Connect with us

Substacks

Weekend Listening: Is Biden Too Old to Be President? The Free Press

Published

on

Joe Biden turns 81 in November. (Win McNamee via Getty Images)

As we tumble toward 2024, anxiety among Democrats is beginning to simmer. It’s easy to understand why. Just look at what happened last week: Biden was giving a press conference in Vietnam about upgrading the country’s diplomatic ties when he started rambling: “The Indian looks at John Wayne and points to the Union soldier and says, ‘He’s a lying, dog-faced pony soldier!’ Well, there’s a lot of lying, dog-faced pony soldiers out there about global warming.” Then he said, on mic, that he was going to go to bed. A voice suddenly emerged and jazz music started to play. Biden tried to answer another question, but they cut off his mic.

According to a recent CNN poll, 56 percent of Democrats are seriously concerned for Biden’s current level of physical and mental competence. Sixty-two percent of Democrats said they are seriously concerned about Biden’s ability to serve a full second term. Another poll, by AP-NORC, found that 69 percent of Democrats surveyed think Biden, who turns 81 in November, is too old for a second term.

Among the people not yet convinced that Biden needs to be in a nursing home is Atlantic staff writer Frank Foer. Foer’s new book, The Last Politician, tells the behind-the-scenes story of Biden’s first two years in office. Foer says he started as a Biden skeptic. The incoming president was, in his estimation, a bloviator who dangerously fetishized bipartisanship. But he emerges some 400 pages later with a rather more charitable view of the president. Biden is “the father figure of the West,” someone deeply experienced in foreign policy and racking up policy victories at home. Biden, he writes, “is an instructive example of the tedious nobility of the political vocation. Unheroic but honorably human. He will be remembered as the old hack who could.”

But. . . why doesn’t that come through to the public? Will Americans buy that narrative of Joe Biden in 2024? What of Hunter Biden’s legal troubles? The impeachment inquiry? What should we make of the many Biden alternatives eagerly waiting in the wings, and what would it take for one of them to step forward? 

Listen to Honestly guest host Michael Moynihan pose all these questions and more to Foer by clicking here to listen to the episode—or read an edited excerpt below.

On Foer changing his mind about Biden:

MM: You went into this having an opinion of Joe Biden. You don’t really elucidate what that opinion was, but you say it changed during the reporting for the book and you came out with a more positive idea of him as a person and a politician. Explain that a little bit.

FF: I’ve always thought he was a bit of a hack and that he was artificial. It’s like his stories are the same stories over and over again. There was this sense that he would say anything to a crowd and then do something different behind closed doors. But over time, observing him up close, I think some of his hackish tendencies mutated into things that I saw as strengths that I see disappearing from the rest of our political system. One of the things that I think is so interesting about the guy in the end is he’s so messy. He’s one of the most supremely human beings I’ve ever met. And the messiness informs the way that he practices politics. Because he wears his ambitions, his insecurities, his humanness on his sleeve, he’s able to identify those qualities in foreign leaders or Republican senators that he deals with. That forms the basis for the calculations he makes when he’s dealing with them.

On Bidenomics:

MM: Let’s talk about Bidenomics. People are rallying to Bidenomics but the economy is not great. A vast majority of people polled in both parties think it’s in a rough patch. Gas prices are rising, inflation is eased, but it seems to be ticking up again. And if you listen to people like Larry Summers, they say this is the problem with spending. The spending has created this issue that was probably necessary in some way or another during the pandemic. But after the pandemic, the spending continued creating out-of-control inflation. What do people around Joe Biden think about this messaging? Because it’s going to be a very difficult one for him to deal with in the next campaign.

FF: I think that the Summers critique has a lot of truth in it. You had this wave of pandemic spending, a lot of which happened in the Trump era, and then you have this extra bit of it that happened with the American Rescue Plan that accelerated preexisting inflationary trends. But his big objection to the American Rescue Plan and that inflationary spending was that it’d make it impossible to spend money in other programs that would have long-lasting impacts on the American economy. I think that inflation was going to be a problem for them regardless of the rescue plan. But any inflation beyond a certain level is economic pain to people. And inflation has come down faster in the United States than it has in other countries around the world. 

On criticisms of Biden: 

MM: Are there any criticisms about Biden that you think land?

FF: Sure. In terms of their Covid policy, there are a lot of right-wing critiques that I think are justified. They could have pushed harder to reopen schools. I think it’s maybe more complicated, obviously, than some of his critics portray. But in the end, it was a place where he should have devoted greater political resources and he didn’t. 

MM: He didn’t want to upset Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers, the largest donor to the Biden campaign.

FF: Right. The other element that I think is important to recall is that the nation was potentially on the brink of labor strife around schools. And maybe you could argue it was worth forcing a confrontation there. But there was real anxiety on behalf of teachers about going into schools. And so he had a strategy for managing that. I would argue he could have been more aggressive in pushing them. I think that the vaccine mandate that he imposed in the end of September of his first term was a mistake, that his instinct had been right about vaccines headed into that, that vaccines were a question of persuasion and that coercion was never going to work, and that he did something that was legally dubious by imposing a vaccine mandate and ultimately counterproductive and ended up exacerbating a lot of the culture war around the vaccine. I think in terms of foreign policy. I think the chapters on Afghanistan in my book were very harrowing to report, and I felt like I was talking to people in the immediate aftermath of the withdrawal who were traumatized themselves by the whole experience. And while I think the idea of withdrawing from Afghanistan was correct, I think that his unwillingness to engage with the humanitarian consequences of that decision was a great failing on his part from the left. The other thing I would say, just criticizing him from the center, is the push he made for voting rights was both nonsensical from a political perspective. He was never going to be able to get the maximalist Democratic version of a voting rights bill, and it also distracted from coming up with a centrist voting rights bill that would have addressed the primary problems that Trump and his subversion tactics pose to democracy. That struck me as the real threat, not whether somebody could get a bottle of water at the hundred foot mark in line. 

On Biden’s age and whether or not he’s too old to run again:

MM: Let’s talk about the thing that the media doesn’t stop talking about, and apparently is a very important issue to voters, too: age. In your book—I don’t want to say you’re dismissive of it, but you say that Biden should look at his age as a strength and something to be presented as experience. And that he’s pretty sharp and he gets his notes and gives them back to people with all of his notations. And he’s pretty engaged in policy argument. That doesn’t really come through to the American people.

FF: I have thought so much about age since my book has come out, and because it is something that is on everybody’s mind. When I was reporting the book, I was chronicling two years of governing and the political demands placed on Biden were very different during those two years than they are now. So there’s a question about Biden’s mental acuity and his governing capacity over the course of the last two years and where he sits at this moment in time.

MM: A CNN poll the other day said that 73 percent of Americans are seriously concerned for Biden’s current level of physical and mental competence. That’s three quarters of Americans!

FF: He has the ability to think through a major problem in a way that does reflect experience. So if you were to give him a mental acuity test of the likes that Nikki Haley has suggested the president should take, I’d say he would pass it. And I’d say that his age has made it harder for him to be an energetic communicator with the American public. One of the strange things about his presidency is the way in which he’s omnipresent. He gives speeches every day, he talks every day, and yet he seems to be this guy who’s at a remove.

MM: The other day, Biden said he was at Ground Zero the day after the September 11 attacks. He wasn’t. He said that he was a professor, I think, at the University of Pennsylvania, teaching political theory for four years. He wasn’t. Said something similar about his grandfather dying in the hospital the same day. He falsely claimed to have been arrested during a civil rights protest. He falsely claimed that he, quote, “used to drive an 18-wheeler,” falsely claimed to have visited the Pittsburgh synagogue where worshipers were killed in a 2018 mass shooting, falsely claimed to have visited Iraq and Afghanistan as president, told a false story involving a late relative and a Purple Heart, and falsely described his interactions decades ago with late Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir. He frequently refers to his son, Beau Biden, who died of cancer, dying in Iraq. At what point is that lying and not a gaffe?

FF: It’s clearly a tendency that is deeply ingrained in him that these are not straight examples. They’re part of a pattern of the way that he describes himself and his role in events in history. And there is something both disturbing about it on some level and, I think, very reflective of something deep in his psyche, that this desire to be at the center of the narrative and to have a version of events that kind of meshes with some idealized version of those events.

MM: But you’re reluctant to call it lying.

FF: On the surface, yes, it is. It is lying. But there are different reasons why people lie. And I think that needs to somehow be wrapped into the way in which we morally judge them. The pattern of lies are really always about himself, not about other people. And they’re self-aggrandizing. And so it’s this tendency towards self-aggrandizement, which is super connected to the way that he exists as a politician and super connected to all of these insecurities that he has. I mean, that’s how I think about it.

On Hunter Biden:

MM: You don’t mention Hunter in the book. He gets one passing mention. Why did you choose to not dig into that a little bit?

FF: I was writing about the first two years of his presidency, and Hunter was not a significant part of that narrative. And there weren’t very many questions that were posed to the White House as it related to Hunter Biden. And I wish I had more about Hunter Biden as an individual and as a figure. And that was something I got close to getting some interesting stuff on, and then I just couldn’t nail it down.

MM: There’s a lot of people on the right who see this as an opportunity to launch an impeachment investigation when there’s some curious things there. But nothing I would suspect would allow somebody to be like, oh, we can impeach him on this one. What about it, though, seems curious to you and you would like to know more?

FF: I know what everybody knows. And that doesn’t seem to me to add up to anything remotely impeachable at this stage. 

MM: So where was his failing? Where was his moral failing?

FF: I think he knew that Hunter Biden was clearly running a business that was exploiting the Biden family name and was dealing with certain figures that were in areas of the world that were adjacent to what Biden was working on. And he should have been able to say, I understand you’ve got to make a living, but this is too important for you to be working here. To me that’s not that hard of a conversation to have. And where the Biden story gets interesting is all the ways in which that does then become a complicated story for them to have a conversation, because there’s so many layers of guilt that are built onto this. I think of this as a family story as much as a political story, although it is clearly a political story. Hunter Biden was never the son that he loved most. Beau was going to be the one who was going to carry the torch for the family dynasty. Hunter was always kind of the hatchet man in that operation.

On Kamala Harris:

MM: Let’s talk a little bit about how you became quite popular in conservative media, I’m sure to your surprise, when it came to some of your reporting on Kamala Harris. Your book seems to be slightly tough on her in some parts and not on others. What do you make of her vice presidency? 

FF: I would like to thank Fox News and the New York Post. There’s this comedy where a lot of people who bought my book under false pretenses are giving it one-star reviews on Amazon, which I will happily take in exchange for the sale. There’s part that I understand about the way in which right-wing media operates and cherry-picks stuff from a book. That’s totally appropriate and in its way honorable. But there’s other ways—I’ve seen how Jesse Watters on Fox News just makes things up. There was a story in the book about how Biden was looking at a map of Kabul during the evacuation and was looking at a parking lot and said, oh, this is a place where refugees could gather. And then suddenly in the Fox News version of it, it became “Joe Biden actually wanted to build a parking lot in Kabul, and his aides were laughing their asses off at him because he’s so mentally deranged.” What’s the real question about Kamala Harris? Because every vice president suffers from some version of what she’s suffered from, which is struggling to figure out their role in the White House. They have this relationship with the president where they end up, on some level, resenting the president for constraining them. 

To support more great conversation, become a Free Press subscriber today:

Subscribe now

The Free Press earns a commission from any purchases made through Bookshop.org links in this article.

 

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Substacks

May 27, 2024 Heather Cox Richardson

Published

on

By

The White House hosted a three-day state visit for President William Ruto and First Lady Rachel Ruto of Kenya beginning on May 23, 2024. The visit marks the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Kenya and is the first state visit for an African leader since President John Kufuor of Ghana visited in 2008.

The Biden administration has worked to develop ties to African nations, whose people are leery of the United States not only because of what Biden called the “original sin” of colonists importing enslaved Africans to North American shores, but also because while the Soviet Union tended to support the movements when African nations began to throw off colonial rule, the U.S. tended to support right-wing reaction. More recently, during the Trump years the United States withdrew from engagement with what the former president allegedly called “sh*thole countries.”

In contrast, officials from the Biden administration have noted the importance of the people of Africa to the future of the global community. Currently, the median age on the continent is 19, and experts estimate that by 2050, one in four people on Earth will live on the African continent. 

Saying that Africans must have control over their own countries and their own future, U.S. officials backed the admission of the African Union to the Group of 20 (G-20), welcoming the organization’s 55 member states to the intergovernmental forum that focuses on global issues, and pledged more than $55 billion to the continent to aid security, support democratic institutions, and advance civil rights and the rule of law. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield, First Lady Jill Biden, and Secretary of State Antony Blinken have all visited the continent, where they have emphasized partnership with African countries for economic development rather than a competition with China and Russia for resource extraction. 

In March 2023, Vice President Kamala Harris traveled to Ghana, Tanzania, and Zambia to emphasize the connections between Africa and North America, focus on the importance of democracy as Russian disinformation in Africa is driving pro-Russian and anti-U.S. sentiment, and announce U.S. investment in the continent as well as calling for more. 

But in July 2023, those efforts appeared to take a step back when a military coup in Niger deposed elected president Mohamed Bazoum. A few months later, the ruling junta asked the forces of former colonial power France to leave the country and turned to Russia’s Wagner group for security. In March, U.S. diplomats and military officials expressed concern about the increasing presence of Russia in Niger, and a few days later, officials told close to 1,000 U.S. troops stationed in the country to leave as well. Russian troops moved into a military base the U.S. has been using. 

The U.S. says its troops will leave by mid-September and has pledged to continue negotiations. Niger was a key ally in the U.S. antiterrorism efforts against armed forces allied with al-Qaeda and the Islamic State. Neighboring Chad has also asked the 100 U.S. troops in the country to leave.

Meanwhile, in the year since her trip to Africa, Vice President Harris has focused on digital inclusion in Africa, recognizing that the spread of digital technology has the potential to promote economic opportunity and gender equality and to create jobs, as well as open new markets for U.S. exports. Last week, she announced that the African Development Bank Group and Mastercard have launched the Mobilizing Access to the Digital Economy Alliance (MADE), which is working with public and private investors to provide digital access for 100 million individuals and businesses in Africa over the next ten years, focusing first on agriculture and women. 

Kenya’s President Ruto won election in 2022, promising voters that he would champion the “hustlers,” the young workers piecing together an income informally. U.S. ambassador to Kenya Meg Whitman, former chief executive officer of eBay and Hewlett-Packard and unsuccessful 2010 Republican candidate for governor of California, has supported this idea of economic development. Focusing on “commercial diplomacy,” she has worked with Ruto to encourage business investment in Kenya.  

At a state luncheon with President Ruto last week, Harris reiterated her belief “that African ideas and innovations will have a significant impact on the future of the entire world—a belief driven in part by the extraordinary creativity, dynamism, and energy of young African leaders” and by the continent’s young demographic. She reiterated the need to “revise and upgrade the U.S.-Africa narrative, which is long overdue; and to bring fresh focus to the innovation and ingenuity that is so prevalent across the continent of Africa.” She warned: “Any leader that ignores the continent of Africa is doing so at their own peril.” 

While Kenya’s main economic sectors are agriculture, manufacturing, and tourism, it is also a technology hub, and Harris called out its “Silicon Savannah,” a technology ecosystem that produced the cellphone-based money transfer system M-PESA, as well as startups making biodegradable plastics, creating drinking water from humidity, and so on. 

Ruto thanked Harris and Biden “for helping us reshape, reengineer, and write a new narrative for our continent.” Africans “are going to write our own story,” Ruto said, adding that the narrative of “this continent of conflict, trouble, disease, poverty” is “not the story of Africa.” “Africa is a continent of tremendous opportunity,” he said, “the largest reserves of energy—renewable energy resources; 60 percent of the world’s arable, uncultivated land; 30 percent of…global mineral wealth, including those that are necessary for energy transition; the youngest continent, which will produce 40 percent of the world’s…workforce by 2050 and where a quarter of the world’s population will be living, providing the world’s biggest single market. In short,” he said, “Africa is a rich continent and a continent of opportunity.”  

In a conversation with Vice President Harris and Ambassador Whitman, President Ruto said that the young population of Africa is “tech hungry” and that technology “is the instrument that we can use to leapfrog Africa from where we are to…catch up with the rest of the world.” The digital space, he said, is the space that will create the greatest output from young people and women. To that end, he said, Kenya is investing 30% of its annual budget in education, training, knowledge, and skills. 

As part of his reach for global leadership, Ruto has put Kenya at the front of an initiative backed by the United Nations for a multinational security intervention in Haiti, where officials have asked for help restoring order against about 200 armed gangs in the country, coalitions of which control about 80% of the capital, Port-au-Prince. The assassination of Haitian president Jovenel Moïse in July 2021 exacerbated political instability in Haiti by creating a power vacuum, while weapons flowing into the country, primarily from straw purchases in the U.S., fed violence. Last year, then–prime minister Ariel Henry had pleaded with the United Nations Security Council to bolster Haitian security forces and combat the gangs.

The U.S. declined to lead the effort or to provide troops, although it, along with Canada and France, is funding the mission. On Thursday, Biden explained that “for the United States to deploy forces in the hemisphere just raises all kinds of questions that can be easily misrepresented about what we’re trying to do…. So we set out to find…a partner or partners who would lead the effort that we would participate in.” Kenya stepped up, although Kenyan opposition leaders, lawyers, and human rights groups are fiercely opposed to deploying Kenyans to the Caribbean nation. 

The Haitian gangs oppose the Multinational Security Support Mission (MSS), which is supposed to consist of 2,500 troops, 1,000 of whom are Kenyans. The Bahamas, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belize, Benin, Chad, and Jamaica have officially notified the United Nations secretary-general of their intent to send personnel to the mission. Other nations have said they will support the mission, but as of May 20 had not yet sent official notifications. The MSS was supposed to arrive by May 23, but a base for it in Port-au-Prince is not yet fully equipped. Experts also told Caitlin Hu of CNN that Haitian authorities have not done enough to explain to local people how the mission will work, and Haitian police say what is most necessary is more support for local police.  

Kenyan news reported that the advance team of Kenyan police officers who went to Haiti to assess conditions for their deployment there will recommend a delay in deployment.

Notes:

https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/documents/media-advisory-state-visit-president-william-ruto-and-first-lady-rachel-ruto-the-republic

https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2024/02/16/statement-from-press-secretary-karine-jean-pierre-on-the-state-visit-of-president-william-ruto-and-first-lady-rachel-ruto-of-kenya/

https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/speeches-remarks/2024/02/16/remarks-by-vice-president-harris-at-the-munich-security-conference-munich-germany/

https://apnews.com/article/biden-g-20-summit-politics-africa-china-04ce188209d1fac0c4f9e946825e3c2f

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2024/5/20/us-set-to-evacuate-illegal-troops-from-niger

https://www.cnn.com/2024/05/02/politics/us-russian-forces-niger-base/index.html

https://apnews.com/article/niger-chad-us-troops-withdrawal-russia-aa852a79bac39aaa679af3663b56deaa

https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2024/05/24/fact-sheet-vice-president-harris-announces-public-and-private-sector-commitments-to-advancing-digital-inclusion-in-africa/

https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/speeches-remarks/2024/05/24/remarks-by-vice-president-harris-and-president-william-ruto-of-the-republic-of-kenya-at-a-state-luncheon/

https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/white-house/trump-referred-haiti-african-countries-shithole-nations-n836946

4/background-press-call-previewing-the-vice-presidents-trip-to-ghana-tanzania-and-zambia/

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2023-03-23/putin-s-mercenary-prigozhin-shifts-focus-after-ukraine-setbacks

https://www.spokesman.com/stories/2023/mar/25/harris-heads-to-africa-amid-bidens-courtship-of-co/

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-64451376

https://sg.news.yahoo.com/africa-worlds-future-touring-us-090551181.html

https://apnews.com/article/kamala-harris-africa-ghana-tanzania-zambia-china-a1ecb70d87bfecf3b983d15afc498379

5/fact-sheet-u-s-africa-partnership-in-promotin-peace-security-and-democratic-governance/

https://www.csis.org/analysis/prioritizing-partnerships-africa

https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2024/05/21/whitman-ruto-kenya-cabinet-consideration-00159251

https://academic.oup.com/afraf/article/122/487/205/7133587

https://blog.prif.org/2022/11/08/have-the-tables-turned-what-to-expect-from-kenyas-new-hustler-president-william-ruto/

https://press.un.org/en/2023/sc15432.doc.htm

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2024/05/24/haiti-kenya-security-force/

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2024/3/13/who-are-haitis-gangs-and-what-do-they-want-all-you-need-to-know

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/longform/2024/3/25/a-criminal-economy-how-us-arms-fuel-deadly-gang-violence-in-haiti

https://www.npr.org/2024/05/19/1252380146/us-troops-leave-niger

https://www.cnn.com/2024/05/24/americas/haiti-gang-mss-kenya-explainer-intl/index.html

https://www.state.gov/un-security-council-authorizes-multinational-security-support-mission-to-haiti/

https://www.citizen.digital/news/kenyan-police-advance-team-returns-from-haiti-as-deployment-faces-delay-n342868

https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/speeches-remarks/2024/05/24/remarks-by-vice-president-harris-and-president-william-ruto-of-the-republic-of-kenya-during-a-moderated-conversation-on-digital-inclusion-in-africa/

https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/speeches-remarks/2024/05/23/remarks-by-president-biden-and-president-william-ruto-of-the-republic-of-kenya-in-joint-press-conference/

https://news.un.org/en/story/2024/05/1149831

Share

 

Continue Reading

Substacks

I Helped Make Standing Rock Go Viral. Now I Regret It. Lucy Biggers

Published

on

By

Lucy Biggers poses at Standing Rock in December 2016, after she went live from the camp on the NowThis Facebook page. (All photos courtesy of the author)

Eight years ago, I was in my mid-20s, and like many of my colleagues at NowThis News, I was completely aligned with the company’s left-wing content. As a social video producer, each day I logged on and searched my newsfeed for stories and videos that would appeal to our millions of Facebook followers. I called myself a journalist but really I was an early social media influencer, pushing a very specific point of view. 

The stories that got the most engagement were ones that elicited strong emotions, either happiness or anger. A “happy” story was one in which the good guys—LGBTQ activists, BLM protesters, climate change warriors, and the like—won some battle against greedy capitalists, cops, or (insert white authority figure here). An “angry” story was one in which those oppressors screwed over the good guys. When I came across a story I thought could go viral, I quickly edited the video and added subtitles and music. Then I’d sit back and wait for the reaction from our like-minded followers.

So, in October 2016, when the actress Shailene Woodley popped up on my computer screen, I knew she was going to generate a whole lot of views.

The clip showed her speech after she won an award from the Environmental Media Association. For months, she had been deeply involved in trying to block the Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota. Flanked by several members of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, she spoke emotionally about the importance of stopping the oil pipeline.

“What we are seeing right now at Standing Rock is that thousands of people are committed to fighting and winning a battle against corporate greed with nothing but love and compassion, prayer, and ceremony,” she said. “I’m calling out to everyone in this room tonight, show up. Don’t just tweet about it. . . Go to Standing Rock. Go to Standing Rock.

I quickly did my thing: I ran the video through my editing software, moving the best moments to the beginning. I added emotional music by searching “heartfelt” and “somber” in our music library. I wrote some subtitles. Then I posted it.

Within 24 hours, the video had over 1 million views. By December, that number was up to 17 million. 

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe opposed the pipeline because it was going to be routed underneath Lake Oahe, where the reservation gets its water, which they consider sacred. Even though the pipeline would be 95 feet below the lake, the tribe feared a leak could contaminate it. The protests began in April 2016, when some 60 members of the tribe rode on horseback for miles to set up the Sacred Stone Camp, which soon became known as Standing Rock. They vowed to stay until the pipeline was stopped.

Over the next few months, thanks to the viral clips shared by NowThis and other left-leaning social media sites, hundreds and then thousands of people joined the camp. The Native Americans led the protests, sometimes locking themselves to pipeline machinery or trespassing on the construction sites. Every day, protesters uploaded videos of these “acts of resistance” to Facebook. 

Woodley was a regular at Standing Rock, often livestreaming on Facebook. In one grainy video, she talked about the evils of capitalism, the threat of climate change, and out-of-control corporate greed. She talked about her vegan diet and the increasing difficulty of finding nontoxic foods. In my mind, all of these issues were connected. Late-stage capitalism, colonialism, commercial agriculture, and corporate greed were all part of the mindset that was leading a greedy pipeline company—Energy Transfer Partners—to desecrate Native American land.

For months leading up to Woodley’s speech, I had watched videos of the Standing Rock protests every day, all day long. The term doomscrolling hadn’t been invented yet, but that’s what I was doing. In mid-October, I had watched footage of the police clashing violently with Standing Rock protesters. I quickly edited the footage for NowThis. The next day, Senator Bernie Sanders reshared my video to his millions of followers. Talk about validation!


Read more

 

Continue Reading

Substacks

Rashida Tlaib Speaks at Detroit Conference Tied to Terrorist Group Francesca Block

Published

on

By

Rep. Rashida Tlaib speaks at the People’s Conference for Palestine last Saturday. (Screenshot via YouTube)

Over the weekend, while most Americans were barbecuing and honoring our fallen soldiers, U.S. Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib was in Detroit, speaking at a conference alongside two people with links to a U.S. designated terrorist organization. 

Tlaib was a surprise speaker Saturday at the three-day “People’s Conference for Palestine.” Minutes before she took the stage at the Huntington Place convention center, hundreds of attendees, many dressed in keffiyehs, danced and sang along to music, which one of the organizers told the crowd was a “medley of songs from the first Intifada.” Then he introduced Tlaib, who walked up to the podium with her fist in the air as the audience stood and cheered.

In her 15-minute talk, the Michigan congresswoman accused Israel of “war crimes” and called Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a “murderous war criminal.” She also appeared to threaten Joe Biden’s election prospects in her state. Referring to the campus protesters, Tlaib stated: “It is disgraceful that the Biden administration and my colleagues in Congress continue to smear them for protesting to save lives no matter faith or ethnicity. It is cowardly. But we’re not gonna forget in November, are we?” 

Wissam Rafidi, a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a Marxist terrorist group founded in 1967, also addressed the conference. The PFLP, which the U.S. has designated as a terrorist organization, is not as prominent as Hamas or other terrorist groups. But has, among other things, claimed responsibility in 2019 for exploding a device that killed a 17-year-old Israeli girl in Dolev, a settlement in the West Bank.

At the conference on Friday, Rafidi said, “These Zionists lie like they breathe. I want to assure everyone that there is no longer a place for a two-state solution for any Palestinian. The only solution is one democratic Palestinian land which will end the Zionist project in Palestine.” He also said: “Hamas is part of the resistance of the Palestinian people.” 

Another speaker at the conference was Sana’ Daqqa, the wife of a PFLP terrorist who was sentenced to life in prison for the 1984 abduction and murder of an Israeli soldier. Speaking on both Friday and Sunday, Daqqa praised the anti-Israel movement on U.S. campuses. She then referenced the Hamas massacre on October 7, called the al-Aqsa Flood, as the response to Israel. “The only thing that can stop this is a flood,” she said. “This is what the resistance intended, that the flood would become floods throughout the entire region.” 

The conference was organized by over a dozen pro-Palestine groups, including The People’s Forum, which owns the conference’s website domain. As a recent Free Press investigation showed, The People’s Forum is funded by multimillionaire Marxist Neville Roy Singham, who was born and became wealthy in America but now lives in Shanghai where he funds a number of propaganda sites boosting the Chinese Communist Party. People’s Forum’s executive director Manolo De Los Santos also spoke at the conference, calling for the end of America. “We have to bring down this empire with one million cuts, and those one million cuts have to come from every sector of struggle in this room,” De Los Santos said.

The group’s involvement in the conference “underscores foreign influence efforts into destabilizing U.S. institutions through grassroots activism,” said Alex Goldenberg, lead intelligence analyst at the Network Contagion Research Institute, which researches the spread of “hostile ideological content.”

“The rhetoric from speakers, including those with direct ties to terrorist organizations, glorifies violent resistance and revolutionary actions,” Goldenberg added. “This, coupled with the call for sustained and intensified direct action, raises the alarming possibility that individuals are being indoctrinated to embrace and participate in violence.”

The People’s Forum and its partners, including the Palestinian Youth Movement, are now organizing a rally in D.C. on June 8, calling on protesters to serve as a “red line” and to “surround the White House.” 

“Their explicit objectives are to organize and mobilize protests over the summer, which should raise significant national security concerns,” Goldenberg said.

In February, Tlaib’s sister helped organize a protest vote in Michigan’s Democratic primary against Biden’s policy of supporting Israel in the Gaza War. More than 100,000 Michigan voters cast their ballot for “uncommitted,” including Tlaib herself. As of press time, Tlaib’s spokesperson had not responded to a request for comment from The Free Press

Francesca Block is a reporter for The Free Press. Follow her on X (formerly Twitter) @FrancescaABlock. Eli Lake is a Free Press columnist. Follow him at @EliLake

And become a Free Press subscriber today:

Subscribe now

 

Continue Reading

Shadow Banned

Copyright © 2023 mesh news project // awake, not woke // news, not narrative // deep inside the filter bubble