I will not be aiding the Saudis, Trump and Pence in a pre-planned character assassination.

Even before they were elected, those of us interested in foreign policy issues knew that Rep. Tlaib and Rep. Omar were viewed as an enormous threat by repressive regimes in the Middle-East who wanted to maintain their power. As outspoken black and brown muslim women they bring a perspective that has long been lacking in US political debate about the middle-east. We’ve always known they had targets on their back.

Last week, Republican minority leader Kevin McCarthy threatened “action” against Rep. Omar and Rep. Tlaib. This was days before Rep. Omar wrote the seven words in two tweets that she was criticized for. Keep that in mind. Republicans said last week they would “take action”, and they’ve been lying in wait. They have been planning a character assassination of Rep. Omar for months. 

I will let Rev. Barber remind us why we should not fall for Republican bullshit.

Rev. Barber is absolutely right. We should not be cornered by Republicans into condemning people who are actually fighting for justice. Definitely not over the unintentionally questionable choice of words. Definitely not when they are so willing to learn and quick to apologize for unintended hurt.

Instead, let us keep our focus on actual, real injustice, the WRONG which Rev. Barber refers to. Rep. Omar’s most eager critics actively support injustices and harms to oppressed people. Here’s Peter Beinart laying it out:

But if we’re going to demand that politicians apologize for any hint of association with bigotry, let’s not stop with Ilhan Omar. Let’s hold her critics to the same standard.

Establishing two legal systems in the same territory—one for Jews and one for Palestinians, as Israel does in the West Bank—is bigotry. Guaranteeing Jews in the West Bank citizenship, due process, free movement and the right to vote for the government that controls their lives while denying those rights to their Palestinian neighbors is bigotry. It’s a far more tangible form of bigotry than Omar’s flirtation with anti-Semitic tropes. And it has lasted for more than a half-century.

Yet almost all of Omar’s Republican critics in Congress endorse this bigotry. The 2016 Republican platform declares that, “We reject the false notion that Israel is an occupier” in the West Bank. In other words, governing Jews by one set of laws and Palestinians by another is fine. Last December, Republican Congressman Lee Zeldin, who has called for stripping Omar of her committee assignments, spoke at a fundraiser for Bet El, a West Bank settlement from which Palestinians are barred from living even though it was built—according to the Israeli supreme court—on land confiscated from its Palestinian owners.

For her tweets, Omar was publicly rebuked by the entire Democratic House leadership. For his enthusiastic endorsement of land theft and state-sponsored bigotry in the West Bank, Zeldin has received no congressional criticism at all. To the contrary, he’s a Republican rising star. — forward.com/…

Beinart is right, the actual harm done to millions of Palestinians lives should take primacy here. Yet virtually our entire political class chose instead to police the words of a young, black, female legislator.

We only need to look at the Democratic Senate minority leader and (unfortunately) my senator Chuck Schumer. He jumped at the opportunity to say that Ilhan Omar’s seven word analysis of  the situation was “reprehensible”.

Why is he doing this when he knows full well that the Saudi and UAE lobbies are gunning for Rep. Omar and Rep. Tlaib?

Academics, media outlets, and commentators close to Persian Gulf governments have repeatedly accused Omar, Rashida Tlaib (another newly elected Muslim congresswoman), and Abdul El-Sayed (who made a failed bid to become governor of Michigan) of being secret members of the Muslim Brotherhood who are hostile to the governments of Saudi Arabia and the UAE. On Sunday, Saudi-owned Al Arabiya published a feature insinuating that Omar and Tlaib were part of an alliance between the Democratic Party and Islamist groups to control Congress. The article accused the two of being “anti-Trump and his political team and options, especially his foreign policy starting from the sanctions on Iran to the isolation of the Muslim Brotherhood and all movements of political Islam.” — foreignpolicy.com/…

Schumer owes his entire career in politics to wall-street fundraising, he is a walking, talking illustration of the disastrous impact of money in politics. So perhaps it’s no surprise that he is taking a stance supported by the Saudi and UAE lobbies. He also thinks it’s a good idea to speak at AIPAC, a lobbying organization that has cultivated and supported bigots like John Hagee, an avid Trump supporter.

The Trump administration, which has deeply corrupt ties to the ruling Saudi faction is also blasting Omar.

Why is Schumer aiding Pence in attacking Ilhan Omar? Why doesn’t Schumer ask instead when Republicans going to condemn Rep. Paul Gosar for attending far-right white nationalist rallies? The Republican caucus is stocked full of right-wing extremists. For example, Duncan Hunter, who ran an openly bigoted, Islamophobic campaign in 2018. Schumer doesn’t have time to combat them, but he is more than willing to condemn a first-term black, Muslim legislator? Is that really where he thinks the threat of anti-semitism lies in this country? In Ilhan Omar’s tweets? 

Money, in the form of bundling and directing member’s political contributions is exactly what AIPAC uses to influence policy, as do all lobbying organization. This was fully in view yesterday when AIPAC turned around and sent a fund-raising appeal using Rep. Ilhan Omar as a bogeyman:

The pro-Israel lobby sent its donors an email on Tuesday urging them to give money to the group as an answer to Omar’s tweets earlier this week, in which she accused AIPAC of using money to “buy” members of Congress and said that U.S. support for Israel is “all about the Benjamins baby.” […]

While many accepted the apology, U.S. President Donald Trump told reporters at a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday he thought Omar was insincere and should resign from Congress.

“What she said is so deep-seated in her heart,” he said, referring to the comments, adding that the Minnesota representative’s apology was “lame and she didn’t mean a word of it.” — www.haaretz.com/…

Yeah, that’s right, AIPAC is literally raising money to influence policy and Trump is accusing people of insincerity. Why are Democrats enabling this bullshit?  Especially when it’s coming from gaslighters like Trump?

Why is Schumer attacking Omar instead of Donald Trump, who actually ran an openly anti-semitic ad in 2016? Trump, whose entire campaign was built on the anti-semitic, Nazi slogan “America First”? 

Wait, it gets even better. In 2015, Trump told the Republican Jewish Coalition this:

“You’re not gonna support me because I don’t want your money… you don’t want to give me money, but that’s ok, you want to control your own politicians that’s fine.” — www.washingtonpost.com/…

Trump openly told a Jewish audience that they wanted to use money to “control your own politicians”.  Where in the ever-loving fuck was Schumer’s deep seated need to police anti-semitic statements then? Trump, even as presidential candidate had far, far more power than a first term Congresswoman. WaPo has done a run-down of all Trump’s anti-semitic rhetoric. He called Gary Cohn a globalist, and when actual Nazis were shouting “Jews will not replace us” in Charlottesville, Trump said they were “very fine people”. 

Yet Schumer chose to police Rep. Omar’s tweets instead of a New York billionaire’s platform when he was running for president. G.T.F.O.H. It is worth remembering who Rep. Omar and Rep. Tlaib are. They are muslim women, and there is a remarkable pattern of muslim politicians being painted as anti-semitic.

I am not going to support people who choose to punch down at well-meaning activist-politicians like Rep. Omar, but don’t have stomach to take on Trump or Pence. And I agree with Chris Hayes, many powerful Democrats do not seem to have grasped just how far the Democratic base has shifted.

In the midst of the kerfuffle about word choice, the actual content of Rep. Omar’s critique has been forgotten. AIPAC is no different from the Saudi lobby, the military-industrial lobby, the pharma lobby, the financial industry lobby. They all seek to use money and influence to further their objectives. And they brag about their ability to do so.

In 2005, Steven Rosen, then a senior official with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC, sat down for dinner with journalist Jeffrey Goldberg, then of the New Yorker. “You see this napkin?” Rosen asked Goldberg. “In twenty-four hours, [AIPAC] could have the signatures of seventy senators on this napkin.”  […]

Rosen, after all, wasn’t the first AIPAC official to boast about the the raw power that “America’s bipartisan pro-Israel lobby” exercises in Washington, D.C. Go back earlier, to 1992, when then-AIPAC President David Steiner was caught on tape bragging that he had “cut a deal” with the George H.W. Bush White House to provide $3 billion in U.S. aid to Israel. Steiner also claimed to be “negotiating” with the incoming Clinton administration over the appointment of pro-Israel cabinet members. AIPAC, he said, has “a dozen people in [the Clinton] campaign, in the headquarters … and they’re all going to get big jobs.” — theintercept.com/…

So what exactly did Omar say that has not been said a hundred times by actual AIPAC representatives? Here’s Noah Kulwin in Jewish Currents laying it all out:

The Israel lobby, especially AIPAC, has long greased the wheels of American politics by bundling millions of dollars for campaign contributions and spending further millions on sending politicians and journalists on junkets to Israel, where they meet with government officials and absorb pro-Israel talking points under the thin pretense of a fact-finding mission. However earnest these groups may be about their support for Israel, they are explicitly in the business of trading influence for money. This isn’t limited to AIPAC; for instance, casino magnate and right-wing Israel supporter Sheldon Adelson and his wife Miriam spent $55 million in the 2018 election cycle to maintain Republican control of Congress. In recent years, the interests of these groups have dovetailed with those of Saudi Arabia and other Gulf monarchies, defense contractors, millenarian evangelical Christian Zionists, and other assorted war hawks. The Israel lobby is indeed a big tent, and it has welcomed in a wide range of right-wing interests that extend beyond the American Jewish community. — jewishcurrents.org/…

Saudi Arabia and other Gulf monarchies, defense contractors, millenarian evangelical Christian Zionists, and other assorted war hawks are not our allies. They are not the people I want Democrats to associate with. So yeah, when this group rushes to condemn someone, we should not be aiding and abetting them.

One of the reasons I’ve always been interested in Israel/Palestine is that it’s a clarifying issue. The only correct policy view has always been crystal clear. It’s equal rights for Palestinians. Yet, since advocates for Palestinians have almost no real political power in the US, equal rights has never been the US position. So whenever we run across a politician who rushes to make excuses for the oppression of Palestinians, we should recognize that they are willing to compromise our basic principles of equality and justice, in the pursuit of power. They are willing to tolerate harm to the powerless, to achieve their ends.

Why are we letting Trump, Pence, extremist Republicans and gross human rights violators like the Saudis and UAE get away with character assassination of yet another young, black, muslim leader?

I am not going to aid and abet this bullshit.

I am not going to lay down cover as the Saudis, UAE, AIPAC, Trump and Pence seek to assassinate the character of a black woman fighting for what’s right.

I know what side I am on.

I am not going to be gaslighted into partnering with Trump or the Saudi monarchy or Mike Pence.

I am going to ally with Rev. Barber.

I am on Ady Barkan’s side.

It’s the side all people of good will should be on.

I stand with Ilhan Omar.

— @subirgrewal

AOC lays bare the dystopia that is DC and Capitol Hill.

Some of us have heard of lobbyists hiring homeless and/or impoverished Americans to hold their place in line. But nothing makes it real for the rest of the America like an AOC tweet does.


She’s right, we should be shocked and somehow we’re not. We are the richest country the world has ever known. Our government has awesome powers, it metes out life and death via remote control from thousands of miles away. And in the halls of our supposedly democratic government, the weakest members of our society hold places in line for lobbyists trying to influence our elected representatives with money, revolving door jobs and other perks.

It’s truly dystopian.

I do want to point out that AOC and her team was careful to blur out the faces of the people waiting so as not to inadvertently shame them. Our media organizations could learn a thing or two from her about responsible reporting.

That’s why they used to say, Don’t trust anyone over 30.

— @subirgrewal

Bolton, Trump and Pompeo seem to be building a coalition to start a war with Iran.

Mike Pompeo is off to a summit in Warsaw that is ostensibly about Middle-East security, but seems to be where various parties are sending up trial balloons about starting a war with Iran.

The Trump administration had delicately said the meeting of five dozen nations in Warsaw would focus on “Middle East security.” But the unmistakable voice of Rudolph Giuliani, an avowed proponent of regime change in Iran, set a different tone.

Hours before the meeting began, Mr. Giuliani, the former mayor of New York and President Trump’s lawyer, told an anti-Iran rally outside Warsaw’s main stadium that Iranian leaders are “assassins, they are murderers and they should be out of power.”

Mr. Giuliani said he was representing an Iranian opposition group, the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq, or M.E.K., not Mr. Trump. But his message belied what American officials had told nervous European counterparts: that the two-day meeting would focus on a range of Middle East security matters. […]

“We want to see a regime change in Iran,” Mr. Giuliani said. — www.nytimes.com/…

War with Iran would be an enormous disaster and prior administrations have had the good sense to stay away from it. But with war-monger John Bolton in the White House, we’ve got to treat this chatter seriously. He recently ordered up options for military strikes on Iran.

Meanwhile, Trump administration grifters like Giuliani are lobbying for violent organizations like the MEK. Giuliani presumably hopes to follow in the footsteps of other war criminal Republicans like the two Bushes and Dick Cheney, who used the US military to start wars in the Middle-East and then got rich off contracts from factions that benefited. That is also the pattern so many Republican grifters like the war criminal Elliott Abrams are hoping to follow in Venezuela.

Poland has been resisting the urge to turn the summit into a propagandistic anti-Iranian meeting, underscoring its commitment to JCPOA, but as Poland’s former ambassador to Afghanistan Piotr Lukasiewicz told Al Jazeera: “[Poland] has lost control over the general message of the conference to the US, Israel and Saudi Arabia.” — www.aljazeera.com/…

The Saudi regime has been spending enormous amounts of money to influence the Trump administration. They have been clear for years that they would like the US to wage war on Iran. 

There’s news that the US Is restarting a program to sabotage Iranian missiles and there was a rare terrorist attack on Iranian troops which killed 23. These are all unusual, problematic events happening in close succession.

To add further fuel to the fire, there’s a strange social media incident. Benjamin Netanyahu is in Warsaw to attend this summit. While there, he said on camera that he was there to “advance the common interest of war with Iran”. His office tweeted this out:


His communications department has since replaced the tweet with one that reads “combatting Iran”, and removed the video, claiming it was a mis-translation from Hebrew. But:

According to the English translation of Netanyahu’s remarks in Hebrew prepared by his office, the prime minister then added: “What is important about this meeting — and it is not in secret because there are many of those — is that this is an open meeting with representatives of leading Arab countries that are sitting down together with Israel in order to advance the common interest of war with Iran.” […]

As my colleague Talya Cooper explains, however, Netanyahu did in fact use the Hebrew word for “war” in the video, which has not yet been deleted from his Hebrew-language YouTube channel. In a separate video, posted by Netanyahu’s office on Facebook earlier in the day, the prime minister had used the Hebrew word for “combat.” — theintercept.com/…

Here is Bolton a few months ago making a wild promise about overthrowing the Iranian government:

Bolton has been going around the Fox News circuit defending his role in starting the Iraq war. And yes, the decision not to prosecute George W. Bush era war-criminals and lock them away for the rest of their lives is why we have to deal with the re-emergence of these ghouls again.

Here’s Chris Murphy warning us to watch Bolton.

— @subirgrewal