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Elizabeth Warren’s anti corruption crusade evaporates when foreign policy is raised

on 16 Comments

On Tuesday, Sen. Elizabeth Warren addressed the National Press Club, outlining with great specificity a host of proposals on issues including eliminating financial conflicts, close the revolving door between business and government and, perhaps most notably, reforming corporate structures.

Warren gave a blistering attack on corporate power run amok, giving example after example, like Congressman Billy Tauzin doing the pharmaceutical lobby’s bidding by preventing a bill for expanded Medicare coverage from allowing the program to negotiate lower drug prices. Noted Warren: “In December of 2003, the very same month the bill was signed into law, PhRMA — the drug companies’ biggest lobbying group — dangled the possibility that Billy could be their next CEO.

“In February of 2004, Congressman Tauzin announced that he wouldn’t seek re-election. Ten months later, he became CEO of PhRMA — at an annual salary of $2 million. Big Pharma certainly knows how to say ‘thank you for your service.'”

But I found that Warren’s tenacity when ripping things like corporate lobbyists’ “pre-bribes”  suddenly evaporated when dealing with issues like the enormous military budget and Israeli assaults on Palestinian children.

The Press Club moderator, Angela Greiling Keane, early in the news conference asked about Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s keeping press out of town hall meetings, pairing that with Trump’s outright attacks on media.

Husseini: Sam Husseini with The Nation and the Institute for Public Accuracy. Cortez, who was mentioned earlier, and other likely incoming congressional members next year propose slashing the military budget to help pay for human and environmental needs. Do you agree? And if I could, a second question: would you consider introducing and sponsoring [a version of] Betty McCollum’s bill on Palestinians children’s rights in the Senate?

Warren: I now sit on Armed Services and I have been in the middle of the sausage making factory on that one. And that has pushed me even more strongly in the direction of systemic reforms. I want to be able to have those debates. I want to be able to get them out in the open and talk about these poor issues that affect our government, affect our people. I want to be able to debate them on the floor of the senate. I want to be able to do amendments on them. Right now the whole of big money over our government stops much of that. It chokes off much of the debate we should have. So I am going to give you a system-wide answer because I think that’s what matters here. This is not about one particular proposal, this is all the way across. How is it that we get the voices of the people heard in government instead of over and over the voices of the wealthy and the well connected. The voices of those with higher armies of lobbyists. So for me that’s what this is about.

But part of the power that the wealthy and well connected have is getting direct responses to their specific concerns. Political funders are unlikely impressed with broad “system-wide answers”.

In a sense, her non-response to very direct questions rather highlighted the problem she is presumably addressing.

And we’ve been here before.

Bernie Sanders, in his 2016 presidential run, was remarkably vague or even outright repressive regarding foreign policy, especially early on. This reach almost comical proportions when during a debate on CBS just after the November 2015 bombing in Paris, he tried to avoid substantially addressing the issue, wanting instead to fall back on income inequality. Certainly, Sanders was arguably treated very unfairly by the Democratic Party and media establishment, but he was greatly diminished by not having serious foreign policy answers.

Warren and other “progressive” candidates may be set to repeat that. Sanders did address foreign policy more at the end of the campaign and since, but his answers are still problematic at times and at best it was all too little too late.

One question is, realistically, what are Warren’s goals here? It could well be a good faith effort by someone committed to changing the world for the better. But then, why the selectivity?

If it was enactment of these policies, then the strongest way to do that might have been to find a rogue Republican to pair up with on at least some aspects of her proposals so as to avoid charges being purely politically motivated. When questioned by a New York Post reporter at the news conference, Warren couldn’t name a Republican whom she might work with. This would especially be the case since Trump — like Obama before him — ran against the establishment.

Is it to make her a leading contender for the Democratic nomination? If so, the hope would be that she’s not simply playing the role of what Bruce Dixon of Black Agenda Report calls “sheepdogging” — that is, the presidential run or promise of a run by a Sanders or Warren as simply a tool the Democratic Party establishment uses to keep enough of the public “on the reservation”.

Said Warren of her own financial reform proposals: “Inside Washington, some of these proposals will be very unpopular, even with some of my friends. Outside Washington, I expect that most people will see these ideas as no-brainers and be shocked they’re not already the law.

Why doesn’t the same principle apply to funding perpetual wars and massive human rights abuses against children?

A version of this article first appeared on Sam Husseini’s website

Sam Husseini

Sam Husseini is an independent journalist, senior analyst at the Institute for Public Accuracy and founder of Follow him on twitter: @samhusseini</a?.

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16 Responses

  1. ckg on August 22, 2018, 10:46 am

    OpenSecrets shows that Senator Warren has received funds from the pro-Israel PAC Joint Action Committee for Political Affairs for the 2018 election cycle. Among the largest funders of this PAC are billionaire venture capitalist J.B. Pritzker and his wife. At the start of Israel’s 2014 massacre in Gaza, the PAC issued a statement in support of Israel.

    • just on August 22, 2018, 12:36 pm

      No surprise there, ckg. I cannot think of anyone in Congress nor in the US cabinet that is not 99-100% in Israel supporters’ pockets. Nor can I think of anyone that is diplomatically focused. Nor can I think of anyone that is seriously objecting to the slaughter in Yemen, the ongoing attempt to topple Assad, and the endless war in Afghanistan, etc.

      Then there’s this: the US and too many others pay/subsidize Israel for the privilege of dictating foreign policy and for their own selfish, ridiculous claims of being ‘surrounded by enemies’. A nuclear- armed state (though never inspected nor properly declared) keeps this trope/cliché alive???

      How many billions should Americans and others pay to Israel for nothing in return?

      • ckg on August 23, 2018, 1:35 pm

        It will be interesting to see what happens to Ammar Campar-Najjar’s campaign now that his incumbent Republican opponent Duncan Hunter has been indicted. We could have a ***third*** Palestinian in Congress in January. He has actually lived in Gaza. Here is an interesting article on Campar-Najjar’s Palestinian background and his views on Israel:

      • ckg on August 23, 2018, 1:52 pm

        It’s curious that Ammar Campa-Najjar has raised more cash than Duncan Hunter did, but OpenSecrets doesn’t list who is donating to him:

      • ckg on August 23, 2018, 2:01 pm

        Fivethirtyeight gives Hunter a 88.6% chance of winning over Campa-Najjar. Likely split is 54.5 R to 45.5 D. But that was BEFORE the indictment LOL.

  2. Kay24 on August 22, 2018, 11:02 am

    When it comes to voting for congress people with spine and able to stand up to Israel’s arrogant influence over this country, we have no choice. It is hard to find politicians who put their country above a despicable occupier and land thief. They dare not speak against it, and folds over when it exerts pressure on them. The bottom line is, they know they cannot win an election without holding their dirty hands.
    This year too, we will be faced with the same dilemma.

    • JWalters on August 22, 2018, 10:38 pm

      And they have to watch out for assassinations.

      • Ellen on August 23, 2018, 12:28 am

        Yes, they do — political assassinations and otherwise. Thinking of political assassinations: wonder how well it will go with Jeremy Corbyn? A US politician would be dead in the water already with the Israeli attack machine he is under. Should he get elected, how long can he survive?

  3. Citizen on August 23, 2018, 4:48 am

    Maybe her father, the janitor, can explain why she is just another PEP?

  4. Maghlawatan on August 23, 2018, 7:10 am

    Standing up to the Israel lobby now is suicidal. Nobody will risk a career to support a dissident until the dam breaks as it always does.

    Power doesn’t work linearly. It goes in cycles. Zionism is tied up with money which is a function of the economic system. Warren is playing a long game. She knows the people at the Fed are clueless. She knows there is going to be an awful crash. She knows there will be a new economic system based on the people rather than the elites..

    Zionism is living on fumes in DC

    • just on August 23, 2018, 9:13 am

      “Standing up to the Israel lobby now is suicidal. …”

      Do you think that this applies to David Crane, too?

      “Head of UN Gaza Probe Quits After Less Than a Month …

      Former war crimes prosecutor David Crane, an American who was named only last month to lead a UN investigation into violence in Gaza this year, has resigned, the United Nations said.

      The UN said in a statement dated Aug. 22 that Crane had informed the Human Rights Council of his decision a day earlier, “due to a personal circumstance that has arisen” and that the Council was “considering next steps.”

      Crane, a former senior U.S. legal official who served as chief prosecutor of the Special Court for Sierra Leone in 2002-2005, was named chair of the three-person inquiry on July 25. He could not be immediately reached for comment on Thursday.

      At least 170 Palestinians have been killed by the Israeli army in what it has called border protection during weekly protests that began in late March. One Israeli soldier has been killed.

      The UN Human Rights Council voted in May to set up the investigation into the killings. Israel said it was being demonized and that the inquiry was intended to undermine its right to self-defense.

      Crane, recently retired as a Syracuse University professor, worked for decades for the U.S. government, including as senior inspector general in the Department of Defense. When chief prosecutor of the Special Court for Sierra Leone he indicted the then Liberian leader Charles Taylor for war crimes.

      The remaining members of the Commission of Inquiry are Sara Hossain of Bangladesh, and Kaari Betty Murungi of Kenya. …”

      • Maghlawatan on August 23, 2018, 1:48 pm

        Quite possibly. Chas Freeman might recognize the situation. They think they are untouchable. In reality they are hated.
        And when the time comes they will be destroyed.
        Like Tammany Hall, like the Nazis, like the Mamluks. The thing about power is that you have to use it wisely. Hillel, not Jabotinsky.

    • Misterioso on August 23, 2018, 10:55 am


      Agreed. Israel’s greatest weakness is that it is utterly dependent on the U.S.

      “She knows there is going to be an awful crash”
      More and more highly respected economists are predicting that the “crash” will occur within two years. And it’s gonna’ be brutal.

      • Maghlawatan on August 23, 2018, 1:42 pm


        5.5 trillion dollars has been taken out of the equity stock of quoted companies and replaced with debt since 2013. Over half of the stock market belongs to the plutocrats. Equity absorbs losses. Debt does not.
        The Fed can’t slash rates to fix things. We are at the end of an economic system. And Israel depends on it continuing.

  5. genesto on August 23, 2018, 12:52 pm

    For those of you with multi millions to invest but confused about how to get the best ROI (rate of return) on your money, here’s my advice – invest in a politician! The new tax bill ‘gift’ Trump just gave his obscenely wealthy supporters is a perfect case in point. The Koch Brothers benefited the most, having received an additional estate tax cut of $38.6 billion for a 2016 contribution total to the Repubs of only $11.3 million. That’s a return of 3445 TIMES their investment!!! Not too far behind is our dear friend, Sheldon Adelson and his wife who, for an ‘investment’ of $82.5 million, got an estate tax cut of $14.6 billion. That’s and ROI of 176 TIMES their investment.

    Until something is done about this, don’t expect politicians on DC to vote their conscience , particularly on Israel/Palestine, anytime soon.

  6. klm90046 on August 23, 2018, 3:47 pm

    When the Knesset on the Hill votes on a subject of crucial interest to the United States, the vote usually goes 52-48, or maybe 60-40. When the subject pertains to Israel, for example its right to continue to kill Palestinians, the vote is often 100-0.

    Who the fuck is Senator Warren to change that?

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