WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 09:  National Security Adviser John Bolton speaks on a morning television show from the grounds of the White House, on May 9, 2018 in Washington, DC. Yesterday President Donald Trump announced that America was withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal.  (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
January 15, 2019

John Bolton Wants to Bomb Iran — and He May Get What He Wants...

WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 09:  National Security Adviser John Bolton speaks on a morning television show from the grounds of the White House, on May 9, 2018 in Washington, DC. Yesterday President Donald Trump announced that America was withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal.  (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

National security adviser John Bolton speaks on a morning television show from the grounds of the White House on May 9, 2018, in Washington, D.C.

Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

You underestimate John Bolton at your peril.

Remember when he was passed over for the job of secretary of state because, we were told, Donald Trump didn’t like his “brush-like mustache“? How we laughed. Yet less than 18 months later, after regular appearances on the Fox News casting couch, he was appointed national security adviser, with an office around the corner from the president’s.

Remember when Defense Secretary James Mattis met with the new national security adviser on the steps of the Pentagon and joked that he was the “devil incarnate”? Mattis is gone. Bolton is still standing.

Remember when White House chief of staff John Kelly got into a “heated, profanity-laced shouting match” with Bolton, over immigration, right outside the Oval Office? Kelly is gone. Bolton is still standing.

Remember when Trump announced that the 2,000 U.S. troops in Syria were “all coming back, and they’re coming back now,” only a few weeks after Bolton had said they would be staying until all Iranian troops and proxies left the country? We were told that Bolton had been ignored, overruled, sidelined even. Not quite. Earlier this month, on a visit to Israel, the national security adviser confirmed that there was no timetable for pulling out the troops and it all would depend on the Turkish government guaranteeing the safety of U.S.-backed Kurdish fighters. “John Bolton puts brakes on Trump withdrawal from Syria,” read a headline in the Financial Times.

Trump’s national security adviser is a hard man to keep down.

In 2003, Bolton got the war he wanted with Iraq. As an influential, high-profile and hawkish member of the Bush administration, Bolton put pressure on intelligence analysts, threatened international officials, and told bare-faced lies about weapons of mass destruction. He has never regretted his support for the illegal and catastrophic invasion of Iraq, which killed hundreds of thousands of people.

Now he wants a war with Iran. So say State Department and Pentagon officials, according to the Wall Street Journal, who were “rattled” by his request to the Pentagon “to provide the White House with military options to strike Iran last year.” The New York Times also reported that “senior Pentagon officials are voicing deepening fears” that Bolton “could precipitate a conflict with Iran.”

Should we be surprised? In March 2015, Bolton, then a private citizen, wrote an op-ed for the New York Times headlined: “To Stop Iran’s Bomb, Bomb Iran.” In July 2017, just eight months prior to joining the Trump administration, Bolton told a gathering of the cultish Iranian exile group, the MEK, that “the declared policy of the United States of America should be the overthrow of the mullahs’ regime in Tehran” and that “before 2019, we here will celebrate in Tehran.”

Despite the leaks to the press over the past few days from “rattled” but unnamed officials at the State Department and the Pentagon, Bolton is far from being the only person close to Trump who is pushing a belligerent line on Iran. He has plenty of allies in the administration. As Vox reported on Monday, “Bolton has staffed up the NSC with people who share his views. Last week, he hired Richard Goldberg, a noted Iran hawk, to run the administration’s pressure campaign against the country.”

Outside of the Bolton-dominated National Security Council, there’s also the hawkish Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who once suggested launching “2,000 sorties to destroy the Iranian nuclear capacity.” As I noted last week, in his recent speech on Middle East policy in Cairo, Pompeo made more than 20 references to “malevolent” and “oppressive” Iran and denounced “Iranian expansion” and “regional destruction” while giving Saudi Arabia a big wet kiss. “Countries increasingly understand that we must confront the ayatollahs, not coddle them,” he declared. Pompeo then told Fox News, before leaving Cairo, that the United States would be hosting an international summit on Iran in Poland next month.

So how do these hawks plan to get their war with Tehran? Bolton, in particular, seems keen on two lines of attack. The first relates to the nuclear issue. “We have little doubt that Iran’s leadership is still strategically committed to achieving deliverable nuclear weapons,” the national security adviser told fellow Iran-hater, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in Jerusalem earlier this month. There is, however, not a shred of evidence for Bolton’s claim — in fact, the U.S. intelligence community has flatly and repeatedly rejected it. “We do not know whether Iran will eventually decide to build nuclear weapons,” said Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, in his 2017 “Worldwide Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Community.”

The second line of attack relates to the activities of Tehran-backed groups in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. According to the Times, Bolton’s request for military options against Iran “came after Iranian-backed militants fired three mortars or rockets into an empty lot on the grounds of the United States Embassy in Baghdad in September.” To be clear: No one was killed or injured in this attack.

Also: How far does this retaliatory logic extend? The United States has been accused of supporting extremist, anti-government groups in Iran, as well as Israeli strikes on Iranian positions in Syria – does this mean the Iranians have a right to launch retaliatory air strikes on U.S. soil? Do the Cubans have the right to bomb Miami, where a number of U.S.-supported anti-Castro groups reside and operate?

Logic, however, has never been Bolton’s strong suit. He is an ideologue. “It is a big mistake,” he once declaimed, “for us to grant any validity to international law even when it may seem in our short-term interest to do so—because, over the long term, the goal of those who think that international law really means anything are those who want to constrict the United States.”

To hell with international law. And the International Criminal Court. And civilian lives. The bellicose Bolton is going to spend much of 2019 making the case, both in public and in private, for war with Iran; a war that would make the invasion of Iraq look like a walk in the park. This is what makes the mustachioed national security adviser, with an office down the hallway from Trump, the most dangerous member of this reckless administration.

Devil incarnate? Perhaps that was an understatement.

 

The post John Bolton Wants to Bomb Iran — and He May Get What He Wants appeared first on The Intercept.

January 14, 2019

Who Are the Top 10 Democratic Presidential Contenders for 2020?...

Who will be the Democrats’ Trump-slayer come the 2020 election? The presidential election is less than two years away, and the Iowa caucuses are a little over a year away. Late last month, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., announced the formation of an exploratory committee for president; other top Democrats are expected to declare soon. There could be as many as 30 Democratic runners and riders, from senators to governors to celebrities.
Here’s my own personal countdown of the top 10 candidates for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, including pros and cons for each. Enjoy!

The post Who Are the Top 10 Democratic Presidential Contenders for 2020? appeared first on The Intercept.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (C) speaks to the press during a tour of the newly-inaugrated Al-Fattah Al-Alim mosque in Egypt's New Administrative Capital, 45 kilometres (28 miles) east of Cairo on January 10, 2019. - The top US diplomat is in Egypt on the latest leg of a whistle-stop regional tour aimed at shoring up Washington's Middle East policy following President Donald Trump's shock decision to withdraw 2,000 US troops from Syria. (Photo by ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS / POOL / AFP)        (Photo credit should read ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP/Getty Images)
January 11, 2019

Mike Pompeo Lied About the U.S. and the Middle East. Here’s the Trut...

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (C) speaks to the press during a tour of the newly-inaugrated Al-Fattah Al-Alim mosque in Egypt's New Administrative Capital, 45 kilometres (28 miles) east of Cairo on January 10, 2019. - The top US diplomat is in Egypt on the latest leg of a whistle-stop regional tour aimed at shoring up Washington's Middle East policy following President Donald Trump's shock decision to withdraw 2,000 US troops from Syria. (Photo by ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS / POOL / AFP)        (Photo credit should read ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP/Getty Images)

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, center, speaks to the press during a tour of the newly inaugurated Al-Fattah Al-Alim mosque in Egypt’s new administrative capital, east of Cairo, on Jan. 10, 2019.

Photo: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds, Pool/AFP/Getty Images

“The good news is this: The age of self-inflicted American shame is over.”

So said Mike Pompeo in Cairo on Thursday. Donald Trump’s hawkish secretary of state delivered a speech at the site of Barack Obama’s famous 2009 address to the Muslim world, but Pompeo denounced the former president for “wishful thinking,” partnering “with enemies,” and a reluctance “to wield our influence” in the region.

Pompeo claimed that the United States was “a force for good in the Middle East” and referred to “America’s innate goodness.” His 3,500-word address at the American University in Cairo contained only one passing reference to “democracy” and zero references to “equality” or “human rights.” There were more than 20 references, however, to “malevolent” and “oppressive” Iran.

Shadi Hamid, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution’s Center for Middle East Policy, described it “as one of the worst foreign policy speeches I’ve witnessed from a senior U.S. official,” calling it “cynical, petty, incoherent, small, and, well, silly.” Paul Danahar, former BBC Middle East bureau chief, referred to the speech as “simplistic,” noting that “its theme was the goodness of Israel and evil of Iran.”

The pompous Pompeo told his audience in Cairo that he was going to be “very blunt and direct” and that he wanted to speak about “a truth that isn’t often spoken in this part of the world.” He went on to offer a litany of lies, delusions, and exaggerations. Below, however, is the (fantasy) speech that I wish the secretary of state could have delivered on Thursday, if he truly wanted to be “blunt” and “honest” about U.S. involvement in the Middle East since 1945.

“It is a pleasure to be back here in Cairo. As America’s top diplomat, and as a former CIA director and four-term member of the United States Congress, not to mention a senior member of a U.S. administration whose president has admitted we have ‘a lot of killers’ and who has also condemned many of our previous interventions across the Middle East, I believe I am ideally suited to tell you all the unvarnished truth about the history and impact of U.S. involvement in this region.

It is an ugly truth that U.S. presidents have known for decades but have worked hard to conceal from the public — both in the United States and here in the Middle East. As long ago as 1958, a great Republican president, and an even greater U.S. general, Dwight Eisenhower, wondered why there was such a ‘campaign of hatred against us’ in this part of the world, ‘not by the governments but by the people.’ Yet the reasons for that ‘hatred’ had been laid out for him only a few months earlier by his own National Security Council: ‘In the eyes of the majority of Arabs the United States appears to be opposed to the realization of the goals of Arab nationalism. They believe that the United States is seeking to protect its interest in Near East oil by supporting the status quo and opposing political or economic progress.’ U.S. interests in the area, added the National Security Council, ‘have led not unnaturally to close U.S. relations with elements in the Arab world whose primary interest lies in the maintenance of relations with the West and the status quo in their countries.’

It is difficult to disagree with the National Security Council’s assessment. Take the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. In February 1945, in the dying days of the World War II, President Franklin Roosevelt met with Saudi Arabia’s founding king, Abdulaziz, onboard the USS Quincy in the Suez Canal. The need for democracy in the Gulf wasn’t on Roosevelt’s mind. On behalf of the United States, he struck a Faustian bargain with one of the world’s most repressive countries: We would provide them with security; they would provide us with oil.

That bargain has held for more than seven decades, under both Democratic and Republican presidents. It held after 9/11, when 15 of the 19 hijackers turned out to be Saudi nationals — but we invaded Baghdad in 2003, not Riyadh. It held after my predecessor Hillary Clinton admitted in a confidential memo that ‘donors in Saudi Arabia constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide.’ It held after a Saudi-led coalition launched a war in Yemen, with U.S. military and intelligence support, which has killed tens of thousands of people and has caused, in the words of the United Nations, the ‘world’s worst humanitarian crisis.’ It held even after U.S. resident and Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi was brutally murdered in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul 100 days ago, on the orders — according to my former colleagues at the CIA — of the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman.

Then there is the state of Israel. From the very beginning, we have stood with the Israelis against the Arabs — and, in particular, against the occupied and dispossessed Palestinian people. President Harry Truman, declaring U.S. support for a new Jewish state, said he had ‘to answer to hundreds of thousands who are anxious for the success of Zionism: I do not have hundreds of thousands of Arabs among my constituents.’ Over the past 70 years, the United States has backed, armed, and funded Israeli governments, of both left and right, as they have bombed, conquered, occupied, colonized, and ethnically cleansed Arab lands.

We have never supported freedom or democracy for the Palestinians. Nor have we done so for the Iranians.

In 2014, the previous U.S. administration resupplied Israeli forces with ammunition amid their bombardment of the Gaza Strip, which killed more than 500 Palestinian children in the space of seven weeks.

In 2018, this administration went against both the international community and international law to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and move our embassy there.

We have never supported freedom or democracy for the Palestinians. Nor have we done so for the Iranians. In 1953, the United States government authorized a CIA coup to overthrow the elected prime minister of Iran, Mohammad Mossadegh, because we believed he was too close to his country’s Communist Party. CIA agent Kermit Roosevelt, grandson of President Theodore Roosevelt, arrived in Tehran to implement Operation Ajax, which involved fomenting riots against Mossadegh in order to put the tyrannical, but pro-American, shah of Iran back in full control of the country.

A year earlier, Kermit Roosevelt had been here in Egypt, masterminding another CIA intervention, Project FF, or ‘Fat Fucker,’ against King Farouk. The United States helped the Free Officers Movement overthrow the king and — perhaps with the exception of Gamal Abdel Nasser — has since thrown its full support behind military dictators in Cairo. Remember when the generals removed Egypt’s first elected president, Mohamed Morsi, from power in a coup in 2013? My predecessor John Kerry praised the Egyptian military for ‘restoring democracy.’

Then there is Iraq. Every president since George H.W. Bush has taken military action in Iraq; dropping bombs in Mesopotamia has become a rite of passage for the past five presidents of the United States. But our involvement in Iraq did not begin in 1990, when the U.S. ambassador to Baghdad, April Glaspie, infamously gave Saddam Hussein the green light to invade Kuwait; it began decades earlier.

In 1959, the CIA sent a six-man squad of assassins — including a young man named Saddam Hussein — into Iraq to try and kill then-Iraqi Prime Minister Gen. Abd al-Karim Qasim. They failed.

In 1963, however, a U.S.-backed military coup by the Baath Party succeeded in overthrowing Qasim. ‘We came to power on a CIA train,’ Ali Saleh Sa’adi, a minister in the Baathist regime that replaced Qasim, later admitted.

In 1980, according to my predecessor Alexander Haig, the Carter administration gave a ‘green light’ to Saddam to attack Iran. Ronald Reagan then escalated our support for the Iraqis, against the Iranians, and sent Donald Rumsfeld to shake Saddam’s hand. We not only turned a ‘blind eye‘ to the use of Iraqi chemical weapons against both the Iranians and the Kurds; we helped them do it.

Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis were killed as a result of the invasion. There is a direct line from our invasion to the creation of ISIS.

By 2003, it was the United States that was invading Iraq, in defiance of international law and on the basis of false claims about weapons of mass destruction. As Trump, the current U.S. president, has observed, George W. Bush ‘lied‘ about WMDs, and his decision to attack Iraq was ‘the worst single mistake ever made in the history of our country.’

Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis were killed as a result of the war and — as the previous U.S. president has conceded — there is a direct line from our invasion of Iraq to the creation of ISIS.

But what about the Arab Spring? How did the United States respond? In Syria, the U.S. government repeatedly called on the brutal Bashar al-Assad to stand down, and the CIA spent hundreds of millions of dollars arming some of the most vicious groups in the region in a disastrous attempt to try and topple him. More than seven years on from the start of the Syrian civil war, and more than 400,000 dead Syrians later, this administration has now decided to accept Assad’s rule of that country, and we are withdrawing our troops on the ground.

In Libya, the United States backed a U.N.-sanctioned NATO operation to protect the people of Benghazi; the operation morphed into a non-U.N.-sanctioned plan for regime change in Tripoli. Col. Muammar Gaddafi was raped and killed in the Libyan desert by U.S.-backed rebels. My predecessor Clinton greeted the news with a laugh. ‘We came, we saw, he died,’ she declared. Today, Libya is a ‘Mad Max’ hell-scape, with open-air slave markets and multiple, warring ‘governments‘ and militias. It has also become a major transit point for tens of thousands of migrants heading for Europe.

In Bahrain, however, the United States backed the ruling royal family, not the revolution from below. This may or may not have been related to the fact that the U.S. 5th Fleet is based in Bahrain. Since 2011, thousands of Bahrainis have been beaten, tear-gassed, shot, detained, and tortured. In 2017, Trump told the Bahraini king, Sheikh Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa, that ‘there won’t be strain with this administration.’ His words have since emboldened Bahrain’s prison guards.

This is the blunt truth that previous U.S. administrations have refused to share with you until today: We have supported dictators and despots while singing the praises of democracy; we have bombed, invaded, and occupied while calling for stability and security; we have been complicit in torture, ethnic cleansing, mass starvation, and the use of chemical weapons while pretending to be champions of human rights.

The post-war history of our role in this region is clear, undeniable, and shameful. Those who claim that the United States is a ‘force for good in the Middle East‘ are dishonest — or deluded. Nothing could be further from the truth. Nothing could be a greater insult to the millions of people who might be alive today in the Middle East had it not been for the involvement of the United States.

I want to thank you all for being here, and I want to dedicate this speech, in the Egyptian capital, to the 40,000 political prisoners — including U.S. citizens! — that your president and our close ally, Gen. Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, has locked up and tortured since 2014. May God bless them all; may God bless you all.

I now plan to return to Washington, D.C., and I expect to shortly receive the news that I have been fired by our president over Twitter.”

The post Mike Pompeo Lied About the U.S. and the Middle East. Here’s the Truth. appeared first on The Intercept.

BURLINGTON, VT - NOVEMBER 04: U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) gives a speech at a "Get Out The Vote" campaign event with Democratic Gubernatorial candidate Christine Hallquist on November 4, 2018 in Burlington, Vermont. Hallquist made history in August after winning the Democratic nomination, becoming the first openly transgender person nominated by a major party in a governor's race. (Photo by Stephanie Keith/Getty Images)
December 19, 2018

Critics Say Bernie Sanders Is Too Old, Too White, and Too Socialist to...

BURLINGTON, VT - NOVEMBER 04: U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) gives a speech at a "Get Out The Vote" campaign event with Democratic Gubernatorial candidate Christine Hallquist on November 4, 2018 in Burlington, Vermont. Hallquist made history in August after winning the Democratic nomination, becoming the first openly transgender person nominated by a major party in a governor's race. (Photo by Stephanie Keith/Getty Images)

Sen. Bernie Sanders gives a speech at a “get out the vote” campaign event with Democratic gubernatorial candidate Christine Hallquist on Nov. 4, 2018 in Burlington, Vt.

Photo: Stephanie Keith/Getty Images

Who will be the Democratic nominee for president of the United States in 2020?

Will it be Sen. Bernie Sanders, who came second in 2016? A growing number of voices, both liberal and conservative, loudly disagree. “I think his moment is passing,” says Daily Kos founder Markos Moulitsas. “Bernie Sanders is Shrinking,” declared a headline in the Weekly Standard (only a few weeks before the neocon magazine, ironically, closed down). “Democrats will soon decide that Bernie Sanders is an indulgence they cannot afford,” opined The Economist.

Yet the arguments that these diverse critics offer against another Sanders bid for the White House seem to be either overstated, irrelevant, or flat-out false. Consider five of the most common criticisms of the independent senator from Vermont:

He’s Behind in the Polls

It is Joe Biden, and not Bernie Sanders, who has been ahead in almost all of the opinion polls so far. A new survey out of Iowa finds the former vice president leading the field with 30 percent support from Democratic voters, followed by Sanders far behind at 13 percent, and rising star Beto O’Rourke, snapping at his heels with 11 percent.

Other polls have produced similar results. But not all of them. A new straw poll of progressives by Democracy for America, released on Tuesday, gave Sanders a 21-point lead over Biden.

But here’s the bigger question: Are the polls really relevant at this stage? The election is 23 months away, and none of the main runners and riders have formally announced that they’re even running yet.

For comparison, guess who came top in a CNN survey of potential Republican presidential candidates in December 2014, 23 months before the 2016 presidential election? It was Jeb Bush, at 24 percent, with a double-digit lead over his nearest rival, Chris Christie. Ted Cruz, who would end up coming in second in the 2016 GOP primaries, was eighth place with 4 percent. Donald Trump’s name didn’t even make the list.

He’s Too White

“Mr. Sanders fought Mrs. Clinton to a draw among white voters,” concluded an examination of the exit poll data by the Wall Street Journal in 2016. “The decisive edge for Mrs. Clinton: She won African-Americans by more than 50 percentage points.”

Hence the longstanding narrative that Sanders has a problem with black folks.

Except … that’s not quite true. A whole host of prominent African-American figures — including Keith Ellison, Cornel West, Ta-Nehisi Coates, and Spike Lee, among others —  backed Sanders over Hillary Clinton in 2016. Former Ohio state Sen. Nina Turner and then-press secretary Symone Sanders were key surrogates of his.

In 2016, the Vermont senator’s problem was with older black voters — not black voters per se. In fact, according to polling by YouGov, Sanders “fought Clinton to a near draw with people of color between the ages of 18 and 44,” and according to polling by GenForward, “among African American young adults who indicated they voted in the primaries, a majority, 54 percent, said they voted for Bernie Sanders.”

Since 2016, Sanders has worked hard to make further inroads into African-American communities, helping to bolster the insurgent campaigns of up-and-coming black politicians, such as Florida’s Andrew Gillum. Last week, a CNN poll found that Sanders had a higher approval rating, at 58 percent, with nonwhite voters than any other major candidate. So, will this latest survey put an end to the black-voters-dislike-Bernie canard? I doubt it. As my colleague Briahna Gray has observed: “Bernie Sanders doesn’t have a black problem — he has a pundit problem.”

He’s Too Old

Come Election Day, November 2020, Sanders will be 79 years old, which would make him the oldest person to ever run for the White House.

Yet his likely Republican opponent, Trump, will be the previous record-holder. He was 70 in 2016 and will be 74 in 2020. Yes, the overweight sitting president, who eats junk food, doesn’t exercise, and refuses to release his medical records.

In terms of the Democratic primaries, Sanders will be 79 in 2020, but Biden will be 77 and Elizabeth Warren will be 71. Oh, and did you know that Speaker-designate Nancy Pelosi and her top deputy Steny Hoyer are both older than the Vermont senator?

So why should his age be held against him?

He Isn’t a Democrat

So what? He may be an independent but he caucuses with Senate Democrats and is their chair of “outreach.” He won 13 million votes in the 2016 Democratic primaries.

Despite refusing to join the Democrats in the wake of the 2016 election, the party’s base still adores him. As of October 2018, he had a whopping 78 percent approval rating with Democratic voters.

He’s a Socialist

Again, so what? While it may indeed harm him in the presidential election, with a clear majority of Americans claiming that they wouldn’t vote for a “socialist,” it certainly won’t hurt him in the Democratic primaries. According to polling from Gallup, a majority of Democrats have a positive view of socialism — in fact, Democrats have “a more positive image of socialism than they do of capitalism.”

Even in the presidential election itself, I suspect Republicans would find it difficult to demonize Sanders with the S-word, having deployed it to try and smear the centrist Barack Obama for eight long years. Going beyond the label itself, Sanders’s left-wing policy agenda is hugely popular with the electorate — even with hardcore Republicans.

Let me repeat, however, something I said in a recent column on Warren and 2020: I am not endorsing Bernie Sanders for president or saying that he is the perfect person to battle Trump. The Republicans will throw the kitchen sink at him, and the “socialist” attack line might get some traction with independents. Some of the candidates he backed in the midterms won historic victories, but plenty of others lost.

The junior senator from Vermont has also made his own series of gaffes and misjudgments, especially on race and identity issues, and needs to do much more to woo older black voters in the South. He has been far too reluctant to challenge the racism and bigotry of the Trump base and far too eager to blame the president’s 2016 victory on “economic anxiety.” On foreign policy, Sanders has moved further to the left since his clash with Clinton and is “quietly remaking the Democrats’ foreign policy in his own image,” but he still has a long way to go.

There is also a strong case for the Democratic candidate who takes on the racist and sexist Trump in two years to be a woman, a person of color, or both.

Nevertheless, the case for Sanders in 2020 is as strong as it was in 2016 — if not stronger. He now has much better name recognition, a standing army of loyal and experienced activists, an unrivaled social media presence, an authenticity that cannot be bought or taught, and a string of substantive policy wins under his belt, from big-name Democratic support for his “Medicare for All” bill to the Stop BEZOS Act to the historic Senate vote on Yemen last week.

Will he emerge victorious? In an age of Trump, predictions are a fool’s game. The Democratic primaries will feature more than a dozen talented, ambitious, and experienced presidential wannabes, from a bevy of senators and governors to a popular former vice president.

But ignore the opinion polls and the bogus arguments against him: whether you like him or not, Bernie Sanders is the frontrunner right now.

The post Critics Say Bernie Sanders Is Too Old, Too White, and Too Socialist to Run for President in 2020. They’re Wrong. appeared first on The Intercept.

December 14, 2018

The Truth About Israel, Boycotts, and BDS

Incoming members of Congress Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib have both come out in favor of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement — the first House members to ever do so.

Critics, however, suggest that BDS is anti-Semitic and undermines a two-state solution in the Middle East. Others say that supporters of BDS aren’t consistent in their criticism of human rights and unfairly focus on the actions of Israel.

In his latest video essay, The Intercept’s Mehdi Hasan examines — and debunks — some of the myths and controversies surrounding the BDS movement.

The post The Truth About Israel, Boycotts, and BDS appeared first on The Intercept.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren gives her victory speech at a Democratic election watch party in Boston, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)
December 13, 2018

Elizabeth Warren Has a Track Record of Taking on the Rich and Powerful...

Sen. Elizabeth Warren gives her victory speech at a Democratic election watch party in Boston, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

Sen. Elizabeth Warren gives her victory speech at an election watch party in Boston, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018.

Photo: Michael Dwyer/AP

Is Elizabeth Warren finished? Is her putative presidential campaign over before it has even begun?

So say a growing number of political pundits and reporters. Her home state newspaper, the Boston Globe, which urged the Massachusetts senator to run against Hillary Clinton in 2016, now claims that she is a “divisive figure” and suggests that “there’s reason to be skeptical of her prospective candidacy in 2020.” The New York Times argued on its front page that “the lingering cloud over her likely presidential campaign has only darkened” as a result of her now-infamous DNA test to prove her Native American ancestry. Times reporter Astead Herndon quoted members of the senator’s inner circle saying they were “shocked” and “rattled” by her decision to take the test. Other critics have pointed to recent polls, both at the national and state levels, which suggest that support for a Warren presidential bid is waning.

My response? Ignore them. Only a few months ago, these same pundits and reporters were singing from a different hymn sheet. In May, a poll found that Warren was leading the field of potential Democratic presidential candidates in New Hampshire with 26 percent. In July, New York magazine put her on its cover with the headline “Frontrunner?” As recently as October, CNN’s Chris Cillizza and Harry Enten explained “why Elizabeth Warren is #1 in our new 2020 rankings.”

Pundits are fickle. Memories are short. Polls go up and down.

Warren, however, remains a formidable and ambitious politician; a proud progressive with a long track record of taking on the rich and powerful — and winning. Remember the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau? Her role in blocking Larry Summers from the Federal Reserve chairpersonship? Her recent bills to tackle corruption in Washington and put workers on the boards of big corporations? Yes, she is “divisive” — and for good reason!

Don’t get me wrong: She has taken a real hit in recent weeks, both from the racist right — “Pocahontas!” — and the social justice left — “Racial science!” Clinton once said that Warren “gets under [Donald Trump’s] thin skin like nobody else” — which makes the senator’s decision to dance to the president’s racist tune by taking a DNA test to prove her Native American ancestry, and then releasing a video to publicize the results, so bizarre:

Did she screw up? Yes. Should she issue a public apology and draw a line under it, once and for all? Most definitely. Is it fatal to her 2020 chances? Don’t. Be. Silly.

As a whole host of right-wing Republicans and bank bosses have discovered over the years, dismissing Elizabeth Warren is a fool’s game. You think the former professor and progressive icon is done? That she can’t win in 2020?

Ask her former GOP opponent, Scott Brown, who Warren replaced in the Senate in 2012 — and who, for a time, seemed unbeatable — if he agrees. The then-Harvard academic, who had never held elected office, ended up beating Brown by 8 percentage points after mounting an insurgent left-populist campaign against him. Remember her passionate, off-the-cuff speech on redistribution at a supporter’s home in Andover, Massachusetts, which went viral in September 2011? “I hear all this, you know, ‘Well, this is class warfare, this is whatever,’” she told her living room audience. “No! There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own. Nobody.”

She continued: “You built a factory out there — good for you! But I want to be clear. You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for. You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate.”

Listen to her comments in full, as more than a million people have on YouTube:

Ask Mitch McConnell if he agrees that Warren is finished. In February 2017, the Democratic senator was in the midst of giving a speech criticizing then-attorney general nominee Jeff Sessions, and reading from a letter by Coretta Scott King, when she was interrupted and then shut down by the Senate majority leader. “She was warned,” he later explained. “She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.” It was a PR disaster for the Republicans, as those last three words became a feminist rallying cry for the anti-Trump resistance, while #LetLizSpeak trended on Twitter.

Watch McConnell trying to silence Warren on the floor of the Senate, as 2.7 million people have on YouTube:

Ask the hosts of CNBC’s “Squawk Box” if they agree that the senior senator from Massachusetts is done. The three of them tried to take down Warren in a live TV interview in July 2013. They failed. Host Brian Sullivan argued that new regulations couldn’t prevent banks from taking risky bets and going bust. “No, that is just wrong!” Warren responded, schooling him on post-New Deal history, as she pointed out that none of the big banks failed in the 50 years after Glass-Steagall was passed.

Hear her explanation in full, and watch her humiliate the CNBC trio, as 2.5 million people on YouTube have:

Ask former Wells Fargo chief executive John Stumpf if he agrees that Warren is down and out. “What have you actually done to hold yourself accountable?” she asked the stuttering bank boss, as he testified in front of the Senate Banking Committee in September 2016. “Have you resigned as CEO or chairman of Wells Fargo? … Have you returned one nickel of the millions of dollars that you were paid while this scam was going on? … I will take that as a ‘no’ then.”

It was a bravura performance. She “tore him a new Stumpf-hole,” joked late-night host Stephen Colbert. Watch her smackdown of Stumpf, as 1.7 million people have on YouTube:

Are we supposed to believe that these viral videos of Warren in action, bashing bankers and ridiculing Republicans, are all irrelevant now because of a single, misguided, five-and-a-half minute video about her ancestry? Or that her longstanding campaigns for fairer taxation and better regulation, or her ferocious attacks on racial and income inequality, should take a back seat to this row over her Native American heritage? Seriously?

Did I mention that there is a white nationalist sitting in the White House, with an unmatched record of presidential corruption and criminality? Can we focus? Please?

This is one of the few Democratic senators who needs no encouragement to take the fight to Republican politicians, or greedy bankers, or right-wing pundits. This is a white liberal who isn’t afraid to call the criminal justice system “racist” from “front to back,” or demand action against “the lingering effects of housing discrimination,” or highlight “the staggering gap of wealth between white communities and communities of color.”

To be clear: I am not endorsing Elizabeth Warren for president or saying that she is the perfect person to battle Donald Trump in 2020. The DNA test was a worrying misjudgment; a self-inflicted wound. She still lacks people of color in her inner circle. Her recent foreign policy address, while a step in the right direction, was nowhere near as radical as Bernie Sanders’s speech on U.S. foreign policy in 2017. And, unlike the socialist senator from Vermont, Warren is a proud capitalist who continues to believe “in markets right down to my toes.”

But it would be a mistake to write her off when the Iowa caucuses are still 14 months out and the presidential election itself is almost two years away. And while I understand why the right wants to engage in racist attacks about her ancestry, and misogynistic attacks about her being “schoolmarmy” or “screechy,” it is sheer madness for progressives to join in the trashing of a senator who — with the exception of Sanders — has done more than any other politician to shift the Democratic Party to the left in recent years. Why would anyone interested in justice or equality want to undermine or diminish her voice? Do they really need to go back and watch all those videos again?

In fact, I suspect most progressives will be energized by her campaign once she formally declares and begins addressing rallies in Iowa and New Hampshire. Flush with cash, Warren will be one of the more impressive and idealistic Democratic candidates come 2020 — with a better stump speech than Joe Biden, a more progressive platform than Beto O’Rourke, and a stronger critique of Wall Street than Kamala Harris and Cory Booker combined.

My advice to her Republican opponents, Democratic rivals, and media critics: Write off Elizabeth Warren at your peril.

The post Elizabeth Warren Has a Track Record of Taking on the Rich and Powerful. Don’t Write Her Off for 2020. appeared first on The Intercept.

WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 17: White House Chief of Staff John Kelly listens as U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during the inaugural meeting of the Presidents National Council for the American Worker in the Roosevelt Room of the White House on September 17, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Oliver Contreras - Pool/Getty Images)
December 9, 2018

John Kelly Was a Bully, Bigot, and Liar for Trump. Goodbye and Good Ri...

WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 17: White House Chief of Staff John Kelly listens as U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during the inaugural meeting of the Presidents National Council for the American Worker in the Roosevelt Room of the White House on September 17, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Oliver Contreras - Pool/Getty Images)

White House Chief of Staff John Kelly listens as President Donald Trump speaks during the inaugural meeting of the President’s National Council for the American Worker at the White House on Sept. 17, 2018.

Photo: Oliver Contreras, Pool/Getty Images

Goodbye, John Kelly.

The president’s chief of staff is heading for the White House exit. “John Kelly will be leaving,” Donald Trump confirmed to reporters on Saturday. “I don’t know if I can say ‘retiring,’ but he’s a great guy.”

This “great guy” will leave behind an administration mired in scandal, chaos and corruption; a president perhaps even more reckless and lawless today than he was when Kelly arrived for work at the West Wing on the morning of July 31, 2017.

That was a period in which political pundits and correspondents also believed the retired four-star general to be a “great guy.” Remember how his appointment, as replacement for the hapless Republican operative Reince Preibus, was greeted by the liberal press? Kelly, we were told, would be the “adult in the room”; he would rein in a brash and belligerent commander-in-chief.

The New York Times called the former Marine commander a “beacon of discipline” who would be “unafraid to challenge” the president. The Washington Post said he would “bring some plain-spoken discipline to an often chaotic West Wing.” Axios listed him as a key member of the “Committee to Save America.” Then there was my favorite headline, from Bloomberg News, on August 6, 2017: “New Chief of Staff Kelly Moves Quickly to Tame Trump’s Tweets.” (How did that work out?)

It was all a bunch of nonsense from lazy reporters and commentators who should have known better. Kelly, lest we forget, arrived at the White House from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), where he had quickly and proudly built a reputation “as one of the most aggressive enforcers of immigration law in recent American history,” to quote from a scathing evaluation of his six-month tenure in charge of DHS by the New Yorker’s Jonathan Blitzer. On Kelly’s watch, wrote Blitzer, “immigration arrests in the U.S. increased by forty per cent and DHS became one of the few branches of the federal government that has been both willing and able to execute Trump’s policy priorities.”

In March 2017, while defending Trump’s ‘Muslim ban’, Kelly had threatened to walk out of a meeting with Arab-American and Latino groups in Michigan. In April 2017, in a speech in Washington D.C., the DHS Secretary had told members of Congress to either change the country’s immigration laws or “shut up and support the men and women on the front lines.” In May 2017, at a Coast Guard ceremony, the retired general was caught on a hot mic telling Trump, who was holding a ceremonial sword, that he should “use that on the press, sir.”

So why did anyone with functioning eyes or ears assume he would do anything different at the White House? Why did political and media elites pretend he would be a sober and moderate figure, a check or restraint on the president, rather than Trump’s nasty and brutish mini-me?

How else are we supposed to describe his gaffe-laden, controversy-filled 17 months in charge? This was a chief of staff who told Fox News that “the lack of the ability to compromise led to the Civil War,” while praising the pro-slavery Confederate general Robert E. Lee as an “honorable man”; who protected and promoted White House staff secretary Rob Porter — a man accused of domestic abuse by both of his ex-wives — and described him as a man of “true integrity and honor, and I can’t say enough good things about him”; who repeatedly misled the press about what he knew about Porter and when he knew it, which led to one of his White House colleagues calling him a “big fat liar”; who claimed the “vast majority” of undocumented immigrants “don’t integrate well” and “don’t have skills”; who described immigrants who were eligible for DACA but had failed to apply for it as “too lazy to get off their asses”; who said he wanted to reduce the number of refugees admitted into the United States to “between zero and one”; who defended the separation of migrant children from their parents on the grounds that the kids would be “put into foster care or whatever” and bragged that the “big name of the game is deterrence”; who signed a “Cabinet order” authorizing the (potentially illegal) use of lethal force by troops at the border; who lamented that women were no longer treated as “sacred and looked upon with great honor” but who was also accused of suggesting women were more emotional than men; who breached security protocols by firing White House aide Omarosa Manigault in the Situation Room and threatening her in the process; who boasted to Manigault on a secret recording that everyone in the White House “works for me and not the president”; who made a series of false accusations against black member of Congress, Frederica Wilson, and then swore he would “never apologize” for lying about her; and who shamelessly allowed Trump to use his dead son to attack former President Barack Obama.

Yes, he was quoted calling the president “an idiot” multiple times, according to NBC News; yes, he was quoted by journalist Bob Woodward describing the Trump White House as “Crazytown”; yes, he publicly undermined the president by suggesting Trump had “evolved” on the issue of a border wall (spoiler alert: Trump hadn’t). So, yes, not unsurprisingly, all of this annoyed and upset Kelly’s thin-skinned master in the Oval Office, who — with the encouragement of his daughter  — finally gave the retired general the big heave-ho over the weekend.

But let’s be clear: Kelly was never a “great guy”; never the “adult in the room.” He was a bully, a bigot and a liar; as racist and reactionary as his soon-to-be former boss. He was an enabler of Trump’s worst crimes and abuses — from the “unconstitutional” appointment of his crony Matthew Whitaker as acting attorney general, to the abduction of children at the U.S.-Mexico border, to the fake furor over the migrant “caravan.”

The truth is that this once-distinguished military man should never have been appointed to the top political job in the White House — and deserves to have been fired from it long ago.

So goodbye, John Kelly. And good riddance.

The post John Kelly Was a Bully, Bigot, and Liar for Trump. Goodbye and Good Riddance. appeared first on The Intercept.

WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 17: White House Chief of Staff John Kelly listens as U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during the inaugural meeting of the Presidents National Council for the American Worker in the Roosevelt Room of the White House on September 17, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Oliver Contreras - Pool/Getty Images)
December 9, 2018

John Kelly Was a Bully, Bigot, and Liar for Trump. Goodbye and Good Ri...

WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 17: White House Chief of Staff John Kelly listens as U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during the inaugural meeting of the Presidents National Council for the American Worker in the Roosevelt Room of the White House on September 17, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Oliver Contreras - Pool/Getty Images)

White House Chief of Staff John Kelly listens as President Donald Trump speaks during the inaugural meeting of the President’s National Council for the American Worker at the White House on Sept. 17, 2018.

Photo: Oliver Contreras, Pool/Getty Images

Goodbye, John Kelly.

The president’s chief of staff is heading for the White House exit. “John Kelly will be leaving,” Donald Trump confirmed to reporters on Saturday. “I don’t know if I can say ‘retiring,’ but he’s a great guy.”

This “great guy” will leave behind an administration mired in scandal, chaos and corruption; a president perhaps even more reckless and lawless today than he was when Kelly arrived for work at the West Wing on the morning of July 31, 2017.

That was a period in which political pundits and correspondents also believed the retired four-star general to be a “great guy.” Remember how his appointment, as replacement for the hapless Republican operative Reince Preibus, was greeted by the liberal press? Kelly, we were told, would be the “adult in the room”; he would rein in a brash and belligerent commander-in-chief.

The New York Times called the former Marine commander a “beacon of discipline” who would be “unafraid to challenge” the president. The Washington Post said he would “bring some plain-spoken discipline to an often chaotic West Wing.” Axios listed him as a key member of the “Committee to Save America.” Then there was my favorite headline, from Bloomberg News, on August 6, 2017: “New Chief of Staff Kelly Moves Quickly to Tame Trump’s Tweets.” (How did that work out?)

It was all a bunch of nonsense from lazy reporters and commentators who should have known better. Kelly, lest we forget, arrived at the White House from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), where he had quickly and proudly built a reputation “as one of the most aggressive enforcers of immigration law in recent American history,” to quote from a scathing evaluation of his six-month tenure in charge of DHS by the New Yorker’s Jonathan Blitzer. On Kelly’s watch, wrote Blitzer, “immigration arrests in the U.S. increased by forty per cent and DHS became one of the few branches of the federal government that has been both willing and able to execute Trump’s policy priorities.”

In March 2017, while defending Trump’s ‘Muslim ban’, Kelly had threatened to walk out of a meeting with Arab-American and Latino groups in Michigan. In April 2017, in a speech in Washington D.C., the DHS Secretary had told members of Congress to either change the country’s immigration laws or “shut up and support the men and women on the front lines.” In May 2017, at a Coast Guard ceremony, the retired general was caught on a hot mic telling Trump, who was holding a ceremonial sword, that he should “use that on the press, sir.”

So why did anyone with functioning eyes or ears assume he would do anything different at the White House? Why did political and media elites pretend he would be a sober and moderate figure, a check or restraint on the president, rather than Trump’s nasty and brutish mini-me?

How else are we supposed to describe his gaffe-laden, controversy-filled 17 months in charge? This was a chief of staff who told Fox News that “the lack of the ability to compromise led to the Civil War,” while praising the pro-slavery Confederate general Robert E. Lee as an “honorable man”; who protected and promoted White House staff secretary Rob Porter — a man accused of domestic abuse by both of his ex-wives — and described him as a man of “true integrity and honor, and I can’t say enough good things about him”; who repeatedly misled the press about what he knew about Porter and when he knew it, which led to one of his White House colleagues calling him a “big fat liar”; who claimed the “vast majority” of undocumented immigrants “don’t integrate well” and “don’t have skills”; who described immigrants who were eligible for DACA but had failed to apply for it as “too lazy to get off their asses”; who said he wanted to reduce the number of refugees admitted into the United States to “between zero and one”; who defended the separation of migrant children from their parents on the grounds that the kids would be “put into foster care or whatever” and bragged that the “big name of the game is deterrence”; who signed a “Cabinet order” authorizing the (potentially illegal) use of lethal force by troops at the border; who lamented that women were no longer treated as “sacred and looked upon with great honor” but who was also accused of suggesting women were more emotional than men; who breached security protocols by firing White House aide Omarosa Manigault in the Situation Room and threatening her in the process; who boasted to Manigault on a secret recording that everyone in the White House “works for me and not the president”; who made a series of false accusations against black member of Congress, Frederica Wilson, and then swore he would “never apologize” for lying about her; and who shamelessly allowed Trump to use his dead son to attack former President Barack Obama.

Yes, he was quoted calling the president “an idiot” multiple times, according to NBC News; yes, he was quoted by journalist Bob Woodward describing the Trump White House as “Crazytown”; yes, he publicly undermined the president by suggesting Trump had “evolved” on the issue of a border wall (spoiler alert: Trump hadn’t). So, yes, not unsurprisingly, all of this annoyed and upset Kelly’s thin-skinned master in the Oval Office, who — with the encouragement of his daughter  — finally gave the retired general the big heave-ho over the weekend.

But let’s be clear: Kelly was never a “great guy”; never the “adult in the room.” He was a bully, a bigot and a liar; as racist and reactionary as his soon-to-be former boss. He was an enabler of Trump’s worst crimes and abuses — from the “unconstitutional” appointment of his crony Matthew Whitaker as acting attorney general, to the abduction of children at the U.S.-Mexico border, to the fake furor over the migrant “caravan.”

The truth is that this once-distinguished military man should never have been appointed to the top political job in the White House — and deserves to have been fired from it long ago.

So goodbye, John Kelly. And good riddance.

The post John Kelly Was a Bully, Bigot, and Liar for Trump. Goodbye and Good Riddance. appeared first on The Intercept.

U.S. President George H.W. Bush addresses the nation from the Oval Office, Wednesday, Jan. 16, 1991, after U.S. forces began military action against Iraq, which had invaded Kuwait. (AP Photo/Charles Tasnadi)
December 1, 2018

The Ignored Legacy of George H.W. Bush: War Crimes, Racism, and Obstru...

U.S. President George H.W. Bush addresses the nation from the Oval Office, Wednesday, Jan. 16, 1991, after U.S. forces began military action against Iraq, which had invaded Kuwait. (AP Photo/Charles Tasnadi)

President George H.W. Bush addresses the nation from the Oval Office on Jan. 16, 1991, after U.S. forces began military action against Iraq, code-named Operation Desert Storm.

Photo: Charles Tasnadi/AP

The tributes to former President George H.W. Bush, who died on Friday aged 94, have been pouring in from all sides of the political spectrum. He was a man “of the highest character,” said his eldest son and fellow former president, George W. Bush. “He loved America and served with character, class, and integrity,” tweeted former U.S. Attorney and #resistance icon Preet Bharara. According to another former president, Barack Obama, Bush’s life was “a testament to the notion that public service is a noble, joyous calling. And he did tremendous good along the journey.” Apple boss Tim Cook said: “We have lost a great American.”

In an age of Donald Trump, it isn’t difficult for his hagiographers to paint a picture of the late Bush Sr. as a great patriot and pragmatist; a president who governed with “class” and “integrity.” It is true that the former president refused to vote for Trump in 2016, calling him a “blowhard,” and that he eschewed the white-nationalist, alt-right, conspiratorial politics that has come to define the modern Republican Party. He helped end the Cold War without, as Obama said, “firing a shot.” He spent his life serving his country — from the military to Congress to the United Nations to the CIA to the White House. And, by all accounts, he was also a beloved grandfather and great-grandfather to his 17 grandkids and 8 great-grandkids.

Nevertheless, he was a public not a private figure; one of only 44 men to have ever served as president of the United States. We cannot, therefore, allow his actual record in office to be beautified in such a brazen way. “When a political leader dies, it is irresponsible in the extreme to demand that only praise be permitted but not criticisms,” as my colleague Glenn Greenwald has argued, because it leads to “false history and a propagandistic whitewashing of bad acts.” The inconvenient truth is that the presidency of George Herbert Walker Bush had far more in common with the recognizably belligerent, corrupt and right-wing Republican figures who came after him — his son George W. and the current orange-faced incumbent — than much of the political and media classes might have you believe.

Consider:

He ran a racist election campaign. The name of Willie Horton should forever be associated with Bush’s 1988 presidential bid. Horton, who was serving a life sentence for murder in Massachusetts — where Bush’s Democratic opponent, Michael Dukakis, was governor —  had fled a weekend furlough program and raped a Maryland woman. A notorious television ad called “Weekend Passes,“released by a political action committee with ties to the Bush campaign, made clear to viewers that Horton was black and his victim was white.

As Bush campaign director Lee Atwater bragged, “By the time we’re finished, they’re going to wonder whether Willie Horton is Dukakis’ running mate.” Bush himself was quick to dismiss accusations of racism as “absolutely ridiculous” yet it was clear at the time, even to right-wing Republicans operatives such as Roger Stone, now a close ally of Trump, that the ad had crossed a line. “You and George Bush will wear that to your grave,” Stone complained to Atwater. “It’s a racist ad… You’re going to regret it.”

Stone was right about Atwater, who on his deathbed apologized for using Horton against Dukakis. But Bush never did.

He made a dishonest case for war. Thirteen years before George W. Bush lied about weapons of mass destruction to justify his invasion and occupation of Iraq, his father made his own set of false claims to justify the aerial bombardment of that same country. The first Gulf War, as an investigation by journalist Joshua Keating concluded, “was sold on a mountain of war propaganda.”

For a start, Bush told the American public that Iraq had invaded Kuwait “without provocation or warning.” What he omitted to mention was that the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, April Glaspie, had given an effective green light to Saddam Hussein, telling him in July 1990, a week before his invasion, “[W]e have no opinion on the Arab-Arab conflicts, like your border disagreement with Kuwait.”

Then there is the fabrication of intelligence. Bush deployed U.S. troops to the Gulf in August 1990 and claimed he was doing so in order “to assist the Saudi Arabian Government in the defense of its homeland.” As Scott Peterson wrote  in the Christian Science Monitor in 2002, “Citing top-secret satellite images, Pentagon officials estimated… that up to 250,000 Iraqi troops and 1,500 tanks stood on the border, threatening the key US oil supplier.”

Yet when reporter Jean Heller of the St. Petersburg Times acquired her own commercial satellite images of the Saudi border, she found no signs of Iraqi forces; only an empty desert. “It was a pretty serious fib,” Heller told Peterson, adding: “That [Iraqi buildup] was the whole justification for Bush sending troops in there, and it just didn’t exist.”

U.S. President George H. Bush talks with Secretary of State James Baker III and Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney during a meeting of the cabinet in the White House, Thursday, Jan. 17, 1991 in Washington to discuss the Iraqi war. (AP Photo/Ron Edmonds)

President George H. W. Bush talks with Secretary of State James Baker III and Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney during a meeting of the cabinet in the White House on Jan. 17, 1991 to discuss the Persian Gulf war.

Photo: Ron Edmonds/AP

He committed war crimes. Under Bush Sr., the U.S. dropped a whopping 88,500 tons of bombs on Iraq and Iraqi-occupied Kuwait, many of which resulted in horrific civilian casualties. In February 1991, for example, a U.S. airstrike on an air-raid shelter in the Amiriyah neighborhood of Baghdad killed at least 408 Iraqi civilians. According to Human Rights Watch, the Pentagon knew the Amiriyah facility had been used as a civil-defense shelter during the Iran-Iraq war and yet had attacked without warning. It was, concluded HRW, “a serious violation of the laws of war.”

U.S. bombs also destroyed essential Iraqi civilian infrastructure — from electricity-generating and water-treatment facilities to food-processing plants and flour mills. This was no accident. As Barton Gellman of the Washington Post reported in June 1991: “Some targets, especially late in the war, were bombed primarily to create postwar leverage over Iraq, not to influence the course of the conflict itself. Planners now say their intent was to destroy or damage valuable facilities that Baghdad could not repair without foreign assistance…Because of these goals, damage to civilian structures and interests, invariably described by briefers during the war as ‘collateral’ and unintended, was sometimes neither.”

Got that? The Bush administration deliberately targeted civilian infrastructure for “leverage” over Saddam Hussein. How is this not terrorism? As a Harvard public health team concluded in June 1991, less than four months after the end of the war, the destruction of Iraqi infrastructure had resulted in acute malnutrition and “epidemic” levels of cholera and typhoid.

By January 1992, Beth Osborne Daponte, a demographer with the U.S. Census Bureau, was estimating that Bush’s Gulf War had caused the deaths of 158,000 Iraqis, including 13,000 immediate civilian deaths and 70,000 deaths from the damage done to electricity and sewage treatment plants. Daponte’s numbers contradicted the Bush administration’s and she was threatened by her superiors with dismissal for releasing “false information.” (Sound familiar?)

He refused to cooperate with a special counsel. The Iran-Contra affair, in which the United States traded missiles for Americans hostages in Iran, and used the proceeds of those arms sales to fund Contra rebels in Nicaragua, did much to undermine the presidency of Ronald Reagan. Yet his vice president’s involvement in that controversial affair has garnered far less attention. “The criminal investigation of Bush was regrettably incomplete,” wrote Special Counsel Lawrence Walsh, a former deputy attorney general in the Eisenhower administration, in his final report on the Iran-Contra affair in August 1993.

Why? Because Bush, who was “fully aware of the Iran arms sale,” according to the special counsel, failed to hand over a diary “containing contemporaneous notes relevant to Iran/contra” and refused to be interviewed in the later stages of the investigation. In the final days of his presidency, Bush even issued pardons to six defendants in the Iran-Contra affair, including former Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger — on the eve of Weinberger’s trial for perjury and obstruction of justice. “The Weinberger pardon,” Walsh pointedly noted, “marked the first time a president ever pardoned someone in whose trial he might have been called as a witness, because the president was knowledgeable of factual events underlying the case.” An angry Walsh accused Bush of “misconduct” and helping to complete “the Iran-contra cover-up”.

Sounds like a Trumpian case of obstruction of justice, doesn’t it?

A U.S. marshal, left, looking for a suspect, shows a mug shot to a man found allegedly using drugs in a crackhouse, according to police, in Washington, D.C., July 18, 1989. This scene, and many like it, were repeated many times during operation STOP: Street Terror Offender Program. Some 456 fugitives were arrested as a result of the eight-week anti-drug program, which is part of President George H.W. Bush's War on Drugs. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

A U.S. marshal, left, looking for a suspect, shows a mug shot to a man found allegedly using drugs in a crackhouse, according to police, in Washington, D.C., on July 18, 1989. The police raid was part of President George H.W. Bush’s war on drugs.

Photo: J. Scott Applewhite/AP

He escalated the racist war on drugs. In September 1989, in a televised address to the nation from the Oval Office, Bush held up a bag of crack cocaine which he said had been “seized a few days ago in a park across the street from the White House . . . . It could easily have been heroin or PCP.”

Yet a Washington Post investigation later that month revealed that federal agents had “lured” the drug dealer to Lafayette Park so they could make an “undercover crack buy in a park better known for its location across Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House than for illegal drug activity” (the dealer didn’t know where the White House was and even asked the agents for directions). Bush cynically used this prop — the bag of crack — to call for a $1.5 billion increase in spending on the drug war, declaiming: “We need more prisons, more jails, more courts, more prosecutors.”

The result? “Millions of Americans were incarcerated, hundreds of billions of dollars wasted, and hundreds of thousands of human beings allowed to die of AIDS – all in the name of a ‘war on drugs’ that did nothing to reduce drug abuse,” pointed out Ethan Nadelmann, founder of the Drug Policy Alliance, in 2014. Bush, he argued, “put ideology and politics above science and health.” Today, even leading Republicans, such as Chris Christie and Rand Paul, agree that the war on drugs, ramped up by Bush during his four years in the White House, has been a dismal and racist failure.

He groped women. Since the start of the #MeToo movement, in late 2017, at least 8 different women have come forward with claims that the former president groped them; in most cases, while they were posing for photos with him. One of them, Roslyn Corrigan, told Time magazine that Bush touched her inappropriately in 2003, when she was just 16. “I was a child,” she said. The former president was 79. Bush’s spokesman offered this defense of his boss in October 2017: “At age 93, President Bush has been confined to a wheelchair for roughly five years, so his arm falls on the lower waist of people with whom he takes pictures.” Yet, as Time noted, “Bush was standing upright in 2003 when he met Corrigan.”

Facts matter. The 41st president of the United States was not the last Republican moderate or a throwback to an imagined age of conservative decency and civility; he engaged in race baiting, obstruction of justice, and war crimes. He had much more in common with the two Republican presidents who came after him than his current crop of fans would like us to believe.

The post The Ignored Legacy of George H.W. Bush: War Crimes, Racism, and Obstruction of Justice appeared first on The Intercept.

New York congressional candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez participates in a a town hall held in support of Kerri Evelyn Harris, Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate in Delaware, Friday, Aug. 31, 2018, at the University of Delaware in Newark, Del. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
November 20, 2018

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Can’t Run for President in 2020. Trump Shou...

New York congressional candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez participates in a a town hall held in support of Kerri Evelyn Harris, Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate in Delaware, Friday, Aug. 31, 2018, at the University of Delaware in Newark, Del. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Then-New York congressional candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez participates in a a town hall held in support of Kerri Evelyn Harris, Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate in Delaware, on Aug. 31, 2018, in Newark, Del.

Photo: Patrick Semansky/AP

The midterms are over and the race for 2020 is in full swing.

There’s one name missing from the long lists of runners and riders on the Democratic side: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

There are a number of reasons for this, perhaps the most obvious being that Ocasio-Cortez is 29 years old. That means the new member of the House from New York’s 14th Congressional District is constitutionally barred from running for the office of president until 2024. Article II, Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution says:

No person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.

But the U.S. Constitution, an impressive and inspiring document in many ways, is far from perfect. Think slavery. Or guns. Or the electoral college.

The age requirement for the presidency is another such oddity. There is no rhyme or reason to it. In order to be president, says the Constitution, you have to be 35; but to be a senator you only have to be 30, and to be a member of the House you can be as young as 25. The Supreme Court, meanwhile, has no age minimums or maximums.

“At the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, there was little public debate about the age requirements and no discussion about the age requirement for the presidency,” noted the National Constitution Center’s Scott Bomboy in 2016.

Bomboy, though, cites Founding Father George Mason defending the requirement of an age minimum of 25 for the House because, he said, “his political opinions at the age of 21 were too crude and erroneous to merit an influence on public measures.” And Bomboy quotes Constitutional Congress member Tench Coxe later defending the 35-year-old age minimum on the grounds that the president “cannot be an idiot.” In a similar vein, early Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story argued that the “character and talent” of a middle-aged person are “fully developed,” and such persons are more likely to have experienced “public service” and to have served “in the public councils.”

Fast forward to 2018: Do any of these arguments still hold water in an age of Donald Trump? Is the current president, elected in November 2016, at age 70, not an “idiot”? Did his seven decades on the planet give him any experience whatsoever with “public office” or “public councils”? Are we expected to believe his opinions now are any less “crude or erroneous” than Mason’s were at 21?

The presidential age requirement of 35 is ridiculous and arbitrary. “Ironically, 12 of the delegates at the Constitution Convention were under the age of 35, including Alexander Hamilton,” observed Bomboy, while Thomas Jefferson was “33 years of age when he drafted the Declaration of Independence in 1776.”

But back to Ocasio-Cortez. Am I wrong to suggest that, pesky constitutional obstacles aside, she might make a strong contender for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination? Is it a completely crazy idea?

Perhaps it is. She has yet to prove herself as a legislator, let alone as a leader. She has shown astonishing potential, yes, but does not yet have a demonstrable track record of delivery or success. She may even make some glaring errors of judgement in Congress during the coming months and years.

But is it that crazy? The undeniable fact is that Ocasio-Cortez has been the rock star of the political left since she pulled off her shock defeat of 10-term incumbent Joseph Crowley in the Democratic primary in June. Her name recognition has since gone through the roof. This past week, she took the nation’s capital by storm, joining a protest on climate change inside the office of (soon-to-be-speaker?) Nancy Pelosi, rallying support for a “Green New Deal” select committee, and pledging support for primary challenges against incumbent Democrats. The New York Times referred to her “noisy Washington debut” and her “uncanny knack for grabbing the spotlight.”

She has also put the fear of God into conservative media. They have obsessed over her clothes, her housing, her policy positions, and the occasional gaffe. And the result? “Conservative obsession with attacking Ocasio-Cortez is keeping her in the news 24/7 and only making her stronger,” my colleague Murtaza Hussain observed on Twitter, only half in jest. “They’re going to make the [same] mistake as the libs did with Trump and end up making her president.”

Remember: Politicians, and the pundits who cover politicians, want to pretend there is some sort of scientific method or formula for dispassionately determining which candidates are best-placed to run for the White House every four years. But there is no science and no formula. Sometimes it’s just sheer luck: being in the right place at the right time. For example, Barack Obama might not have made it to the White House in 2008 had he not been plucked from semi-obscurity by John Kerry four years earlier to give the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention — where he then delivered a barnstormer of a speech.

On November 3, 2004, the morning after his election to the U.S. Senate, as his biographer David Remnick recalls in “The Bridge,” Obama “woke to answer questions about his prospects for running for President of the United States.” But ask yourself this: At that particular moment in time, what were the 43-year-old’s qualifications for the highest office in the land? Seven years as a member of the Illinois state Senate? A single speech?

Experience is important — but it does seem to be selectively deployed as a critique of certain candidates over others. Plenty of governors and mayors planning on throwing their hats in the 2020 ring have far more legislative or executive experience than Ocasio-Cortez, but have little or no experience with foreign policy or national security. Experience also matters much less than it once did. Whisper it quietly, but the current occupant of the White House ran for, and won, the presidency despite having zero experience with elected office, public service, or international affairs. The 45th president of the United States is a former reality TV star and property developer who struggled to tell the difference between the the Kurds and the Quds force. Even today, White House staff continue to treat Trump like the petulant man-child that he is.

So why not an Ocasio-Cortez presidential bid? In 2024 maybe, given that 2020 is (constitutionally) off the table? We know she wants the job. “Her aspiration is to be the president,” her mother, Blanca, told the New York Post.

But she’d still be so young! Conservative Sebastian Kurz was elected chancellor of Austria in 2017, at age 31. Liberal Jacinda Ardern was elected prime minister of New Zealand in 2017, at age 37. Both countries were included in a recent list of the “17 best-governed countries in the world.” The United States didn’t make the list. 

But she’s a socialist! Bernie Sanders is a socialist, and he won 23 contests and 13 million votes during the 2016 Democratic presidential primaries. On the eve of the presidential election, a private poll suggested that Sanders would have beaten Trump by a margin of 12 percentage points.

But she’ll get attacked! Have you seen how she handles her conservative critics online? She has dunked on Ben Shapiro, fact-checked John Cardillo, shamed Ron DeSantis, and mocked Sean Hannity in a series of viral tweets. She has “the best comebacks on Twitter,” as one headline put it. The advantage that Ocasio-Cortez has over her fellow under-fire Democrats is that she looks and sounds like a very normal person and comes across as both relatable and genuine. She is as comfortable discussing mac-and-cheese as she is discussing “Medicare for All.”

I have been a journalist for nearly 20 years and a political commentator for nearly 10. I have covered national politics on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. I can safely say that, with the exception perhaps of Barack Obama, I have never before seen a politician come out of nowhere to energize, enthuse, and inspire millions of people in such a phenomenally short space of time in the way that Ocasio-Cortez has over the past few months. And unlike Obama, Ocasio-Cortez has done so while challenging conventional wisdoms and going on the offensive against a lazy neoliberal consensus. She hasn’t pulled any punches.

Imagine if she could run against Trump in 2020. Just imagine the contrast: the young, working-class woman of color, eloquent and dynamic, self-made and self-confident; versus the elderly white property mogul, born with a silver shovel in his mouth, consumed by petty grievances, and unable to string together coherent sentences, let alone policies.

Above all else, imagine the media coverage. “I’m going to suck all the oxygen out of the room,” Trump told a group of political consultants back in 2013. “I know how to work the media in a way that they will never take the lights off of me.”

That’s exactly what he did against the wonkish and lackluster Hillary Clinton in 2016. And he might do it again in 2020, against a Joe Biden or an Amy Klobuchar. Ocasio-Cortez, however, has proved that she could be a match for Trump in the oxygen-sucking department.

In a recent and fascinating thread on Twitter, Clinton’s former press secretary Brian Fallon summed up the myriad challenges for Trump’s 2020 Democratic opponent while offering some unexpected advice for his party:

 

 

 

Guess which Democrat matches that description better than any other?

Alexandria. Ocasio. Cortez.

Damn you, Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution.

The post Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Can’t Run for President in 2020. Trump Should Be Relieved. appeared first on The Intercept.

November 17, 2018

What Republican Senators Said About Impeaching Bill Clinton vs. Donald...

President Donald Trump says special counsel Robert Mueller is engaged in a “total witch hunt.” Top Republican senators, including Mitch McConnell and Lindsey Graham, seem to agree with him. In recent months, they have defended Trump from accusations of obstruction of justice and other crimes; dismissed the prospect of impeachment; and demanded Mueller bring his investigation to a close.

But guess what? Those very same Republican senators were obsessed with obstruction of justice and defending the special counsel back in the late 1990s. That, of course, was when the president’s name was William Jefferson Clinton, not Donald John Trump.

In this video, I compare and contrast the way in which those Republican senators approached Clinton’s impeachment crisis with how they are now treating Trump and the Russia investigation.

The post What Republican Senators Said About Impeaching Bill Clinton vs. Donald Trump appeared first on The Intercept.

WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 14:  U.S. Senate Minority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) speaks to members of the media as (L-R) Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Senate Minority Whip Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL), Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) look on after a leadership election November 18, 2018 at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC. Sen. Schumer has been re-elected to be the Senate Democratic leader.  (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
November 16, 2018

Chuck Schumer Caved to Facebook and Donald Trump. He Shouldn’t Lead ...

WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 14:  U.S. Senate Minority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) speaks to members of the media as (L-R) Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Senate Minority Whip Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL), Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) look on after a leadership election November 18, 2018 at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC. Sen. Schumer has been re-elected to be the Senate Democratic leader.  (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Senate Minority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., speaks to members of the media in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 14, 2018.

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

It wasn’t Donald Trump who said he opposed the nuclear deal with Iran because “we will be worse off with this agreement than without it,” while lying about the contents of that deal.

It wasn’t Mike Pence who said that “since the Palestinians in Gaza elected Hamas … to strangle them economically until they see that’s not the way to go makes sense.”

It wasn’t John Bolton who voted for the illegal invasion of Iraq in 2002, saying that Saddam Hussein was engaged in a “vigorous pursuit of biological, chemical, and nuclear weapons.”

It wasn’t Mike Pompeo who said, “It’s easy to sit back in the armchair and say that torture can never be used. But when you’re in the foxhole, it’s a very different deal.”

It wasn’t Stephen Miller who responded to the 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris by suggesting “a pause may be necessary” in the resettlement of Syrian refugees in the United States.

It wasn’t Betsy DeVos who joined a group of finance industry executives for breakfast only a few weeks after the 2008 financial crash and told them, “We are not going to be a bunch of crazy, anti-business liberals.”

Forget the hawks, blowhards, and kakistocrats of the Trump administration. You know who made all these statements? It was Chuck Schumer.

Yes, the fourth-term Democratic senator from New York has a long history of making really right-wing and rancid remarks. Yet on Wednesday morning, Schumer was re-elected as minority leader by acclamation in a closed-door meeting of Senate Democrats. They didn’t even bother to vote on it.

By Wednesday evening, though, the New York Times had published a blockbuster investigation into Facebook, which reminded us how Schumer, in the words of my colleague Glenn Greenwald, “has long been the embodiment of everything sleazy, legally corrupt, corporatist and craven in Washington.”

What did the Times say about the newly re-elected Senate minority leader?

In at least one instance, the company also relied on Mr. Schumer, the New York senator and Senate Democratic leader. He has long worked to advance Silicon Valley’s interests on issues such as commercial drone regulations and patent reform. During the 2016 election cycle, he raised more money from Facebook employees than any other member of Congress, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Mr. Schumer also has a personal connection to Facebook: His daughter Alison joined the firm out of college and is now a marketing manager in Facebook’s New York office, according to her LinkedIn profile.

In July, as Facebook’s troubles threatened to cost the company billions of dollars in market value, Mr. Schumer confronted [Sen. Mark] Warner, by then Facebook’s most insistent inquisitor in Congress.

Back off, he told Mr. Warner, according to a Facebook employee briefed on Mr. Schumer’s intervention. Mr. Warner should be looking for ways to work with Facebook, Mr. Schumer advised, not harm it. Facebook lobbyists were kept abreast of Mr. Schumer’s efforts to protect the company, according to the employee.

To be clear: The leader of the Senate Democrats tried to bully a fellow Democratic senator to “back off” from investigating a company where his daughter works and which gives him more money than any other member of Congress. Why isn’t this a bigger story? How is this not a resigning issue?

Remember, there are, as of right now, 47 elected Senate Democrats. Almost any of them — with the glaring exception of the pretend-Democrat Joe Manchin of West Virginia — would do a better job of leading the party than Schumer.

As I argued earlier this week, the next two years in U.S. politics will be a 24/7 battle for the future of American democracy; a relentless fight against fascism, racism, and white nationalism. Are we really expected to believe that Schumer will be the leader of the #Resistance in the Senate ? Don’t make me laugh.

In January 2017, Trump nominated the hawkish Mike Pompeo, who has ties to a far-right network of Islamophobes, to serve as director of the CIA. Schumer’s response? He voted in favor of Pompeo.

In April 2017 and then again in April 2018, Trump launched airstrikes against the Assad regime in Syria. Schumer’s response? He backed both sets of strikes, calling the first “the right thing to do” and the second “appropriate.”

In February 2018, Trump signed off “on the biggest budget the Pentagon has ever seen: $700 billion.” Schumer’s response? “We fully support President Trump’s Defense Department’s request,” his office announced.

In May 2018, Trump moved the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, in defiance of the international community. Schumer’s response? “In a long overdue move, we have moved our embassy to Jerusalem,” he declared, adding: “I applaud President Trump for doing it.”

In August 2018, prior to the Supreme Court confirmation hearings, Trump nominated a bunch of new judges to fill vacancies in a number of federal district courts. Schumer’s response? As Vox reported, the Senate minority leader “reached an agreement late Tuesday with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to fast-track the confirmations of 15 Trump-nominated judicial picks.”

In October 2018, a Trump supporter sent a pipe bomb in the mail to George Soros, a billionaire donor to liberal causes. The California office of House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy was vandalized a couple of days earlier. Schumer’s response to these incidents? He tweeted:

Make no mistake: Despicable acts of violence and harassment are being carried out by radicals across the political spectrum—not just by one side. Regardless of who is responsible, these acts are wrong and must be condemned by Democrats and Republicans alike. Period.

To be clear, property damage is not the moral equivalent of an assassination attempt. Trump supporters have carried out a long list of terrorist attacks — incited or inspired, on multiple occasions, by the president himself.

Schumer’s craven response? Both sides!

This isn’t resistance; this is collaboration. The Senate minority leader is a cautious and conservative politician who prefers to make deals, not noise. He avoids confrontation and likes to schmooze Republican friends while in the Senate gym. He is, to quote from the headline of a New York Times profile published a few months after the financial crash, a “champion of Wall Street.”

For the corrupt and lawless Trump, having his old friend Schumer — to whom he has donated thousands of dollars — in charge of the Senate Democrats is a blessing. Schumer is bent on negotiating with this president, whether over immigration reform or infrastructure. That Trump can’t be trusted, or that Trump is leading a white nationalist movement from the White House, doesn’t seem to bother him. As one of the young organizers of a November 2016 protest at the Senate office of the minority leader told the Village Voice: “What’s really dangerous about Chuck Schumer and the Democratic leadership is they don’t understand the stakes of what’s happening in this country.”

“Dangerous” is the correct word. Schumer has voted in favor of Trump cabinet appointees and Trump judicial appointees. He has downplayed the threat posed by the more deranged members of the Trump base by equating it to nonviolent protests from the left. And he refuses to talk impeachment.

So what happens if the president, in a desperate attempt to deflect from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s final report or a future recession, decides to do something crazy? To start, say, a war with Iran? Do you think the senator from New York, who wrote a blank check for former President George W. Bush in 2002, is going to stand in Trump’s way?

Schumer may have since regretted his vote in favor of the Iraq invasion, but he has never disowned the warped thinking behind it. “Today,” he wrote in “Positively American,” his 2008 book, “I still believe that when our country is under attack the chief executive deserves a degree of latitude. If God forbid, we were attacked again, I could well vote to give it to a future president, Democrat or Republican.”

Deferential. Cowardly. Feckless. Craven. Corrupt. Complicit. Pick your own combination of words to describe Chuck Schumer. The biggest problem we all face is that the Democrats in the upper chamber of Congress have already picked theirs: “Senate minority leader.”

The post Chuck Schumer Caved to Facebook and Donald Trump. He Shouldn’t Lead Senate Democrats. appeared first on The Intercept.