INTERVIEW: HARRIET WASHINGTON – the use and misuse of drugs

Author of “Deadly Monopolies,” “Medical Apartheid,” and “Carte Blanche.”

Interview on CSPAN

https://www.c-span.org/video/?510051-1/depth-harriet-washington

a “bad day”

It has been days since I have watched corporate TV news.  I have been reading, writing, painting and binge-watching Dickens, Trollope, and Austen on Amazon Prime. 

Every time I turn on the corporate news I find CNN hosts interviewing other CNN hosts about their new books.  On MSNBC, I find people like Jason “Island of misfit black girls” Johnson, pontificating and acting like he’s something other than a vicious attack dog there to repeatedly blame the progressives in the Democratic Party for all the failures of the party establishment.    

Morning Joe has turned into a prayer meeting with Joe Scarborough spending whole segments lecturing viewers on what a “true Christian” is.  This is the news?  Mika Brzezinski relentlessly promotes her “know your worth” marketing/money making strategy.  She actually seems to think that people are going to believe this from a woman who “knew her worth” to such an extent she had an adulterous affair and then married her boss.  She defers to him, babies him, allows herself to be regularly demeaned, interrupted and ridiculed by him.  This is women knowing their worth.

In the afternoons, former Senator Claire MacCaskill has taken obsequious behavior to new heights, fawning over Nicolle Wallace at every turn, baking cakes for Wallace and lighting candles on the cake while lauding Wallace’s journalism.  This is the news?

MacCaskill does this while the other members of the panel (including the other prime ass-kisser, Jason Johnson) clap their hands like school children.  It is just nauseating.

There is no, no international news anymore on either CNN or MSNBC.  The amount of information being communicated is almost nil.  It’s like a televised circle-jerk, reporters interviewing other reporters, promoting each other’s books or (worse still) interviewing members of Congress, as if any member of congress is going to say anything either interesting or informative.  There are only a handful of people in the entire Congress who say ANYTHING that is not a collection of focus-group tested nonsense. 

The corporate media is, in short, like a toy my friend told me she bought her grandson a couple of years ago.  I couldn’t even grasp what she was talking about as she described this gadget.  It was a mechanical thing that had no purpose except to move.  It was called a “fidget spinner.”  The corporate news media is an intellectual fidget spinner – words and words and words and interview after interview after interview filling up space, for no reason except to make money for somebody and create the impression that things are under control.  As Scarborough says the “institutions are holding.”

Meanwhile, the institutions are not holding.  The criminal enterprise that was the Trump administration has gone without accountability or punishment, and will continue to do so.  The legal system works to prosecute, hold accountable, and punish only the poor.  We are repeatedly treated to an orgy of spectacle creating the impression that the powerful will be held accountable only to watch the whole sorry exercise collapse.

The Supreme Court which has sold democracy down the tubes with decisions such as Citizens’ United, is poised to further structure the legal system to favor the wealthy and powerful.  The Congress is afraid of its shadow.  If the Biden administration does not do away with the filibuster, alter the Supreme Court, fight for ordinary Americans, and ensure election fairness and security, the Trump/McConnell crime family will be back in power partially in two years, and totally in four.

All you have to do it look at the flood of voter suppression laws that have been passed in Georgia and other states to see that Republicans are going to make sure that the Democrats lose control of the Congress in 2022 and the presidency in 2024.  They are circling like sharks.  All four years of Trump did for them was to give them the smell of blood and demonstrate how easily they could turn this into an authoritarian Christian nationalist state.

Meanwhile, Ari Melber makes jokes, quotes banal rap lyrics (of sexist rap stars) like they were great literature and/or philosophy and interviews celebrities, barely keeping himself from peeing his pants with glee at his proximity to fame.  It is all just really disgusting.

And, then there’s today.  A 21-year-old man has murdered eight women and was on his way to murder more.  But, as the Georgia Sheriff’s office spokesman said, he “had a bad day.”  There are so many things wrong with this story and the coverage of it and the people involved, I don’t know where to begin.

I feel like my mother when she first started watching the O.J. Simpson trial.  She watched for a couple of hours.  “What do you think?”  I said.  “I think they should all be put in prison now,” she replied getting up in disgust to go and read.  “Who?” I asked.  “All of them.”  She said.  “Simpson, the judge, the prosecutors, the defense attorneys, the reporters, all of them.”  She was, of course, right.

That’s precisely what I feel about everybody involved in this murder case in Atlanta.

The Georgia Sheriff and CNN are talking about “sex addiction” as if sex addiction was  something real.  Law enforcement, politicians and the corporate media are actually mouthing the ludicrous sex equivalent of the “Twinkie Defense” for this Long guy.  The Cherokee Sheriff’s office guy, Baker, found it his responsibility to provide an excuse for a man who walked into businesses that employ women (at starvation wages) to cater to the perverted pleasures of men and murder them.   What is this Baker, Long’s defense attorney?  Official law enforcement provides a narrative for the future jury pool excusing this man because of his “sex addiction.”

“Sex addiction?” There is no such thing as a sex addiction.  It’s a fake con devised by the rehabilitation industry to make money.  No serious person would even allow those two words together to come out of their mouth.  A male reporter on CNN said that the young man “had issues.”  ISSUES?////// ISSUES????????? 

He hates women, that’s the issue, he hates and despises women and has racist exploitive sexual fantasies about them that he felt entitled to act out.  It has nothing to do with addiction.  Long is not mentally ill, that we know of.  He is just the same kind of oppressive, abusive, exploitive, violent bastard that this culture turns out by the millions.  He’s just like Donald Trump, Jeffrey Epstein, that old man who used to be a comedian who doped and then raped women (I’m 70.  I can’t remember his f…ing name), Weinstein, Cuomo, and God knows how many more. 

But, we can’t talk about that.  We can’t talk about a culture that makes the hatred of women fundamental, trades in the commodification of women’s bodies at every turn, provides a market for sexual perversion of every sort and then blames the impoverished women who are forced to participate in it for their own destruction at the hands of the very men they are forced to service. 

This guy “had a bad day.”  That’s what Baker, the Sheriff’s Office guy, said. He had a “bad day” and “issues” and “a sexual addiction.”  No, the women who were killed and their families had a bad day, a tragic day.  This guy acted out his violent racist sexual perversions, violent sexual perversions that are fed every day by the media and the entertainment industry and politics. 

Economic outlook. fstv. podcast. if you lived with a roommate that was as unstable as this economic system…

ALTERNATIVES TO THE CORPORATE NEWS MEDIA

In this unique collection of over 50 essays, “The Sickness is the System: When Capitalism Fails to Save Us from Pandemics or Itself,” Richard D. Wolff argues clearly that “returning to normal” no longer responds adequately to the accumulated problems of US capitalism. What is necessary, instead, is transition toward a new economic system that works for all of us.

“The Sickness is the System” is published by Democracy at Work. Professor Wolff generously donated his time and work so that all sales revenue could go to support d@w. This book is now available as a paperback.

Learn more on Democracy at Work’s website!democracyatwork.infoBooksNew book by Prof Wolff: “The Sickness is the System: When Capitalism Fails to Save Us from Pandemics or Itself.” Our books are accessible texts which are informative and enjoyable for both those who are new to or very familiar the subjects of socialism, marxism, and capitalism.

putting “profit before candor.” Freespeech TV

Richard Wolff, Economic Update

The corporate news media is a vast wasteland, a mental fidget-spinner of trite nonsense.  It’s purpose, as far as I can tell, is to keep the lid on, to convince the population that the “institutions are holding,” and to stupify the public into believing that nothing is really wrong. 

There is the endlessly repeated both-sidesism enmeshed in the discussion of every topic.  Tonight, for example, in covering the allegations that DeSantis, Governor of Florida, participated in making it possible for rich campaign donors to skip the line on vaccines, Ari Melber felt it was necessary to show photographs of Cuomo and note for the audience that the show also covered Democrats who were accused of wrongdoing.   

And, there are the jokes, the uplifting People Magazine stories, the fashioning of narrative to make heroes out of every person who just behaves with normal human decency.

Essentially, the corporate news media is a waste of time. 

But, there are other places to go for news.  There are more podcasts than one person can listen to in a lifetime, and there are a few TV channels.  Freespeech TV is one of them. 

Richard Wolff hosts a program called Economic Update.  There are no guests, no video clips, no commercials. The program is adult news, discussion.

These are notes on the episode from 3/3/21

History Lessons on Capitalism’s Failures  

•            Even if you argue that the present economic system works in normal times, it certainly has not worked in a crisis like the pandemic.

•            Freemarket capitalism produced no warehouses of supplies (masks, ventilators) waiting to be distributed .  There were no facilities in population centers stocked with testing equipment.  There was no plan for dealing with the dislocations that a pandemic would cause. There’s no money, no profit in it.

•            Private enterprise isn’t going to provide a plan or products, or logistics for dealing with a pandemic before it happens. Only government can do that.

•            The signs the system isn’t up to the job of dealing with a crisis are everywhere.  Take, for example rising food prices.  The evidence is that globally food prices are increasing.  Private enterprise is not going to function to ensure the distribution of food in a pandemic.  Secondly, under the current system of capitalism, the eviction crisis will only exacerbate the pandemic problem.  In a pandemic people need to stay at home, but with evictions uncontrolled by the government, that’s exactly what we will not get.  Thirdly, only 5% of private schools are having internet learning due to the pandemic.  Private schools can afford to take measures to ensure safety.  They can have smaller classes, move people to other buildings.  65% of public schools, however, are not meeting students.  They are forced into distance learning.  The students on the bottom of the economic scale are taking the hit of the pandemic.

•            As Richard Wolff notes, the problems are so evident that the question is really: “Why are there people not understanding this still?” 

•            Wolff goes on to discuss the settlement of a criminal case against Boeing in which the company that makes most of the planes we travel in, was allowed to pay its way out of criminal prosecution for  $2.5 billion dollars.  Boeing, the settlement said, lied and put “profit before candor.”   But, in a capitalist society, profit is put before everything.  The people who run Boeing make careers from profit, not from candor. 

Economic Update, FSTV, is well worth your time. 

A breath of fresh air, a democrat tells the truth about christopher wray, fbi

Blog: Christopher Wray

For reasons inexplicable to me, the corporate media has always tried to make a hero out of Christopher Wray.  Most of the Democratic establishment has refused to criticize him and Biden has decided to allow him to remain as FBI Director.

But, in a giant departure from the way Wray is talked about by the corporate news media and the Democratic party, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse from Rhode Island, last night on MSNBC’s Chris Hayes, told the truth.  It was a breath of fresh air. Democrats ought to try it more often.

Whitehouse told Hayes that in Wray’s testimony before the Senate, he was “less clear” than Merrick Garland that the Justice Department would follow the investigation of the January 6, insurrection wherever it may lead. 

Whitehouse was particularly concerned that the investigation would be dumped on the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia.  Were this to happen, Whitehouse argued, there would be real questions of whether the investigation would go further than low level participants to “upstream investigations” of people who were actually driving the crime.  Whitehouse seemed to feel confident that Garland would pursue these “upstream” investigations.

When asked directly by Hayes if he thought Wray was a “straight shooter,” Whitehouse issued a scoffing laugh.  “If so, that would be a new phenomenon.” 

“I’ve spent three years trying to get him to answer questions and he has hidden behind every conceivable dodge” continued Whitehouse.  “We have unanswered questions from 2017.”

According to Whitehouse, in hearing after hearing during the Trump administration, Wray failed to answer questions not only submitted by Democrats, but those submitted by Republicans.  In seven of nine hearings Wray participated in, the committee got no answers. 

“He (Wray) participated in or ran a massive traffic jam that stopped answers to huge numbers of QFRs (questions for the record)…and to all of our letters.  At the same time, he set up this side road where they could run” lots of documents into the Republicans to do the Cross Fire Hurricane investigation. 

Whitehouse said he still wanted to know why questions got “jammed into the traffic jam” while “Trump friendly” questions got high speed treatment.  He wanted to know “why were we stonewalled all those years…what was the method, on whose instruction was that done, what was the scheme, what was the plan, why did it happen, all that.” 

And Whitehouse, quite rightly, pointed out that the FBI under Wray engaged in an absurd exercise characterized as an “investigation” of the charges against Brett Kavanaugh. 

Whitehouse said it was necessary to go back to “the FBI investigation of Bret Kavanaugh and whether that was real or fake and what happened with that so called tip line FBI ran, because as best as I can tell…all the information (from the tip line)…got dumped straight into the bin.”  None of it got reviewed “pursuant to standard FBI procedures for reviewing the information that comes in through a tip line.  It was more a tip dump than a tip line.  And understanding if that happened, why that happened on whose direction, presumably from the White House.”

Whitehouse concluded: “If this guy (Wray) presided over a fake FBI investigation, we need to know that.”

I would like to point out that Sen. Chris Coons, Democrat, helped set up that FBI investigation.  He and Christopher Wray need to be held to account. 

boeing and the “chickenshit” justice department

TUESDAY 2 MARCH 2021

Justice under Capitalism

Those relying on the U.S. justice system to hold the Trump administration accountable for the crime spree that was the past four years, need to consider the record of the Justice Department in prosecuting corporate and white collar criminals.  Let’s just start with one case.

In January of 2021, the Justice Department allowed Boeing to resolve a criminal charge “related to a conspiracy to defraud” the government in connection with the FAA’s evaluation of Boeing’s 737 MAX airplane.

Boeing needed FAA approval for the planes and FAA was charged with developing safety protocols for them.  Employees of Boeing, however, placing “profit over candor” deceived the government by withholding important information from the regulatory agency, information which might have delayed approval or necessitated increased training for the use of the planes.

These employees continued to withhold the information and participate in a conspiracy to cover up the withholding, even after the first disastrous crash of the Boeing 737 MAX in 2018.

In 2018, Loin Air Flight 610 crashed near Indonesia.  189 passengers and crew were killed.  In March 2019 Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, crashed near Ejere Ethiopia.  All 157 passengers and crew died.  In March 2019 the plane involved, the 737 MAX, was officially grounded.   

No individuals were charged in the federal criminal information filed against a company, Boeing, and no individuals were punished.  Boeing was allowed to buy itself out of prosecution.

The agreement accepted by the Justice Department was a Deferred Prosecution Agreement (DPA), one of many the Department of Justice enters into with corporations every year.  According to “The Chikenshit Club” by Jesse Eisinger (one of the most underestimated books in the past decade) from 2002 until the Fall of 2016, the Justice Department entered into 416 such agreements.  In the previous 10 years, they had participated in 18.

These DPAs take the place of prosecutions.  They are easier for the Justice Department (require less resources and risk of losing), allow the Department to claim victories and tout what appear to be large fines.  And, the NPAs are much less painful for the corporation.  The fines are usually tiny compared with resources of the corporation, and they rarely involve individuals.   

So even though individuals at Boeing made decision after decision to deceive the regulatory agency the public depends on to ensure flying safety, they were not named and not prosecuted.  They were allowed to hide behind a NPA that resulted in a fine paid by Boeing.

DPAs are similar to plea bargains.  But, unlike plea bargains, they are not lowered charges in exchange for a guilty plea.  It is a prosecution that has been deferred, not brought.  Boeing has not been prosecuted for a crime, and can claim so.  It has been allowed to buy itself out of prosecution. 

Every criminal in every court in the country (except the innocent ones) would love to be allowed to pay a small sum in order not to be prosecuted for the crime s/he committed.  They are almost never afforded this opportunity.

Ordinary criminal defendants (the poor) are almost always required to plead guilty to a crime in order to secure a more lenient sentence.  The poor defendant is subject to the stigma of criminal prosecution, the economic costs.  These companies, however, are allowed to negotiate a settlement that doesn’t even include prosecution, or necessarily an admission of guilt.

In this case, Boeing agreed to a settlement, a bribe, in order not to be prosecuted for deceiving the government by withholding crucial information about one of its planes from those charged with developing safety protocols, information that might well have prevented two crashes and the loss of over 400 lives.

Boeing, a company, a legal fiction, is held responsible for its’ employees behavior.  Those employees who participated in this conspiracy, knowing that it would endanger lives for profit, are left free to be promoted, or leave the company and get jobs working elsewhere, committing more crimes.

The FAA is one of the agencies administering regulations about how corporations function.  Republicans have spent the past forty years fighting against every regulation of industry, starving regulatory agencies of funds, and demonizing them in the eyes of the public they were designed to protect. 

When a white collar or corporate criminal is caught, they are allowed to hide behind their “company” and evade responsibility.

If you want to know what Republicans stand for, this is it – free, unfettered, unaccountable fraud against the American people for profit.     

Resources:

Free Speech TV: Economic Update with Richard Wolff, History Lessons on Capitalism’s Failures, 3/2/21.

Department of Justice News: https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/boeing-charged-737-max-fraud-conspiracy-and-agrees-pay-over-25-billion

Counterpunch.  https://www.counterpunch.org/2019/04/19/why-boeing-and-its-executives-should-be-prosecuted-for-manslaughter/

Mother Jones several background articles

Intelligencer.  https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2021/01/boeing-settled-737-max-case-for-almost-nothing.html

The Chickenshit Club by Jesse Eisinger

texas, georgia and the republicans: morning rundown

Texas:

  • The Republicans are turning a massive failure of infrastructure and privatization in Texas into a condemnation of renewable energy.  Even the Governor of the State is on national television spewing lies and disinformation. 
  • Gov. Greg Abbott, on Fox News, said that the problem was caused by renewable energy systems.
  • Officials were told in 2011 that they needed to winterize the Texas system.  But, the State of Texas didn’t make that winterization and other changes obligatory.  Because the grid is operated by private companies, allowed to make as much profit as they can, the State failed to winterize and now we are watching people lose their lives.
  • Message #1: Don’t elect people to run government that don’t believe in government.
  • Message #2: Capitalism is going to kill us.
  • Message #3: We are living in a failed state. 

Corporate Media

  • On MSNBC, Joe Scarborough is complaining about networks allowing Donald Trump to phone in and spout lies.  Morning Joe gave Donald Trump millions in free air time in 2015 and 2016.
  • Every morning, Trump was phoning in to Morning Joe and lying. 

Georgia: Glynn County Police Department

  • Ahmaud Arbery was killed in Glynn County, Georgia on the street, murdered by a former police investigator and his son.
  • Police made no arrests and allowed Arbery to lay on the ground while they released the man and his son.
  • The only reason the two men are in jail now is because a video of the killing was released to the press.
  • In 2020, the County Commission prevented the citizens of Glynn County from voting to abolish this police agency.
  • The agency has been fraught with controversy and illegal behavior.
  • The former chief of police was indicted, the Narcotics Unit was disbanded, officers killed a woman in her car and failed to remove an officer who had a history of assaultive behavior.  This officer went to the house of his ex-girlfriend and shot her, her new male friend and himself.
  • Now, the County is paying a consulting firm to tell them who to hire as Police Chief. In addition, they are hiring a former “mentor” of one of the council members to also tell them who to hire.
  • The County gave the consulting contract to a company that didn’t even have the words “community policing” in their proposal.  The proposal was the shortest of all those submitting, two pages.

Georgia: Voting Systems

  • The Republicans in the state legislature are on their way to pass some of the most restrictive voting rules in the country.
  • The new laws would prohibit the use of mail-in ballots for almost everybody.
  • Republicans depend on people not being able to vote.

Economic rape and the republicans

  • The Republicans are turning a massive failure of infrastructure and privatization in Texas into a condemnation of renewable energy.  Even the Governor of the State is on national television spewing lies and disinformation. 
  • Gov. Greg Abbott, on Fox News, said that the problem was caused by renewable energy systems.
  • Officials were told in 2011 that they needed to winterize the Texas system.  But, the State of Texas didn’t make that winterization and other changes obligatory.  Because the grid is operated by private companies, allowed to make as much profit as they can, the State failed to winterize and now we are watching people lose their lives.
  • Message #1: Don’t elect people to run government that don’t believe in government.
  • Message #2: Capitalism is going to kill us.
  • Message #3: We are living in a failed state. 

A discussion of politics, law, justice, and crime.