Showing posts with label FBI. Show all posts
Showing posts with label FBI. Show all posts

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

YEMEN AND MONEY



THE ABSURD TIMES






YEMEN: Just think of all the good we do.  (An women can drive now.)


A Critique of Pure Killing
By
Immanuel Cant


The times are indeed absurd.

Waffle-House shot up.  Now this guy had been arrested at the White House recently saying that some pop star was stalking him.  They took his guns away, but returned them to his dad who turned around and gave them back.  The then went to the waffle house, naked, I hear, and killed four and whatever.  Now they want to bring charges against the Dad.  Why they hell didn't they just confiscate the guns in the first place?  Maybe, since we invented the meat grinder, we could invent a gun grinder and just toss the things in there. 

The FBI has told of counseling services for friends of the loved ones and consolations.  Sort of "Cheer up, you still have your second amendment rights and look what we are doing in Yemen."

Toronto some idiot drives a van onto a sidewalk and kills 20, having to weave in and out to avoid cars that tried to block him.  Since he wasn't an Arab, no problem.  Just send your thoughts and prayers.

What has this got to do with Yemen?  Well, Saudi Arabia spent about 20 billion dollars on military hardware from us and so we gave them out blessings.  Even Oprah gushed over the new ruler as he allowed women to drive.  Wow, what a force for progress!  Liberation now.  Meanwhile, they keep on bombing Yemen, mainly weddings, a favorite target, with our help and assistance.

Here are a couple of accounts of Yemen recently.  We must remind you that at one time Obama hailed Yemen as his possible "Model for dealing with terrorism."  I'm certain he never thought it would work out this way.  At least I hope he didn't:

At least 20 people died Sunday when a Saudi-led coalition airstrike hit a wedding party in northern Yemen. Most of the dead were reportedly women and children who were gathered in one of the wedding party tents. The bride was among the dead. Medics and residents said more than 46 others—including 30 children—were also injured. The attack on the Yemeni wedding party was one of at least three airstrikes over the weekend that killed Yemeni civilians. A family of five died in an airstrike in the province of Hajjah. And 20 civilians died on Saturday when fighter jets bombed a bus near the city of Taiz. Earlier this month, U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres said Yemen had become the world's worst humanitarian crisis. We speak to Shireen Al-Adeimi, a Yemeni doctoral candidate at Harvard University.


Transcript
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: At least 20 people died Sunday when a Saudi-led coalition airstrike hit a wedding party in northern Yemen. Most of the dead were reportedly women and children who were gathered in one of the wedding party tents. The bride was among the dead. Medics and residents said more than 46 others, including 30 children, were also injured. Video footage released by the Yemeni TV station Al-Masirah showed a young boy clutching his dead father, who was surrounded by rubble. The boy was shouting, "I swear I won't leave him!"
The attack on the Yemeni wedding party was one of at least three airstrikes over the weekend that killed Yemeni civilians. A family of five died in an airstrike in the province of Hajjah. And 20 civilians died on Saturday when fighter jets bombed a bus near the city of Taiz.
AMY GOODMAN: Meanwhile, Yemen's rebel Houthi movement said senior leader Saleh al-Sammad had been killed in a Saudi-led coalition airstrike last Thursday. The rebel group warned Sammad's killing was a crime that would, quote, "not go unanswered." Sammad is the most senior Houthi official to have been killed since the Western-backed coalition intervened in Yemen in March 2015. More than 15,000 people have died since the Saudi invasion, while U.S.-backed, Saudi-led airstrikes have devastated Yemen's health, water and sanitation systems, sparking a massive cholera outbreak—about a million Yemenis are believed to have cholera—and pushing millions of Yemenis to the brink of starvation. Earlier this month, U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres said Yemen had become the world's worst humanitarian crisis.
SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES: Every 10 minutes, a child under 5 dies of preventable causes. And nearly 3 million children under 5 and pregnant or lactating women are actually malnourished. Nearly half of all children aged between 6 months and 5 years old are chronically malnourished and suffer from stunting, which causes development delays and reduced ability to learn throughout their entire lives.
AMY GOODMAN: To find out more about the situation in Yemen, we're going now to Boston to speak with Shireen Al-Adeimi, a Yemeni doctoral candidate at Harvard University. Her recent piece for In These Times is headlined "Trump Doesn't Care About Civilian Deaths. Just Look at Yemen."
Welcome to Democracy Now!, Shireen. Can you talk about what you understand happened with the Saudi bombing of the Yemeni wedding party, that resulted in at least 20 deaths, many of them women and children? Where did this happen?
SHIREEN AL-ADEIMI: Thanks so much for having me.
And what happened a couple of days ago in Yemen is not unusual. So, this happened in a northern province, in Hajjah, nowhere near the front lines. This, of course, was a civilian wedding. They struck the men's wedding first, the men's wedding party. And then, as rescuers were trying to attend to the injured, they went and, you know, bombed the women's part of the wedding. So this is a double-tap airstrike, that is very common in the Saudi-led war on Yemen.
Thirty-three were reported to have been killed, and several more injured, hundreds—sorry, tens have been injured. And, you know, 30 children are included in this list of people who were injured. This is a wedding. This is supposed to be the happiest day of people's lives. And instead, the bride was killed, the groom injured, and so many more guests ended up killed, as well.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Shireen, for people here who don't understand, since this is a war that Saudi Arabia is waging, how important is the American support, the U.S. support for this war?
SHIREEN AL-ADEIMI: So, starting with the Obama administration and continuing in through the Trump administration, the Saudis have enjoyed extensive support from the U.S. Army. Right from day one, March 26, 2015, when Saudi Arabia began bombing, the U.S. was right alongside, helping them with targeting, with logistics. They help maintain and update their vehicles. And most importantly, the U.S. refuels Saudi jets midair, jets that we've sold to them, jets that—you know, bombs that we've sold to them. But we also help operate them. So, as they're bombing civilian targets in Yemen, the U.S. Army helps refuel those jets midair. So, U.S. support of the Saudis is extensive.
And, you know, U.S. claims that we are there to help them with precision targeting, but the fact of the matter is, is that civilians have beared the brunt of this war. You mentioned 15,000 people have been killed. That's just the number of people who have been killed by airstrikes. We also help them maintain the blockade, that's killed 113,000 children in 2016 and 2017 alone, due to malnutrition and disease, because, you know, water is very limited in the country. Yemen used to import 90 percent of its food, and that's now become very difficult for people to afford or to find. And so, you know, many people are on the brink, but many people have already been killed and have lost their lives, because they just can't find food and water and medicine for preventable diseases like cholera.
AMY GOODMAN: Shireen, can you talk about Mohammed bin Salman, the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, who has overseen the Saudi strikes on Yemen? Can you talk about his recent, what they called, "charm offensive" throughout the United States, from Washington to Houston to Hollywood? Talk about the significance of this. When President Trump met with him at the White House last month, he held up posters of recent Saudi weapons purchases from the U.S. and said, quote, "We make the best equipment in the world."
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Saudi Arabia has been a very great friend and a big purchaser of equipment and lots of other things. … Some of the things that we are now working on—thanks—and that have been ordered and will shortly be started in construction and delivered: THAAD system, $13 billion; the C-130 heli—airplanes, the Hercules, great plane, $3.8 billion; the Bradley vehicles, that's the tanks, $1.2 billion; and the P-8 Poseidons, $1.4 billion. … So, we make the best equipment in the world. There's nobody even close. And Saudi Arabia is buying a lot of this equipment.
AMY GOODMAN: Shireen Al-Adeimi, the posters that President Trump was holding, almost like a high school presentation, was a map of the United States. And as he talked about the weapons, these weapons were sourced to places in the United States, states in the United States. Can you talk about this, human rights groups warning about the weapons that the—the massive arms deal, that may make the United States complicit in war crimes committed in the Saudi-led bombing campaign in Yemen?
SHIREEN AL-ADEIMI: Right. So, of course, Saudi Arabia doesn't manufacture its own weapons. They rely on countries like the U.S. and the U.K. and even Canada to supply them with the weapons needed to wage this incredibly destructive war on a country that really posed no threat to them. So, Yemen doesn't even have an air defense system. They've disabled that. And it's a country that's not even able to defend itself. So, they've been purchasing these weapons, totaling in the hundreds of billions of dollars, simply for the cause—for the sake of trying to assert control and dominance, and trying to win this war that's really unwinnable in Yemen.
But, you know, Trump was being transparent about why Mohammed bin Salman was in the U.S. And reportedly, Mohammed bin Salman was embarrassed by those posters. But Trump, essentially, was saying, "Well, yes, this is the relationship that we have with Saudi Arabia, one that's based on how much they can pay for our services." I mentioned all the logistical training and updating of aircraft and so on. Those total $129 million per month. And so we're making—really, we're making a lot of money. The U.S. is making a lot of money from their relationship with Saudi Arabia. Human rights groups, of course, have warned that these weapons are not being used for any reason other than to target civilians. And countries like Germany and the Netherlands have recently stopped selling weapons to the United Arab Emirates and the Saudi Arabians for this very reason.
But here, you know, Prince Charming, he was—you know, we protested his visit here in Boston at MIT. But places like MIT and Harvard, and people like Oprah and the Clintons and, like you said, President Trump, they've all met with him. And they've all—you know, he went unchallenged when he was doing interviews here in the United States. And he's not just anybody in the Saudi Arabian royal family. He is the architect of this Yemen war. He is the defense minister and crown prince. This war began under his command. And so, this is somebody who has caused extreme suffering in a country. The U.N. says that Yemen is the world's worst humanitarian crisis. He has caused this, and we're helping him perpetuate this, yet he was virtually unchallenged while in the United States.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Shireen, what about—obviously, the United States continues to justify its support under the continuing war on terrorism and also the attempts to hold back supposed Iranian influence on terrorist groups. What about the situation with ISIS and al-Qaeda and other international terrorist groups within Yemen? Could you talk about that, as well, and also the Iran issue?
SHIREEN AL-ADEIMI: Right. So, Congress has said, has declared that the role of the United States in Yemen, in helping Saudi Arabia in this war on Yemen, is not covered under that, you know, under fighting terrorism. So it's unconstitutional. It's unauthorized by Congress.
But like you mentioned, the U.S. is in Yemen on two different fronts. On the one hand, they are trying to target, you know, anybody suspected of being al-Qaeda or ISIS. And that's largely done through drone strikes, that began—or that really escalated under Obama's administration and have continued through Trump's administration. And then, the other front, which is unauthorized by Congress, is this support, this blanket support, of Saudi Arabia in its war on Yemen.
Now, you know, they've mentioned Iran as a cause, as a reason to intervene in Yemen. The fact of the matter is that, you know, there's very little evidence that Iran is interfering in any significant way in Yemen. Like I mentioned, there's a land, air and sea blockade that Saudi Arabia and the United States impose on Yemen. You know, Doctors Without Borders have trouble bringing their personnel, their medicine, their food, their doctors into the country. U.N. ships have trouble bringing food into the country. But we're somehow led to believe that Iran is able to smuggle missiles or other sorts of weapons to Yemen. So, for Yemenis, it's really absurd to think that they're fighting Iran in Yemen. There is no evidence of any Iranian soldiers or any Iranian generals on the ground in Yemen. Of course, the Houthis and Iran have some sort of relationship, but it doesn't—it's very limited, and Iran is not involved in Yemen in the same degree that Saudi Arabia has been claiming.
So, you know, Congress has tried to pull the United States out of Yemen, recognizing that it's unauthorized. Bernie Sanders recently introduced a bill in the Senate called S.J.Res. 54, which was eventually tabled in the Senate. They didn't even vote on it. But that was attempting to extricate the United States out of hostilities in Yemen and by invoking the War Resolutions Act.
AMY GOODMAN: And the significance of the—Yemen's Houthi movement saying that a senior political figure had died in an attack last Thursday, Saleh al-Sammad? Who is al-Sammad?
SHIREEN AL-ADEIMI: So, the Houthis, in partnership with the prior president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, who maintain significant control in Yemen, they formed a political council that governed northern areas that they control. Now, the Houthis control a small portion of land, if you look at the map, but about 80 percent of the population live there. So they still maintain large control over the country, compared to what Saudi Arabia controls, which is, you know, land that they control along with ISIS and al-Qaeda and other groups. So, you know, they formed this political council as a way to govern.
And Sammad was the head of that political council. And so, you know, Saudi Arabia took him out in an airstrike. And there is video posted online yesterday of that attack. It's an assassination, essentially. And I don't know what comes next, you know? Here they are. There's no hope really for a peace process if leaders like that are going to be executed by Saudi Arabia. So, I'm really not sure what comes next.
AMY GOODMAN: Shireen Al-Adeimi, I want to thank you very much for being with us, Yemeni doctoral student at Harvard University. She's been speaking out about the role of the United States in the Saudi-led war in Yemen. We'll link to your piece in In These Times. It's headlined "Trump Doesn't Care About Civilian Deaths. Just Look at Yemen."
This is Democracy Now! 



















On Tuesday, the U.S. Senate rejected a bipartisan resolution to end U.S. military involvement in the Saudi-led war in Yemen within 30 days, unless Congress formally authorizes the military action. The vote was 44 to 55, with 10 Democrats joining the Republican majority to block the legislation and Arizona Senator John McCain not casting a vote. The U.S.-backed, Saudi-led airstrikes and naval blockade have devastated Yemen's health, water and sanitation systems, sparking a massive cholera outbreak and pushing millions of Yemenis to the brink of starvation. More than 15,000 people have died since the Saudi invasion in 2015. We hear part of Sen. Bernie Sanders' speech against U.S. involvement and speak with Al Jazeera's Mehdi Hasan and Medea Benjamin of CodePink.


Transcript
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: Earlier this week, the Senate rejected a bipartisan resolution to end the U.S. military involvement in Yemen within 30 days, unless Congress formally authorizes the military action. The bill would have forced the first-ever vote in the Senate to withdraw U.S. armed forces from an unauthorized war. By a vote of 55 to 44, senators voted against a procedural motion that would have advanced the measure. This is Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders speaking Tuesday before the vote.
SENBERNIE SANDERS: Some will argue that American troops are not out there shooting and getting shot at, not exchanging fire, gunfire, with their enemies, and that we are not really engaged in the horrifically destructive Saudi-led war in Yemen. That's what some will argue on the floor today, that we're really not engaged in hostilities, we're not exchanging fire. Well, please tell that to the people of Yemen, whose homes and lives are being destroyed by weapons marked "Made in the U.S.A.," dropped by planes being refueled by the U.S. military, on targets chosen with U.S. assistance. Only in the narrowest, most legalistic terms can anyone argue that the United States is not actively involved in hostilities alongside of Saudi Arabia in Yemen.
And let me take a minute to tell my colleagues what is happening in Yemen right now, because a lot of people don't know. It's not something that is on the front pages of the newspapers or covered terribly much in television. Right now, in a very, very poor nation of 27 million people—that is, the nation of Yemen—in November of last year, the United Nations emergency relief coordinator told us that Yemen was on the brink of, quote, "the largest famine the world has seen for many decades," end of quote from the United Nations. So far, in this country of 27 million people, this very poor country, over 10,000 civilians have been killed, and 40,000 civilians have been wounded. Over 3 million people in Yemen, in a nation of 27 million, have been displaced, driven from their homes. Fifteen million people lack access to clean water and sanitation, because water treatment plants have been destroyed. More than 20 million people in Yemen, over two-thirds of the population of that country, need some kind of humanitarian support, with nearly 10 million in acute need of assistance. More than 1 million suspected cholera cases have been reported, representing potentially the worst cholera outbreak in world history.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: So, that's Senator Bernie Sanders speaking on Tuesday before the Senate vote. Mehdi Hasan, could you comment on what he said, and also explain what Saudi Arabia is trying to do in Yemen and why the U.S. is supporting Saudi Arabia?
MEHDI HASAN: It's a good question, when you say, "Try and explain what Saudi Arabia is doing in Yemen." I think a lot of people would wonder, "Yes, what is Saudi Arabia doing in Yemen?" including a lot of Saudis now, who are wondering.
This war was declared in 2015. It was supposed to be done quickly, a Saudi-led coalition of Arab nations against, quote-unquote, "Houthi rebels," backed by Iran, allegedly. And this was the case where MBS, Mohammed bin Salman, at the time, wasn't the crown prince; he was a deputy crown prince and the defense minister, and he was pushing this war. It was going to be a quick, simple war—you know, the richest countries in the Middle East against the poorest country. And yet, three years later, still mired in this horrific war, with all of those humanitarian consequences that Bernie Sanders mentioned on the floor of the Senate. It's a disaster. It's been called an apocalypse by U.N. officials. It's been called the world's worst humanitarian crisis.
And, you know, by all intents and purposes, it is a U.S.-Saudi war, Nermeen. It's not just a Saudi-led war. As Bernie Sanders pointed out, it's U.S. refueling Saudi jets, it's U.S. providing arms and bombs, it's U.S. providing intel to Saudi officials, diplomatic cover in international forums. And yet, Americans don't know enough about it, because the media doesn't cover it. And when it does cover it, it doesn't mention the Saudi role. And it's been a disaster. There's no end in sight. MBS said, in that 60 Minutes interview on Sunday, you know, "It's all the fault of the Houthis, and it's all the fault of Iran," and showed no signs of any prospect of bringing this horrific war to an end.
We rightly get agitated about what goes on in Syria and the bombing—the bombings in Aleppo and elsewhere. But that's a dictator who we are not arming, who we're not supporting. And yet, in Yemen, there's a war going on which has horrific humanitarian consequences, and that's a dictator, the Saudi dictators, who we do support and arm. So, I find the whole thing slightly absurd and morally grotesque. But, you know, the U.S. is not going to do anything.
To go back to the earlier question that we began the show with, MBS's visit is such a big deal because he's such a close ally of the U.S. And Donald Trump, remember, came to office claiming he was going to be a Saudi critic. People forget, when Donald Trump was running for election, he accused the Saudis of being behind 9/11. He said he might not buy oil from the Saudis. He attacked Hillary Clinton for taking money from the Saudis, because they were human rights abusers. And yet, since coming to office, he went to Saudi Arabia first. The first foreign visit he made was to Saudi Arabia. He now praises MBS and his father, the king, Salman. He welcomed him to the White House on Tuesday, and he said, "They've got lots of money. We want that money. We're going to have a great relation." For Trump, it's always about money. So, expect no change.
But although one—you know, one bit of good news: That vote, 55 to 45, I think it was, that's much narrower than previous, quote-unquote, "anti-Saudi" votes on Capitol Hill have been. On Capitol Hill, at least, there's far much more criticism of Saudi Arabia than there has been anytime that I can think of in recent memory.
AMY GOODMAN: You know, we just interviewed Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut, who—
MEHDI HASAN: Who's been great on this.
AMY GOODMAN: —joined with Sanders in pushing for this. Now, I wanted to ask you, Medea Benjamin—last year, the Trump administration approved the resumption of sales of precision-guided munitions to Saudi Arabia. President Obama had frozen some of those weapons sales last year due to concerns about civilian casualties in Saudi Arabia's expanding war in Yemen. Now, Obama didn't cut off the support, but he did restrict it. Trump took those restrictions off. You have been deeply concerned about this vote. Can you explain what happened on the floor of the Senate?
MEDEA BENJAMIN: Well, I want to give kudos to Bernie Sanders and Chris Murphy and Mike Lee, a conservative Republican, who introduced this resolution using a very unique angle, which is the War Powers Act, to say this is an unconstitutional war. It has never been voted on by Congress. Congress has not only the authority, but the obligation, to declare war. And this certainly does not fit under the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force that was passed after 9/11 to attack those associated—involved in the 9/11 attack or associated forces. So, it was a very good argument. And I think it's horrific that 10 Democrats defected and voted for this, and that so many—almost all of the Republicans have shown themselves to be the war party and to not want to take on their constitutional duty to declare war or not declare war, to allow President Trump to continue with this war in Yemen.
And so, I think we should go back and look at all of those who voted in favor of continuing this war, to tell them they have the blood of Yemeni people on their hands. And when we see those amateur graphs that President Trump held up to talk about all the weapons sales, and showed the states in which there were jobs being created by those weapons sales, showed them in red, think of them as the blood of the Yemeni people, that it's their deaths and their famine that's creating jobs in the United States, and then ask yourself about the morality not just of President Trump, but of this country and of our Congress, that will be delighted by the creation of jobs, on the backs of the people of Yemen, who are suffering the largest catastrophe, in the United States. What does this say about our country? What does it tell the rest of the world about the morals of the United States?
AMY GOODMAN: And to be clear, the man he's sitting with, the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman, even before he was crown prince—and he's taken over this power after arresting, what, hundreds of people in Saudi Arabia, a number of members of the Saudi royal family, right after Jared Kushner met with him in Saudi Arabia—he was in charge of this war, even before he was crown prince.
MEDEA BENJAMIN: Well, that's right. This is his war. And that's why when anybody talks about him as a reformer, "No," you have to say, "he's not a reformer. He is a war criminal." And the shakedown that he presided over in Saudi Arabia is one of the most bizarre things, taking over 200 of the elites of Saudi Arabia and bringing them into this gilded prison in the Ritz hotel and then demanding that they turn over a lot of their assets to him, under his control, before they would be allowed to leave, and 17 of them hospitalized, one of them killed. And this is seen as part of his anti-corruption campaign.
This is the same crown prince who, when he was on a vacation in France, saw a yacht that he liked, that was owned by a Russian vodka financier, and bought it for over $500 million, who owns a château in France that's considered the most expensive house in the world, and that also bought a Picasso picture, the most high-priced painting ever sold in the United States—in the world. So, this is not Robin Hood. And he, himself, said on 60 Minutes, to be fair, that he is not Gandhi or Mandela. But he is a war criminal.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: Yeah, and he also said in that interview that he has a great deal of personal wealth and, exactly what you said, that he's neither Mandela or Gandhi, and that this was—the way that he spent his money was entirely his own business. Let's just go to a clip of that, responding to a question about his own extravagant lifestyle.
PRINCE MOHAMMED BIN SALMAN: [translated] My personal life is something I'd like to keep to myself, and I don't try to draw attention to it. If some newspapers want to point something out about it, that's up to them. As far as my private expenses, I'm a rich person. I'm not a poor person. I'm not Gandhi or Mandela. I'm a member of the ruling family, that existed for hundreds of years, before the founding of Saudi Arabia. We own very large lots of land. And my personal life is the same as it was 10 or 20 years ago.
AMY GOODMAN: So, Mehdi Hasan, if you want to expand on this? And also, what has happened to the crown prince's mother? Where is she?
MEHDI HASAN: So, just on the interview clip you played, I love the idea that "I'm not Mandela or Gandhi." I don't think anyone was really going to confuse the crown prince of Saudi Arabia with Mandela or Gandhi, although some in the U.S. media—
AMY GOODMAN: Really? Even with the U.S. press?
MEHDI HASAN: Yeah, I'll add the caveat: Some in the U.S. media may want to portray him in that way. And the bar is so low when it comes to the Saudis. So, he becomes crown prince, and he allows women to drive. And people in the West say, "Wow! He's the emancipator of women," because he allowed women to drive, rather than asking, "Why was Saudi Arabia the only country in the world where women were not allowed to drive?" Why not ask the question, as Medea pointed out: The death penalty for adultery, which disproportionately affects women, for sorcery and witchcraft, which disproportionately affects women, when's he getting rid of that? No question from 60 Minutes about the death penalty. No questions about democracy or freedom or elections. The words didn't come up during the interview. They keep calling him a revolutionary. I've never come across a revolution where the dictator is still in power at the end of it. I thought that's the whole point of a revolution, is to get rid of the absolute totalitarian government. So it's bizarre to call this guy a revolutionary.
To take your point about his mother, there have been reports in the news that this is a crown prince who basically detained, quote-unquote, "kidnapped" his own mother, in order to prevent her from stopping him from taking over from his father. He is one of many children. Saudi kings tend to have a lot of children. He's one of many children to King Salman. King Salman, by most accounts, is really not in control of the kingdom. He may have dementia. He's kind of out of it. He's in his eighties. This guy, 32 years old, crown prince, basically runs the show now. He's been very, very efficient in terms of taking power. You've got to give him that. He may—he may have botched the war in Yemen, but he's been very good at asserting power at home. He got rid of his cousin, who was the crown prince, put him under palace arrest. He may have kidnapped his mother or detained his mother or hidden her away somewhere, so that she couldn't get involved in his kind of power takeover from his siblings. He locked up all these princes and business leaders, as Medea pointed out. Basically, it was a shakedown, to use her very appropriate phrase.
And now he's consolidated all this power, in himself, in the country, at this young age. But the problem is, he's not very good at doing what he does in terms of foreign policy. Let's see what he does on economic policy. He's great pals with Jared Kushner. Nermeen mentioned earlier about how they hung out 'til 4:00 in the morning the week before the purge. He and Jared Kushner are great pals. That's the connection to the Trump administration. And I always think they're very—they're very similar, Jared Kushner and MBS. They're both 30-something spoiled brats who are deeply overrated and mess up everything they touch.
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Saturday, February 03, 2018

60s, FBI, Gong Show



THE ABSURD TIMES







This guy could never have been elected in the 60s or 70s, but maybe he could have given Ronald Reagan a run for it.  I was able to meet people like Abbie Hoffman and all his incarnations, Tom Hayden, saw Lenny Bruce live, collaborated briefly with Severn Darden, and so on.  Electing the host of the Gong Show was simply out of the question.  Today, well, we elected the host of the Apprentice, so who knows?

Some time ago, someone said that the 60s was a great time, and early 70s.  Having lived though it, I disagreed.  Now, looking back, perhaps we need it again.  After all, Gretchen Carlson was born in the 60s, so she missed them entirely.  Maybe she woke up during Ronald's Rule?  Seems like it. 

Well, who remembers that?  Most people today weren't even born then, except Gretchen.  I knew some older people who could talk about Herbert Hoover (a chicken in every pot) and others who like FDR who repaired the country after the big businesses ruined it.  He used ideas from Eugene Debs and other Socialists to do so.  Corporations have been trying to undo what he accomplished ever since, but there have been impediments.

These big businesses managed to keep Henry Wallace from being Vice President during FDR's last term, but that wasn't enough for them.  Wallace would have been an excellent President, for the people that is, but not for big business.  Truman ran instead and these forces tried to get even him out with John Dewey.  It didn't work.

Still, I don't remember any of this.  I know Eisenhower became President, but it didn't matter much.  I do remember he said "moreover," a great deal, but that's about it.  No, the first President I was really aware of was JFK and that was because I grew up in Chicago and helped get him elected (I couldn't vote, but I could sure mark up ballots so they would be disqualified – just doing my bit, don't you know?)  Yes, that precinct was heavily Republican.  Too many Swedes, I think the story was.  I'm not sure.  Anyway, I did know that Nixon was evil.

In fact, I knew that because I heard the debates of the radio and I am one of the few that think Kennedy made more sense than Nixon on the radio, beard or no beard.

Still, it didn't mean that much, but I did get very tired of people talking about Jackie.  Like, who cared?  I wasn't a big fan of the kids, either.  I wasn't able to vote yet anyway.  Instead, I was busy during the summer playing semi-pro baseball, pretending I was Dizzy Dean, and making enough money to go to college.  Well, things there were strange too.

First off, they offered a scholarship.  I could get free tuition, live in the athlete's dorm, free food, and show up for practice and games 4 to 5 hours a day.  One thing, however, no playing semi-pro anymore because you were no longer an amateur.  Well, I thought about it.  One the one hand, I could play 5-6 games in the summer and make enough money to pay room and board and tuition, live off campus, not have to sleep in the same room with these cretins for the entire year, or I could take their scholarship.  I said "Fuck no," and that was that.  No school spirit at all, I'm afraid.   They sent me a booklet from the fraternity council and it has a list of THINGS THEY WERE NO LONGER ALLOWED TO DO.  Man, like such creativity.  What do they do now?  Nope, no fraternal spirit either, I'm afraid.

Anyway, back to the world.  Since I've had enough, you might as well hear all about it. 

I was in my seat, waiting for the 1:00 class to begin, a class entirely on the plays of George Bernard Shaw, when someone came in with a transistor radio, put it on the desk, while it announced that JFK had been assassinated.  Yes, it was shocking.  Even more frightening was when one girl said, "Shit, that means Lyndon Johnson is President?"  That was a bad idea. 

The Vietnam War started, as I had expected and people on the BBC were predicting.  (Short wave was helpful back then.  It provided a way to hear news and information from other countries without any concern for the U.S.  Did you know that the first female newscaster I ever heard was on Radio Moscow?  I found that interesting at the time.) 




Waking up Politically


Anyway, the next election featured Barry Goldwater, fan of the John birch Society, as opposed to Lyndon Johnson.  Johnson said he didn't think we should be fighting a war in Vietnam.  Goldwater said we should "Bomb them into the stone age."  I though that was a clear choice and I voted for him (and felt guilty about it a year afterwards).  There was a television show I was able to watch during the election called THAT WAS THE WEEK THAT WAS, and it had people saying things like "You Americans think we in Britain know nothing about what it would be like to have a Barry Goldwater as President.  Well, you're wrong, we had one, only his name was Oliver Cromwell." 

[Here we have to digress.  John Milton became Cromwell's Latin Secretary and that was an important position in those days.  Milton went on to write PARADISE LOST.  This is important because the Bible is Gods version of what happened.  Why does the Devil have his own book?  Well, the first two books of Paradise Lost are his.  If you see used copies of the book, notice that the first two books are very well read.  The rest, not so.]

The show made Goldwater look like an ass, but at the time (I found this out much later) Hillary Clinton was a supporter.  In any case, the supporter of the John Birch Society, a fanatic anti-communist group, Mr. Koch senior, bought the time of the show from NBC and put it off the air.  Still, Goldwater lost. 

As soon as he was elected, LBJ started to get read to go to real war with Vietnam.  JFK had 20K troops there, all volunteers, and was thinking of getting them out.  It was time for me to start doing some research (something nobody did back then unless it was for a term paper).  It turned out that Vietnam had been at war for at least a thousand years, we only got in when the French gave up the idea a stupid, and JFK seemed to think it was stupid to stay there so the CIA probably was involved in killing him off, but for some reason LBJ liked it (or he was afraid he would be knocked off next).  He was a very easy person to hate back then. 

Then, they had a system of involuntary servitude called "selective service" which is commemorated in the song Alice's Restaurant by Arlo Guthrie.   The John Birch Society is commemorated by Dylan and a group called the Goldcoast Singers.   Even I was writing songs.  What people don't get today is that the Tea Party is supported by the sons of this Koch, Charles Koch. 

Then the revolution began.  Civil Rights, Anti-War, supposedly drugs, sex and rock, but really, rock is too noisy (Miles Davis was better) and girls were not that easy.  By 1968, McCarthy had challenged Johnson in the primary and we were all supporting him. 

LBJ resigned, but Kennedy was still reticent.  Anyway, Gene McCarthy had a better sense of humor as well.  When RFK looked like he was getting popular, however, and after it really seemed that he had evolved, after he made the speech about the killing of Martin Luther King, and he won California, the powers that were decided he was a real threat.  Hubert was still running as well. 

The convention was insane.  No, we were not inside, we were in Grant Park and elsewhere.  Some of the cops I recognized – they had been gang members in my old high school, but they were ok.  It was the older ones, about 30 or so years old that were vicious.  It seemed they couldn't stand seeing the pretty girls next to the scrawny hippie types and really went after them.  Abbie did all sorts of things to go wild and when he got tired of seeing his face in the news, I helped him write FUCK on his forehead.  Somehow, it came off, and he did it again in a mirror (which didn't work for anyone except Abbie). 

Norman Mailer was there to make a speech and then said he felt like a coward to go off to write his column.  He was encouraged to go write.  The National guard was cheered when they showed up to relieve the Chicago Police.  Daley had given the order to "shoot to maim and kill", so higher powers took over.  Or so it seemed.   I asked a few Precinct Captains and Ward Committeemen why they had resigned a few months ago and got the same answer from every on of the "Aw, da guy started ta believe the shit he had been saying like he was really da boss, ya know?"  I assured them I knew.

So who come back with a plan to end the war?  Nixon!  Give us a break.  Not him.  His idea was to bomb not only Vietnam, but Cambodia, Laos, and wherever he could.  That was Henry's idea.  "Dr. Kissinger," to you.   Later on, much later on, I was treating a vet of the "secret" war in Cambodia (he kept saying he could not tell me about it because I would be killed and he would be killed.  He was surprised I was able to tell him about it.  Of course, I did not know he was captured and that they pulled out his fingernails) who could not stop drinking.  He had his house stocked with guns, however.  (Yes, he had a license and anybody that complained would get THEIR fingernails pulled out, I suppose.)   Suffering has its limits, however, and he finally killed himself.  He did not get a single bit of help from our government.  Also, many immigrants joined our armed forces, served, and are now facing deportation.  They became people, not property.


At this point, I find myself wondering "Who cares?"  A profound philosophical question.  Stupidity and inequity seem to be bound up together with humaqn beings, Not even "seem to be," are.  No way around it. 

So perhaps the only meaning if life is whatever fun we can get out of it.  Of course, with fun, is punishment.  The two are bound together.  If you are enjoying yourself, you will eventually be punished for it.   Thos who are called pessimists and misanthropes cannot be.  Otherwise, they would not bother to waste on single bit of energy talking or writing anything about how bad things were.  They have to be able to envision something better in order to even consider saying anything about it.

THE FBI

            It seems the FBI has become a secret society of left-wing radicals if you believe the Republicans.  It is difficult to realize how strange this sounds, especially if you know a bit about their history, a very strange history.

It was started by FDR (who ran for President to "save my friends from themselves" during the depression) to fight organized crime.  People like John Dillinger and Al Capone and J. Edgar Hoover was appointed head, or Directory.  He insisted on a clean-cut look.  Of course, Organized crime of those days was not very organized and the outlaws became legends.  Baby Face Nelson was there too.

Later on, organized crime became more organized and orderly.  It became more like a corporate business.  The Godfather is pretty accurate, especially Godfather II. About the same time, a bit later, the syndicate or the Mafia, choose your own name, caught on that J. Edgar Hoover like to dress up in his mother's underwear and chase his male secretary around the room and play with him.  When confronted with this, Hoover had to find other targets.  He found COMMUNISM!  No body else has, but he did.

He tapped Martin Luther King's phone, Malcolm X's phone, just about anyone else's.  He got around to tapping many phones.  The best proof of this was when a comedian who ran for Mayor of Chicago, Dick Gregory had his phone tapped.  How did he know?  As he said "Anytime a black man in this country can owe $18,000 in phone bills and they don't but off service, you know it's tapped!" 

He also made me thing it was safe to fly.  Inflation has hit to make this line seem less funny, but it was ""I'm not afraid to fly.  In a capitalist country where an airplane costs three million dollars, you know it's safe."  And it was.

During LBJ:  LBJ actually did many good things such as Medicare, the Voting Rights act, and so on, ever an immigration law that made it illegal to discriminate on immigrants on basis of COUNTRY OF ORIGIN (I wonder what has happened to that law?).  But it was hard to think about help at age 65 when you were 18 and didn't not think living past 1984 was likely.  He was asked why he didn't fire J. Edgar Hoover, and there were two reasons: 1) LBJ enjoyed reading about the sex lives of other politicians and 2) "I'd rather have him inside the tent pissing out than outside pissing in".  It was the first time I'd heard that phrase. 

So, when I had friends in the SDS I told them to be careful on the phone because it was probably tapped.  They would not believe me.  I asked if the phone sounded very clear and clean, no interference?  They would say yes.  So I would tell them it was certainly tapped, no doubt about it.  They still didn't believe me.  So, I decided to prove it.  I told the leader, Garry (the one who applied for P.O. Statues with the Draft Board, (you mean C.O., don't you?"  "No P.O. I'll fight for the other side") to call me at 8 next night and be prepared to follow along.

It was in a town with a train that passed through with a fire station on the North Side.  At about 2 AM, a train would pass though and totally block one of the passages between north and south.  The only way left was under a viaduct.  That train sat there for abut and hour or two, every Thursday night.  So that's the day I had him call.  Of course, I'd told him to check the are out the night before, just to make sure.   I had 20 bucks riding on this.

Ok, so he calls.  We talk a bit, and then I say "Ok, the plan is set"

"It is?  How's it going down?"

"Easy, you got the trucks ready to block the viaduct?"

"Yeah, so what?"

"Ok, now, you know the train will block the main crossway and the only way is the viaduct.  The Fire Station is one the north side, so you pick me up along 4th street, just about 6 blocks South.  Be there about 1:45."

He plays along and says "So what gonna happen?"

"Here's what's gone happen, man.  Aquarius has his bomb for the Legion Hall and Leo is ready with his at the High School.  They will be there about 2.  Now, when the train parks, we go to the viaduct, block it, about 2:15 the bombs go off, and we are out of there.  Total destruction!  Man, it'll be great.  We already got a sign hung on the civil war cannon saying NO MORE VIETNAM!!  Cool?"

"Yeah, I'll be there."

So, when the time came, he picked me up, and we drove by there at about 2:10 and, sure enough, the train had blocked the street as we pulled up to the viaduct.  And there, sitting there in a black Oldsmobile, were two well-dressed men, overcoats, jackets and ties, Fedora hats, sitting there.  They looked mean and very alert.  I asked Gary "Are you convinced?"

He handed me the $20 Bill and we simply drove by.  Of course his phone was taped.

RFK made Hoover report to him, not to JFK.  That's why he had to go, especially when it looked like he had a chance to be nominated and become President.  That would have been the end of Hoover.

They had a lot to do in Watergate too, but that's old news.

They question for today is, how did the FBI suddenly turn into a den of lefties?  And after years of Republicans telling us what a threat Russia was, how did they become friends of sorts and attacked so often by Democrats?