Rob Fein is the legal director for FreeSpeechforPeople.org. He is a constitutional lawyer who previously served as Assistant Regional Counsel in U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, where he received the National Gold Medal for exceptional service. He is the Co-Author of The Constitution Demands It: The case for impeachment of Donald Trump.
Bill, as he promised in the podcast sent me his sources for some of the claims that he made, including this about attitudes to Sharia Law, He also sent this link from the Gatestone Institute, an organisation that claims to be a think tank, but in reality is just a fake news mill, cranking out stories that are either gross misrepresentations of the facts, or just plain false.
I actually covered one of their claims on podcast 66 and it’s notable that one of the sources that the Gatestone Institute cite is, in fact, from a BBC journalist, Ruth Alexander, who produced a piece with a whole slew of statistics, and she’s saying the exact opposite of what the Gatestone Institute claimed she was saying.
As I’m recording this, the UK government is preparing fora vote on Theresa May’s deal with the EU to do Brexit in an orderly way. She is certain to be defeated, most likely by a huge margin. What happens next is almost impossible to say, because the House of Commons is split into multiple factions, with MPs of various parties wanting to stay in the EU, take May’s deal and leave, or leave the EU with no deal.
There is a large majority against every possible outcome,and a very real chance that May, or her entire government will fall out of office, and there is no obvious successor who can do any better at uniting either the MPs or the population, so there is sure to be instability. The UK has long since given up on trying to pursue any other policy goals, they have been preoccupied by this for nearly three years, and there is no end in sight.
Across the Atlantic, President Trump seems to be staring down the barrel of Robert Mueller’s prosecution for campaign finance violations and possible more serious charges. Observers of the White House have various opinions of Trump, Mueller and any possible charges, but nobody disagrees that this is the sole focus of the administration at the moment. As in the UK, almost everything else is on hold.
There is strong evidence that Russian military intelligence put a lot of resources into promoting the Brexit vote in the UK, and the candidacy of Donald Trump. You might have different opinions as to why they did that, and whether it made any difference, but we can certainly see what Putin wanted, even if we don’t agree on anything else.
But consider this. Think of a point sometime in the near future. The UK is struggling to appoint a new prime minister. President Trump is all-consumed by fighting criminal charges. If you were Putin and you wanted to launch a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, or the Baltic states, or Poland,what moment would you choose to do it?
So here’s a bit of what I said at the top of the podcast a little over a year ago.
Yeah, so I guess that MBS is getting a bit more name recognition now than he was a year or so ago.
There are a couple of things to remember about Saudi Arabia. It’s not a country in the normal sense. It is the only place on earth without a constitution or basic law of any type. The will of the prince, literally, is law. Its name, ludicrously, is that of the al-Saud ruling family. It is literally a personal fiefdom.
And they make extensive use of capital punishment, beheading people whenever the mood strikes them, and they’re not too picky about due process. So it’s not too much of a stretch to think that a troublesome journalist, who would be dispatched without a second thought while in the country, would be a target while outside the country.
So, yes, I still think that Mohammad Bin Salman will be much more of an influence on Saudi Arabia than his recent predecessors. Exactly how that will work out, I really don’t know, but he was high-fiving and bear-hugging Vladimir Putin at the G20 summit in Buenos Aires last week, so I’m not holding my breath for liberal democracy any time soon.
And speaking of democracy, in July, I talked about an electoral system that the state of Maine confirmed by popular ballot, and I gave a brief explanation of how it would work in a piece that I recorded outdoors on holidays.
So this system was tested in the elections in November, particularly in Maine’s second district. Maine has two House members. The race was very close, Bruce Poliquin the incumbent Republican member, in the first round polled very slightly more than Jared Golden, the Democratic challenger. But, as I said it was very close, there was less than a one per cent margin, both got around 46 per cent of the vote. The rest of the votes went to two minor independents.
Because nobody got more than 50 per cent of the vote, those two minor candidates were eliminated, and counters went to look at the votes of those minor candidates. There were about 23,000 of them, and of those 23,000 voters over 10,000 had given their second-preference vote to Golden, and less than 5,000 to Poliquin. This put Golden about one percentage point ahead of Poliquin on the final count, with about 50.5 per cent of the vote.
The bottom line is that more voters preferred Golden, and so he won. Poliquin made threats of court action against the count, saying that only the first-preference votes should be counted, but that doesn’t seem to be happening, which isn’t so surprising, I’m not really sure how he would like to explain to a judge how the electoral system should be changed after the votes have been cast, and the votes should be counted in a different way to the one that the voters expected.
But in all the other Maine races, and almost always with Ranked Choice Voting, the candidate who wins the first count goes on to win the election, even if they have to wait for the lower preference votes of minor candidates to be distributed.
The point of the system isn’t to change who gets elected, it is to change how they get elected. It requires the winning candidate to get at least 50 per cent of the vote, so riling up a small base with negative campaigning is less successful. As Jared Golden – congressman elect Jared Golden – discovered, it’s important to appeal beyond your base, and that’s something important these days.
A quick message to everyone asking where the podcast is, and where I am and whether I’m still alive.
Unfortunately I got swamped by work commitments and I nearly caught up, and then some other things caught up on me. But I’m getting on top of it all, so I’ll be back shortly with lots more guests and podcasts. So if you are subscribed to the podcast, that will show up in your feed soon – but if you not and you want to be informed, you can subscribe to the podcast by email – just enter your name and email address to the right.
Larry Atkins is a journalist, university professor, columnist, lawyer, and author of the book Skewed: A Critical Thinker’s Guide to Media Bias published by Prometheus Books. Continue reading “CO092 Larry Atkins on Media Bias”
Vladimir Putin is either very stupid or very clever.
Yes, I’m talking about the Russian affair again. No, not that one, the other one – try to keep track. Continue reading “CO091 Lori Price on Alternative News Values”
Greta Zarro describes herself as a vegetarian sociologist-environmentalist, and she is the organizing director of World Beyond War. We talked about this article she wrote, and in the podcast I also mentioned the bombing of the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, UK, and the Haska Meyna wedding party airstrike.
I was looking through the Reddit politics subreddit thinking about what I would talk about at the top of the show, and it sure wasn’t giving me much inspiration. Continue reading “CO090 Greta Zarro on a World Without War”
Dr Joseph Zernik is a writer, a researcher and a Human Rights activist based in Israel.
Submissions which he wrote on behalf of the organisation Human Rights Alert – NGO have been incorporated into UN Human Rights Council Periodic Reports.
This is turning into a political correctness bumper edition, so sorry about that but I wanted to comment a bit about the controversy that blew up in the Continue reading “CO087 Iona Italia on the Rights and Wrongs of Sarah Jeong”
Gary Kebbel served as dean at the College of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. In the podcast, I mentioned my previous interview with Professor Henry Jenkins of USC.
George Marlin is the author of Christian Persecutions in the Middle East: A 21st Century Tragedy published by St Augustine’s Press. George also served two terms as Executive Director and CEO of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and he is chairman of Aid to the Church in Need. Continue reading “CO085 George Marlin on Defending Persecuted Christians”
Henry Jenkins is the Provost Professor of Communication, Journalism, Cinematic Arts and Education at USC Annenberg, and previously of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He also presents the How Do you Like It So Far podcast. Continue reading “CO084 Henry Jenkins on Future Media”
Helen Raleigh is an immigration policy Fellow at the Centennial Institute and she is a leading voice for a free market based legal immigration reform. In October 2016, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights appointed Helen to the Colorado State Advisory Committee. In November 2016, she was recognized as a “distinguished toastmaster” (DTM) by Toastmaster International for her achievement in both communication and leadership.
We also talked about the book When China Rules the World by Martin Jacques.
Dr Ed Gogek is a psychiatrist and a specialist in treating addiction. He’s also the author of Marijuana Debunked: A handbook for parents, pundits and politicians who want to know the case against legalization. Continue reading “CO082 Ed Gogek on the Case Against Marijuana”
Dr Gregory L. Schneider is Professor of History at Emproia State University, and he’s the author of The Conservative Century: From Reaction to Revolution (Critical Issues in American History). Continue reading “CO080 Gregory Schneider on The History of Conservatism”
Mike Ludwig is a reporter for TruthOut.org. We talked about his article Scott Pruitt’s Embattled Science “Transparency” Rule Does Not Apply to Pesticides.
I also mentioned the Royal Society of Chemistry’s £1m bounty for the UK’s first chemical-free product – they say that they will pay £1m for anyone who can provide a handful of any substance that is ‘chemical-free’. The prize, first offered in 2010 remains unclaimed.