourself to be a radical?

RT: You know, first of all, it depends on what you know, how you would define radical —

MH: You define it.

RT: Different. I am different. I’m different in how I serve not just because of my faith, not because I’m, you know, an Arab-American woman with this unique name and just kind of a unique approach to public service. But I’m different in a sense that I come from the third poorest congressional district in the country. The fact that you know half of my colleagues before I got here are millionaires. They’re an income bracket that is completely disconnected with the American people.

I’m different in that I, you know, I’m a mother. I am a person that is dealing with student debt and all of the challenges that I think many of my residents are facing today in being brown or Black in our country. I think for those that say well that’s radical, sometimes I feel like that’s a way to dismiss the fact that I do belong here just like anybody else that this kind of approach to public service to me is a new era of the social justice movement that we have in our country right now.

MH: This year, 2019, is going to be a very, very busy political year. Probably busier than 2018 even. God help us all. What do you think? What, in your view, should be the number one policy priority for the Democratic caucus in the house in 2019?

RT: You know, I think for my district specifically it has primarily been around addressing poverty in our country. I think that is probably the pathway to true equality. So, many things are so connected to the issue of poverty.

MH: How though, what particular policies do you want?

RT: Absolutely. So, one of the things that —

MH: Hit me.

RT: So, my first bill is Justice for All Civil Rights Act. A lot of folks don’t realize in 1964, we passed this historical, beautiful Civil Rights Act of ’64 and what happened there over the last 50 years is the courts got more, increasingly more conservative. So, they decided you know what if we’re going to look at civil rights violation, then we have to — this higher threshold of intent in putting the burden on us. No, the impact of the policy in itself should be enough to say there’s a civil rights violation.

MH: I just saw on my way here on Twitter that you’re going to be on the Financial Services Committee. Is that confirmed?

RT: Yeah, it’s going to hopefully be confirmed soon.

MH: You and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ayanna Pressley. Should the banks —

RT: And Maxine Waters.

MH: — Should the banks be afraid of you?

RT: They shouldn’t. They understand that, you know, it’s not personal. She knows — Maxine Waters is an unwavering advocate and she of anybody understands from being here longer than most of us on this committee, right, that she understands that there has been a lack of accountability and responsibility on Wall Street in what’s happened to our communities around economic injustices. And so much of it is tied with all the other issues that are in my district. I’m excited because having someone that is like you, that understands true public service has to be stemmed and connected, really rooted in what’s happening back home and she’s extremely rooted and understanding how painful poverty can be.

MH: There’s been some wins and some might say losses for your wing of the party, if I can call it that, since the new year. On the one hand, you had the Green New Deal rhetoric picking up. You had the new select committee on climate change that Speaker Pelosi signed off on which was seen as a victory for a lot of you guys pushing for that. On the other hand, some of my colleagues at The Intercept did a piece last week about how if you look at some of the key committee posts they’ve gone more to the “moderate centrist” than the members of the progressive caucus. How worried are you about how kind of “your wing of the party” shakes out over the course of this year with Nancy Pelosi and some of the more established Democrats still in charge at the top?

RT: I think Congresswoman Pressley said it beautifully to me is like, we’re here to be seen and heard. I don’t think we’re losing when we’re still here and we’re going to still be pushing back against this, you know, to me less courageous kind of approach to a lot of these very important policies. Even with the Select Committee, I’ve already convened over 35 advocates alone in Detroit and even those from Flint came. So many community advocates came together in saying what do we want a Green New Deal to encompass? Because even though we have this structure out there in saying that we need to move towards that, we also want to be able to make sure there’s co-ownership and oversight and all of those things. That doesn’t mean I’m not going to go and present to the Select Committee that this is the needs and the requirements and importance of the Green New Deal.

MH: But to having your voice heard, obviously, it helps if you’re on the key committees. It’s great you’re on Financial Services, if that’s confirmed, but for example, the Ways and Means Committee, the all-powerful committee that handles a lot of the finance stuff in this place. There’s not many progressives on it, you could argue.

RT: Yeah, I —

MH: Is that something that progressives back home in the wider public should be concerned about?

RT: I can already see us moving people more to the left, more to the issues that are important. You even hear them using some of the language that we use. I think people should be hopeful that we’re here. We’re not going anywhere and yes, we’re dealing just like we deal with the structures outside of the walls of the Capitol. We’re also dealing with some of the culture here, but the thing that the commonality that is so real and should be inspiring is that we’re pretty courageous and we haven’t backed down.

MH: So, you talk about putting pressure on the structures inside of here. You talk about moving people to the left. You talk about being courageous. How would you describe this movement, if I can call it that, by you and AOC and Ayanna Pressley, Ilhan Omar and others, some of the newbies coming in from the left? Is it fair to call it an insurgency?

RT: Not at all. I mean, I think a lot of us didn’t even know who each other were until we got here. I think we gravitated towards each other —

MH: Isn’t that how the best insurgencies begin?

RT: — But I think people need to understand it’s organic. It’s not something that was planned. Many of us, again, didn’t even know who each other were. We ran not to become first or anything. We really ran because being on the outside ring wasn’t going to be an option for us anymore, being silent was going to be an option anymore. So much much of our passion to run for office is that people like us deserve a seat at the table and I truly believe no matter what committee, we’re at the table now.

MH: And you, of course, hit the headlines. I can’t have this interview without talking about what you did a couple of weeks ago on the day you were sworn in —

RT: Of course not.

MH: — You had a great swearing-in. You wore the thobe. It trended.

RT: My kids dabbed.

MH: Your kids dabbed. It was historic in many ways. And then you told a crowd of activists that evening —

RT in front of crowd: We’re gonna go in there and we’re going to impeach the motherfucker.

MH: — Referring, of course, to Donald Trump. The media went crazy. Cable news rolled on it forever. I think there was a study shown that they covered your comments five times more than they covered Steve King’s racist remarks in defense of white supremacy, Republican Congressman Steve King. You even had some Democrats kind of saying, we’re not happy with this, disowning you. Conservative Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, for example said what you said was deplorable and disgusting. What is your response a couple of weeks later as it’s all calmed down to some of that brouhaha?

RT: You know, I continue to say I’m unapologetically me. I have every right like anybody else not to stop the tears and the pain and to be honest, the anger that I have right now in our country of feeling less like I belong, right? And I think being in that room the passion, my passion got the best of me, but I also am really that raw and that real. And some people embrace that but some people want to focus more on: “She shouldn’t be saying that,” but at the same time —

MH: The language police.

RT: — Yes, but at the same time, I think you know, I’m not part of a movement like King is of, you know, white supremacy doesn’t belong in our country. Everyone knows that. But a girl from Detroit that cursed all of a sudden becomes the headline where I really was targeting towards around impeachment like I’m really eager to move towards that. But I think it was unfortunately, a distraction and for me —

MH: Very much media-generated, GOP-generated.

RT: Absolutely.

MH: Because of course, the Republican party don’t like swearing. That’s why they elected Donald Trump to the presidency who never, never uses any bad language. It’s funny because I was on, I was on vacation on the 3rd of Jan. and I saw that on my phone. It popped up on Twitter and I saw that and I kind of chuckled to myself because I wasn’t that surprised because I’ve seen you swear in public events before and is it fair to say that’s kind of who you are? Cause I swear in public too and my wife gets real upset with me and try not to swear when I’m on live TV.

RT: Obviously, I wouldn’t do it in a setting like on the Congressional floor or in the six years that I served in the Michigan legislature, I never cursed on the floor. But one of the things that I, you know, was interviewed three months ago on another podcast and it was on Detroit public schools talking about, you know, women running for office and at the end of the interview they said is there anything that people don’t know about you and I said: “I curse like a trucker,” you know. And the guy laughed but they reached out and they said: “Oh now everybody knows.”

MH: Now they know for sure.

RT: But yeah, I have, you know, dropped the F-bomb. I have had these moments but at the same time, it’s like people are — it’s like this moment that I think people —

MH: But it’s also you’re a brown woman so you shouldn’t. I think there was a lot of that. And Trump weighed in with the nonsense about honor.

DJT: Her comments were disgraceful. This is a person that I don’t know. I assume she’s new. I think she dishonored herself and I think she dishonored her family.

MH: Which I don’t believe was accidental.

RT: He disgraces the office of the presidency every single day.

MH: On that note, talk substantively, you talk about it being a distraction from what you were actually talking about which was impeachment. And what a lot of people missed that day was you co-authored an op-ed in your local paper about making the case for impeachment and it’s a fantastic op-ed. I urge all of the listeners — and we’ll put up a link to it on the site — to go read it because what frustrates me and what frustrates me about the Democratic leadership and frustrates me about Schumer and Pelosi is if they’re asked about impeachment, they say let’s wait for Robert Mueller.

And what you so clearly lay out on that op-ed is you don’t need to wait for Robert Mueller. There’s enough stuff in the public domain. He does impeachable stuff on a weekly basis. So just for our listeners, briefly make the case for why you, what is the main case that you think is for impeachment? Putting Russia-gate to one side.

RT: Absolutely. The Constitution demands it and I want to reiterate to people to understand that this is beyond the collusion with Russia. This is beyond the Mueller investigation. Every single day that he’s President of United States that has not divested in all of his domestic and foreign corporations, he’s making decisions not in the best interest of the American people. He’s making it based on the profit lines. There is a slippery slope here. If we allow the president United States not to release his taxes and not to understand where his corporate interests are, then who’s next after him?

It causes a tremendous amount of fear, I think, for my residents back home and for myself and others that understand we now have a guy that still is sitting, in many ways, CEO of various interests foreign and domestic. And he’s making decisions, looking the other way, even on Saudi Arabia, looking the other way because of his investments.

MH: It’s open corruption.

RT: Absolutely, and that alone should be enough to start looking at impeaching this president.

MH: And do you believe that given what we know about the hush money payments by Michael Cohen, the obstruction of justice, the witness intimidation on Twitter, the misuse of pardon powers, all of which you mention in your piece, is it fair to call this president a criminal?

RT: You know, I am a person of — I’m a lawyer and I’m an attorney and I truly believe in the process. But I also believe, you know, if you’re given probable cause I mean, there’s already enough information out there to understand that a process needs to now —

MH: Of criminality.

RT: Absolutely, there’s been criminal acts currently, right now with him not divesting. That’s a direct violation of the Constitution not divesting into his corporate interests.

MH: And what was the backlash like to you from those comments? Not just to swearing but that you’re calling for impeachment being a new member of Congress. I was just sitting in your reception before this interview started and I heard your poor assistant on the phone fielding multiple calls in a 10-minute window from people hurling abuse, just ringing in to abuse you.

RT: Yeah, it’s not about the cursing. It’s about me impeaching this president.

MH: And being a brown Muslim woman who wants to impeach the president.

RT: You know, I don’t belong here. He’s the greatest president in the world, you know, in our history. Build the wall. You name it, it’s coming through.  And they’re very loud and very direct. I mean, he has obviously erupted this kind of, you know, white supremacy kind of movement and people are saying things that are not reflective of who we are as a country.

MH: Do you worry about your security because just this week a Republican official in Florida claimed that you might blow up Capitol Hill which is the kind of rhetoric which might lead some nutcases out there to say: “Well, we must protect Capitol Hill from Rashida Tlaib.”

RT: Before I even talked about impeachment as publicly as I have been, on the first day of my orientation, we got a death threat. They don’t stop. I am taken aback by how aggressive and more public they are about wanting to harm me.

MH: Do you hold this president’s rhetoric responsible, at least in part, for those threats?

RT: Absolutely, he is the leader of our country. He sets the tone and you, even in rallies and other instances, he’s even said if impeachment continued, we’re going to see violence. We’re going to see — I mean, it’s almost like he’s sending out some sort of signal.

MH: Just on impeachment, what do you say to those people, including on the left who say: “Look, of course, he should be impeached. Of course, he should be removed from office. But the Democrats don’t have a majority in the Senate. You can impeach him in the House. You can’t convict him in the Senate. So, why waste time talking about impeachment when we can get on with Medicare-for-all and fighting climate change? Why waste time on impeachment?”

RT: Look, it’s not a waste of time to hold the President of the United States accountable. No matter what we pass, he’s the administration that has to implement it. So, if it’s not in the corporate interest of his own, you know, profit line, then he’s not going to implement it on the best interest of the American people. We need to understand our duties as members of Congress and I believe looking at even Nixon’s impeachment, or his literally, his resignation, it was Republicans and Democrats coming together and putting country first, coming together and putting our values first.

You’re seeing it now more and more. Even now, they’re standing up to Steve King. They’re standing up against this kind of rhetoric. Even the shutdown has come of an awakening. I even see it with my colleagues on the other side of the aisle finally coming on our side and understanding, we’ve got to open up government. You can see the self-interest. You can start seeing what many of us already have felt across this country that you do have a President of the United States that is acting above the law.

MH: You mentioned shutdown. One of the first bills, in fact, the first bill that Republican senators have decided to consider in this new year, this new Congress is a bill to criminalize the Boycott Divestment Sanctions Movement. It’s an anti-BDS Bill. Marco Rubio of Florida, has been pushing it. You criticized him on Twitter saying he and other colleagues “forgot what country they represent.” What did you mean by that? Because some of your critics on the right say you’re an anti-Semite for saying that.

RT: Of course, and it’s come before that comment. I — just my mere existence as a Palestinian here of speaking up against, you know, people taking away our First Amendment right of freedom of speech. Do you know what we’ve done in this country with the right to boycott, what we’ve done in this country with the right to speak up and to protest and to say we disagree with this country and their doings? You look at Apartheid. You look at all the, you know, anti-blackness in our country and what we’ve been able to try to do to push back against that, you know, I don’t even call it an anti-B — I call it anti-First Amendment, anti-speech bill.

MH: But the dual loyalty trope is an anti-Semitic trope. You weren’t referring to that, presumably.

RT: It’s ridiculous for those to somehow, the desperation and trying to tie that somehow, that I’m somehow anti-Semitic. It’s absolutely ridiculous. And to me, it was very much trying to deter the fact that they know, even those that understand that BDS is very much a right in our country to be able to say we want to boycott someone a country based on their political beliefs or their policies.

MH: And just on BDS, you and Ilhan Omar have come out in favor of BDS. The first-ever members of Congress to ever do so, what does that actually mean in practice for a member of Congress to be pro-BDS? Does that mean you can’t vote for any military aid to Israel? You can’t vote for — What does that mean you can’t do in terms of — because you’re actually a law-making position. It’s one thing for a member of the public to come out. I’m just wondering how that works. Does that mean you’ll be opposing all U.S. aid to Israel?

RT: I can tell you what I’ve been very specific about is that I will not be supporting aid to any country that is not for equality or justice. I have to tell you my grandmother lives there. By me supporting any aid to a country that denies her human dignity, denies her equality, the fact that she has to go and, you know, through checkpoints to get to the hospital for health care, the fact that she is felt as if she’s less than in her own country, that is something I will not be supporting.

MH: So you won’t be voting for the current annual U.S. military aid package —?

RT: It has to be for leverage. We do it to states all the time where we say: “Look, if we —” and I can tell you, I mean, people know this. If we are going to tell states they have to support the Civil Rights Act, they have to support the, you know, same-sex marriage, anything that we believe in, we say: “Okay, you want this money, then you’re going to have to support these values. You’re going to have to support the federal law.” If we’re not doing that to Israel, Saudi Arabia and other countries, then we’re not doing our job as a country.

MH: Fair enough. One last question: A growing number of Democrats are now launching presidential bids, a record number of women too. Elizabeth Warren, Tulsi Gabbard, Kirsten Gillibrand just this week. Do you have a favorite candidate yet?

RT: No, I’m really focused on the shutdown. I want you to know like even when I go to the, I came through the airport, it’s so, all of it right now, is not even in my purview. Like I look at this stuff and every time I see it, I just kind of pass through and I’m like —

MH: But it’s important. It’s not unimportant, obviously, who the candidate of your party to take on Trump.

RT: Of course it’s important but think about it, right now, there’s like more federal workers going to pawn shops to pawn off their goods because they’ve got to be able to make some sort of living. I don’t know. I’m so focused on that right now, and to be honest —

MH: But you were a Bernie supporter in 2016.

RT: Yes, but I —

MH: Would you encourage him to run this time? Even if you’re not coming out in favor of someone.

RT: I can tell you this is a man that has a tremendous amount of courage. He started talking about universal healthcare and supporting the right to boycott and the understanding that women deserve equal pay and all of those things and that’s something that I’m very passionate about. He has moved our country more and more towards these issues. That to me is real leadership and I support any of my colleagues who want to run but I hope they use that national stage, right now, at this moment, to get our government back up and running.

MH: Rashida Tlaib, thanks for joining me on Deconstructed.

RT: Thank you.

MH: That was congresswoman Rashida Tlaib of Michigan speaking to me in her Capitol Hill office. Don’t you wish we had more plain-speaking politicians like that? And I’m not just referring to her swearing. I’m talking about the directness of the approach, the willingness to call things what they are.

And you know, I’m pretty cynical about politicians. I’m as cynical as they get. I’ve been covering politics on both sides of the Atlantic for nearly two decades now and you know, I know that politicians just say whatever they want to say to get elected or to get ahead. But with this new crop of Democrats, leftist Democrats in the House, I do have a little bit of hope. I am allowing myself to be hope-filled and I think you should too. By the way, who says voting never changes anything?

That’s our show. Deconstructed is a production of First Look Media and The Intercept, and is distributed by Panoply. Our producer is Zach Young. Dina Sayedahmed is our production assistant. The show was mixed by Bryan Pugh. Leital Molad is our executive producer. Our theme music was composed by Bart Warshaw. Betsy Reed is The Intercept’s editor in chief.

And I’m Mehdi Hasan. You can follow me on Twitter @mehdirhasan. If you haven’t already, please subscribe to the show so you can hear it every week. Go to theintercept.com/deconstructed to subscribe from your podcast platform of choice, iPhone, Android, whatever. If you’re subscribed already, please do leave us a rating or review. Go right now and review us! It helps people find the show. And if you want to give us feedback, email us at Podcasts@theintercept.com. Thanks so much! It’s great to be back. I hope you think so too.

See you next week.

The post When Do We “Impeach the Motherfucker”? (With Rashida Tlaib) appeared first on The Intercept.

The end of nuclear: now it’s time for a Green New Deal

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 17/01/2019 - 9:21pm in

Tags 

Politics

The FT has just published this in an email:

With Hinckley Point also in doubt, the UK's future energy policy is in tatters:  the nuclear option is dead because it is technically and financially not feasible.

If ever there was a moment for us to be focussing on what is important in politics to announce a Green New Deal to solve this problem this would be it.

Instead we have Brexit stupidity.

The opportunity cost of our political paralysis is staggering. And one day we will deeply rue it.

 

Dats Shtraya, Mite.

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 17/01/2019 - 8:48pm in


Acting PM Michael McCormack offers his scientific assessment of the Darling River disaster: Sometimes it rain, sometimes it dont. Dats Shtraya, mite.

The man blabbered the official party line and that’s it. End of story. No mismanagement, no water over-extraction, no climate change, no nothing. Everybody did their best. That’s nobody’s fault. It just didn’t work.


----------
Two days ago it was Phillip Glyde’s whingeing about unjust allegations of mismanagement. He is the top bureaucrat in the Murray-Darling Basin Authority and refuses any responsibility. The results were unsatisfactory, but that wasn’t the bureaucrats’ fault.

Yesterday is was Les Gordon’s turn to cry us a river: those guys had nothing to do with that. It wasn’t their fault, either. He is the chair of the Farmer’s Federation water task-force, he must know.

----------
So, this is the situation: the bureaucrats, suspects of mismanagement, aren’t responsible; the farmers, suspects of over-extracting water and polluting the river, aren’t responsible either. The politicians behind the Murray Darling Plan side with them. So, who’s responsible?

Goddamn you, God!

----------
The Greens’ Sarah Hanson-Young proposes a royal commission to get to the bottom of this. To that effect the Greens shall introduce -- next February -- a member’s bill setting the commission.

Royal commissions are ideal stages for revelations (whether dramatic or merely entertaining, I’ll leave readers to decide), as the recent Banking Royal Commission illustrated. They, however, are costly, take lots of time and their results often are underwhelming.

At any rate, the Greens’ proposal will need Labor’s support to pass. The immediate question is whether Labor, that supported the Murray Darling Plan with the National-Liberal Coalition, will support it.

----------
I have a better idea. It’s cheaper, simpler, more expeditious.

As we’ve seen everybody did their best. The photo is proof of that. Let’s be smart, then. Scrap the whole very expensive Murray Darling Basin Plan and defund the MDBA. There’s no reason to believe management can be improved (ask Glyde). Nor is improvement required: let everybody do whatever they like, because we know will be the right thing (ask Gordon).

The problem with the Murray Darling Basin is simple: sometimes it rains, sometimes it doesn’t (ask McCormack). The solution is prayer (ask Scott Morrison). We don’t need a bureaucracy to do that, we can do it by ourselves. There’s no reason to keep the managers.

Of course, there’s little point to prayer, because it’s all God’s fault anyway!

Let’s save ourselves the money and the trouble. Instead, let’s take that money and party.

----------
Yep, dats Shtraya, mite.

----------
Game over people. The planet is so fucked and us with it.

UPDATE:
Phillip Glyde wanted to know who came up with the idea that hundreds of thousands of fish, possibly up to a million, had been killed. He might be interested in the NSW Department of Primary Industries media release of January 7.

You are welcome.

There is a solution to the EU mess. The price is two party leaders and at least one of their parties

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 17/01/2019 - 7:37pm in

As I have already pointed out this morning, when we voted to leave the EU that is what we did. No conditions or red lines were attached to the voting paper. There were no footnotes. There was just a ‘do we want to leave?’, to which the answer was an unfortunate ‘yes’, only matched in its incomprehensibility as to meaning by our inability to answer that question.

The time has come when an answer is needed. Three things are certain.

The first is that May’s red lines have to go. That is why the Commons need to take control of this process.

The second is that Labour will not be convinced by Remain.

The third is that a second referendum will fail to catch the nuances, again. It could only ask for a selection between No Deal, which seems unlikely to secure parliamentary support to get in the ballot, or a deal of some sort, and Remain.

That still leaves the question of a deal of what sort? One has to be considered.

The fact is that we now know that leaving the EU could create substantial economic disruption. The only businesses that disagree do not import or export. Quite astonishingly, the Conservative Party is betraying its entire business base by pursuing the policy that it is undertaking.

And the government also thinks there will be mayhem. That is why it is planning for it.

Trade unions happen to agree.

And we now know that leaving the EU could breach all our obligations in Ireland. I find it almost unfathomable that some actually think this acceptable.

And on the ground what we know is that this will massively hurt the well being of the people of this country.

So we still need a compromise.

Labour says that compromise is staying in a Customs Union. But that does not really work unless it is for all practical purposes the EU Customs Union.

It is true that staying in will prevent some new trade deals. But those deals are, anyway, just fictions of fevered imaginations and there is no serious study that says they could ever remotely replicate the benefit of being in the Customs Union.

The disruption will, however, persist even if we are in a Customs Union. And Northern Ireland ios not solved. Border checks also cover single market rules and so the disruption to trade would continue. Unless we stay in the single market for goods.

Goods are only 20% of our international trade. We would have services freedom.

And there is a precedent that says we would pay much less than we do now if we were in both the single market for goods and the customs union (Switzerland). And there is also  a precdent that movement can be restricted. This is the so-called Jersey model that I have mentioned on this blog before. The best summary I can find this morning comes from the Centre for European Reform. As they put it:

The agreement would need to include the following features: 

  • Services access for UK firms would need to be roughly the same as that of any other third country. The UK, theoretically, could take to the world and try to sign services-only trade deals.
  • The UK would need to agree to follow all of the rules of the customs union, single market rules for goods and the EU’s VAT regime. All industrial goods and agriculture would have to be covered. Anything less would create a situation where checks on origin and standards, among other things, would still be required at the border.
  • The UK would have to agree to rules on state aid, industrial emissions and social and employment laws, to avoid the charge of environmental and social ‘dumping’. 
  • The agreement would need a surveillance mechanism, to check that the UK is complying with EU rules, and a court to settle disputes between the EU and the UK. Any new court would have to take account of the case law of the European Court of Justice. 
  • The EU would insist upon a financial contribution to the economic development of Central and Eastern Europe, among other things. The Swiss, for example, contribute around half the UK’s current payments per head. They have a similar level of access to the single market as the proposal outlined here.
  • The biggest question is whether the EU would insist upon free movement of EU workers as it stands, or whether it might be possible for the UK to negotiate controls on free movement, in exchange for the obvious damage that this agreement would do to the City of London.

This means free-flowing trade at ports. Our well-being is secured.

It means we have left the EU.

We take control of migration.

We save money.

We solve the Irish border issue.

The referendum is honoured.

No tariffs would be payable.

So what are the downsides? There are three.

First, the Tories would self destruct.

Second, Corbyn can't bring himself to say this.

Third, there is then no obvious route to an agreement.

And then May has the nerve to say politics will be discredited if she does not get her way.

Politics could find a way through this.

At the price of two party leaders, and maybe their parties.

That is a price I would willingly pay.

Repeating the Mistakes of 1914?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 17/01/2019 - 7:08pm in

n their enthusiasm for a new cold war against China and Russia, the western establishments of today are making a mistake comparable to that of their forebearers in 1914.

No wonder we’re in a mess on the ‘red lines’

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 17/01/2019 - 6:03pm in

Tags 

Europe, Politics

It's just worth remembering in these febrile days when a lot of claims are being made just what the 2016 referendum ballot paper asked:Can you spot anything on WTO rules?

Or migration?

Or freedom of movement more broadly?

Or customs unions?

Norway?

Canada?

Or authorisation to break other agreements?

No. Neither can I.

And anyone who claims that anything was said on any such issue at the time is simply lying.

And I think we do have a  right to point that out.

The vote was to leave the EU.

No one said what that meant.

Or when it would happen.

And what would happen next.

No wonder we're in a mess.

And my point is a simple Ione. The so-called ‘red lines’ are not based on the referendum result. And they do not respect the ‘will of the people’.

May is sinoply not telling the truth when she says that they do.

Richard Ojeda on the LA Teachers Strike: “Don’t Make Us Go West Virginia on You”

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 17/01/2019 - 8:58am in

Tags 

Politics

Teachers and supporters hold signs and umbrellas in the rain during a rally Monday, Jan. 14, 2019, in Los Angeles. Tens of thousands of Los Angeles teachers went on strike Monday for the first time in three decades after contract negotiations failed in the nation's second-largest school district, but schools stayed open with the help of substitutes and district officials said students were learning. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

Teachers and supporters hold signs and umbrellas in the rain during a rally supporting the teachers strike in Los Angeles on Jan. 14, 2019.

Photo: Ringo H.W. Chiu/AP

Almost exactly one year ago today, I sat in a room with a bunch of pissed-off teachers in Mingo County, West Virginia. They were fed up with earning some of the lowest pay in the country, and they were disgusted with how promise after promise had been broken on their health care coverage. They were tired of digging into their own pockets for the supplies they needed, let alone the granola bars, warm jackets, and pairs of shoes that they kept on hand. But more than anything, they were ready to call bullshit. Bullshit on the idea that there was no money for public education, when there was always money when the big-business lobbyists came around looking for tax cuts. Bullshit on the politicians who claimed to care about the future for our kids, when they short-changed them every step of the way. They walked out, and soon their local movement became a state-wide movement that became a national movement. I’ll never forget the day we saw a Kentucky teacher post a picture of a rally sign that read: “Don’t make us go West Virginia on you!”

On Tuesday, I found myself with a whole lot more pissed-off teachers, this time in Los Angeles, California. After trying to negotiate a contract for more than a year, LA teachers have decided to go West Virginia. They decided to stand shoulder to shoulder, hold the line, and shut it down. Because, let’s face it, whether you are the richest county in America or the poorest county, you can bet that your public schools are under siege. Politicians suck the funding out and then blame the teachers for not getting results on their cookie-cutter standardized tests. The wealthy leave or send their kids to private schools. The carcass of the neighborhood school is left for dead at best and actively dismantled at worst.

But there’s a reason why two places as different as Mingo and Los Angeles — not to mention Oklahoma, Arizona, North Carolina, and Colorado — can be part of the same movement. It’s because the attack on public schools is part of a larger national attack on working people. Teachers are on the front lines of this war, and they understand perfectly well what’s at stake. Yes, they are fighting for their own ability to practice their profession without having to also drive an Uber on the side, but what they are really fighting for is the fate of the middle class. The public education system is the bedrock of the American middle class, the great equalizer. Teachers are risking their own livelihoods to try to keep the middle class alive in this country, and we should all be taking up arms.

Think about it. Our schools are the largest investment we make in our children. When the children of the working-class citizen are sent to schools that are overcrowded, unsafe, and falling down, that is a statement of our values, a statement of our priorities. We are saying to the poor, working, and middle classes that we do not think their kids are worth the trouble; they aren’t worth the investment. We’d rather just give another tax cut to Amazon so they can invest in robots, thank you very much. In West Virginia, we watched as there was always money for another tax cut to big energy, but never any to try to pull our schools up from near the worst in the nation. After I retired from the military, I became a teacher at Chapmanville High School and saw firsthand how our kids were getting screwed. You tell me how the American dream is going to be possible for a kid who was taught math by the assistant to the assistant wrestling coach. What a joke. In Los Angeles, the wealthy have already pulled their kids out of the public schools, where 40-plus kids pile into classrooms, and teachers are left to handle everything from broken arms to mental health issues. Charter schools have siphoned millions away from neighborhood schools, and the district absurdly claims that there’s no money for improvements while sitting on a nearly $2 billion surplus.

In Mingo County, the war on the working class is personal. Coal baron Don Blankenship murdered 29 miners through negligence because safety would have hurt his bottom line. He poisoned the water of his own town and built a private water line to his hilltop mansion, but didn’t bother to tell his neighbors that they were drinking coal slurry. Of course, all the local politicians looked the other way. This is cartoonishly evil behavior, and yet the slow poisoning of the working class is playing out in every community in this nation. They are poisoned by the big corporations that treat them as disposable and bust their unions. They are poisoned by politicians who are looking out for their campaign accounts and that big paycheck they will get as a lobbyist when they finish “serving.” They are poisoned by the contempt of those who believe that you are only worthy of a life of dignity if you live in the right place, look a certain way, have a certain size bank account, and can score high enough on your math SATs.

The teachers in West Virginia, LA, Oklahoma, Arizona, Kentucky, Colorado, and more are saying something radical with their actions. They are saying that every single child of this nation is worthy. The poor kids. The immigrant kids. The special needs kids. The holler kids. They all deserve a safe place, with dedicated professionals. A place to thrive. A place to explore. A place to be treated as the human beings they are, rather than a problem to be dealt with or another faceless name on an overstuffed roster.

Underfunding, privatizing, demonizing teachers, these are all tactics used to destroy a public education system that helped to build the middle class. I often say that the elites of this nation better take care, because if we get to a place in this country where there’s only the dirt poor and the filthy rich, the dirt poor will eat the filthy rich. The teachers strikes are a warning shot.

Don’t make us go West Virginia on you.

The post Richard Ojeda on the LA Teachers Strike: “Don’t Make Us Go West Virginia on You” appeared first on The Intercept.

Palmer Texts All Australians Promising That He Will Deliver Them A Brexit

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 17/01/2019 - 8:37am in

CLIVE PALMER FEDERAL POLITICS PRESSER

The front runner to appear on next year’s edition of the show I’m A Celebrity Get Me Outta Here Clive Palmer, has taken time out of his busy schedule of running from creditors to text each and every Australian citizen promising them that he will deliver to them our very own Brexit.

“Look the United Kingdom voted for Brexit and so far they haven’t got it, I will not fail Australians like that I will deliver a Brexit,” said Mr Palmer. “Unlike Labor and the Liberals I am a man with my finger on the pulse and I know that Australian’s want a good long hard Brexit.”

“So Australia elect me to parliament and I will stop bombarding you with texts and billboards.”

When asked whether he knew what Brexit was Mr Palmer replied: “Do I know what Brexit is, come on I’ve had more Brexit’s than you’ve had hot dinners. Speaking of hot dinners I pledge to provide fast trains that will deliver hot dinners to all Australians who want them.”

“And hover boards and flying cars, vote for me Clive I’ll be your best friend, come on Australia don’t make me beg.”

Mark Williamson 

www.twitter.com/MWChatShow

You can follow The (un)Australian on twitter or like us on facebook

Tweezer Wins ‘No Confidence’ Vote by VERY Narrow Margin

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 17/01/2019 - 7:37am in

Okay, I just heard a few minutes ago that Tweezer has managed to survive the vote of ‘No Confidence’ proposed by Jeremy Corbyn. I thought she would, as the Tories very much stick together when they’re under attack. Although the majority of them voted against May over her wretched Brexit deal, some of her opponents, like, I believe, Jacob Rees-Mogg, had said they had confidence in her. I think this is very much a matter of convenience, because those MPs that still continue to back her do so because they realize that if she goes, the party will descend into violent factional squabbling and will collapse.

What I didn’t expect was how extremely narrow her victory was. I’ve been told the results were 325 for Tweezer to 306 against. This is in no way a massive endorsement of her from her party. It shows instead that she is incredibly vulnerable with a very tenuous grip on power. And her position is going to become even more precarious in the coming weeks as we advance towards Brexit. The insecurity most Brits feel about the preparations to leave will increase, and Tweezer has herself admitted that she may try to push back Article 50. The Europeans regard her as a clown, and her massive ineptitude also reflects on us as a nation. She’s made such a mess of the negotiations that further preparations and negotiations with Europe will undoubtedly be more difficult.

Mike put up a piece today reporting that May has drawn parliament into a war of attrition through her obstinate refusal to resign. Jeremy Corbyn has responded to her by saying that he’ll keep demanding votes of ‘No Confidence’ every time the government loses a motion. This might have the result of forcing some Conservatives to vote for government policies they would otherwise vote against in order to forestall further such votes, and it might cheapen the importance of such calls slightly by making them somewhat routine. But I think it’s the only way to go. I can remember reading a comment from a Tory politician back in the 1990s or so, who was surprised that the Labour opposition of the time hadn’t succeeded in overturning them simply through doggedly attacking them every time they could. He said that when the Tories attacked a Labour government, they ‘hunted in packs’. He was surprised that Labour hadn’t, thus allowing Major’s administration to cling to power. Labour now has to adopt this approach, to attack Tweezer and her government at every opportunity, to grind them down to such an extent that they are too exhausted to hold on to power.

This is a critically wounded government. For the good of the British people, the NHS and what survives of the welfare state, Corbyn and Labour have to continue hounding them into that crucial ‘No Confidence’ vote, which hopefully will force her from office.

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