Krystal and Rachel: Nancy Pelosi’s Inequality Commission Is A Joke

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[Music]
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speaker pelosi with a big announcement
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about her major commitment to fighting
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inequality because that’s something she
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definitely really really cares about
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rachel
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um here’s the announcement she’s
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creating a committee
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a select committee in fact on economic
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inequality
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you see there her official press release
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on the website and this was actually
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something that really jumped down as you
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at you as like part of a normal
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system that is employed here in
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washington to make people
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feel like things are happening and make
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activists feel like they’re really
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engaged in the process but really it’s a
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way of sort of stiff-arming their
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demands and concerns
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yeah it’s all theater here in washington
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but this one in particular is something
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i call the hamster wheel
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right it’s designed to put her most
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activist members the members most likely
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to cause her problems on this issue
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she’s gonna put them on this commission
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they are going to run on this hamster
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wheel and feel like they’re doing
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something really important
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when in reality they’re just being kept
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uh busy away from the house floor the
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only place that actually matters for
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actual change on anything
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they’re gonna be running on the hamster
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wheel of this commission which will
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eventually put out a report that no one
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will read and it will accomplish nothing
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avoid these things like the plague if
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you are someone who cares about change
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and i say this to conservative activists
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i say it out let me say here to
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progressive activists
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don’t do this yeah well i mean it
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reminds me very much
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of the biden sanders task forces
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that you know was the only thing
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that bernie managed to extract from joe
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biden before exiting the race that you
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knew from the jump like
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it didn’t matter who you put on those
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committees it didn’t matter how good the
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recommendations were that were coming
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out of them
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like here we are days away from the
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biden administration and i’m not hearing
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anything about the recommendations that
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came out of the task forces
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whatsoever what pelosi says in this
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press release she says we’re creating
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the select committee
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to be a resource to the congress to make
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policy related
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to economic fairness access to education
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workforce development
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working with the committees of
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jurisdiction the select committee will
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study and recommend
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proposals to make our economy work for
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everyone powering american economic
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growth
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while ensuring that no one is left out
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or left behind in the 21st century
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economy
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all fancy way of saying like like you
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said
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they’re gonna study it they’re gonna put
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on a report and that’ll be the end of
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that so basically your point is here
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when you see these committees purporting
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to be about
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fighting inequality or fighting into
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whatever it is left or right
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what they’re really doing is putting up
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a roadblock putting up like
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a sort of obstacle course to jump
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through rather than actually taking
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issue on that issue
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this commission has two goals the first
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is to make pelosi look like she’s doing
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something and the second
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is to distract you know the act the
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members who actually want to do
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something
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from taking any meaningful action and
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this goes back to something we talked
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about earlier in the week which is
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look the only thing that matters in the
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house is action on the house floor
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progressive activists can learn a lot
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from the freedom caucus who presented
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themselves as a political power block
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by really only focusing on action on the
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house floor they could deliver a block
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of votes or they could withhold them
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and that is where their power came from
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was hanging together on these issues
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they didn’t get distracted
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by commissions they didn’t get
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distracted by other promises because
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this is just one
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tool political leaderships have to
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distract you know their problem members
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my favorite one is the and we’ll vote on
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that at some point or hey
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this bureaucrat will call you or hey can
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we just talk about it on the house floor
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the only thing that matters at the end
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of the day is voting
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and the more you can pressure and push
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action on that front
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the more effective you’re going to be
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because as we’ve learned from this whole
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2000 check
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2 000 check debacle the thing that they
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hate most is going on the record for
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anything because it’s a very
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very powerful tool and can be used
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against them or for them
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uh in any number of ways and your point
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is so well taken
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that progressives really fall prey to
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these types of tactics like they really
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feel like when they get put on the task
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force they
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because there’s this like idealism there
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of like they’re really listening to my
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concerns and they really mean it and
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these are my friends how many times we
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hear bernie sanders they’re like joe my
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friend joe biden you’re like
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ugh um so it reminds me of
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you know the forced to vote debate
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that’s have it happening on the left
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right now because on the one hand you
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have a faction of people who are saying
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we need a vote on this key issue that is
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important to us that’s important to the
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country in the middle of pandemic
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medicare for all like let’s take a vote
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and put everybody on their record
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and what you’re hearing from at least
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some in the progressive wing of the
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party here in dc is like
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let’s not do the voting that voting
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doesn’t really matter that much any
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we’re working behind the scenes to get
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on key
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leadership posts and committees etc etc
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and all of that is ultimately just a way
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to sort of
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make them feel like they’re being heard
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make them feel like they have some
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sway and influence and power within the
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system but ultimately to
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crush them and keep them quiet and keep
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them from causing trouble
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everyone wants to feel like they’re a
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cool kid right that’s how this town runs
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and these positions you know these
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acceptance on these commissions
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everything always feels like oh i’m
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getting invited to the table
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you have to be comfortable not being
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invited to the table because it’s the
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only way you’re actually going to be
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able to force
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you know that kind of political action
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on the floor which is the
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again i’m going to be a broken record on
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this but the only thing that matters at
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the end of the day
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is what you do on the floor it’s voting
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so so true rachel
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rachel thank you so much for being with
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us all week it’s been phenomenal having
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you here
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um always you have such incredible
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insight so thank you so much for that
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and happy new year to you my friend
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happy new year to you as well
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and to all of you risers thanks for
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having me sagar will be back next week
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to talk about aliens i know there’s a
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lot to say
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yeah there’s an alien update we missed
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an epstein update this week as well
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without sauger here so we have been
05:49
falling down on the job a little bit
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but don’t worry friends because sagar
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will be back next week with all of those
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important stories and more
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we’re going to kick off the new year
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with friends of the show chuck rocha
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kyle kalinski brown and joy gray and so
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many more ben smith is going to join us
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to talk about what biden can expect from
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the media versus what trump got from the
06:07
media
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remember to hit that subscribe button so
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you don’t miss any of our videos also
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don’t forget to like and share as well
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happy new years guys appreciate you all
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so much
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you made it you survived 2020 on to
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what’s next
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enjoy everybody

Trump’s Wag-the-Dog War

The president is looking for a dangerous domestic enemy to fight.

Some presidents, when they get into trouble before an election, try to “wag the dog” by starting a war abroad. Donald Trump seems ready to wag the dog by starting a war at home. Be afraid — he just might get his wish.

How did we get here? Well, when historians summarize the Trump team’s approach to dealing with the coronavirus, it will take only a few paragraphs:

“They talked as if they were locking down like China. They acted as if they were going for herd immunity like Sweden. They prepared for neither. And they claimed to be superior to both. In the end, they got the worst of all worlds — uncontrolled viral spread and an unemployment catastrophe.

“And then the story turned really dark.

“As the virus spread, and businesses had to shut down again and schools and universities were paralyzed as to whether to open or stay closed in the fall, Trump’s poll numbers nose-dived. Joe Biden opened up a 15-point lead in a national head-to-head survey.

“So, in a desperate effort to salvage his campaign, Trump turned to the Middle East Dictator’s Official Handbook and found just what he was looking for, the chapter titled, ‘What to Do When Your People Turn Against You?’

“Answer: Turn them against each other and then present yourself as the only source of law and order.”

America blessedly is not Syria, yet, but Trump is adopting the same broad approach that Bashar al-Assad did back in 2011, when peaceful protests broke out in the southern Syrian town of Dara’a, calling for democratic reforms; the protests then spread throughout the country.

Had al-Assad responded with even the mildest offer of more participatory politics, he would have been hailed as a savior by a majority of Syrians. One of their main chants during the demonstrations was, “Silmiya, silmiya” (“Peaceful, peaceful”).

But al-Assad did not want to share power, and so he made sure that the protests were not peaceful. He had his soldiers open fire on and arrest nonviolent demonstrators, many of them Sunni Muslims. Over time, the peaceful, secular elements of the Syrian democracy movement were sidelined, as hardened Islamists began to spearhead the fight against al-Assad. In the process, the uprising was transformed into a naked, rule-or-die sectarian civil war between al-Assad’s Alawite Shiite forces and various Sunni jihadist groups.

Al-Assad got exactly what he wanted — not a war between his dictatorship and his people peacefully asking to have their voices heard, but a war with Islamic radicals in which he could play the law-and-order president, backed by Russia and Iran. In the end, his country was destroyed and hundreds of thousands of Syrians were killed or forced to flee. But al-Assad stayed in power. Today, he’s the top dog on a pile of rubble.

I have zero tolerance for any American protesters who resort to violence in any U.S. city, because it damages homes and businesses already hammered by the coronavirus — many of them minority-owned — and because violence will only turn off and repel the majority needed to drive change.

But when I heard Trump suggest, as he did in the Oval Office on Monday, that he was going to send federal forces into U.S. cities, where the local mayors have not invited him, the first word that popped into my head was “Syria.”

Listen to how Trump put it: “I’m going to do something — that, I can tell you. Because we’re not going to let New York and Chicago and Philadelphia and Detroit and Baltimore and all of these — Oakland is a mess. We’re not going to let this happen in our country.”

These cities, Trump stressed, are “all run by very liberal Democrats. All run, really, by radical left. If Biden got in, that would be true for the country. The whole country would go to hell. And we’re not going to let it go to hell.”

This is coming so straight from the Middle East Dictator’s Handbook, it’s chilling. In Syria, al-Assad used plainclothes, pro-regime thugs, known as the shabiha (“the apparitions”) to make protesters disappear. In Portland, Ore., we saw militarized federal forces wearing battle fatigues, but no identifiable markings, arresting people and putting them into unmarked vans. How can this happen in America?

Authoritarian populists — whether Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Turkey, Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil, Rodrigo Duterte in the Philippines, Vladimir Putin in Russia, Viktor Orban in Hungary, Jaroslaw Kaczynski in Poland, or al-Assad — “win by dividing the people and presenting themselves as the savior of the good and ordinary citizens against the undeserving agents of subversion and ‘cultural pollution,’” explained Stanford’s Larry Diamond, author of “Ill Winds: Saving Democracy From Russian Rage, Chinese Ambition, and American Complacency.”

In the face of such a threat, the left needs to be smart. Stop calling for “defunding the police” and then saying that “defunding” doesn’t mean disbanding. If it doesn’t mean that then say what it means: “reform.” Defunding the police, calling police officers “pigs,” taking over whole neighborhoods with barricades — these are terrible messages, not to mention strategies, easily exploitable by Trump.

The scene that The Times’s Mike Baker described from Portland in the early hours of Tuesday — Day 54 of the protests there — is not good: “Some leaders in the Black community, grateful for a reckoning on race, worry that what should be a moment for racial justice could be squandered by violence. Businesses supportive of reforms have been left demoralized by the mayhem the protests have brought. … On Tuesday morning, police said another jewelry store had been looted. As federal agents appeared to try detaining one person, others in the crowd rushed to free the person.”

A new Washington Post-ABC News poll, according to The Post, found that a “majority of Americans support the Black Lives Matter movement and a record 69 percent say Black people and other minorities are not treated as equal to white people in the criminal justice system. But the public generally opposes calls to shift some police funding to social services or remove statues of Confederate generals or presidents who enslaved people.”

All of this street violence and defund-the-police rhetoric plays into the only effective Trump ad that I’ve seen on television. It goes like this: A phone rings and a recording begins: “You have reached the 911 police emergency line. Due to defunding of the police department, we’re sorry but no one is here to take your call. If you’re calling to report a rape, please press 1. To report a murder, press 2. To report a home invasion, press 3. For all other crimes, leave your name and number and someone will get back to you. Our estimated wait time is currently five days. Goodbye.”

Today’s protesters need to trump Trump by taking a page from another foreign leader — a liberal — Ekrem Imamoglu, who managed to win the 2019 election to become the mayor of Istanbul, despite the illiberal Erdogan using every dirty trick possible to steal the election. Imamoglu’s campaign strategy was called “radical love.”

Radical love meant reaching out to the more traditional and religious Erdogan supporters, listening to them, showing them respect and making clear that they were not “the enemy” — that Erdogan was the enemy, because he was the enemy of unity and mutual respect, and there could be no progress without them.

As a recent essay on Imamoglu’s strategy in The Journal of Democracy noted, he overcame Erdogan with a “message of inclusiveness, an attitude of respect toward [Erdogan] supporters, and a focus on bread-and-butter issues that could unite voters across opposing political camps. On June 23, Imamoglu was again elected mayor of Istanbul, but this time with more than 54 percent of the vote — the largest mandate obtained by an Istanbul mayor since 1984 — against 45 percent for his opponent.”

Radical love. Wow. I bet that could work in America, too. It’s the perfect answer to Trump’s politics of division — and it’s the one strategy he’ll never imitate.

Benjamin Netanyahu Is Indicted on Criminal Charges, and His Defiance Puts Israel’s Democracy at Risk

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s defiant response to the three indictments finally brought against him, on Thursday, would, under any circumstances, constitute a crisis for the rule of law in Israel. But Netanyahu’s defiance comes as the climax of a larger crisis for Israel’s democracy, which has been building at least since Netanyahu’s reëlection, in 2015. It places the country’s divided people on unknown and dangerous terrain. The indictments—for bribery, fraud, and breach of trust—are, Netanyahu insists, an attempted “coup” against him, conducted by the police, the state prosecutor’s office, and other judicial authorities—his version of the Trumpian claim that a “deep state” is attempting to overturn the will of the electorate. He seems intent on conducting a preëmptive countercoup using the office of Prime Minister, which he currently occupies only as the head of a transitional government, to appoint potential allies to key government positions, conduct escalatory military operations, collude with an increasingly desperate Donald Trump, and rally his followers against Israeli Arabs, whose parties he tars with the vague charge of “supporting terrorism.” Two close elections this year have not returned Netanyahu to the office, but they have not dislodged him either.

By law, an Israeli minister indicted for a criminal offense is required to resign. By precedent, a Prime Minister must: two already have, and not for crimes committed while in office. Yet Netanyahu seems determined not to relinquish power. “My sense of justice burns within me,” he said on Thursday evening, in a speech that was unprecedented in its pathos and its attacks on state prosecutors, including the Attorney General, Avichai Mandelblit, who had announced the indictments. “I cannot believe that the country I fought for and was wounded for, that I’ve brought to such achievements,” he said, will allow “this kind of tainted justice.” For the rule of law to prevail, he added, “we have to do one thing: to finally investigate the investigators,” which would entail the appointment of an “outside” commission of inquiry into the prosecution’s methods, as if the Attorney General, whom Netanyahu himself appointed, were somehow part of a secret conspiracy against him.

Yohanan Plesner, the director of the Israel Democracy Institute, has called for Netanyahu to resign, saying, “The head of government serving in office under the shadow of indictment harms the public’s trust in the country’s institutions and Israel’s character as a Jewish and democratic state.” The danger, though, is that the defenses of a “Jewish” state, for which Netanyahu claims to be indispensable, and those of a “democratic” state, which presume laws promoting individual sovereignty and equality, are not comfortably conjoined in a country where theocratic power and occupation have been increasingly normalized, at least since 1967. And it is especially difficult to see how surviving leaders of Netanyahu’s Likud Party will see democratic norms as paramount when their political positions depend on not seeing them. Netanyahu’s Justice Minister, Amir Ohana, said that he is “completely confident that the test of history” will vindicate Netanyahu’s remaining in office. The Tourism Minister, Yariv Levin—an attorney and a former deputy head of the Israel Bar Association—defended Netanyahu’s claim that the investigations were “tainted.”

Just twenty-four hours before Mandelblit announced the indictments, Benny Gantz, whose Blue and White Party won a plurality in Israel’s September election, informed President Reuven Rivlin that he had failed to form a governing coalition, which would have made him the next Prime Minister. Gantz blamed his failure primarily on Netanyahu’s determination to escape prosecution. Urged on by Avigdor Lieberman—the leader of the secular, right-wing Yisrael Beiteinu (“Israel, Our Home”) party, who holds the balance of power in the Knesset—Gantz had tried to form a “liberal, national-unity coalition” with Likud. This, Lieberman said, would be a center-right government without either religious “messianic” parties or Arab ones (a slight to Arab leaders, who mainly argue for democratic norms, not Arab-nationalist excesses). Gantz seemed ready to accede to Rivlin’s formula that Netanyahu should be Prime Minister first in such a unity government—with the proviso, to be legally guaranteed, that Gantz would become the acting Prime Minister should Netanyahu be indicted and forced to take a “leave of absence” to defend himself in court.

Netanyahu rejected even this formula, insisting that the Haredi and national-Orthodox parties should join him in a coalition—presumably in exchange for securing Netanyahu’s immunity from prosecution—and that Netanyahu should go first as Prime Minister. Neither condition was acceptable to Blue and White. Frustrated, Gantz quietly floated the idea of founding a minority government resting on the support—actually, the agreed parliamentary abstentions—of the Joint List, composed of parties representing Israel’s Arab citizens. Netanyahu declared, “If a minority government like this is formed, they will celebrate in Tehran, Ramallah, and Gaza the way they celebrate after every terror attack. This would be a historic national terror attack on the State of Israel.”

Lieberman, a nationalist bigot, didn’t need Netanyahu’s demagogy to scotch any such government; key members of Gantz’s own party who were once associated with Netanyahu threatened to sink the idea of a government requiring Arab support. These are not simply tactical moves by sly politicians; they testify to an atmosphere in which an embattled Netanyahu seems certain that he would have the backing of the majority to subordinate liberal democratic institutions. He thus seems, in his own way, to join the ranks of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, in Turkey, and Viktor Orbán, in Hungary. The attacks on Israeli Arabs are telltale.

Gantz’s response to Netanyahu’s “investigate the investigators” speech was immediate. The country is not “undergoing a government coup,” he said, but rather “an entrenchment.” Yet, as a former Army chief of staff who conducted the 2014 war in Gaza under Netanyahu, Gantz could not fully lay out how brazen Netanyahu’s acts of entrenchment have been. On November 8th, while Gantz was trying to reach a political agreement with the Joint List, Netanyahu appointed the ultra-rightist Naftali Bennett as Defense Ministerreportedly admitting to Likud ministers that inviting his younger rival into the transitional cabinet was a political maneuver, meant to keep his bloc of rightist and Orthodox allies from bolting. Then, on November 12th, Israeli air strikes in Gaza killed Baha Abu al-Ata, a commander of Islamic Jihad, which is backed by Iran.

The Ata assassination was predictably followed by escalating exchanges of fire between Islamic Jihad and Israeli forces, along with new exchanges between Israel and Iranian-backed Syrian forces, culminating in Israeli air strikes on dozens of Iranian and Syrian military targets in Syria, which killed as many as twenty Iranians. Michael Oren, the former Israeli Ambassador to Washington, wrote in The Atlantic that, should war break out in Israel’s north, the country could be hit by as many as four thousand missiles a day. No one should doubt the mounting Iranian threat in Syria. But no one should doubt, either, how convenient the timing of the assassination was for Netanyahu. His and Bennett’s decision to kill Ata came just as Gantz was trying to form a government, arguably, a coincidence: Ata was, Netanyahu said, “a ticking bomb.” Inarguably, however, the ticking must have seemed louder to Netanyahu just as Gantz entertained the idea of coöperating with Israeli-Arab political leaders, many of whom have routinely condemned Israeli military actions in Gaza.

Netanyahu’s remaining in office would mean continued concessions from the Trump Administration, which is apparently eager to show itself a faithful ally to pro-Israel forces in America, and is willing to accommodate Netanyahu with escalating shows of devotion to his rightist base. On November 18th, before Gantz gave up trying to form a government, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that the State Department will no longer abide by its 1978 legal opinion that Jewish settlements in the West Bank are illegal. “The establishment of Israeli civilian settlements in the West Bank is not, per se, inconsistent with international law,” he said. The United States has always accepted the argument that the settlements violate the Geneva Conventions and are, in any case, an obstacle to peace. Pompeo, increasingly embroiled in Trump’s impeachment hearings, seemed more concerned with handing Netanyahu a vote of confidence, in spite of the Prime Minister’s own legal woes.

There are ways out of this crisis, though it’s hard to see how any of them will be taken unless Israeli democrats can mobilize public opinion, which remains sharply divided. A recent poll revealed that slightly fewer than half of respondents think Netanyahu should resign because of the charges pending against him. That’s more than the proportion opposed to or ambivalent about a resignation. The country’s political divide is, in part, geographic. Anti-Netanyahu forces are concentrated in affluent Tel Aviv and along the Mediterranean coast, and pro-Netanyahu forces are focussed in poorer areas—Jerusalem, the settlements, and peripheral towns—and resent the coastal élites about as much as they revere Netanyahu.

The immediate question is how senior Likud leaders will respond. The former Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar has called for a leadership primary and announced that he would run. But others, still cowed by Netanyahu, or just afraid of alienating the increasingly populist rank and file when a primary eventually does come, have argued against any leadership contest now. There seems little doubt that Netanyahu could win a preëmption of a primary from the party’s thirty-seven-hundred-person Central Committee. Earlier this week, he and Haim Katz, the Central Committee’s chair, said that they will advance a joint proposal to cancel a primary in the event of a third general election.

Reports have circulated that Netanyahu would resign in exchange for a Presidential pardon. But this seems an underestimation of the crisis he has precipitated. No one knows what might happen if Netanyahu remains the head of Likud and wins a new election, and the President, reinforced by the courts, refuses to grant an indicted member of Knesset the mandate to form a government. Nor is it known what might happen if another election produces a deadlock or a Blue and White coalition with the Joint List, and Netanyahu supporters take to the streets. The good news, perhaps, is that Tel Aviv’s business leaders and Israel’s police and security establishment—now identified with Blue and White—will also have their say.

Given the superficial similarities—the nationalist demagogy, the legal investigations, the defiance, the incumbent party’s flocking behavior—the temptation to draw parallels between the democratic tests in Netanyahu’s Israel and Trump’s America may prove irresistible. But America’s democratic institutions are far more numerous, established, and dispersed than Israel’s; America’s constitution is more comprehensive than Israel’s Basic Laws, its secular standards more stipulated, its media more independent, and its enemies much farther away. What can’t happen here, as Sinclair Lewis ironically put it, can, of course, happen anywhere, but it’s more likely to happen where institutional resistance is demonstrably more fragile. As ideals, “Jewish” and “democratic” were always vaguely in tension. Netanyahu’s gambit to stay out of court risks turning these into rallying points for confrontation.

 

Does Roy Cohn Rule The Oval Office From The Grave? | Conversations with Jim Zirin

Roy Cohn was an unscrupulous lawyer who knew how
to beat the system. As a lawyer, he lit up the town
representing mobsters, prelates and his poster child
client Donald Trump. For 15 years Cohn was Trump’s
lawyer, fixer and political mentor. Cohn’s cousin, journalist
David Marcus, knows everything knowable about him.
He compares and contrasts for Jim Zirin the many parallels
between Trump’s combative tactics in office and the Roy
Cohn he observed in action.

(Taped: 10/21/2019 )

Civil War at Fox News

Juan Williams triggered fellow The Five hosts on Fox News. Cenk Uygur and Ana Kasparian discuss on The Young Turks.

Trump Administration Accidentally Sends Democrats Talking Points

Republican talking points were accidentally sent to Democrats.

Talking points are often sent out by think tanks who are funded by wealthy donors.