MAY 25TH, 2023



Though the United States remains a strong supporter of Israel, there are some indications that the supposed ‘unbreakable bond’ with Tel Aviv is faltering, though more in language than in deeds.

Following the provocative ‘Flag March’ on May 18, which is carried out annually by Israeli Jewish extremists in the Occupied Palestinian city of East Jerusalem, the US joined other countries around the world in condemning the racism displayed at the event.

The language used by the US State Department was firm but also guarded. Spokesman Matthew Miller did not condemn the racist, provocative march – which involved leading Israeli officials – but the language used by the large crowds, most of whom are strong supporters of the far-right government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“The United States unequivocally opposes racist language of any form,” Miller tweeted. “We condemn the hateful chants such as ‘Death to Arabs’ during today’s marches in Jerusalem.”

Carefully articulated not to appear as a condemnation of Israel itself, the US position is still more ‘balanced’ than previous positions, where Palestinians were often the ones associated with the US use of words such as “condemnation,” “incitement,” and the like.

On the other hand, during the Israeli bloody five-day war on Gaza, starting on May 9, Washington had resorted to the same old script, that of Israel having the ‘right to defend itself,’ thus entirely misrepresenting the events which led to the war in the first place.

This US position on Israel’s war on Gaza suggests that Netanyahu is the ‘defender’ of Israel against supposed Palestinian violence and ‘terrorism.’ But this purported champion of Israeli rights is yet to be invited to the White House five months after he returned to power at the helm of Israel’s most rightwing government in history.

Some want to believe that the decision by the Joe Biden administration to distance itself from Netanyahu was entirely altruistic. But that cannot be the case, as the US continues to back Israel militarily, financially, politically and in every other way.

The answer lies in Netanyahu’s major miscalculations of the past when he crossed a dangerous line by turning against the Democratic Party and allying his country entirely with Republicans. His tactics paid dividends during the term of Republican President Donald Trump but backfired when Trump left the White House.

Biden is unquestionably pro-Israel. Per his own repeated remarks, his support for Israel is not only political but ideological as well. “I am a Zionist. You don’t have to be a Jew to be a Zionist,” he has repeated, and proudly so, on several occasions.

But the US President is also anti-Netanyahu, a dislike that even preceded the Trump-Netanyahu love affair. It mostly dates back to Barack Obama’s two terms in office, when Biden was the vice president.

Netanyahu’s political shenanigans and relentless attacks on the Obama Administration at the time taught Biden that Netanyahu simply could not be trusted.

Yet, Biden, with historically low ratings among ordinary Americans, cannot possibly, on his own, challenge Netanyahu and Israel’s stronghold on Washington through its influential lobby.

Something else is at work, namely, the fact that the Democratic Party as a whole had shifted allegiances from Israel to Palestine.

This assertion would have been unthinkable in the past, but the change is real, confirmed time and again by credible polling companies. The latest was in March.

“After a decade in which Democrats have shown increasing affinity toward the Palestinians, their sympathies … now lie more with the Palestinians than the Israelis, 49% versus 38%,” the Gallup poll concluded.

The fact that such growing ‘affinity’ with Palestine has been taking place for at least a decade suggests that the position of the Democrats was a generational one, not an outcome of a single event.

Indeed, numerous organizations and countless individuals are working on a daily basis to create a link between ‘affinity’ and policy.

Buoyed by the growing sympathies for Palestine, a long-time advocate of Palestinians’ rights in the US Congress, Rep. Betty McCollum reintroduced, on May 5, the ‘Defending the Human Rights of Palestinian Children and Families Living Under Israeli Military Occupation Act’.

Co-sponsored by 16 other members of Congress, the legislation demands that Israel must be prohibited from using “US taxpayer dollars in the Occupied West Bank for the military detention, abuse or ill-treatment of Palestinian children.”

Two years earlier, the Intercept had reported that McCollum and her supporters were pushing towards barring US aid to Israel from “subsidizing a wider array of Israeli occupation tactics.”

Alex Kane wrote this is “an indication of just how far the debate over the US aid to Israel has come in the past six years,” a reference to 2015 when McCollum introduced the first legislation on the matter.

Since then, things have moved forward at an even more accelerated speed. The effort to hold Israel accountable has now reached the New York state assembly.

On May 16, The New York Post reported that legislation was introduced by several Democratic lawmakers aimed at blocking registered US charities from funneling money to fund illegal Israeli Jewish settlements.

The legislation, “Not on Our Dime!: Ending New York Funding of Israeli Settler Violence Act,” dares to challenge Israel on multiple fronts: the traditional power of the pro-Israel lobby, questioning US funding of Israel and confronting the channeling of funds to illegal settlements in the name of charity work.

Several reasons compel us to believe that the shift in US policy on Palestine and Israel, though slow, nuanced and, at times, symbolic, will likely continue.

One is the fact that Israel is turning towards far-right nationalism, which is increasingly difficult to defend by US liberal government and media.

Two, the steadfastness of Palestinians and their ability to overcome mainstream media restrictions and censorship that had prevented them from having any fair representation.

And finally, the dedication of numerous civil society organizations and the widening network of support for Palestinians throughout the US, which allowed courageous lawmakers to push for substantive change in policy.

Time will tell what direction Washington will take in the future. But, considering the current evidence, support for Israel is dwindling at rates that are unprecedented

US unions: From a tool for workers to a pawn for politicians

May 1, 2023

Source: Al Mayadeen English

By Mohammad Al-Jaber 

Unions in the United States have been through a lot throughout history, and in light of all the catastrophes they underwent, the modern political arena may be one of the biggest woes to have hit them.

Unions have long been championed as a tool to garner the rights of the working people and enhance their living and working conditions, and so far, throughout history, this has been proven correct. However, when the United States and its somewhat-modern populistic inclinations started to affect how unions function, all that changed. When unions became a political pawn in the hands of the elite, the priority was no longer the proletariat; with the latter only becoming the means for the elite to get more power.

Built around the aspect of protecting workers by acting as a united front in the face of capitalists’ exploitation of the working man and giving the common workers the bargaining power against their employers in a bid to garner more rights for them, unions have always been by the side of workers, starting in the United States in 1866, decades after the first attempt to kickstart a union, when labor groups came together and created a national federation of labor. Known as the National Labor Union, the organization went on a crusade in light of strenuous circumstances for workers and sought to advance their interests. This very organization led to the reduction of the work day in the United States to eight hours after decades of struggle to decrease the amount of time laborers spent at work, thus giving them more time for leisure and rest. 

Broadly speaking, labor unions led workers to have higher wages, safer working conditions, health benefits, better working hours, and things that are now seen as a luxury, such as retirement, benefits upon injuries, and the like, not to mention breaking the shackles of exploitation children were subjected to by bringing an end to child labor.

Despite all the advantages that unions have bore over time, proving to be a tool of great power in the hands of the workers, they seem to have failed to accumulate vast numbers – or at least have failed to maintain the momentum they once had amid faltering “popularity”. As of January 2023, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 10.1% of workers in the United States are union members. So why are workers not utilizing this great tool to harness more advantages?

The modern irrelevance of trade unions

Throughout history, labor unions have been associated with the industrial and agricultural sectors, which are known to have been the foundations of nations and empires. Even now, when one recalls major actions taken by unions in the United States, their minds go to the strikes carried out by miners, railroad workers, and postal service workers. Steel and textile workers were also major contributors, with each of these sectors taking hundreds of thousands of workers to the streets to demand better working conditions and higher wages, or an overall demand to eradicate a certain injustice suffered by the workers. However, the US economy is no longer reliant on industry and agriculture. In fact, the United States imports most of its manufactured goods and agricultural goods from abroad, making the sectors that were once the country’s backbone nearly obsolete in light of a new sector coming into dominance: the service sector.

Union membership is in decline due to the shift from an industrial economy to a service economy, as workers no longer see themselves as a part of a collective, but rather as individuals, each of whom seeks his own best interests without regard to how collectivization and unity would yield better results on the long-term for workers. In short, a combination of liberalism, individualism, and a shift to a service economy destroyed union membership rates. This was a trend nearly all over the world, as globalization, automation, and the shift from industrial factories saw union membership faltering all over the world, so much so that the workforce in countries as big as the United States saw itself outgrowing union membership, i.e., new workers were less likely to join a union with time as the labor market kept on expanding, leaving unions in the dust of the expanding workforce as more people thought of them as archaic and unnecessary, partly due to the working conditions being acceptable at the time; it was ignored that unions were behind the working conditions in question.

There was a lot of momentum behind unions, especially in the wake of World War II in light of the economic boom that the US witnessed, though unions at the time were by all means reactionary in comparison with today’s unions, as they were mainly centered around white men and the sector they occupied at the time: industry. Meanwhile, other industries, such as retail jobs, which were mainly occupied by women at the time, were put to the side and marginalized. The repercussions of the marginalization in question are still felt to this very day, with it still being the case that retail and service jobs are rarely unionized, while industrial jobs are heavily unionized.

The movement was heavily flawed since the beginning, as it did not treat all sectors as equal, leaving the trade behind before the latter became the leading sector in the United States. As of 2021, the agricultural sector contributed around 0.96% to the US Gross Domestic Product, while industry contributed 17.88%. Both these figures are meager when compared with the contribution of the service sector, which is a whopping 77.6% of the US GDP. For the past several decades, these numbers have been fluctuating, but it has been a constant that the service sector is by a landslide the main contributor to the American GDP.

Capitalists seek profits

The post-WWII economic boom did not last long in the United States, and soon after, in the 1970s, a recession that led to stagflation undermined much of the progress that had been made at the time by trade unions. Seeking profits as the economy was collapsing in the country, capitalist business owners sought to undermine unions. Going on a fierce anti-union campaign, the capital holders managed to massively decrease union membership rates. Moreover, stagflation, a period of stagnant growth, high inflation, and high unemployment, was affected by capitalists moving their operations overseas for cheaper labor. This, in turn, led to there being fewer laborers, and thus, fewer union members. Unions were feared because business owners were aware that organization among workers would lead to the latter’s victory in any battle they would enter because of the united front they made up together: no worker could be fired unjustly without his colleagues taking to the streets in solidarity with them. Workers’ rights were insured by the collective workforce in a select domain, something scarcely seen in the service sector.

This fear culminated in union busting, in the sense that any worker who dares stand up in the face of injustice would be silenced, and anyone who tries to create or lead a union, or even mention it, would be severely punished for their actions with pay cuts, having their hours reduced, threatening, and even termination. In light of all the pressures present, from intense employer resistance and post-war union complacency due to the lack of achievements, as well as the growth and change in the labor market as unions could no longer catch up, the act of organization among employees was no longer as mainstream as it once was, and it kept faltering since, forcing unions to have record-low membership rates.

Union membership also saw a decline due to the actions of the government, as red states, mainly in the south, had less strict labor laws, allowing business owners to go on their merry way busting unions and firing employees left and right for even daring to utter the word organization. This led business owners to heavily concentrate their factories in the south, as they would not get in trouble for taking harsh measures against workers in case they sought to unionize. Blue states were seeing a decline in the industry while red states were having factories pumped into them, and therefore they were seeing an influx of workers from other states who were still seeking job opportunities in light of an economic crisis, which led them to bitterly comply with the injustice employers were subjecting them to.

Money-hungry government

In addition to the aforementioned obstacles that stood in unions’ way, from liberalism and individualism to the unexpected shifts in the dominant economic sectors, one key aspect in the destruction of unions cannot be ignored: US President Ronald Reagan. Reagan is arguably the most controversial President in US history whose policies marginalized and destroyed communities, but this piece is not aimed at shedding light on the wide array of negative policies enacted under Reagan. Therefore, it will only touch on his administration’s actions against unions.

The cutthroat market was not going to sit idly and wait for the slow process of negotiations and strikes to yield results and get workers back into factories, thus Mr. trickle-down economics put two options before workers: comply or lose your job.

The Reagan administration took many contentious decisions against workers, including banning them from striking, a decision that was reversed years after he left office. The Reagan era saw the “murder of the US middle class” as The Intercept wrote. The magazine highlighted one major event that comes to mind when one recalls the measures taken by the Reagan administration against the working man. 

In late 1981, President Reagan fired 11,345 air traffic controllers for striking before banning them from ever working again for the federal government after they refused an offer made by the government following the faltering of contract talks with the Federal Aviation Administration. Surprisingly, commercial air travel was heavily affected, but it was not paralyzed as was projected by the striking workers, and thus, the Reagan administration laid the groundwork for companies to undermine striking workers after setting such a massive precedent.

Reagan, by his moves to undermine the proletariat, sought to enrich businesses, which he saw as a means of keeping the United States above the rest of the world economically, so he was not going to allow a few thousand workers to get in the way of the US continuing its uphill climb in the international arena. 

All the calamities that affected unions under Reagan heavily weakened their standing when it came to any negotiations with capitalists, rendering them incompetent in bettering working conditions, and thus, they grew even less popular.

A populist tool

The United States today has a wide schism between the Republican and Democratic parties, with each group taking a stance merely to up the other and rally those who oppose or support their causes in order to amass more power. In simple terms, the political elite in the US is heavily populist, and they do not even try to hide it. This is the case with unions; they have become a populist tool in the hands of the political elite, with the Republicans saying unions are harmful to the economy and Democrats arguing otherwise and voicing their “support” for workers. However, it seems that Democrats cannot put their money where their mouth is.

In this tug-of-war between the Reds and the Blues, the only loser is the average American that either party is trying to get on its side. Unions, one of the few tools for workers to safeguard themselves, have become a populist tool in the hands of either party, but each in one way. The most malicious approach comes from the Democratic party.

“White liberals are those who have perfected the art of selling themselves to the black man as our ‘friend’ to get our sympathy, our allegiance, and our minds. The white liberal attempts to use us politically against white conservatives, so that anything the black man does is never for his own good, never for his advancement, never for his own progress, he’s only a pawn in the hands of the white liberal” – Malcolm X

The Democrats are the “white liberal” to the unions and workers, who are the “Black man” in this scenario. 

Democrat President Joe Biden, who signed in December 2022 a bill to block the railroad union from striking amid demand for better wages and sick leaves in light of massive injustice faced by the workers, claimed days ago that he was the “most pro-union president in American history.”

Biden’s America, under which unions are trying to reorganize workers in the service sector, in places such as Starbucks and Amazon, is seeing major anti-union practices being taken against workers. “The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), the federal agency that polices labor-management relations, has accused Starbucks and Amazon of a slew of illegal anti-union practices, among them firing many workers in retaliation for backing a union,” The Guardian reported.

According to the NLRB, Amazon CEO Andy Jassy is illegally coercing and intimidating workers by saying they would be “less empowered” if they unionized. Meanwhile, Biden’s America is standing idle as workers get treated worse and worse.

Despite promises to raise the minimum wage, the cap has not been raised since the Obama administration despite record-high inflation. Workers are earning less than they were more than a decade ago due to the government’s failure to adopt measures to raise the minimum wage, and unions are being complacent because a Democrat administration is in the White House. For the past three years, the inflation rate was 1.7% for 2020, 7% for 2021, and 6.5% for 2022, and workers’ wages are yet to see an increase. 

The value of labor is depreciating as business owners continue to line their pockets with cash. This is a means for capitalists to amass more money as their rate of profit falls; they are seeking the alternative path of depressing wages below the value of labor power in order to make more of a profit.

The government is supporting unions tongue-in-cheek, and unions are being more than complacent because they will take whatever support they can get, losing touch with the grassroots of their very organization and only caring about amassing more members as numbers falter year after year.

The workers have been abandoned by their unions, and the Democrats are only saying they support unions without actually taking any decisions to show the support in question, for only words are enough in a populist nation, and action is not a requirement. Workers in the United States are stranded, their rights wasted, and their unity a sham due to unions losing touch with workers after being weakened over the years to a degree where they are incapable of making change while claiming otherwise in a bid to uphold an institution that the government doomed to failure decades ago all to try and give false hope to workers that the situation would get better so they would not revolt against the government damning them to slave away for peanuts.

Once progressive organizations aimed at freeing workers, unions today are reactionary, serving the populist elite and allowing it to tighten its grip on laborers.

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‘America is Not a Racist Country’: How Nikki Haley Became Israel’s Candidate for the White House

February 22, 2023

Nikki Haley with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. (Photo: US Embassy Tel Aviv, via Wikimedia Commons)
– Ramzy Baroud is a journalist and the Editor of The Palestine Chronicle. He is the author of six books. His latest book, co-edited with Ilan Pappé, is “Our Vision for Liberation: Engaged Palestinian Leaders and Intellectuals Speak out”. Dr. Baroud is a Non-resident Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA). His website is www.ramzybaroud.net

By Ramzy Baroud

Though it has been argued that the so-called American dream is long dead, Nikki Haley is proof that the dream is still alive. Unfortunately, the ‘dream’ is hers alone.

Until recently, a close confidante of former US President Donald Trump and his pro-Israel circle, Haley wants to be the next United States president. On February 14, she officially declared her candidacy and, starting February next year, she will be officially competing against her former bosses in the Republican primaries. 

It is true that her popularity among Republican Party supporters hovers between 3-4 percent, but Haley still feels that she stands to win, if she plays her cards right. Though a victory in a party that is neither keen on women nor minority politicians, she has enough success stories to give her the needed confidence. 

“Even on our worst day, we are blessed to live in America,” Haley said in her campaign launch video. Though such a statement may appear somewhat typical by US politicians on such occasions, Haley’s statement carries hidden, if not troubling, insinuations.  

Haley considers her life a testament to the ahistorical claim that “America is not a racist country”, a chant she led to the cheers of thousands of her supporters at her first campaign rally on February 15 in Charleston, South Carolina.

For Republicans, the Haley profile is critical because it is uncommon. They understand that a Black candidate will not perform well among their constituency or that of the Democratic Party. Still, they desperately need any ‘person of color’ who would appeal to disenchanted minority voters, if that candidate reaffirms the pre-existing beliefs of most Republicans: that America is a great country free of racism and inequality, with many dangerous foreign enemies and that Israel is its most trusted ally. Haley, for years, has enthusiastically played that part. 

“I was the proud daughter of Indian immigrants. Not Black. Not White. I was different,” she said. This seemingly innocuous statement has served as Haley’s central message in her political career since she left her family’s Exotica International clothing business in 2011 to run for the Governor’s office in South Carolina, and won.

In 2017, Haley’s success story continued. She became the US Ambassador to the UN. This position has historically been far more relevant to Israeli interests rather than the US’, because the UN is one of a few international platforms in which Palestinians and their supporters attempt, though often in vain, to hold Israel accountable for its illegal practices in occupied Palestine. 

For decades, the US has opposed any attempt by Arab and other countries to punish Israel for its military occupation and continued human rights violations in Palestine. The dozens of vetoes used by the US to block any attempt at condemning Israeli colonialism or war crimes at the UN Security Council only tell part of the story.

Within the relatively short span of two years of diplomacy that catered mostly to serve Israel, Haley managed to successfully help in the blocking of US funding of the UN Palestine Refugees Agency (UNRWA). She also engineeredher country’s exit from the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) due to its criticism of Israel. 

She is also credited for being part of the decision that led to the US’ abrupt withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, and was a crucial member of the Trump team behind the so-called ‘Deal of the Century’, which has ultimately fizzled into empty rhetoric.

Now Haley is hoping to cash in – literally – on her dedication to Israel and to her country’s hawkish foreign policy in the Middle East. One claim that she has repeatedly made to her donors, who consist mostly of pro-Israeli billionaires, is that she has kept all the promises she made to Israel at the 2017 AIPAC conference. Indeed, she has.

Her performance at the lobby group’s annual policy conference ‘thrilled the crowd’, the Times of Israel then reported. In her speech, Haley, intoxicated by the political potential of winning standing ovations from 18,000 AIPAC conference attendees, declared herself a “new sheriff in town”, who will make sure that “the days of Israel-bashing at the UN are over.” 

As far as Israel was concerned, the sheriff delivered, ushering in Israel’s golden age at the UN, and forging lasting friendships between Haley and top Israeli officials and donors. 

Haley became a “source of pride for hawkish supporters of Israel for leading the fight against anti-Israel resolutions,” the Jewish weekly newspaper, the Forward, wrote on February 14.

Notably, a four-second footage in Haley’s campaign launch video was in Israel, specifically near the fence with besieged Gaza. Walking alongside her is the former Israeli Ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon. While at the UN, they developed a “unique working relationship – and a lasting friendship”, the Forward reported, citing Danon, currently a member of Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party. 

Significantly, the former Israeli ambassador believes that if “Haley was running for president in Israel she would have won easily”. Considering her poor performance among US voters, one must raise the question: why would an American presidential candidate be far more popular among Israelis than Americans?

Haley’s strategy, however, is paying dividends, at least financially. Jacob Kornbluh elaborated on the sources of funding for Haley’s super PAC, Stand for America. Much of the $17 million raised in the last election cycle came from “prominent Jewish donors”. They include Miriam Adelson, wife of late pro-Israeli casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, along with money from Paul Singers, Bernie Marcus and Daniel Loeb, among many others. 

It may seem strange that such funds are invested in a candidate who has, at least for now, little chances of winning the Republican nomination, but the money is not wasted. Tel Aviv is simply rewarding Haley’s many favors, knowing that, regardless of her exact position in government, Haley will always continue to prioritize Israel’s interests in her political agenda, and, if needed, even ahead of her own country’s.

Martyrs and hundreds of injured by occupation forces in Nablus


US risks default by July unless debt limit is raised

Feb 15, 2023

Source: News websites

By Al Mayadeen English 

The director of the Congressional Budget Office says the US public debt will surpass the economy outcome by 2033.

Phillip Swagel, director of the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) (Bloomberg News)

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) said the US Treasury could exhaust its funds by July leading to a default on American debt unless Congress raises the current $31.4 trillion debt ceiling.

The head of CBO, Phillip Swagel, warned on Wednesday that if IRS tax revenues fall short of its estimates, then “the extraordinary measures could be exhausted sooner, and Treasury could run out of funds before July.” 

The IRS is scheduled to receive the report on tax revenues in April.

The budget office now projects that the annual federal budget deficit over the next 10 years will reach $18.8 trillion despite its earlier estimates released last May that the figure would be 20% lower at $15.7 trillion.

Read more: US debt default might trigger global financial crisis

In short, the output of the US economy will equal the public debt by 2024 and is expected to rise [public debt] to 118% of the economy by 2033.

US Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen announced last January – upon reaching the debt limit – that “extraordinary measures” will be taken to prevent defaulting on debt and that the Treasury would temporarily suspend payments that aren’t urgent and divert the money for more pressing needs i.e. services needed to keep the government operating.

Unless US President Joe Biden authorizes a new debt ceiling, which should be approved by Congress beforehand before the measures are exhausted, “the government would have to delay making payments for some activities, default on its debt obligations, or both,” added Swagel, noting that the agency will project a new estimate next May that includes the tax revenue of 2022.

Read more: US inflation causes national outstanding debt to exceed $31 trillion

Back in 2011, a protracted congressional struggle on raising the debt ceiling triggered a financial crisis that resulted in the US losing its top triple-A credit status from a major credit rating agency: Standard & Poors.

In February 2022, US national debt hit a record high of over $30 trillion. Debt had increased by around $7 trillion over the span of the pandemic. As a result of the trillions spent containing the virus, financial experts assessed that the new maximum would be reached many years sooner than what the country’s government had projected.

According to the CBO, the 20% jump in the federal deficit project for the next decade is linked to several factors, including the cost of legislation passed by Congress last year, increasing costs of Medicare, Social Security, and future interest payments on a rising national debt, in addition to retiree and veteran benefits.

Read more: Americans favoring gov’ shutdown over Congress approving more spending

The tax revenue, according to the budget office, will not be able to keep up with rising costs, while some tax revenues are expected to decline, such as gas taxes, as an increased number of citizens are switching to electric vehicles.

The gap between what the government spends and what it earns in tax revenues is expected to reach $1.4 trillion, while over the next decade, the annual deficit will average $2 trillion as tax return.

Meanwhile, the agency projected that tax revenue will not keep pace with these rising costs, and certain tax revenues are expected to fall, like those from gas taxes as more Americans drive electric vehicles.

Despite repeated bipartisan reassurance to the American public that the US will not default and that an agreement will be reached before the deadline, it is yet unknown how the bill will pass through a Republican-dominated Capitol Hill and Democratic-controlled Senate.

The question of what the law will look like is also of concern as a large number of Capitol Hill Republicans believe that Congress should pass extreme cuts to federal spending before they vote in favor of raising the debt limit.

According to Republicans, the debt ceiling and annual federal spending are indistinguishably linked, the same way household debt is a product of household spending.

However, Democrats argue that most of the federal spending is used to fund necessary expenses, such as Social Security payments or interest on the national debt, and that government spending can’t be slashed like the household budget.

Read more: Biden assigns Brainard, Bernstein to head economic team

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Endgame for Ukraine: America vs America

February 13, 2023

Former British diplomat, founder and director of the Beirut-based Conflicts Forum.

Alastair Crooke

Bill Burns travelled (in secret) in mid-January to meet Zelensky. Was it to prepare Zelensky for a shift in the American stance?

Hysterics at the Chinese balloon overflying the U.S. – taken to volume 11 – through scrambling a hush-hush Raptor jet (F-22) to ‘pop’ it, and then bally-hooing the ‘pop’ as Raptor’s first ever ‘air-to-air kill’, may be a source for quiet derision around the world, yet paradoxically this seemingly trivial event may cast a long shadow over the U.S. war-timetable for Ukraine.

For it is the U.S. political calendar that may yet determine what happens next in Ukraine – from the western side.

Seemingly nothing important occurred – it was an instant of spy frenzy, leaving Biden’s ‘tough task’ unchanged: He needs to convince the American voter, facing collapsing standards of living, that they misread the ‘runes’; that rather than gloom, the economy – contrary to their lived experience – is ‘working well for them’.

Biden needs to perform this magic against polls that say only 16% of Americans feel better off since the start of his tenure, and 75% of Democrats and Democratic-leaning voters wish him to not stand in 2024. Significantly, this message is coming today from the Democratic-leaning media, suggesting thoughts of replacing him are already in circulation.

For now, Biden’s allies in the party establishment (the DNC) continue to clear the way for his candidature – postponing initial primaries (in which Biden could be expected to be trounced) for a later South Carolina primary election, where Black and Latino voters would reflect demographics in which Biden might (possibly) shine. It may work; it may not.

Simply put, against this highly sceptical Party backdrop, Biden will have to change American perceptions of the economy at a moment when many indicators signal further deterioration. It will be a ‘heavy lift’. The economic team, for sure, will be insisting: ‘Keep the focus on economic achievements! We don’t want distractions from any foreign policy débacles; We do not want the TV debates to centre on Balloons, or around Abrams tanks: ‘It’s the economy, stupid!’’.

The ‘Chinese balloon’ was popped, yes, but similarly popped was Team Biden’s hope to negotiate a limited understanding with a tetchy President Xi that could stop China tensions becoming a spoiler issue in the primary debates. The balloon incident obliged the U.S. to cancel Blinken’s appointment with Xi (even though such a meeting with the head of state would be a rare event).

The powerful ‘China hawk’ faction in the U.S. was ecstatic. The China balloon ‘kill’ inadvertently, and in an instant, elevated China to ‘Main Threat’. It was the chance for these hawks to ‘pivot’ foreign policy back from Ukraine and Russia – to fully focus on China.

They make the case that Ukraine was ‘eating’ too much of America’s arms inventory. It was leaving America vulnerable; already, it would take years for the U.S. to make up for this equipment loss by reinstating weapons supply-lines. And there is ‘no time to spare’. The military ‘deterrence fence’ around China has to be in place – ASAP.

Naturally, the tight neo-con circle around Biden – some of whom have invested in the ‘Destroy Russia’ project for decades – is not ready to ‘let go’ the Ukraine project, for China.

Yet, the Ukraine narrative ‘bubble’ has been punctured, and has been leaking helium for some time. The Beltway – and even the MSM narrative – has pirouetted from ‘Russia losing’ to an ‘Ukrainian defeat is inevitable’. Indeed, Kiev is defeated, and is hanging by the slenderest of threads.

Olexii Arestovich, Zelensky’s senior adviser and former ‘spin doctor’ in the Presidential office, speaking in late January this year, was candid in his assessment:

“If everyone thinks that we are guaranteed to win the war, then it is very unlikely. Since January 14, it has ceased to be like this. What do you think, that the assessment from the President of Poland, Duda, not only did he say this about the decisive months. That it is generally unknown whether Ukraine will survive …

“The war may not end as the Ukrainians expect, and as a result, Ukraine may not return all its territories, and the West is ready to follow such a scenario … What will happen to the society that raised its expectations too high, but will receive a conditional Minsk-3? This recoil of unfulfilled expectations will hit us so hard – morally and everything else – that we will simply be stunned.

“The way out of this war may not be at all what it seemed to us three months ago, after the success of the Kherson operation. And not because the insidious Americans do not give weapons or delay, but because success requires 400 thousand of perfectly trained soldiers with NATO weapons to grind it all up and liberate the territories. Do we have it? No. Will it be next year? Will not be. There will not be enough training facilities…

“We as a society are not ready for such an outcome. I decided to say it as the expectation of the Russian side. But the most unpleasant thing is that in the West they think the same way, and we are totally dependent on them. What should the West do? The scenario of two Koreas. Create South Korea with guarantees”, Arestovich said, adding that with this option, Ukraine can get a lot of bonuses.

Put bluntly, if Biden is to avoid a repeat of the humiliating Afghan débacle, America needs urgently to to move-on before the 2024 Presidential calendar kicks-off this summer – with Ukraine/Russia sucking all the oxygen out from the coming economic debates.

But that is not what is happening. Victoria Nuland – who has been ‘capo’ in Kiev for a decade – is overseeing a purge: Unreliables are ‘out’, and pro-American radical Ukrainian hawks are ‘in’. It is a make-over of the Kiev mafia, which leaves Zelensky without friends – and wholly dependent on Washington. It looks to be preparation for the U.S. to attempt a double-down in Ukraine.

Seymour Hersh’s detailed article on the backdrop to the Nordstream pipeline sabotage by the U.S., on which Hersh worked for many months (though his assertions have been denied by the White House), tells us something highly significant.

All the familiar, anti-Russia neo-cons (Nuland, Sullivan and Blinken) were part of the Nordstream sabotage plot – but the impulse for it came from Biden. He led it. And just to be plain, Biden is just as emotionally invested in Ukraine as his team mates; it is likely that he too cannot ‘let go’ in Ukraine.

BUT, doubling down now, in Ukraine, won’t work for Biden. It would be highly reckless (although the Nordstream plot was nothing, if not reckless).

Doubling-down will not bring his hoped-for ‘win’, because its logic is based on an egregious mis-analysis.

Olexii Arestovich, Zelensky’s former ‘spin doctor’ and adviser, has described the circumstance of the Russian SMO first entry into Ukraine: It was conceived as a bloodless mission and should have passed without casualties, he says. “They tried to wage a smart war… Such an elegant, beautiful, lightning-fast special operation, where polite people, without causing any damage to either a kitten or a child, eliminated the few who resisted. They didn’t want to kill anyone: Just sign the renunciation”.

The point here is that what occurred was political miscalculation by Moscow – and not military failure. The initial aim of the SMO didn’t work. No negotiations resulted. Yet from it flowed two major consequences: NATO controllers pounced on this interpretation to trumpet their pre-conceived bias that Russia was militarily weak, backward and stumbling. That misreading underlay how NATO perceived Russia would prosecute the war.

It was wholly incorrect. Russia is strong and has military predominance.

On the presumption of weakness, however, NATO switched plans from a planned guerrilla insurgency, to conventional war along the ‘Zelensky Defence Lines’ – thus opening the path for Russia’s artillery domination to attrit Ukraine’s forces to the point of entropy. It is an error that cannot be rectified. And to try it might just lead to WW3.

The Abrams M1 tank will not save Biden from débacle in the lead-up to the U.S. election debates:

“It was designed for the kind of tank-on-tank combat that hasn’t happened since WW2. It’s huge, expensive, full of sorts of electronics. And powered by a repurposed jet engine. It breaks down quickly and needs its own army of mechanics, runs out of gas quickly and at almost 70 tonnes, it is too heavy to cross most bridges and needs specialized bridge crossing equipment. And it sinks in the mud. The Saudis used Abrams tanks in Yemen – and lost 20 to the Houthis, not exactly the most sophisticated military force”.

So, how does this all pan out? Well, the fight is on – in Washington. The China hawks will try to wrench the U.S.’ full attention back to China. The Biden neo-cons may try for some escalatory tactic in Ukraine that makes war with Russia unstoppable.

However, the reality is that the Ukraine ‘Balloon’ is popped. Military and civilian circles in Washington know it. The ‘elephant in the room’ of inevitable Russian success is acknowledged (albeit, with the compulsion to avoid seeming ‘defeatist’ – that persists in certain quarters). They know too that the NATO (as ‘formidable force’) ‘balloon’ has popped. They know that the balloon of western industrial capacity to manufacture weapons – in sufficient quantity and over a long duration – has popped also.

The consequences are the risk of severe U.S. reputational damage, the longer the war persists. These circles do not want that. Perhaps they will conclude that Biden is not the man to lead the U.S. out of this blind alley – that he is the part of the problem, and not the solution. If so, he must be gone in good time for the Democrats to work out who they want to lead them into the 2024 Presidential election (no easy prospect).

They may sense too, that the 2024 campaign lines already are coalescing for the Republican Party, which has its own reading of the Ukraine débacle – ‘Let’s exit from Ukraine to confront China’ (with full bi-partisan support). This means firstly, that the thread of U.S. financial support for Ukraine – as Bill Burns (CIA chief) reportedly told Zelensky on his last visit – likely will taper this summer. And secondly, it hints that any bi-partisan support for further arming Kiev may be over by the time the primary season will be in full swing.

Bill Burns travelled (in secret) in mid-January to meet Zelensky. Was it to prepare Zelensky for a shift in the American stance? Burns, the long-standing U.S. quiet negotiator, is not party to the Nuland programme. The former said at Georgetown Universityin early February that “China remains the biggest geopolitical challenge the U.S. faces in the decades ahead, and the biggest priority for CIA”. His framing, ‘was not a bug, but the substance’ in his address.

Nuland may be planting U.S.-aligned hawks around Zelensky in order to continue the war, but there are other, wider interests within Washington. Financial circles are worried about a market collapse that could lead to the dollar haemorrhaging value. There are worries too, that the Ukraine war is contributing to a serious weakening of America’s standing in the world. And there are concerns that a reckless Team Biden could lose control and take the U.S. into a wider war with Russia.

In any event, time is short. The Election Calendar looms. Is Biden to be the Democratic candidate? Whether or not he will be a candidate in 2024 needs to be resolved before the early primaries to allow any successor to demonstrate his or her paces in good time.

Also by this author

Dems’ win in key midterm races boosted by Latino voters: Study

JANUARY 04, 2023

Source: Axios

By Al Mayadeen English 

Republicans have long demonized Hispanics, regardless of immigration status.

Midterms stats reveal Hispanics boosted Dems’ chances in several races

A study conducted by research firm Equis revealed to Axios that Latino votes were just enough to help Democrats win several key races in multiple states, including Arizona, Nevada, and Texas. 

Prior to the release of these findings, several analysts forecasted that the Dems would be losing support from the Hispanic community, instead joining the Republican side. 

For instance, in some Hispanic-majority communities in Arizona, Democrat Senator Mark Kelly beat outspoken Trump-supported and Republican Blake Masters, while the analysis found Kelly marginally exceeded the number of votes President Biden got in 2020.

In Nevada, the Hispanic community provided a strong boost for Democrat Catherine Cortez Masto, who also happens to be the nation’s only Latina Senator. The results show that “just enough” Latinos voted for her to win the race by a “tight margin”.

As for South Texas, Republican Mayra Flores failed to get re-elected after she had won an election for a traditionally Democratic seat. 

But in Florida, where Republican Ron DeSantis won the race, the analysis strangely reveals that Republican gains were the highest among non-Cuban American and non-Puerto Rican Latino voters. 

GOP candidates managed to capture governor’s seats in Arizona and Nevada although Dems had in both states earned less support than Biden in 2020. 

“Whereas in Florida the shifts among Latino voters could be measured in yards, elsewhere it was a matter of inches,” said Carlos Odio, co-founder of Equis Labs, adding that Dems had done “just enough” among Latino voters to win key races to stave off GOP wins across the nation. 

“I think the top line is that Latinos live in a perpetual persuasion window,” Tory Gavito, president and CEO of leftist home base Way to Win, told Axios, stressing that Latino voters backed Democrats in the midterms because Republicans were about “chaos, mobs, and MAGA.”

Dems need to invest more time and energy into explaining how their agenda will support the Latino community. 

These results come against the backdrop of recent moves initiated by Texas Governor Greg Abbott to pressure the Biden administration to take action on immigration enforcement and border security.

Governor Abbott began transporting migrants from border cities to the capital in April, which landed him heavy criticism.

The Texas governor explained his decision to move the migrants in a letter to President Biden that he was doing so because migrant housing facilities had to release residents outside onto the streets due to frigid conditions in places like El Paso.

“Your policies will leave many people in the bitter, dangerous cold as a polar vortex moves into Texas,” Abbott wrote. “Texas has borne a lopsided burden caused by your open border policies.”

The Republican also described the current border crisis as a “catastrophe” for which Biden was solely responsible. “This terrible crisis for border communities in Texas is a catastrophe of your own making,” he wrote.

“The need to address this crisis is not the job of border states like Texas. Instead, the US Constitution dictates that it is your job, Mr. President, to defend the borders of our country, regulate our nation’s immigration, and manage those who seek refuge here,” he added.

Abbott also cautioned that if the federal government abandons its Title 42 policy, which limits the number of immigrants who are permitted to enter the United States, the problem will only grow worse.

The Department of Homeland Security projects between 9,000 and 15,000 migrant encounters a day once the policy ends, a surge that would add to the already highest annual total of encounters in US history.

In September last year, 101 migrants on board two buses sent by Texan governor Greg Abbott were dropped off next to Vice President Kamala Harris’ home in Washington, D.C., according to American sources. 

The 101 migrants were picked up in Eagle Pass, Texas, and were sent to Washington under the care and supervision of the non-profit organization Sanctuary DMV. According to the organization, it had arranged for a church to offer them a “safe location”.

Most of the migrants were from South American countries, such as Venezuela, Uruguay, Colombia, and Mexico.

On December 25, 2022, another three buses bringing migrants from Texas arrived in Washington, D.C. One of the buses dropped off its passengers close to Vice President Kamala Harris’ residence.

Abbott has previously sent dozens of buses of migrants across northern parts of the US, including New York, DC, and Chicago. Texas’ migrant buses are meant to send a message about immigration and antagonize Democrats as Southern states have been protesting the White House’s inability to manage the border and migrant crises by relocating migrants to so-called sanctuary states.

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1st Time in Nearly Century: US House Fails to Elect New Speaker in 1st Rounds

January 4, 2023

By Staff, Agencies

For the first time in nearly a century, the United States House of Representatives has failed to elect a speaker in the first rounds of voting, as Republican Kevin McCarthy fell short of securing a majority in the chamber to succeed Democrat Nancy Pelosi.

McCarthy was not able to overcome opposition within his caucus in the three rounds of voting on Tuesday before the legislators voted to adjourn the House’s first meeting.

Republicans narrowly won control of the chamber in November’s midterm elections, but several right-wing legislators in McCarthy’s own party have refused to back him for the speakership.

The speaker must acquire a majority of the votes, excluding absent legislators and those who vote “present”. On Tuesday, McCarthy needed 218 votes, but he only received 203 as 19 Republicans voted against him in the first two ballots. In the third round, he lost one more vote, bringing his tally down to 202.

In the first vote, most Republican dissenters backed Arizona Representative Andy Biggs or Ohio Representative Jim Jordan. In the second round, all 19 opposing Republican votes went to Jordan, a right-wing firebrand. Jordan increased his total to 20 votes in the third round.

Before the voting began on Tuesday, far-right Congressman Paul Gosar had nominated Biggs as a candidate. But Jordan did not seek the speakership and voted for McCarthy three times himself.

In the second round, Jordan re-nominated McCarthy, and in turn, ultraconservative Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz nominated Jordan, acknowledging that the Ohio representative does not want the job.

The Democratic leader in the House, Hakeem Jeffries, received 212 votes in all three rounds — more than McCarthy — but he was never realistically in the running as his party is in the minority.

McCarthy, a California Republican, had served as House minority leader after Democrats took the majority in 2019.

Legislators will reconvene on Wednesday and hold subsequent votes until a candidate for the speakership wins a majority. The House will remain effectively non-functional without a new speaker.

The speaker is second in the line of succession for the US presidency and the country’s most powerful legislator, with decisive influence over what bills and amendments get to be considered.

Great unsaid in US election: Love for ‘forever war’ is what cost Democrats

Sunday, 20 November 2022 8:22 AM  [ Last Update: Sunday, 20 November 2022 8:22 AM ]

A line of voters stretches outside the building as early voting begins for the midterm elections at the Citizens Service Center in Columbus, Georgia, US, October 17, 2022. (Photo by Reuters)

by Ramin Mazaheri

It is an American rite of passage to realize that the Democratic Party never achieves what they claim to want to achieve.

Some Americans achieve this realization at 13, whereas the truly insufferable – because they lie about the past and are forced to deflect from those lies with aggressive self-righteousness – can persist in this self-harming delusion even past 63. 

Losing control of the House of Representatives means the election was a major loss. Democrats are spinning the idea that “We could have lost worse” actually represents a positive outcome, but only committed Democrats are able to delude themselves into thinking that such pathetic logic is actually believed by the average person.

Democrats might also lose the Senate, but it’s already a done deal: the United States will be stuck in two years of gridlock, with each party voting down each other’s legislation. An America badly in repair will have only have bipartisan agreement on the usual: increasing military spending. Republicans now have the ability to introduce and discuss legislation that Democrats greatly fear, such as the handling of the coronavirus, the anti-Trump efforts of the FBI, the botched withdrawal from Afghanistan, etc. 

It’s true that the sitting party’s president almost always loses Congressional seats in the midterm election, but what really cost the Democrats was their commitment to the American Dream of “forever war”.

The Pentagon just announced that they will be in Ukraine for “as long as it takes” and unveiled a new command center in Germany to help train and equip Ukraine’s military. Goodbye Afghanistan, but hello Ukraine.

What cost the Democrats on election day is the failure of the economy, and while Americans might have passively stood for another two years of inequality, poor wages, and precariousness (what’s 2 more on top of 40?), Washington’s choice to reject diplomacy and fuel war in Ukraine is what sent the economy into a tailspin at warp speed. The economic crisis was the number one issue for voters, and this pain was self-inflicted by the warmongering Democrats.

Just as the economic sanctions on Russia have rebounded so awfully against the West, so did the Democrats’ war drive rebound in their own sanctioning at the ballot box this week.

They did do better than expected, so just imagine how Democrats might have done if the economy was merely stable, instead of the current awful? They could have kept the House and won true control of the Senate – not the often-useless 50-50 split they eked out in 2020.

It’s completely accurate to say that the Democrat-led war drive in Ukraine is the reason why Democrats lost control of Congress, but it’s forbidden to say such things in the Western media.

What drove Democrats to be so reckless with the well-being of the everyday American?

Some will say it’s Russophobia, just as Islamophobia after 9/11 smoothed public opinion for a 20-year murder spree across the Muslim World.

You can’t demonize a nation every night on MSNBC and every day in The New York Times for 5+ years and then be surprised when their readers and leaders exacerbate a war with the object of demonization. Those are Democratic Party mouthpieces and not Republican ones, which can have very different ideas on Ukraine. Democratic Party leaders are obviously driven by an unjust need for vengeance against Russia – whom many Democrats falsely blame for influencing the 2016 election – and to hell with the costs on the working-poor class.

For Democrats, this vengeance is the highest display of political morality, just as vengeance towards Muslims was the highest display of political morality after 9/11. The war campaign against Russia took longer to work, but there was no bloody flag to wave to rally Americans around the president’s latest war – Russians killed no Americans. 

However, going back six years is a very short measuring stick. America has been at war since always. The world used to consider Democrats brave for saying that out loud, but it is no longer the 1950s – this is now common knowledge among the new generation.
Now being a true progressive certainly must include a desire to end civil and foreign violence. That latter seems to be the domain of the Republican Party in 2022, as they have actually threatened to cut funding for Biden’s Ukrainian quagmire.

That the Republicans are the “peace party” makes no sense, of course. The “CIA Democrats caucus” (Democrats in the House of Representatives who worked in intelligence, the State Department, or the military) has expanded to at least 15 people and that makes no sense, either. 

But since when has American politics made moral sense? America has always been a deeply reactionary country – its founding revolution was merely against foreign control and not in favor of a progressive reordering of society –  and thus its politics has always been defined by hypocrisy, zero memory, and even less understanding of this thing we share called human history.

The Democrats’ Russophobia made Russia the target, but the Democratic Party’s truly autocratic and anti-democratic commitment to “forever war” is the root cause of their undeniable electoral defeat this week.

Democrats are more committed to war this time, but it’s absurd to believe that even if Republicans don’t totally back this war that they won’t back future American wars. Simply refer to how France didn’t join the Western coalition against Iraq only to join all the following Western imperialist coalitions, and also spearheaded their usual imperialist domination across the Sahel and West Africa.

What’s the root effect, and the one which is most historically important? 2022 has shown that the US cannot handle its forever wars like it used to – not militarily, not politically, and obviously not economically.

That’s the biggest change Americans have to grapple with, and their solution is peace: A top foreign policy poll recently showed that 79% of Americans want peace with Iran, for example. Of course, despite all the insistence in the US and also Iran that a Democratic victory in 2020 will end America’s “forever war on Iran” Joe Biden has obviously disproved that, as well.

However, all the American people could do was punish the Democratic Party – it’s not as if any composition of Republicans and Democrats will actually implement the will of the average American.

The Democratic Party cannot and will not ever grapple with its inability to handle forever wars, which has been laid bare in 2022, because that’s not how Western Liberal Democracy works: it requires forever wars, both foreign and domestic.

Many incorrectly believe that the Democratic Party can somehow save Western Liberal Democracy, but not that many Americans engage in such wishful thinking – simply look at the vote results after two years of Democratic control of Washington.

Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for PressTV and has lived in France since 2009. He is currently covering the US midterm elections. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. His latest book is ‘France’s Yellow Vests: Western Repression of the West’s Best Values’. He is also the author of ‘Socialism’s Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism’ as well as ‘I’ll Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China’.

(The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of Press TV.)

Press TV’s website can also be accessed at the following alternate addresses:



Biden hopes Congress upholds the US’ support for Ukraine

10 Nov 2022

Source: Agencies

    During the press conference US President Joe Biden says that there had been no tampering with voting process of the US midterm elections.

    President Joe Biden answers questions from reporters as he speaks in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2022 (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

    By Al Mayadeen English 

    US President Joe Biden stated during a news conference on Wednesday that the ‘red wave’ that many had projected would occur in the US midterm elections did not occur.

    “While the press and the pundits are predicting a giant red wave, it didn’t happen,” Biden said on Wednesday.

    According to NBC News’ projections as of Wednesday afternoon, the Democrats are predicted to win 213 seats in the US House of Representatives, while the Republicans are predicted to win 222 seats. However, because certain final findings have not yet been verified, these figures might change.

    If Democrats maintain control of the US Senate or whether Republicans get a majority will depend on the results of the Senate election results in the states of Georgia, Arizona, and Nevada. In order to take control of the upper chamber of Congress, Republicans must triumph in two of the three states.

    Furthermore, Biden asserted, during a news conference, that there was no meddling with the US midterm election voting process.

    According to Biden, “The states across the country saw record voter turnout and the heart and soul of our democracy, the voters, the poll workers, election officials, they did their job, and they fulfill their duty, apparently without much interference at all without any interference it looks like and that’s a testament I think to the American people.”

    During the press conference, Biden reaffirmed his optimism and hope that the new Congress “will continue this bipartisan approach of controlling Russia’s aggression in Ukraine.”

    Biden: Democracy does not happen by accident

    US President Joe Biden praised voters, poll workers, and various officials on Wednesday for participating in the midterm elections. He also said he will make further comments concerning the vote and take questions later in the afternoon.

    “I’ll have more to say this afternoon, but thanks to the poll workers and officials that worked into the night to safeguard our sacred right to vote. And the millions who made their voices heard,” Biden said via Twitter.

    According to the White House, Biden will be holding a press conference at 4:00 pm to deliver his remarks.

    Read more: Trump midterm elections remarks: Who has ever done better than that?

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    نصف هزيمة للديموقراطيين: القبَلية الحزبية تنتصر

     الخميس 10 تشرين الثاني 2022


    أميركا: انتصار القبَلية الحزبية

    اتّسمت المنافسة بحدِّة غير مسبوقة، هي نتاجٌ للشرخ المتعاظم بين الحزبَين (أ ف ب)

    على رغم أن الموجة الحمراء العملاقة لم تبلغ مداها المنظور، فهي تمكّنت من إنزال بعض العقاب بالرئيس الأميركي، جو بايدن، وحاشيته، بعد سنتَين من رئاسة أقلّ ما يُقال فيها إنها أسوأ من سابقتها، وربّما بأضعاف. لم يُحسن بايدن شيئاً، كما لم يَحسب، ربّما، أن مَن أزاحوا خصمه، دونالد ترامب، في انتخابات 2021، قد يعيدونه، ولكن بوجوه كثيرة على شكل مشرّعين وسناتورات، سيشرف جميعهم، باسمه، على عرقلة خطط الرئيس الحاكم ومشاريعه التي لم ترَ منها أميركا شيئاً، إلّا مزيداً من التضخّم، ومزيداً من الغلاء الذي لم يَعُد، بالنسبة إلى كثيرين، محمولاً. مع هذا، طغت الولاءات الحزبية على سباق «النصفيات» الذي يُمكن عَدُّه «الأهمّ في التاريخ الأميركي» لِمَا سيترتّب عليه من انعكاسات حتى على الحزب الديموقراطي نفسه. وحتى إنْ لم يتلقَّ الأخير هزيمة نكراء في انتخابات عزّزت آمال المعسكر المقابل لسنين لاحقة، فهو يظلّ، في ميزان الربح والخسارة، مهزوماً

    بيّنت النتائج الأوّلية لانتخابات التجديد النصفي، أن لا فوز كاسحاً للجمهوريين يشبه ما تأمّل به الرئيس الأميركي السابق، دونالد ترامب، وإنْ كان هؤلاء انتزعوا، وفق ما أَظهرته الأرقام الصادرة حتى مساء أمس، السيطرة على مجلس النواب من الديموقراطيين، وسط ترقُّب لمعرفة وجهة مجلس الشيوخ، الذي تشير المعطيات إلى احتمال مراوحته مربّع المناصفة، مع صوت تفضيلي لنائبة الرئيس، كامالا هاريس. وفق الأرقام أيضاً، حصل الحزب الجمهوري على 202 مقعد في «النواب»، في مقابل 184 للحزب الديموقراطي من مجموع 435 مقعداً (يحتاج أيّ حزب لتحقيق الغالبية الساحقة إلى 218 نائباً). وفيما يحتدم الصراع على مجلس الشيوخ، بلغت حصيلة مقاعد الجمهوريين 49، في مقابل 48 لحزب الرئيس، في انتظار الانتهاء من فرز الأصوات في ولايات: نيفادا، أريزونا وجورجيا (يتنافس الحزبان على 35 مقعداً من مقاعد المجلس الـ100).

    وفي منافسةٍ اتّسمت بحدِّة غير مسبوقة، هي نتاجٌ للشرخ المتعاظم بين الحزبَين، بيّنت النتائج غير المكتملة أن هناك ولاءً أكبر للحزبية على حساب القضايا الرئيسة (الاقتصاد، التضخم). وظهر جليّاً، في المقابل، أن آمال الجمهوريين في «موجة حمراء عملاقة» كانت تتضاءل مع ورود النتائج تباعاً، فيما سعى الديموقراطيون الذين تركّزت أجندة سباقهم على قضيَتي الإجهاض والديموقراطية، مبتعدين عن القضايا الاقتصادية، إلى الحدّ من بعض الأضرار، في انتخابات ستكون حاسمة بالنسبة إلى مستقبل كلّ من جو بايدن ودونالد ترامب. ومع تمكُّن الديموقراطي جون فيترمان من انتزاع أهمّ مقعد متنازَع عليه في هذا الاقتراع، هو مقعد مجلس الشيوخ عن ولاية بنسلفانيا في مواجهة مرشّح يدعمه الرئيس السابق، حصل الديموقراطيون على جرعة أمل في الاحتفاظ بالسيطرة على «الشيوخ». وغذّى هذا الفوز أيضاً تكهّنات بأن المدّ المحافظ في مجلس النواب الذي وعد به ترامب، لن يبلغ توقّعاته الطموحة بالحصول على غالبية ساحقة، وهو ما أقرّ به، مثلاً، السناتور ليندسي غراهام، حين قال إن «الأمر ليس بالتأكيد مدّاً جمهوريّاً. هذا أمر مؤكد»، فيما سارع ترامب، من جهته، إلى نفْض يده من أيّ هزيمة غير متوقّعة، قائلاً: «حسناً، أعتقد أنه إذا فازوا، يجب أن أحصل على كلّ الفضل، وإذا خسروا، فلا ينبغي إلقاء اللوم عليّ على الإطلاق».

    من شأن هذه الانتخابات أن ترسم ملامح العامَين المتبقّيين من ولاية الرئيس جو بايدن

    وفق الأرقام غير الرسمية، أُعيد انتخاب السناتور الجمهوري راند بول عن ولاية كنتاكي، والجمهوري تيم سكوت عن كارولينا الجنوبية، وتود يانغ عن إنديانا. وفي المعسكر الجمهوري أيضاً، أُعيد انتخاب السناتور البارز ماركو روبيو عن فلوريدا، وزميله جون بوزمان عن أركنساس، والسناتور جيمس لانكفورد عن أوكلاهوما، والسناتور جون هوفن عن ولاية داكوتا الجنوبية، وفاز رون جونسون بمقعد مجلس الشيوخ عن ولاية ويسكونسن الحاسمة. من الجهة الديموقراطية، فاز المرشّح بيتر ولش بمقعد مجلس الشيوخ عن ولاية فيرمونت، والسناتور تشاك شومر عن ولاية نيويورك، كما فاز السناتور ريتشارد بلومنثال بفترة ثالثة في المجلس عن ولاية كونتيكيت. وحسم الديموقراطيون مقعد مجلس الشيوخ عن ولاية بنسلفانيا، بفوز جون فيترمان على محمد أوز، المرشّح المدعوم من ترامب، في واحدة من أكثر المنافسات حدّة في انتخابات منتصف الولاية. وللحفاظ على السيطرة على مجلس الشيوخ، يحتاج الديموقراطيون إلى الاحتفاظ بولايتَي أريزونا (مارك كيلي)، ونيفادا (كاثرين كورتيز ماستو).

    بالنسبة إلى حكّام الولايات، أشارت النتائج الأولية إلى انتخاب الجمهورية سارة ساندرز، الناطقة السابقة باسم البيت الأبيض في عهد ترامب، حاكمة لولاية أركنساس. وفي الجانب الجمهوري أيضاً، أُعيد انتخاب كريس سنونو حاكماً لولاية نيوهامبشر، ومارك غوردون حاكماً لولاية وايومنغ، وكيم رينولدز حاكماً لولاية أيوا، وكذلك فيل سكوت لولاية فيرمونت، وهنري ماكماستر لولاية كارولينا الجنوبية، وانتخب الجمهوري جاي دي فانس – يدعمه ترامب – عن ولاية أوهايو، متفوّقاً على الديموقراطي تيم راين، وأُعيد انتخاب الجمهوري رون ديسانتيس حاكماً لولاية فلوريدا. وفي خطاب هجومي، عبّر النجم الصاعد في المعسكر المحافظ والمرشّح المحتمل للرئاسة الأميركية في انتخابات 2024، عن ارتياحه لجعله هذه الولاية الجنوبية التي تميل أحياناً إلى اليسار وأحياناً إلى اليمين، «أرض ميعاد» للجمهوريين، مؤكداً أن «المعركة بدأت للتو». وسطع نجم ديسانتيس (44 سنة) في أوساط اليمين الأميركي، حتى بات يُنظر إليه باعتباره منافساً محتملاً لترامب لنَيْل ترشيح الحزب الجمهوري. لكن هذا لا يعني أن المعسكر الديموقراطي لم يحقّق أيّ شيء؛ فقد انتزع من الجمهوريين المحافظين منصبَي حاكمَين: في ميريلاند وماساتشوستس، فيما أُعيد انتخاب دانييل ماككي حاكماً لرود أيلاند. وتمكّن الديموقراطيون أيضاً من الاحتفاظ بمقعد حاكم ولاية نيويورك التي تُعدّ من معاقلهم، حيث شهدت الانتخابات منافسة حادّة. وفيها، فازت الحاكمة الديموقراطية المنتهية ولايتها، كاثي هوشول، التي حلّت صيف 2021 محلّ أندرو كومو، على خصمها الجمهوري لي زيلدن، المدعوم من ترامب.

    ومن شأن هذه الانتخابات التي شهدت منافسة محتدمة أشعلتْها قضايا الوضع الاقتصادي والإجهاض، أن ترسم ملامح العامَين المتبقّيين من ولاية الرئيس جو بايدن، وربّما تكون، كما وصفها الأخير، «الأهمّ في التاريخ الأميركي الحديث»، نظراً إلى انعكاساتها المحتملة على مختلف الأصعدة الداخلية والخارجية. فهي لا بدّ أن تؤدّي إلى تقليص سلطة الرئيس الحالي، على رغم كونه تجنّب هزيمة نكراء كان يخشاها حزبه. مع هذا، فإن حصول الجمهوريين على غالبية، وإنْ كانت بسيطة، في مجلس النواب، سيسمح لهم بعرقلة أولويات بايدن، ريثما يشرَعون في تحقيقات ستطاول إدارته وحتى عائلته، وقد تكون لها تأثيرات سياسية مدمّرة. فوجود مجلس نواب جمهوري، «سيوجّه ضربة كبيرة لبايدن، وسيقضي على طموحاته التشريعية، فضلاً عن أنه يُنذر بعامَين من الصراع الحزبي الطاحن»، وفق «نيويورك تايمز». ويمكن بايدن، في بلدٍ منقسم إلى حدّ التشظّي، أن يشهد شللاً برلمانياً طويلاً، ستتخلّله صراعات لا نهاية لها حول مشاريع قوانين تولد ميتة. فتحقيق الغالبية حتى بفارق ضيّق في مجلس النواب، يُعطي سلطة كبيرة في مجال الإشراف، وعد اليمين الجمهوري باستخدامها للبدء بعدد من التحقيقات ضدّ بايدن وأدائه وأوساطه. وخلال إحدى الجلسات، وعدت الجمهورية مارجوري تايلور غرين التي أعيد انتخابها في مجلس النواب، على سبيل المثال، بفتح ملفات هانتر بايدن، النجل الأصغر للرئيس. كما ستكون لدى الجمهوريين وسائل ضغط في الموازنة، ويمكن أن يلوّحوا بتهديد «الإغلاق» – شلّ الإدارات الفيدرالية – أو حتى بالتخلّف عن الدفع من قِبَل أكبر قوة عالمية.

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    Polls begin to close in US midterm elections

    Nov 9 2022

    Source: Agencies

    By Al Mayadeen English 

    Parts of Indiana and Kentucky were the first to close polling places.

    Polls begin to close in US midterm elections.

    Polling stations begin to close on Tuesday in several states in the US midterm elections, with the future of US President Joe Biden’s program and control of Congress up for grabs.

    Parts of Indiana and Kentucky closed at 23:00 am (6:00 EST). All 435 seats are at stake in the House and one-third of the Senate. Moreover, five states are holding referendums on abortion. 

    However, voting will continue as was throughout the evening in states farther toward the West. Initial results are expected to come out later on Tuesday night.

    The tabulation of votes could last into Wednesday – maybe even later – if any complications or challenges come up.

    The midterms are pivotal because their results will determine which of the two parties, Democrats and Republicans, will run Congress.

    Republicans are expected to take over the House of Representatives, the lower chamber of Congress, while control over the upper chamber, the Senate, is largely undetermined.

    More updates to follow. 

    Stay updated: US Midterm Elections 2022

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    The Divided States of America: Voter concerns will choose the US’ fate

    6 Nov 2022

    Source: Al Mayadeen English

    By Rachel Hamdoun 

    There’s more behind the scenes of what the US is dealing with and what newscasts show, as the social and structural issues challenging Americans today will alter the face of America tomorrow.

    Inflation in the US hit a 40-year record high in June, reaching a whopping 8.6% and driving interest rates sky-high

    Kanye West is the last thing that’s wrong with America right now. 

    As the US juggles massive unemployment, poor infrastructure, oil and gas price increases, food shortages, a near-recession, and mass shootings, funding the war in Ukraine continues to be the top priority on the Biden administration agenda – but that is the least of the American people’s worries. 

    With the midterm votes reaching the finish line on November 8’s Election Day, it will be decided whether the Republicans or the Democrats will have the upper hand in Congress and the Senate. It’s not just who the people want; it’s what they want and who answers them. 

    Midterm elections are not presidential elections, as in they don’t decide which potential candidate will win the presidency, but instead, representatives of the House and Senators are elected, and they will, in turn, influence which candidate in 2024 takes office. The House of Representatives has the ability to make and pass laws and assess the current administration it is serving. The Senate’s duties include amending and approving laws, assessing presidential nominees, and conducting impeachments of presidents. 

    2022 has been a rollercoaster for the US, between taming Kanye West and his rants, mass shootings becoming a daily staple of American life, Donald Trump’s FBI bust, and almost starting World War III with China. But as the US defines itself as a representative democracy, in the sense that the people elect who represents their wants and needs, it is the matters taking the country by storm that will eventually alter the direction of the 2024 presidential elections.  

    Read more: Four critical Senate battlegrounds govern US midterms

    Economy trumps the list

    According to a Pew Research Center survey conducted between October 10 and 16, 2022, the leading concern on voters’ minds is the economy and its fate. 79% of the registered voters recorded the economic situation as their main worry, with 92% of voters who identified as Republican seeing it as a “hot topic”.

    The Divided States of America: Voter concerns will choose the US' fate

    Inflation in the US hit a 40-year record high in June, reaching a whopping 8.6% and driving interest rates sky-high. The Biden administration is struggling to hold on to the rope to safety as it continues to fail to hold on to its promises of reviving the economy and bringing the country back on its feet after the Covid pandemic – ever since he took office in 2020. 

    A report by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics released in September exhibited the rise of the Consumer Price Index (CPI) which measures the change in prices that consumers in a country pay by 8.2% since September of last year. These may all be numbers that may not seem marginal or significantly differential, but the more these percentages keep racking up, the more imminent is a recession and the fall of American global economic hegemony.

    What’s even more “shocking” is the answer to the question as to where all this increase in money is going if policies keep adding on and no improvements are shown.

    Priorities, priorities

    US national outstanding debt has exceeded $31 trillion as of October. The US is grappling with a dangerous combination of inflation, high-interest rates, sky-high consumer prices, unstable social structure, climate crisis, and environmental racism, but budget priorities surely go to the military. 

    In light of the war in Ukraine, more than $15 billion has gone to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s forces – not including payments made under sugar-coated nomenclatures, such as “security packages”. Republicans are becoming increasingly opposed to the excessive and incontrollable transfer of money and arms to fund Ukraine’s forces.

    Funny enough, America doesn’t “run on Dunkin,” it runs on guns and claiming false democracy. 2022 repeated typical American history, witnessing a series of gun violence episodes from schools to grocery stores and parades.

    Mass shootings are so “excessive” that they have become expected to be part of the daily news broadcast in the US, and in turn across the world. On May 14 of this year, ten were killed in a grocery store shooting in Buffalo, New York. Ten days later, on May 24, 19 children and two adults were murdered at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. A week later in June, four were killed at a hospital in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and a month later on July fourth, seven people were shot and killed at an Independence Day parade in Highland Park, Illinois. The Pew Research report showed 57% of voters were stressed because of gun violence, with 62% being Democrats. 

    The matter boils down, however, to the Second Amendment of the US Constitution, which stipulates the right to bear arms for the purpose of self-defense, but with the abuse of that amendment as a shield, gun violence continues to go rampant across the nation, instilling fear into Americans and becoming a growing factor in fearful nationalism.

    Read more: Fear from election violence in the US on the rise

    ‘It’s complicated’

    The Pew Research report demonstrated the top issues in the US as of current, but by party: Democrat-identifying voters showed concern in areas of education reform, gun control, climate change, healthcare, abortion, and systemic racism. On the other hand, Republican-voting counterparts were concerned about the economic crisis, crime, immigration, and foreign policies, which Biden expressed that Republicans have ‘no sense’ of, worried that if Republicans win in the midterm elections, total US military assistance for Ukraine may diminish after US House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s pledge that Ukraine will not receive a “blank check” for aid if the Republicans win the majority of seats in the lower house of Congress. 

    Read next: More Republicans stand against continued support to Ukraine: WSJ poll

    In regard to abortion, whether candidates advocate reinstating the Roe v Wade decision to allow abortion to be legal again or whether they are against it majorly sways the midterm results, and thus the 2024 presidential race, especially by voters who are women. The 50-year-old decision now bans abortions across the US with only a few states left allowing procedures to continue, such as New York, California, and Utah. 

    Student debt also appeared on the polls for voter concerns, following Biden’s announcement in September of plans to cancel up to $20,000 in student loans and debts, which has students racing to fill out applications for the forms as unemployment rates rise and wages remain relatively insufficient to meet the cost of living in the US.

    Biden’s popularity keeps sinking as the economy deteriorates even further, and the midterm elections serve as his last remaining lifeline – with not much hope in sight either. Americans remain in a complicated relationship, asking the government “what are we?” while the government scurries to meet the people’s demands, but effectivities remain in lingo.

    Read next: Republicans expected to flood the House

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    US faces ‘environment of fascism’ ahead of 2022 midterms: Congresswoman

    Saturday, 29 October 2022 7:28 PM  [ Last Update: Saturday, 29 October 2022 7:36 PM ]

    Progressive Democratic Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (front) and Ilhan Abdullahi Omar (center) pose for a photograph at Capitol Hill. (AP file photo)

    Progressive Democratic Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez says that the United States is “facing an environment of fascism” similar to the days of Jim Crow in the leadup to the 2022 midterms which Democrats are likely to lose to Republicans.

    Federal officials at the Department of Homeland Security and FBI have warned of a “heightened threat” ahead of the midterm elections charged by violent extremism, CBS News reported

    What they’re saying: “We are really truly facing an environment of fascism in the United States of America. This type of intimidation at the polls brings us to Jim Crow,” Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) told MSNBC on Friday about reports of intimidation at Arizona ballot boxes.

    “It brings us back and harkens back to a very unique form of American apartheid that is not that long past ago,” she added. “And we have never fully healed from it and those wounds threaten to rip right back open if we do not strongly defend democracy in the United States of America.”

    US authorities released a bulletin on Friday that said domestic violent extremists pose a threat of violence for the 2022 midterms and the days after.

    “Following the 2022 midterm election, perceptions of election-related fraud and dissatisfaction with electoral outcomes likely will result in heightened threats of violence against a broad range of targets ― such as ideological opponents and election workers,” the bulletin reads, according to CNN.

    CBS reported that these extremists may target state and local government buildings following the election.

    The bulletin was issued on the same day as the attack on US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband at their residence in San Francisco.

    Speaking at a political event in Pennsylvania hours after Paul Pelosi was attacked and gravely injured by an intruder, US President Joe Biden blamed the Republican Party, increasingly influenced by the political vitriol of former President Donald Trump, for “too much political violence.”

    “There’s too much violence, political violence, too much hatred, too much vitriol,” Biden said.

    “And what makes us think that one party can talk about ‘stolen elections,’ ‘COVID being a hoax,’ ‘this is all a bunch of lies,’ and it not affect people who may not be so well balanced?  What makes us think that it’s not going to corrode the political climate?” Biden added.

    Paul Pelosi was attacked and severely beaten by an assailant with a hammer, according to people familiar with the matter.

    Pelosi, 82, suffered blunt force trauma to his head and body, according to two people with knowledge of the investigation into the attack who spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity to discuss the ongoing probe.

    US midterm elections outlook darkens for Democrats The White House has lowered its earlier optimism about the midterm elections and is now worried that Democrats could lose control of both chambers of Congress, administration officials say.

    The assailant is in custody, and the motivation for the attack is under investigation, the spokesman said.

    Meanwhile, Democrats are worried they could lose control of both chambers of Congress on November 8 which would give Republicans the power to bring Biden’s legislative agenda to a halt. Biden’s unpopularity is helping drive this view.

    Biden’s term has been marked by the economic scars of the global health crisis, including soaring inflation. Biden’s popularity hit a record low of 36 percent in May and June.

    US consumer inflation hit a 40-year high of 8.6 percent in the 12 months through May, with gasoline marking a record high and the cost of food soaring, Labor Department data showed.

    The surging costs have become a political headache for the Biden administration, which has tried several measures to lower prices but said much of the responsibility to control inflation falls to the Federal Reserve.

    Press TV’s website can also be accessed at the following alternate addresses:




    «أوبك +» هل تقصم ظهر العلاقات الأميركية ـ السعودية

    الثلاثاء 18 أكتوبر 2022 

    بتول قصير

    يبدو أنّ خيبات الولايات المتحدة الأميركية تتوالى. فقد أثار قرار الدول المصدرة للبترول “أوبك” والدول المنتجة للنفط المتحالفة معها “أوبك بلس” خفض إنتاج النفط بمقدار مليوني برميل يومياً، حالة من الهستيريا والغضب في واشنطن، لما له من تداعيات سلبية على الولايات المتحدة وحلفائها. فعلى خلفية القرار عبّر الرئيس جو بايدن أنه “أصيب بخيبة أمل” ووصف القرار بـ “قصير النظر”، واتهم دول المنظمة النفطية بالانحياز إلى روسيا.

    شكل قرار خفض الإنتاج حالة إرباك بالنسبة لإدارة الرئيس بايدن، فالتوقيت الحرج لهذا القرار يأتي قبل شهر تقريباً من موعد إجراء انتخابات التجديد النصفي للكونغرس. وثمة خطر في أنّ هذا الخفض الذي سيدخل سريان المفعول في الأول من تشرين الثاني/ نوفمبر من شأنه أن يتسبّب في ارتفاع أسعار البنزين والغاز، ما يعني انّ واشنطن أمام كارثة سياسية كاملة الأركان على إدارة الرئيس الديمقراطي بايدن، خاصة أنّ خصومه الجمهوريين سيستغلون الفرصة الثمينة هذه للإطاحة بمصداقيته أمام الناخبين الأميركيين خلال عملية الاقتراع، كإثبات على السياسة الفاشلة التي تمتع بها عهده.

    وعلى خلفية هذا القرار تعالت الأصوات في الكونغرس الأميركي التي تدعو لإعادة النظر في العلاقة مع الرياض، وتأطير العلاقة مع الأخيرة التي اعتبرت الإدارة الأميركية خطوتها بأنها بمثابة انحياز للمملكة في صراعات دولية وأنه قرار بُني على دوافع سياسية ضدّ الولايات المتحدة الأميركية. واللافت انّ ارتفاع وتيرة التوتر بين البلدين ترافق مع طرح النائب الأميركي الديمقراطي توم مالينوفسكي مشروع قانون في مجلس النواب يطالب إدارة الرئيس بايدن بسحب أنظمة الدفاع ضدّ الصواريخ و3000 جندي، وهم قوام القوات الأميركية من السعودية والإمارات. وقال مالينوفسكي في بيان صادر عنه: “لقد حان الوقت لكي تستأنف الولايات المتحدة دورها كدولة عظمى في علاقتها بزبائنها في الخليج”.

    وعليه فإنّ حفلة الجنون الأميركية عقب قرار “أوبك بلس”، يفسّرها انشغال واشنطن وحلفائها في السعي الدؤوب لضمان أمنهم الطاقي نظراً لأهمية مصادر الطاقة العالمية. خاصة بعد أزمة أوكرانيا وإغلاق روسيا لصنابير الطاقة والغاز عن أوروبا.

    وكخطوات عاجلة أمر الرئيس الأميركي وزارة الطاقة بالإفراج عن 10 ملايين برميل من الاحتياطي البترولي الاستراتيجي الأميركي في الأسواق مع دخول خفض الإنتاج حيّز التنفيذ في الأول من تشرين الثاني/ نوفمبر، والاستمرار في اللجوء إلى احتياطي البترول الاستراتيجي كلما اقتضت الحاجة. كما باشر بايدن بمشاورات مع الكونغرس للبحث في آليات إضافية لتقليص تحكم أوبك في أسعار الطاقة وتقليص اعتماد الولايات المتحدة على المصادر الأجنبية للوقود الأحفوري وتسريع ضخ الاستثمارات في الطاقة النظيفة.

    من منظورٍ آخر، يبدو أنّ واشنطن تسبّبت بطريقة أو بأخرى بدفع “أوبك بلس” لخفض الإنتاج، عندما قرّرت مؤخراً رفع أسعار الفائدة والدولار، في وقت يستورد العالم النفط بالعملة الأميركية، ورفع قيمته يؤثر على الدول المستوردة للنفط، ما تسبّب بقلة الطلب عليه، ما أدّى لخلق فائض نفطي لدول “أوبك بلس”. واشنطن المذهولة من القرار حمّلت الرياض مسؤولية تداعياته، معتبرة أنّ دوافعه سياسية وانحياز لروسيا وسيشكل دعماً لها لا يُستهان به.

    بدورها السعودية رفضت الاتهامات الأميركية التي لا تستند إلى الحقائق، وعلقت بأنّ القرار اتخذ بالإجماع من كافة دول المجموعة، وهو قرار اقتصادي بحت. وما زاد الطين بلة، أنّ قراراً مدعوماً من السعودية بأن تتوقف مجموعة “أوبك بلس” عن استخدام بيانات وكالة الطاقة الدولية، وهي الهيئة الغربية لمراقبة قطاع الطاقة، ما يعكس المخاوف من التأثير الأميركي على البيانات.

    وأخيراً، يبدو انّ زيارة بايدن للسعودية في تموز/ يوليو لم تفعل شيئاً يُذكر لتغيير تصميم محمد بن سلمان على رسم سياسة خارجية مستقلة عن النفوذ الأميركي، خاصة أنّ الزيارة أغضبت ولي العهد، الذي كان منزعجاً من أنّ بايدن تحدث علناً عن تعليقاته الخاصة مع العائلة المالكة بشأن وفاة الصحافي جمال خاشقجي. وهذا لا يعني انّ البيت الأبيض سيتجه لاتخاذ قرارات عقابية واضحة تجاه الرياض، فهو وعلى الرغم من العلاقات بين كلّ من المملكة والولايات المتحدة شهدت مداً وجزراً على مدى عقود خلت وحتى الفترة الحالية، إلا انّ الدولتين تتمتعان بشراكة استراتيجية، مدعومة بمصالح مشتركة. فالبلدان يشتركان في رؤية متوافقة تجاه العديد من القضايا الدولية والإقليمية، من مسألة الملف النووي الإيراني، والتحالف الرباعي ضدّ اليمن، وغيرها من الملفات الإقليمية والدولية.

    وعليه فإنّ ما يجمع واشنطن والرياض أكبر بكثير مما يمكن أن يزعزع علاقة البلدين الشاملة في كافة المستويات. بيد أنَّ هذه العلاقات تعرّضت وتتعرّض في أوقات كثيرة لمثل هذه الهزات، إلا أنَّه من المستبعد أن تذهب ردود الأفعال إلى مستويات بعيدة، خصوصاً أنّ قرار «أوبك بلس» لم يكن سعودياً بحتاً.

    Tulsi Gabbard’s ditches the Dem party in an open video address

    October 12, 2022

    A few comments first.  For starters, I lost any trust I might have had for Tulsi Gabbard when she endorsed that ultra-fake liberal Bernie Sanders.  Second, I have taken the decision not to comment on US internal politics on this blog, but in this case I think that rather than seeing Gabbard’s video as an internal US politics phenomenon, I see it as a sign of the amazing state of decay of the USA as a nation: when a (supposed) left liberal takes on the talking points of (supposed) conservatives, something major is happening, especially when you have a (supposed) liberal President in the White House.  Finally, Gabbard is way, waaaaaaaay too smart not to see that the Dem Party is a political Titanic and no matter how loud the “propaganda orchestra” plays, that ship is sinking very, very fast.  Time to leave it!

    One more thing: I am willing to bet that Gabbard is planning to run for President in 2024 and considering the freak show on the Dem party side, her real opponent will be either Trump or Desantis.  But look at her talking points – they are conservative through and through, which means that her running can takes votes away from the GOP candidates.  Thus it is possible that while ostentatiously breaking away from the Dem party and the freaks running it, she will end up taking just enough votes on the right to give the victory to the Neocons running the Dem party (the GOP is also run by Neocons known as RINOs – Republican In Name Only).

    These are just possibilities, and only time will show if Gabbard has had a real change of heart.  She did not apologize for being a loyal Sanders/Biden supporter, but at least she did accurately describe the Dem party for what it is: an profoundly evil gang of freaks run by warmongering, racist, Neocon puppeteers.

    Again, I am not interested in internal US politics which I describe as a useless fistfight between pilots for the control of a flight deck in an aircraft with no engines or even wings!  However, the fact that the pilots are fighting shows that they realize that their situation is desperate.  Can you recall another instance of a well-known politicians slamming the door on his/her party while that party controls both Congress and the White House?

    Please think about this while listening to Tulsi Gabbard.  And yes, it would be wonderful if she was for real.  I have my (big) doubts but there is plenty of time before 2024 to get a better feel for what this is all about.


    شبح الحرب الأهلية يحوم في الولايات المتحدة

    اب 31  2022

    علي دربج 

    المصدر: الميادين نت

    نتائج استطلاع أميركية جديدة مقلقة، تشير إلى أنّ أربعة من بين كل 10 أميركيين، يعتقدون أن حرباً أهلية قد تكون محتملة في العقد المقبل.

    شبح الحرب الأهلية يحوم في الولايات المتحدة

      ليس الوقت كأي لحظة في الماضي، إذ يتطلع الأميركيون اليوم بخوف إلى المستقبل، وقلق من شبح حرب أهلية، وهم يرون هذا الخطر يحوم فوق بلادهم بسبب الأزمة السياسية التي تشهدها الولايات المتحدة حالياً.

      وتعود جذورها إلى مرحلة فوز الرئيس الحالي جو بايدن في الانتخابات الرئاسية الأخيرة، بعد رفض غريمه المهزوم الرئيس السابق دونالد ترامب الاعتراف بالنتائج، وتعبئة أنصاره وتحريضهم على اقتحام مبنى الكونغرس في 6 من كانون الثاني/يناير عام 2021، لتبلغ ذروتها أخيراً مع الغارة التي شنها مكتب التحقيقات الفيدرالي FBI على مقر إقامة ترامب في مارالاغو بولاية فلوريدا بحثاً عن ووثائق ومستندات سرية كان ترامب قد عمد إلى إخفائها.

      خصوصاً أن من في الداخل الأميركي، من الحزب الجمهوري ومعه الجماعات اليمينية المتطرفة، يهيئون لها الظروف والأسباب، ويعدّون لها الأرضية الخصبة، وينفخون في النار طمعاً في إضرامها، لا سيما أنهم يعتبرونها خشبة الخلاص الوحيدة من إدارة بايدن وحكومته ودولتهم العميقة. 

      ولكن ما مؤشرات الحرب الأهلية في أميركا؟ 

      هناك مجموعة واسعة من الأصوات، بما فيها أصوات بعض الساسة الجمهوريين والديمقراطيين، والأكاديميين الذين يدرسون الصراع الأهلي، فضلاً عن المتطرفين على الضفة الأخرى يروّجون جميعاً الآن فكرة أن الحرب الأهلية باتت قريبة أو ضرورية.

      والأهم أن هؤلاء جميعاً، يشيرون إلى عدد من الأدلة والوقائع والمعطيات التي تدعم رؤيتهم تجاه عدم استبعادهم وقوع حرب أهلية في أميركا، ويمكن تلخيصها بـ3 معطيات: 

      أولا: إطلاق عاصفة من التهديدات شملت عملاء مكتب التحقيقات الفيدرالي، والقضاة، والمسؤولين المنتخبين، وأعضاء مجالس إدارة المدارس (لكونهم يخالفون نظرة الجمهوريين إلى تنشئة الطلاب)، فضلاً عن المشرفين على الانتخابات. 

      ثُانيا: إقامة معسكرات شبه عسكرية مغلقة يتدرّب فيها المتطرفون المدججون بالسلاح لمواجهة حكومتهم 

      ثالثا: نتائج استطلاعات الرأي التي تظهر أن وجود أميركيين يتوقعون صراعاً عنيفاً، وأن حرباً أهلية حقيقة قد تدق أبوابهم في أي لحظة، لاسيما مع اقتراب موعد الانتخابات التشريعية النصفية. 

      عند النظر في نوعية الأصوات الأكاديمية التي تعمقت في قضية الحرب الأهلية الأميركية وأصحابها نجد في مقدّمهم ستيفن ماركي، مؤلف كتاب “الحرب الأهلية التالية: رسائل من المستقبل الأميركي” الذي قدم مقاربة، قال فيها إن تهديدات المتطرفين أصبحت أكثر وضوحاً وتحديداً، وأن خطابهم قد تسرّب إلى شريحة كبيرة جداً من الأميركيين وأثّر فيهم.

      ويستدل على ذلك بما أقدمت عليه حكومة ولاية تكساس والحزب الجمهوري فيها، اللذان تحديا السلطة الفيدرالية، بعدما وافق آلاف الناشطين الجمهوريين إثر اجتماعهم في هيوستن (كبرى مدن ولاية تكساس) في حزيران/يونيو الماضي، خلال مؤتمر الحزب في الولاية، على قرار يرفض نتيجة الانتخابات الرئاسية لعام 2020، ويعلن بايدن “رئيساً بالنيابة”، فضلاً عن سعيهم لاستفتاء الناخبين بشأن الانفصال عن الولايات المتحدة.

      ما يلفت أن ماركي، الروائي الكندي الأصل، الذي كان يقرع جرس الإنذار مما هو آتٍ على أميركا، تسارعت وتيرة تحذيراته أخيراً، وأصبحت أكثر إلحاحاً، بعدما رأى مجموعات صغيرة من المسلحين يتدرّبون على قتال عملاء الحكومة، وعلّق على هذا الأمر قائلاً “هذا النوع من الفوضى الذي أصفه يشبه الغضب على الإنترنت: يمكنك أن تعده تمثيلاً مسرحياً أو قد يكون خطراً جداً، ويمكن أن يكون متعة عطلة نهاية الأسبوع، أو الإعداد العسكري الفعلي.

      يشارك ماركي في الرأي محللون آخرون، قالوا إن الضجيج الحالي مؤشر قوي إلى أن حرباً أهلية ساخنة – يرجح أن تشهد تفجيرات واغتيالات واعتداءات على المؤسسات الفيدرالية والمسؤولين- قد تكون قريبة.

      وفي تقاطع مع أفكار ماركي، توقّع الكاتب المحافظ كورت شليشتر حرباً أهلية، وخلص في كتابه الجديد وعنوانه “سنعود: سقوط وصعود أميركا” أن “الولايات الزرقاء تواجه تحدياً، وأردف قائلاً من الجيد الاحتفاظ بالمدن، ولكن إذا كنت لا تحتفظ أيضاً بجميع الأراضي الريفية بين المدن، وكذلك الطرق المؤدية إلى الأماكن التي تحصل فيها على طعامك ووقودك، فلديك مشكلة حقيقية”.

      ومن الشخصيات الأميركية المعروفة أيضاً، التي لا تستبعد الحرب الأهلية الأميركية، روبرت رايش، وزير العمل في عهد الرئيس بيل كلينتون، الذي كان قد لفت إلى أن “الحرب الأهلية الأميركية الثانية تحدث فعلاً” واستطرد قائلاً خلال حديثه إلى صحيفة الغارديان، “لكنها ليست حرباً، بقدر ما هي نوع من الانفصال الحميد المشابه للمتزوجين غير السعداء الذين لا يريدون أن يمروا بصدمة الطلاق الرسمي”.

      المثير في الأمر، أن رايش لا يرجّح حصول تقسيم عنيف للبلاد، بل شيء “مشابه لخروج بريطانيا من الاتحاد الأوروبي – قرار متبادل ومتقطع للذهاب في طرق منفصلة في معظم الأشياء، مع الحفاظ على اتصال بشأن بعض الأشياء الكبيرة (مثل الدفاع الوطني والسياسة النقدية والحقوق المدنية والسياسية)”.

      وماذا عن الآراء التي تستبعد الحرب الأهلية؟ 

      في مقابل هذه الفئة المتوجسة والقائلة بإمكان حدوث حرب أهلية، نجد جماعات أخرى تنفي هذا الخيار مثل رابطة مكافحة التشهير وغيرها من جماعات المراقبة الأميركية التي لا ترى هذا النوع من التخطيط المحدّد من قبل الميليشيات الخاصة والتجمعات عبر الإنترنت للمتطرفين بالوضوح نفسه الذي كان قائماً قبل تمرّد 6 كانون الثاني/يناير العام الماضي، وقبل مسيرة تفوق البيض في شارلوتسفيل عام 2017.

      هذا الرأي يتبناه كذلك أورين سيغال، نائب رئيس مركز مكافحة التطرف، الذي أوضح في حديث إلى الإذاعة الوطنية الأميركية بالقول “لقد مررنا بهذا الأمر منذ فترة طويلة، ولا أرى الناس قد يجتمعون معاً في تنظيم متماسك مثل الذي رأيناه في السادس من كانون الثاني/ يناير”. 

      المحللون من كلتا الفئتين، سواء الذين يقولون إننا نتجه نحو حرب أهلية، وأولئك الذين يرون أن منظومة التهديد تقتصر إلى حد كبير على أشخاص منفردين، ومجموعات صغيرة غير منظمة، لا تشكّل أعمالها الخطرة والمشتتة حرباً أهلية هم يتفقون ولا يستبعدون معاً، إمكان حصول هجوم منظم وعنيف على الحكومة أو السلطات المحلية أو تلك التابعة للولايات (ولو محدودًا)، وحمل السلاح ضد نظرائهم الفيدراليين.

      إضافة إلى هذا الانقسام الحاد حول ما إذا كانت سلسلة الهجمات الفردية والجماعات الصغيرة، يمكن أن تؤدي إلى صراع شبيه بالحرب يزعزع استقرار البلاد، إلا أن الخطر الأكبر الذي يلوح في الأفق، ويقضّ مضاجع الجانبين في نقاش الحرب الأهلية، هو أن الاتجاه الأكثر إثارة للقلق هو فقدان الثقة والأمل والشعور بالانتماء على نطاق واسع في مجتمع تضرر بشدة. 

      ما مصدر إلهام المتحمسين للحرب الأهلية؟ 

      في الحقيقة، يُرى ويليام بيرس، أستاذ الفيزياء الذي تحوّل إلى منظّر للنازيين الجدد، مصدر إلهام ومنبع أفكار القتل والتصفية والقضاء على الحكومة الأميركية، للمتطرّفين اليمينيين الأميركيين. 

       فقبل ربع قرن، وبعد تفجير المبنى الفيدرالي في أوكلاهوما سيتي، عُثر في سيارة المهاجم تيموثي ماكفي الذي اتخذ رواية بيرس “يوميات تيرنر” وثيقة تخطيط له لشن حرب أهلية، على مقتطفات من الكتاب في سيارته عندما قتل 168 شخصاً وأصاب مئات آخرين ومعظم من الأطفال.

      الكارثة لدى القادة الأميركيين الحاليين، أن بيرس، كان فخوراً جداً بشعبية كتابه بين المتعصبين البيض وغيرهم من المتطرفين، إذ إن هدفه وهدف أولئك الذين كان يأمل أن يقرأوا كتابه هو إطاحة الحكومة.

       ولهذا قال بيرس “الناس لا يستخدمون الكتاب كمخطّط، ولكن كمصدر إلهام”. وأكّد أن “ليس لدي الوقت للكتابة للترفيه وحسب. إنما لشرح الأشياء للناس. أود أن أرى أميركا الشمالية قارة بيضاء فقط”.

       وما يزيد الطين بلة لدى الأميركيين، أن لدى بيرس رؤية مدمّرة للنظام الأميركي، إذ أوضح أنه “إذا لم ندمّر النظام قبل أن يدمرنا -إذا لم نقطع هذا السرطان من لحمنا الحي- فسيموت جنسنا كله”.

      بيرس، الذي توفي عام 2002، كان قد تنبأ في كتابه بتآمر المتعصبين البيض لتفجير مقر مكتب التحقيقات الفيدرالي وإشعال حرب أوسع على الحكومة. وتوقع كذلك أن تتكرّر أعمال العنف الفردية، معتبراً أن “الإرهاب لا معنى له إلا إذا كان مستداماً.. وفي يوم من الأيام سيكون هناك إرهاب حقيقي ومنظم يجري وفقاً لخطة تهدف إلى إسقاط الحكومة.

      ماذا عن حماسة ترامب والحزب الجمهوري للحرب الأهلية؟

      طوال عقود، بقيت “يوميات تيرنر” لبيرس، نصاً يستخدمه المتطرفون العنيفون، ويظهر على نحو متكرر عبر الإنترنت في أحاديث المشاركين في هجوم 6 من كانون الثاني/يناير وأنصار الرئيس ترامب. 

      ليس هذا فحسب، فقد أصبح الخطاب العدائي أيضاً جزءاً من حملات بعض الجمهوريين اليومية. وفي هذا الإطار كتبت لورا لومر، المرشحة الجمهورية في منطقة مجلس النواب الـ11 بولاية فلوريدا، التي كانت قد خسرت بفرق ضئيل في الانتخابات التمهيدية الأسبوع الماضي، على Telegram في 8 آب/أغسطس الماضي أن “الوقت قد حان لخلع القفازات.. إذا كنت أميركياً محباً للحرية، فعليك إزالة الكلمات اللائقة والكياسة من مفرداتك”.

      وبالمثل، غرد اليوتيوبر المحافظ والبودكاست ستيفن كراودر، يوم حدوث غارة FBI في مارالاغو، قائلاً إن “الغد هو الحرب”. وأضاف “لقد حان الوقت للقتال من أجل كل بوصة مربعة” ثم كرّر كلامه في اليوم التالي، مؤكداً أنه الوقت لمكافحة النار بالنار، حان”. كما كتب موقع النقاد المؤيد لترامب عبارات تصب في خانة التحريض مثل “هذا. يعني. الحرب”.

      فضلاً عن ذلك، تحدث الناس على منصات التواصل الاجتماعي المؤيدة لترامب، عن شراء الذخيرة والبحث عن مواجهة العملاء الفيدراليين. “حرب أهلية! التقطوا السلاح أيها الناس”، غرد أحد الغاضبين. 

      كان مثل هذا الحديث أشبه بالدعامة الأساسية لسنوات ترامب. في الصيف الماضي، زعم النائب ماديسون كاوثورن وهو جمهوري من كارولاينا الشمالية، ومن الذين أنكروا نتائج الانتخابات الرئاسية، أن أنظمة الانتخابات الأميركية “مزورة”، مشدداً على أنها “ستؤدي إلى مكان واحد، وهو إراقة دماء”

      حتى إن ترامب نفسه، الذي كان قد تحدث ضد تدريس نظرية العرق الناقدة في تجمع حاشد في كارولينا الجنوبية هذا الربيع، أشار إلى أن مصير أميركا “يعتمد في نهاية المطاف على استعداد مواطنيها للتخلي عن حياتهم للدفاع عن بلدهم، وعليهم القيام بذلك”.

       وعلى المنوال نفسه، أكد أحد أبرز منتقدي ترامب في حزبه، النائب آدم كينزينغر (إلينوي)، في وقت سابق من هذا العام في برنامج “The View” على شبكة “إيه بي سي” أن الحرب الأهلية يمكن أن تندلع” وقال “علينا أن نحذر ونتحدّث عن ذلك حتى نتمكن من إدراك ذلك والقتال بقوة ضده”.

      مع أن كتاب بيرس لا يزال يلهم الجهات الفاعلة الفردية والمجموعات الصغيرة، إلا أن حربه الأوسع نطاقاً لم تقترب قط من أن تؤتي ثمارها بعد.

      اليوم، “الحرب الأهلية” هي صرخة قوية، عكسها بعض الأميركيين في سلوكهم، بارتدائها على القمصان، وبعضهم الآخر يتدرّب عليها علناً بأسلحة هجومية، مثلما يفعل ابن القس، هيونغ جين مون، الذي يتولى رعاية الدورات التدريبية في مجمّعه في تكساس وبنسلفانيا من أجل حرب “وطنية” أخرى على “الدولة العميقة والكلام له. 

      وماذا تقول استطلاعات الرأي عن احتمالات الحرب الأهلية؟

      يعتقد عدد من الأميركيين أن حرباً أهلية حقيقية وعنيفة مقبلة. ففي استطلاع للرأي أجرته هذا الربيع جامعة كاليفورنيا في برنامج أبحاث الوقاية من العنف في ديفيس، قال الذين شملهم الاستطلاع بمعظمهم، إنهم يتوقّعون حرباً أهلية في السنوات القليلة المقبلة.

      إضافة إلى ذلك، أظهر استطلاع آخر أجراه مركز المسح حول الحياة الأميركية، وهو مشروع غير حزبي تابع لمعهد أميركان إنتربرايز المحافظ، أن ما يزيد على ثلث الأميركيين يوافقون على أن “طريقة الحياة الأميركية التقليدية تختفي بسرعة كبيرة، حتى إننا قد نضطر إلى استخدام القوة لإنقاذها”.

      وكشفت نتائج استطلاع جديدة مقلقة نشرتها YouGov، وهي شركة رائدة في مجال أبحاث السوق، أن أربعة من بين كل 10 أميركيين، يعتقدون أن حرباً أهلية قد تكون محتملة في العقد المقبل. وتوضح يوغوف أن من بين أولئك الذين يقولون إنهم صوتوا لترامب عام 2020، أكثر من 50% يتوقعون أيضاً أن يزداد العنف السياسي في السنوات المقبلة.

      أكثر من ذلك، يشير استطلاع آخر لـ”يوغوف”، كان قد أجري لمصلحة مجلة الإيكونوميست، إلى أن نحو 14 في المئة من المستطلَعين، قالوا إن الحرب الأهلية “محتملة جداً في غضون 10 سنين. فيما صرح 29 في المئة أنها “مرجّحة إلى حد ما”. ولكن، بين ناخبي ترامب، كانت هذه الأرقام 19 في المئة، و34 في المئة، على التوالي، أو 53 في المئة في المجموع. ومن بين ناخبي بايدن، كان المجموع يزيد قليلاً على الثلث.

      في الحصيلة، يشعر الأميركيون بأن الانقسامات بين الأمة تبرر أو تسبق صراعاً عنيفاً. 

      The Highland Park Shooting and American Fascism Now

      JULY 8, 2022

      Fireplug and Coneflowers in the Author’s Garden, Highland Park, Illinois, 2013. Photo: The Author.


      I heard about it from my daughter, Sarah, in Chicago.

      “Dad, did you hear about Highland Park?” That was an ominous beginning. She continued: “There was a shooting during the 4th of July Parade. A bunch of people were killed.”

      My heart sank. I lived in Highland Park for almost 15 years, from 2001-2015. Sarah too. I had been there just a few weeks ago to visit my dear neighbors Hannah and Joe, and to meet up with Sarah.

      “You ok, sweetie?”

      “Yeah, but it’s really bad.”

      “Let me hang up and find out more.”

      I looked at the NYTimes and Guardian and texted Hannah – she and her husband were out of town and ok. I told my wife Harriet, who was out pulling weeds in the garden. I was tearful; she consoled me. Though I hadn’t lived there in a while, Highland Park was a big part of my life. It was where I bought a house with my former wife in late 2001; where I ran hundreds of miles in the beautiful forest reserves; where I taught my dog Echo how to catch a frisbee; where I wrote three books; where I recovered from injuries after a bad car crash; where Sarah went through a very challenging (for all of us) adolescence; where I started a new life after my divorce; and where Harriet and I were married by a rabbi, with Echo as our witness, in 2014.

      I never made many friends there, but I didn’t care about that. I had friends enough in Chicago and L.A. And then there was the gift of Hannah – a brilliant and funny art historian (U. of Illinois, Chicago), and her kind businessman husband, Joe Reinstein. Joe and I didn’t have that much in common except for being Jewish, enjoying gardening and liking to make jokes. He sounds a little bit like Jack Benny. Many of you, dear readers, won’t have a clue as to who that is, so please look him up on YouTube.

      Highland Park, a city of 30,000, is about one-third Jewish. When my former wife (Catholic) and I moved up to there in 2001, some of our Northwestern University colleagues were surprised that we relocated to such a bourgeois suburb. To quiet the teasing, I told them that we moved there so I could “be among my people.” That shut everybody up. Then as now, identity politics ends discussion. In truth, though I am a cultural Jew, I haven’t stepped inside a synagogue since my bar mitzvah in 1969, not including other people’s bar mitzvahs and weddings.

      Now, after the shooting, Highland Park was going to become one more of those names on a list that includes Parkland, Sandy Hook, Buffalo, and Uvalde. The grim consolation is that the list is now so long – and growing longer every day — that Highland Park will soon be displaced in memory by another mass casualty event. In a few years, it will be a footnote. But not for the people whose family members were killed or wounded; not for the town’s other residents who will remember that infamous day, and not for a north Florida transplant who remembers the place with fondness.

      Outline of a critique of fascist violence

      In time, we’ll find out much more about the confessed killer, Bobby Crimo. But my friend Sue Coe nailed the profile in an email she sent me before he was identified: “He will be a 20-something white male, who hunts, goes online in his bedroom, and over excites himself.  His mother/grandmother/caretaker, who he hates, does his laundry, and cooks his food.  He won’t have many friends; past fellow students will say he was a loner. Maybe there’s a manifesto, posted online, ripped off from some other moron.” She forgot to mention that he will be a Trump supporter, rare for someone his age, and rarer still in Democratic Highland Park or nearby Highwood where the killer lived with his father and uncle. Sue is clever but not clairvoyant – she described what has recently become the typical profile of the mass shooter.

      Crimo may have a diagnosable psychotic illness such as schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, or delusional disorder. Alternatively, he might suffer from a less totalizing, but still debilitating mental illness such as borderline personality disorder or depression. He apparently attempted suicide in 2019. In online raps (or rants), he claimed to be compelled to kill. But whether there is a plausible diagnosis or not, the question will be the same: Why did this 21 y.o. kid decide to buy an assault weapon and kill or injure dozens of people he didn’t even know? Answers won’t be found in the DSM but in the convergence of fascism and Republican Party politics.

      Fascism is a well-understood political formation, but easier to recognize in hindsight than foresight. It cannot be defined, as some have tried to do, by a delimited set of attributes, for example: 1) militarism and a culture of violence, 2) the leadership (Fuhrer) principle, 3) antagonism to democracy, 4) deferral to the authority of elites, 5) racism, 6) strict control of both gender expression and sexual reproduction, 7) denigration of science, 8) the ubiquity of lies and conspiracy theories, and 9) the bringing of government and civil society to heel in order to enforce one-party rule. The problem with this list or any other, is that it establishes an ideal type that exists nowhere except the mind of the investigator.

      Then what use are the words fascist and fascism today? They serve as a warning, enabling us to recognize especially toxic political speech and behavior, and prepare ourselves for the behemoth lying in wait. Does the rampant racism, violence, corruption, and electoral fraud of the last president and current Republican Party mark a fascist turning point in the United States? Does Republican debasement of the Supreme Court – marked by its denial of women’s autonomy, endorsement of gun culture, refusal to accept EPA authority to prevent a climate catastrophe, and endorsement of a theocratic state — indicate the rise of fascism?

      To be sure, U.S. capitalist democracy was deranged from the start by slavery and genocide. When those practices were ended or curbed, it was still marked by racial oppression, gross inequality, and environmental degradation. Despite that, U.S. politics has been self-correcting to a surprising degree, staving off fascism when it seemed imminent. The first Ku Klux Klan (1865-1900) was stymied by Progressive Era legislation and policing, and the second (1915-1940) by the Great Northern Migration (which depleted the Black population of the South) and by the democratic solidarity that arose after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 and Germany’s declaration of war against the U.S. Fascism in other words, has frequently been incipient, but countervailing tendencies were always stronger. However, that pattern – a glide to the right matched by a lurch back to the center — may be changing.

      During the last three decades or so, neo-liberal capitalism has sustained a highly productive collaboration with Christian nationalism and other versions of far-right, populist extremism. They are strange bedfellows. The goal of the first is to ensure the highest possible profits for the longest possible time, regardless of the human or environmental consequences. The climate crisis has made this stance existential. Continued economic growth and increasing profits – the lifeblood of large business enterprises — is simply incompatible with environmental responsibility. For that reason, fossil capital, along with its confederates in the weapons, aerospace, steel, and home building industries, is waging a war against the coming era of environmental regulation and economic planning that must inevitably curb growth. That’s what the recent Supreme Court decision, West Virginia vs EPA, was all about. It was a big win for capital against the environmental movement and American labor. Working people, especially the non-white sector, are the first victims of climate change. In addition, the Court’s ruling will be used to attack workplace health and safety laws.

      The goal of the second group, the far-right Christian nationalists, anti-abortionists, militias, and self-proclaimed fascists, is to establish a new nation of white Christian, Aryan, or “legacy” Americans who will reclaim the power they believe was taken from them by the Jews, Blacks, feminists, and queers who sought to “replace” them. Their cultism (QAnon, Stop the Steal, anti-Vax, etc), gun-rights militancy and religious enthusiasm has little in common with the secularism and public reserve of the corporate heads, lawyers, bankers, lobbyists, and advertising executives who comprise the neoliberal faction of U.S. conservatism, but they share one fundamental principle: that the only salient economic and political unit is the individual and the family. The neoliberal faction adds a proviso — codified by the Supreme Court in Citizens United — that corporations have many of the same rights as people.

      For neoliberal capital, this means that state or federal programs to regulate production, improve social welfare, and protect the environment are both non-sensical and counterproductive; they are based on the mistaken premise that societies exist and have collective interests that need to be safeguarded. For the far right — Christian nationalist, militia, anti-abortion, and the rest — exclusive focus on individuals and families means that any concatenation of social groupings that opposes their apocalyptic vision must be cast aside if not eliminated. Social movements of feminists, queers, Blacks, or any others, are anathema.

      This mixture of neo-liberal and far right-populist extremism is highly volatile. It is also the basis of MAGA and Republican Party identity. When that world view is offered up by the former president and his congressional and mass-media followers and apologists, the consequences can be catastrophic: Witness the January 6 coup attempt, and the earlier, far right killings in El Paso, Pittsburgh, Poway, Buffalo, Uvalde…and now Highland Park.

      MAGA triggers and the alien within

      When I lived in Highland Park, I never locked my door. I know that’s a cliché about small-town life, but it was true. That doesn’t mean the practice is wise. Our house was broken into once, but instead of walking through the unlocked front door, the would-be thieves broke through a locked, glass side door. They didn’t manage to steal anything and hastily exited the front door, likely chased by Echo – notably nippy with strangers — who would not have passed up the chance to licitly bite a burglar. The police came five minutes after we called them and had great sport playing detective – dusting for fingerprints, checking for signs of forced entry, looking for shoe prints in the wet soil outside. They never caught the guys.

      The idea that the Highland Park Police would ever have to deal with a murder, much less a mass murder was unimaginable to me. From 2000 to 2020, there hadn’t been a single killing in town. But everyone was aware of the threat guns posed, especially after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings in December 2012. In June 2013, Highland Park’s City Council and Mayor Nancy Rotering introduced a measure banning assault weapons and large capacity magazines. I spoke in favor of the it at the June meeting dedicated to the subject, as did many others. However, there were a few who spoke up in opposition, repeating the standard NRA line that people, not guns kill people. One older woman waved a coffee mug and said it could be used as a lethal weapon – a wag near her dared her to try. Another speaker invoked the second amendment with the reverential awe usually reserved for the second commandment – people sniggered. The ban passed easily. It was unsuccessfully challenged in multiple courts, and ultimately survived a Supreme Court review – I doubt it would today.

      I now wonder if the confessed killer’s father, Robert Crimo II attended that City Council meeting. He’s a gun lover and Trump supporter who helped his son obtain the rifle used in the shooting. He also ran for mayor of Highland Park in 2019 against the incumbent Mayor Rotering, losing by a margin of 2-1. In April that year, police visited the Crimo home after a report that Robert III (Bobby) had attempted suicide. No action was taken after his parents gave assurances that mental health professionals would be contacted. In September, the police again came to the Crimo household after receiving a call that Bobby had threatened to kill his family. They searched his room and found in his closet 16 knives, a dagger, and a sword. His father later that day claimed they were his, and the weapons were returned. The Highland Park Police promptly reported to the Illinois State Police that Bobby was a “clear and present danger” to himself and others. Despite that, in December 2019, the 19-year-old – who eight months earlier attempted suicide — applied for and was issued a Firearm Owner’s Identification Card (FOID). Because he was underage, the application was co-signed by his father.

      The FOID application should have been denied because under state law, no gun permit can be issued to someone “whose mental condition is of such a nature that it poses a clear and present danger to the applicant, or any other person or the community.” In addition, a FOID must be denied to anyone who “has been a patient at a mental health facility in the last five years.” If Bobby’s parents had in fact contacted mental health professionals after the boy’s attempted suicide, they would have had to take him to “a mental health facility,” most likely Northshore Hospital’s Behavioral Health Center in Highland Park, just half a mile from where they lived. Apparently, both the Illinois State Police and the physician or psychologist who treated Bobby, failed to send notification to the Illinois Department of Health Services FOID reporting system.

      A few days after being granted his FOID, and then again between June 2020 and September 2021, Crimo bought at least five guns, including two rifles, one of which was the semi-automatic Smith & Wesson M&P15 used in the killings. That’s similar to the guns used by the young, far-right killers in Buffalo and Uvalde. In late September 2020, Bobby attended a Trump rally in Northbook, Illinois. On January 2, 2021, four days before the capital insurrection, Crimo joined other Trump supporters to greet the soon-to-be- ex-president at an unidentified airport. On June 27, 2021, he posted a video of himself draped and dancing in a Trump flag. Sometime later, he had the number “47” tattooed on his face and painted on the side of his car. If Trump is re-elected in 2014, he will be the 47th president, though if the numbers are transposed — 7/4 – they represent the date of the Highland Park shootings.

      We know less about Crimo’s actions in the weeks before the shooting, though more information may soon emerge. We know that in some of his most recent YouTube and other postings, he revealed his identification with soldiers, spies, assassins (Lee Harvey Oswald) and warriors — especially with the German SS. After the massacre in Highland Park, he drove up to another, famously Democratic Party stronghold, Madison, Wisconsin, with the intention of shooting up their July 5 parade too. Fortunately, he abandoned that plan when he got there and returned, more or less to the scene of the crime, where he was captured. Was the ongoing Trump saga – the former president’s unrelenting “stop the steal” rhetoric, claims of persecution, exhortations to “take our country back,” endorsement of the NRA, and invitations to violence – a trigger for Crimo? But if they were, why did Crimo attack innocent people at a patriotic parade? There is no obvious answer.

      In Male Fantasies (1987), Klaus Theweleit described the transformation of de-commissioned German soldiers after World War I into mercenary militias called Freikorps. Those bands were responsible for political assassinations and the brutal repression of protesting German workers, communists, feminists, and social democrats. By the late ‘20s, they became the stormtroopers (Sturmabteilung) that enabled Hitler’s rise to power. Some became prominent Nazis, like Rudolf Höss, commandant of the Auschwitz concentration and death camps.

      Many of the men studied by Theweleit were subjected to stern discipline as children – part of a normally pathological Prussian upbringing — and then further brutalized as soldiers in wartime trenches. Consequently, they developed a sense that they had been hollowed out, or that they had been overcome by an “alien within.” This foreign being was hungry and dangerous, and could find relief only in violence, especially against a crowd. While the solider was stern, bounded, firm and resolute, the crowd was vivid, thriving, shapeless, feminine, social, communal, and sexual – everything he was not, and it had to be destroyed.

      Theweleit’s two volume book is widely cited – too widely – in studies of male sexual violence and the psychology of Nazism. There is no easy way to map a wide-ranging study of the literature the psychopathology of World War I veterans onto the mind and behavior of young, mass shooters today. But the preoccupations of the Highland Park killer – assassinations, school shootings, the SS, spies, guns, knives, and militias – suggests comparison with the young fascists in Male Fantasies who emerged in inter-war Europe, scarred and deadly dangerous, who hated crowds, and were ready to follow the orders of a charismatic leader.

      Fascism, unlike Covid, can’t be diagnosed with a nose swab; but its symptoms are unmistakable and sometimes fatal. It’s fair to say it killed seven people in Highland Park and injured 30 others. It was also deadly in El Paso, Pittsburgh, Buffalo, and Uvalde. Urgent action is needed to stop the proliferation of assault weapons and guns with large magazines. But this essay is not about the need for gun control, or “gun safety”, essential as that is. It’s about the violence that again struck a U.S. community last week, and the need to resist the Republican far-right – both its corporate and Christian nationalist wings. Until their assault upon our health, safety, bodily autonomy, religious (or irreligious) freedom, and environmental future is stopped, the killing will continue.

      Stephen F. Eisenman is Professor Emeritus of Art History at Northwestern University and the author of Gauguin’s Skirt (Thames and Hudson, 1997), The Abu Ghraib Effect (Reaktion, 2007), The Cry of Nature: Art and the Making of Animal Rights (Reaktion, 2015) and many other books. He is also co-founder of the environmental justice non-profit,  Anthropocene Alliance. He and the artist Sue Coe and now preparing for publication part two of their series for Rotland Press, American Fascism Now.

      Russian military is no joke either: Shock waves across US?

      21 Mar 2022

      Source: Al Mayadeen Net

      Ruqiya Anwar 

      When it comes to the Ukraine crisis, US citizens are stressing: “We don’t have a dog in the fight.”

      The crisis in Ukraine is raising considerable anxiety and rising global uncertainty. It appears that neither war nor heavy economic penalties would bring a sustainable solution to the current situation, which extends beyond Russia and Ukraine. The only way out is through diplomacy. That possibility was squandered when the US and NATO, in response to Russia’s concerns, limited NATO’s eastward expansion.

      However, according to Russian President Vladimir Putin. The special military operation will strive to “denazify” Russia’s sovereign neighbor, its mission is to protect citizens who have been bullied and subjected to genocide for the past eight years. And to do this, Russia will work to demilitarize and de-Nazify Ukraine.

      Even as President Joe Biden imposes more sanctions and promises a greater response that could draw retaliation from Moscow, there is little interest among Americans for a US involvement in the Russia-Ukraine conflict. President Joe Biden has been criticized by a faction of the Republican Party for opposing Putin’s plans for Ukraine, with some even suggesting that Russia has the right to invade. 

      As history has shown, economic sanctions would only harm innocent civilians, particularly women and children. The rising oil costs owing to the Ukraine-Russia conflict and the economic sanctions the West has imposed on Russia are affecting the entire world, particularly the poor nation-states.

      With the general public’s memories of the United States’ withdrawal from Afghanistan and subsequent Taliban takeover still fresh, much of the worry on both the right and left is centered on the US avoiding military involvement in Europe. Members of the House Freedom Caucus have indeed been particularly loud in their opposition to US intervention in Ukraine, and stressed that “In the Ukraine conflict, we don’t have a dog in the fight”. There should not be a single American soldier killed there. There should not be a single American bullet fired there.

      Significantly, Ukraine has no legitimate reason to be a member of NATO, and NATO, as a Cold War relic, may have no present purpose or goal. Getting involved in a military crisis is not in the best interests of the United States.

      Similarly, many Americans prefer that the US stay out of the crisis, the escalating violence, and political ramifications are already hitting their budgets. As traders reacted to geopolitical tensions, the price of oil, which has been climbing for the past year, hit an eight-year high this week. According to experts, if US lawmakers pass another round of sanctions, gas prices will certainly rise considerably more.

      Moreover, the restriction on wheat or metals, on the other hand, might push the worst spell of inflation in decades even higher. Consumers in the United States will pay more for gasoline and other necessities as commodity prices rise, leaving less money for discretionary expenditure. As costly as another European conflict would be inhuman and economic terms, the financial strain would fall disproportionately on the lower and middle classes in the United States.

      Furthermore, the US economic growth could be cut by 1% as a result of tougher sanctions on Russia. Stock market turbulence can also have a psychological impact, undermining consumer confidence and reducing expenditure, thus, slowing down US economic growth. Sanctions implemented by the United States and other countries may worsen inflation in the United States, and stock prices in the United States have collapsed already.

      Consumer pricing and consumer confidence in the United States are likely to be affected by the sanctions. Gas prices in the United States have reached new highs, and Biden warned that they will go up even more.

      Notably, the issue of “who are they?” lies at the heart of much of the doubt about America’s intervention in Ukraine. Who are they to lecture about national sovereignty and international law when they have a significant history of invasions and interventions? Who are they to set themselves up as paragons of freedom and human rights, given the record of slavery and discrimination, their foreign record of supporting sympathetic tyrants, and the continued injustices of American life? People on the left frequently pose such concerns. Only about one out of every three Americans can locate Ukraine on a map of Europe.

      Biden’s presidency is already on the verge of collapsing. His approval rating has dropped to 41%. His grip on the White House is already tightening. Therefore, Presidents in such dire trouble have a history of suffering crushing defeats in midterm elections during their first term.

      The US and Europe have already become major victims of the crisis, both economically and geopolitically, and the worsening of the conflict could spell disaster for the continent and the world. Europe, as the continent that saw two previous World Wars erupt, must demonstrate greater foresight and courage in stepping up its efforts to find a diplomatic solution to the Ukraine-Russia crisis.

      The opinions mentioned in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of Al mayadeen, but rather express the opinion of its writer exclusively.

      Biden says Latin America is US ‘front yard’, Trump says ‘backyard’ – Pick your flavor of neocolonialism

      22 Jan 2022

      Ben Norton 

      Source: Al Mayadeen Net

      When we look past all of the superficial Culture War battles they wage to distract the US public, we can clearly see that the two ruling-class parties share 95% of the same policies.

      Pick your flavor of neocolonialism

      What is the difference between Republicans and Democrats? Trump says backyard and Biden says front yard. Otherwise, they share 95% of the same warmongering, capitalist, imperialist policies.

      People in Latin America often ask me, “What is the difference between Republicans and Democrats?” For those outside of the United States, the two hegemonic parties seem so similar that they’re difficult to tell apart.

      The reality, of course, is that the Republican and Democratic Parties are indeed nearly identical. When we look past all of the superficial Culture War battles they wage to distract the US public, we can clearly see that the two ruling-class parties share 95% of the same policies — and are funded by the same billionaire capitalist oligarchs and exploitative mega-corporations to obediently serve their economic interests.

      The Joe Biden administration has made this undeniable. The Democratic President campaigned on promises to reverse the Republican Trump’s disastrous policies, only to continue the vast majority of them.

      At a press conference on January 19, the current President accidentally revealed what the real difference between him and the former head-of-state is: Trump thinks that Latin America is the US empire’s “backyard”, while Biden insists it is Washington’s “front yard”.

      You can see Biden’s comments in the official transcript published at the White House: “We used to talk about, when I was a kid in college, about ‘America’s backyard,’” he said in the presser. “It’s not America’s backyard. Everything south of the Mexican border is America’s front yard.”

      I repeat:  “Everything south of the Mexican border is America’s front yard.”

      So now, when people in Latin America ask me to describe the differences between Republicans and Democrats, I have the perfect answer: Republicans think you are their ‘backyard’, whereas Democrats think you are their ‘front yard’.

      Pick your favorite flavor of neocolonialism.

      Biden has been in power for exactly one year as of this January 20, and he has failed to accomplish anything significant. (His long-overdue withdrawal from Afghanistan does deserve an honorable mention, but it is greatly overshadowed by Biden’s hawkish policies against the rest of the world — not to mention the devastating sanctions his administration has imposed on Afghanistan, which are starving millions of civilians.)

      Far from breaking with Trump, Biden has doubled down on the far-right former President’s worst policies:

      • Biden still recognizes coup puppet Juan Guaidó as fake “President” of Venezuela, and has maintained Trump’s murderous sanctions.
      • Not only has Biden not removed any of the hundreds of crippling sanctions that Trump imposed on Cuba; he has in fact further expanded the US economic warfare against the Caribbean nation, to such a degree that the New York Times wrote that “Biden is taking an even harder line on Cuba” than Trump.
      • Biden has continued the borderline genocidal, scorched-earth war on Yemen, which was expanded by Trump and started by Joe’s running mate Obama.
      • After Trump unilaterally tore up the Iran nuclear deal, the Biden administration has refused to return to it, demanding Tehran’s agreement to a series of unreasonable new demands.
      • Biden has kept US troops illegally occupying Iraq (where the democratically elected Parliament voted overwhelmingly to expel them) and Syria (where they are preventing the central government from accessing its own oil and wheat reserves as it suffers under a suffocating Western sanctions regime).
      • Biden has maintained the witch hunt that Trump’s Justice Department launched against WikiLeaks journalist and political prisoner Julian Assange, who is being tortured in a maximum-security British prison as he awaits extradition to the Land of the Free for a show trial.
      • Biden fulfilled the Trump administration’s plans to extradite — that is, kidnap — Venezuelan diplomat Alex Saab, who was detained and held in horrific conditions for the supposed “crime” of circumventing illegal US sanctions to buy food for the Venezuelan people.
      • As more than 850,000 North Americans have died, Biden’s Covid-19 policies (or lack thereof) have for the most part been identical to those of Trump. The bipartisan strategy is to put profits over people’s lives and let corporations quite literally dictate “public health” policies.
      • Biden has accelerated the new cold war on both China and Russia while imposing more and more sanctions around the globe.
      • Heck, Biden has even managed to deport more migrant children than the inveterate racist Trump.

      Meanwhile, inside the United States, Biden’s own party has blocked all attempts at passing significant legislation.

      The US government is so thoroughly undemocratic, so entirely beholden to capital, it has become a dysfunctional basket case. Its “democratic” window dressing has melted away, and all that is left is a stone-cold authoritarian regime controlled by billionaire oligarchs, a textbook dictatorship of the capitalist class.

      The only thing the US empire can do is do what it has always done: escalate its imperial aggression abroad, endlessly pour money into the gaping maw of the Military-Industrial Complex, try to tame the voracious appetite of the death cult of capitalism — use war abroad to distract from the mass death, skyrocketing inequality, growing poverty, dire homelessness, police brutality, and mass incarceration inside the United States.The opinions mentioned in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of Al mayadeen, but rather express the opinion of its writer exclusively.



      Election Season Nears In The United States As Political Crisis Gains Traction

      The United States 2021 elections are drawing near, with the majority of them taking part on November 2nd, 2021.

      Many are taking place on the surrounding days.

      It is a volatile season, as the Democratic Party won the Presidential Elections in the face of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, and holds a majority thanks to the vice president in the Congress.

      In the House of Representatives, the Democrats hold the majority.

      Interestingly, in the Senate the Republicans have 50 senators, but still Democrats hold majority with 48 senators, due to Kamala Harris swinging the vote.

      Political instability was introduced in the United States following the fiasco that the withdrawal from Afghanistan turned into.

      Americans were abandoned, Afghan allies were left behind, and an ISIS terror attack left 13 Americans and hundreds of Afghans dead.

      This political instability didn’t simply appear out of nowhere with the fiasco in Afghanistan.

      It was brewing when former President Donald Trump faced Joe Biden in the polls, and even before that.

      This could also be a way to set the stage for Biden’s resignation, for health reasons or otherwise. A power grab is in order by Vice President Kamala Harris and the neoliberals she represents and whose interests she fights for.

      Conservatives and traditionalists would surely come in the spotlight and receive quite a bit of negative attention focused at them. After all, they are the ones who elected Trump, and almost even re-elected him.

      Various neoliberal movements, such as BLM and others will become the norm at Washington level, and that is when the true suppression attempts can begin.

      This leading ideology will marginalize the states that are more conservative. There will likely be an ideology split within the United States, and even within singular states themselves.

      Local authorities, as well as the local business elites and opinion leaders, will be strained, they will need to guide the population in one direction or another.

      As a result, every state that’s strongly conservative or liberal will play a significant, leading role in the upcoming events ahead of the election, and after it.

      If Texas remains strongly conservative, pro-Republican, as there is not even a Democrat candidate, it is likely that changes might be coming. Some states may wish for more independence in spending, development, legislation and more and be freed from some compulsory factors coming from Washington.

      This doesn’t relate to a splitting of the federation into smaller countries, but rather a US in “two speeds”, similar to what is being observed in the European Union.

      Texas is second in the US – second richest, and with its 29.1 million residents in 2020, is the second-largest U.S. state by both area and population. It is also a staple of conservatism and the Republican party, it promises to remain as such.

      Naturally, the winner of the elections will become an important figure.

      Currently, the governor of Texas is Greg Abbott, from the Republican Party.

      Election Season Nears In The United States As Political Crisis Gains Traction

      He seems like a rather conservative, but adequate leader of his state, with the population having a generally positive opinion of him.

      It is an up-and-down, however.

      Recently, the most radical abortion law in the US has gone into effect, despite legal efforts to block it.

      A near-total abortion ban in Texas empowers any private citizen to sue an abortion provider who violates the law, opening the floodgates to harassing and frivolous lawsuits from anti-abortion vigilantes that could eventually shutter most clinics in the state.

      Senate Bill 8 ushered through the Republican-dominated Texas legislature and signed into law by the Republican governor, Greg Abbott, in May, bars abortion once embryonic cardiac activity is detected, which is around six weeks, and offers no exceptions for rape or incest.

      He is also widely considered to have failed the COVID-19 pandemic. Texas was also woefully unprepared for the freezing cold, and citizens were left without power and heat for days.

      Still, despite controversy, he is the favorite.

      When CPAC, the nation’s leading conservative political conference, met in Dallas earlier this month, speakers included former Dallas state Sen. Don Huffines. And while Huffines bashed President Biden, he spent most of his time on stage blasting a fellow Republican: Gov. Greg Abbott.

      Huffines invoked the story of the Alamo and praised Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, then said:

      “Well, we don’t have a Donald Trump as governor. We don’t have Ron DeSantis as governor. We don’t have William B. Travis as governor. Unfortunately, we’ve got a career politician that’s a political windsock, a RINO (Republican in name only.)”

      Abbott, citing the kickoff of the legislative special session, wasn’t there to defend himself. Huffines used his absence against him, attacking Abbott’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

      “He doesn’t want to face you,” Huffines said, “because he shredded our constitution. He put 3 million Texans on unemployment and dependent on the government in one day.”

      But Huffines wasn’t just speaking out of passion. He’s also one of two candidates challenging Abbott as the governor seeks a third term in 2022. The other: former Texas Republican Party chairman Allen West, who’s made many of the same charges against Abbott’s pandemic response.

      Essentially, the situation in Texas is such – the Republican party, more or less, has the victory certain. The favorite appears to be Greg Abbott, but his two main competitors are also from the Republican party.

      The two main candidates: Don Huffines and Allen West are simply pushing the same platform, and want to win over the state away from Abbott, who has gone rogue, according to them.

      There’s little to mention about West, he simply wants to “overthrow” Abbott, and he even gave up on the chairmanship of the Republican Party in Texas for the purpose. Both him and Huffines are on the same “team”.

      In the case of Huffines, experts say that he didn’t win his own seat when he ran for Senate (in 2018), and it’s a seat that was more Republican than the state as a whole when he lost it. It is unlikely that this time he would have success.

      Still, when he announced his campaign, he made no mention of Abbott.

      It took aim at “politicians who offer nothing but excuses and lies” and promised to take on the “entrenched elites of the Austin swamp.” In promising more decisive action, Huffines said Texas needs to “finally finish the [border] wall” and that he would put the state “on a path to eliminating property taxes.”

      Huffines was a strident conservative in the Senate. His announcement highlighted his record on issues important to the right, as well as his successful push to shut down the Dallas Public Schools bus agency amid reports of financial mismanagement there.

      He got to the Senate in 2015 after unseating Sen. John Carona, R-Dallas, in the primary, attacking him as too moderate. But the Dallas-based Senate District 16 swung toward Democrats under former President Donald Trump, and Johnson beat Huffines by 8 percentage points in 2018.

      Huffines stayed politically active after leaving the Senate and especially so in the past year, as conservative angst simmered over Abbott’s pandemic management. Even then, Huffines has an interesting family connection to the governor’s circle: His brother is James Huffines, whom Abbott tapped last spring to chair the Governor’s Strike Force to Open Texas.

      Southern Methodist University political science professor Cal Jillson said the odds are that Republicans will ultimately get everything they’re pushing in the current special session, even if it takes several more special sessions to get those priorities passed.

      “Right now, the Republicans have the Democrats strung up by their thumbs with their feet barely touching the ground,” Jillson said. “I think the Republicans are going to win on the substance, and how the Democrats frame their eventual loss very much will determine whether or not the two bases are equally energized by this fight or one is energized more than the other.”

      In his most recent gubernatorial race in 2018, Abbott won with 55.8% of the vote.

      Abbott has money too.

      He’s sitting on a war chest of $55 million.

      But despite rampant rumors that former Congressman Beto O’Rourke or even actor Matthew McConaughey will get into the race, Democrats still don’t have a declared candidate for governor.

      Still, the Democrats appear to have given up on Texas, as there is no candidate, two months prior to election.


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