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As promised every Friday we’ll tell you what our favorite segments of the week are, give you a written and expanded version of #RisingQs, and give you our weekly takeaways. If there’s anything you love, like, dislike, or hate don’t hesitate to reply to this email with your thoughts!
In Case You Missed It:
We’re writing a book! The Populist’s Guide To 2020 due out on February 8th, 2020. Come meet us on our book tour in LA on 2/8 or in NYC on 3/6. Make sure you’re subscribed to this newsletter to find out when you can pre-order!
LA Tickets w/ Special Guest Jimmy Dore: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/risings-krystal-ball-and-saagar-enjeti-live-w-special-guest-jimmy-dore-tickets-88540806937
NYC tickets with special guests Michael Brooks and Kyle Kulinski: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/risings-krystal-ball-and-saagar-enjeti-live-tickets-88550184987
Favorite Segments Of The Week
1) Tulsi Gabbard:
Why: Congresswoman Gabbard details to us how she tried on multiple occasions to constrain the Trump administration’s ability to strike Iran from the NDAA budget but was overruled at every turn by the complacent Democratic leadership in the House.
2) Trita Parsi and Michael Pregent:
Why: Trita and Micheal are on polar opposite ends of the foreign policy spectrum, but brought important differing view points to Rising the morning after Iran struck US bases in Iraq. Trita warned that absent a concerted US effort to provide Iran an off-ramp for hostilities, future conflict may be inevitable. We both truly learned so much from hearing these two debate.
3) Aaron Glantz:
Why: Aaron’s reporting on the housing crisis in the US is unparalleled. Now he’s turning to shell corporation ownership of American housing, which is often used for money laundering. It’s also an important part of why housing has become so unaffordable in major cities. He updated us on his latest work.
Answer (from Krystal): I think Ro has been one of the most thoughtful and forward thinking leaders on trying to check this administration’s hawkish instincts versus Iran. It certainly looks like if Democratic leadership had followed the lead of House members Khanna, Gabbard, Lee and others we may have averted this disastrous escalation. You don’t get anything without being willing to fight for it though and it appears that leadership would rather spend their political capital on fruitless gestures than on actually taking back war-making responsibilities. The truth is, most of these people don’t really want the accountability that comes with having real responsibility. They prefer fruitless gestures and McResistance.
Answer (from Saagar): Coming up with something useful to say everyday is extraordinarily challenging. I keep my eyes peeled on Twitter and the news in the hours after the show that I think fits within the themes we love to discuss on Rising. When I’m reasonably certain nothing else will break for the rest of the day I start writing. Next thing I know its the next day, I’m done, and I’m doing it all over again.
Answer (from Krystal): My process is pretty much the same as Saagar. The comments you all make to us and stories you send us are tremendously helpful! In the morning we go over elements like polls, graphics or soundbites with the team. We do a practice run and then it’s off to the races! I will say that having the discipline of writing every day really made the book process a lot easier.
Answer (from Saagar): Yes. You’ll just have to read it or come to one our book shows to find out the full story.
This week perhaps more than any other has exposed the vacuous priorities of Democratic leadership. While anti-war Democrats like Tulsi Gabbard, Bernie Sanders, Ro Khanna, Barbara Lee and others, have been pushing for years to constrain Trump’s war-making powers, Democrats have used all their political capital elsewhere. If they had spent a fraction of the energy they spent on Russia conspiracies and Ukraine on avoiding war with Iran, we would be in a very different situation this week. Instead, the week ends with Democrats having taken an impotent protest vote on the War Powers Act; a useless statement of protest with no power or leverage behind it.
As recently as just weeks ago, progressives were working with anti-war Republicans to push for an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that would have denied Trump funding for an Iran strike without seeking Congressional approval. The amendment passed the House but was stripped out in conference with the Republican led Senate. It’s unknown whether it was house or senate leadership who stripped that provision out, but one thing is clear: Democrats, having just impeached the President for lawlessness and abuse of power, have continued to hand him a blank check when it comes to war making. Outside of a few courageous voices, they haven’t even put up a fight.
The President is fully responsible for his wreckless assassination of Suleimani which very nearly triggered a full on war and still might. However, it is unconscionable that Democrats, having witnessed the ratcheting up of tensions, and knowing full well where this could be heading, spent no time pressing to assert their power in this sphere. In fact, Bernie Sanders has gotten nothing but shit for being the lone vote against additional sanctions on Iran which directly helped Trump to execute his maximum pressure strategy. Those Iran sanctions were cleverly paired with Russia sanctions and nearly every Democrat is running around with their neo-McCarthy hair on fire simultaneously seeking an aggressive posture towards Russia and terrified of being smeared as a Kremlin asset.
Thank goodness, we have stepped back from the cliff for at least the time, but this moment has been deeply revealing. It was deeply revealing of the hollowness of the President’s rhetoric around endless wars. This week was deeply revealing of the Democratic candidates and who has a voice of moral clarity against war and mindless tough guy rhetoric even when there is a political price to pay. And it clarified more than maybe any other moment, just how impotent and off-target the #resistance of Democratic leadership really is.
Escalating tensions between the U.S. and Iran this week serve as a stark reminder that endless war is a built in condition within the national security bureaucracy. This was best on display in how President Donald Trump’s decision to kill General Qassim Sulemani.
Trump did not purposefully seek out the death of the Iranian general. Instead according to reporting from The New York Times it was the most extreme decision response offered to him by the national security state.
As I explained on the show, the way the Pentagon normally operates is that it has 3 options for a President: A mild one, a middle one, and an extreme one. They usually insert the extreme option to ensure that the President picks the middle one and they get their way.
In this particular case, they leaked afterwards that they were shocked Trump picked the extreme option at all. It demonstrates that the national security bureaucracy can box Presidents in to doing whatever they want by manipulating the range of options that are available to you to respond.
Options that actually ring true to what you promised on the campaign trail are very rarely entertained, and therein lies the problem.