Ring of Fire Podcast: Sam Seder – Barr Hearings and Democratic Party Platform

sam seder

Turn off the corporate media and listen to a really good podcast on Ring of Fire with Sam Seder as he talks about the Barr hearing and interviews John Nichols.

Podcast

 

 

Susan Collins: The Scam Artist

Just posting this for anyone who still “loves” susan Collins.

Law, Power and Justice

susan

Recently, I have been astounded by liberal women who casually toss into a conversation the statement that they “love” Susan Collins.

First of all, I would like to point out that Susan Collins is a Republican.  She votes with the Republicans most of the time, and supports Republican policies.  Second, she is not a moderate even though she has tried repeatedly over the years to portray herself as such.

There are two recent votes that tell you everything you need to know about Susan Collins.  First, she provided what David Leonhardt of the New York Times (12/10/17) called a “crucial vote” for the criminal GOP tax bill which benefited the obscenely rich in this country at the expense of all the rest of us.  The second was a yes vote on Gina Haspel, a woman who was complicit if not directly participated in the torture of other human beings.  When…

View original post 1,057 more words

The Barr Hearings: That’s Why my Stomach hurts

barr

     Bill Barr, after being threatened with a subpoena by Jerry Nadler’s Judiciary Committee, appeared before the House on July 28, 2020.  There was no reason for anybody who has watched Barr with increasing outrage and fury, as he has politicized the administration of justice in this country, to hold out much hope that these hearings would reveal much. 

Democrats are hopeless at taking on people with even moderate intelligence in a hearing setting.  They refuse to adopt an aggressive approach to Republican authoritarians.  They are so concerned with being “nice” or “polite” or “well mannered,” they never anticipate the depths of obfuscation and bad behavior to which the Republicans are willing to sink.

     When I switched channels over to MSNBC from TCM where I had been contemplating hiding in escapism for the duration, there was nothing but noise, loud, irritating, obnoxious noise.  Then, the camera switched to a screen inside the committee hearing.  On this screen was a video, displaying images of protesters, tear gas, confrontation, people pounding at fences.  What?  Isn’t this the Barr hearing?

     It was the Barr hearing.  What was going on was that bad-boy Jim Jordan, the crazed ex-wrestler who refused to report his colleague for sexual abuse, had introduced as an “opening statement” a long, selectively edited campaign video purporting to give an accurate representation of the protests occurring in various cities in the United States.  The video employed one of the right’s main strategies, fear, creating fear and therefore anger in their base.  That’s what Fox News does 24/7. 

If you watched the video divorced from any other news, you would think the country was descending into total chaos and violent anarchy.  That is exactly what the Republicans wanted to portray.  They spent the rest of the hearing, pounding home the point and punching the key words over and over – protest, chaos, anarchists, violence, crime, hate…”my constituents are afraid.” As usual, the Republicans had all been briefed on the key words to use during the hearing to drive home the point.  Like faithful soldiers, they complied.  

     This is a strategy they have used for decades.  Even years ago, ten or fifteen Republicans would be interviewed independently on television.  All of them would use the same words and phrases to describe a situation, to get their point across, to insert their frame on the news.  They are good little soldiers, obedient and loyal and willing to do and say anything.  That’s one of the many reasons we need to fear them and fight them.

     But, even though, Jerry Nadler scolded Jordan for violating Committee rules by not notifying committee of the intent to show the video, the damage was done.   

Why are Democrats always like Charlie Brown with the football?  Every time, they stand around and watch Lucy put the ball on the ground, suspecting nothing.  Then, they watch Lucy yank the ball out from under them.  Then, they issue a scolding after the fact, or ignore the behavior with dignified silence.

Why didn’t Jerry Nadler know the Republicans were going to play this video?  Why didn’t he review it?  There had to be people in the hearing room, setting this up.  If I had been burned as many times as the Democrats in hearings, I would have informants everywhere and somebody watching that room from the minute the doors were unlocked.

And, if you want to argue that Nadler couldn’t have known about the video, why didn’t he stop it?  If showing the video violated the rules, why didn’t Nadler stop the video?  Why didn’t he demand it be stopped when he saw that it was – a propaganda campaign ad that grossly misrepresented the situation?  Nadler can’t walk but somebody could have been told to go and stop that video if it violated Committee rules.  But, Jerry Nadler (and other corporate Democrats) refuse to enforce the rules?   

     I watch a lot of politics.  I have spent most of my adult life reading about, watching, writing about, studying politics, specifically politics and crime.  But, now, when one of these big hearings is scheduled, I start feeling queasy in the morning.  I feel obligated to watch, to witness this descent into authoritarianism.  But I don’t want to watch.  As someone said yesterday on Twitter, how can these hearings always end up being a loss for both sides?

I know corporate Democrats are largely cowards, feckless cowards who will not fight, or enforce the rules even when enforcing the rules would be to their advantage.  But, how did we end up with such a sorry lot?  And, what are they afraid of?

I think part of the answer lies in the fact that Democrats are living in a culture in Washington that no longer exists.  They can’t seem to accept, acknowledge, understand, that they are facing ruthless authoritarians who will resort to anything, anything to win. They act like if they just stand erect, stare directly ahead of them and behave in a dignified manner (watch Adam Schiff), this ruthless, gutter fight for power on the part of the Republicans will disappear.

In fact, Joe Biden has said just that.  He has stated that when we get rid of Trump, all his Republican friends are just going to go back to “normal” and we can return to a bipartisan Kumbaya that hasn’t existed for decades.  Republicans haven’t been “normal,” haven’t participated in this gentleman’s club of bipartisanship for decades.  And, they aren’t going to do so now.  People keep saying we need somebody who can “unite us.”  No, that’s not what we need.  We need somebody who can marginalize and neuter these rabid authoritarians, see them for what they are, and push them as far away from power as we can get them. 

     An interesting “tell” here is the ability of the “squad” and some of the other recently elected Democrats to run circles around these career corporate Democrats in hearings.  They are not still living in a culture that doesn’t exist.       

  First, they aren’t afraid.  They aren’t afraid to use their common sense and ask questions that make Republicans squirm.  They ask the sort of questions that these career corporate Democrats would rather die than ask.   Secondly, these women come prepared.  They generally don’t just read a prepared statement like they’ve never seen it before, stumbling over what are supposed to be their own words.  Third, they usually actually show up and listen to the hearings.  They don’t just appear and read a series of questions like bad third-grade actors.  They know what has gone on in the hearing and are capable of adapting to the situation.  Fourth, these women were by-and-large elected in an upset.  They have not been groomed by the DNC.  They were elected with a skill set that was larger than just being able to raise money and kiss butt.  When I watch people who have been on capitol hill for decades perform at a committee hearing, stumbling through the text of canned questions written by their staff, I always think: They are there because they can raise money, lots of money.  That’s the only reason they are there.  The DNC supports these types of candidates over other candidates that are more qualified because they can raise money and will behave. 

The DNC has worked tirelessly to keep new candidates from emerging in the Democratic party and has created a blacklist for consulting businesses who work for candidates challenging incumbents.  The Congressional Black Caucus actually supported an incumbent, Elliott Engels, over a progressive black challenger.  This tells you how institutionalized these Democrats have become.  The DNC is actively working to keep people in Congress who will play ball, who will not enforce the rules, who will not fight, and who will not ask the tough questions.

Recently, I read an interview of somebody in the music industry.  She said: “Oh, they don’t look for talent anymore.  They look for somebody with the right look and a compliant personality.”  That’s what the DNC looks for and they are selling us down the drain by doing so.  That’s why an important hearing makes my stomach hurt.

Flailing States: Reaction to the Pandemic: Pankaj Mishra

pankajmishra

Pankaj Mishra · Flailing States: Anglo-America Loses its Grip · London Review of Books, 16 July 2020

‘The abyss of history​ is deep enough to hold us all,’ Paul Valéry wrote in 1919, as Europe lay in ruins. The words resonate today as the coronavirus blows the roof off the world, most brutally exposing Britain and the United States, these prime movers of modern civilisation, which proudly claimed victory in two world wars, and in the Cold War, and which until recently held themselves up as exemplars of enlightened progress, economic and cultural models to be imitated across the globe.

‘The true test of a good government,’ Alexander Hamilton wrote, ‘is its aptitude and tendency to produce a good administration.’ It is a test the United States and Britain have failed ruinously during the current crisis. Both countries had weeks of warnings about the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan; strategies deployed by nations that responded early, such as South Korea and Taiwan, could have been adapted and implemented. But Donald Trump and Boris Johnson chose instead to claim immunity. ‘I think it’s going to work out fine,’ Trump announced on 19 February. On 3 March, the day the UK’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies warned against shaking hands, Johnson boasted after a visit to a hospital treating coronavirus patients: ‘I shook hands with everybody, you will be pleased to know, and I continue to shake hands.’

The Corporate Media: Who Knew? Why Didn’t Hillary Clinton Warn us While We Were Partying with Trump?

morning joe in pajamas

From Cat Woman on Democraticunderground.com:

Astonished by a president who has deliberately made every wrong move when faced with a crippling pandemic, and who refuses to change course as the carnage mounts, media players continue to express shock at Trump’s behavior. Insisting it was impossible to tell in 2016 that Trump’s irrational and erratic behavior would create so much death and destruction, the preferred talking point for many is that nobody could’ve have predicted Trump’s presidency would be this horrific.

It’s extraordinary for media professionals who covered the 2016 campaign to now express wonderment at the predictably tragic consequences of Trump’s victory. But the denial remains firm. On Friday, MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski went one step further. Not only did she insist Trump’s monstrous, psychopathic behavior was unknowable, she specifically called out Hillary Clinton for failing to warn us in 2016.

“We have learned he has no balance, that he was way worse than anybody thought he would ever be,” Brzezinski said, referring to Trump’s corruption and lawbreaking. “We never though that we’d be seeing this. Nobody did. And it’s not just us. It’s Hillary Clinton, who went to parties with him.”

This is the definition of gaslighting — the purposeful erasing of history. In this case, it’s Brzezinski trying to erase the central role she played in that history. Insisting Clinton didn’t know about Trump’s dangerous ways or warn us four years ago is categorically false. (She called him “dangerously incoherent.” The reason Brzezinski might have missed Clinton’s warnings was because she was relentlessly bashing Clinton during the campaign, while propping up Trump’s run.

The fact remains that the press was central to Trump’s victory, as they often treated him like a celebrity and ceaselessly attacked his opponent — a stunning media double standard. Yet to this day, most major players have refused to acknowledge their role in creating the careening Trump presidency. And some like Brzezinski want to disappear their role, while blaming Clinton in the process.

Note: I would like to add that Brzezinski and Scarborough were partying with Trump after the 2016 election.  They broke with him because he outed their adulterous affair.  They gave him tons of free air time.  In the lead up to the 2016 election, Trump was on Morning Joe every morning via phone.

 

Interview with Pankaj Mishra by the Intercept

pankajmishra

The Global System

Intercepted interview with Pankaj Mishra, author of “From the Ruins of Empire: The Intellectuals Who Remade Asia”  and “Age of Anger.”

The rise of free market ideology in the U.S. and Britain has, in fact, undermined democracy and diminished social protections for ordinary people.

Replacing Biden with Trump is not going to accomplish much to change these underlying destructive ideologies.  A great deal of hope is invested in people like Biden, or Obama before him, but Biden will bring with him all the elements of the discredited old regime that led us to Trump.  A Biden administration will be peopled by very same people who participated in the calamitous decisions that led to the rise of Donald Trump.

It’s hard to see any hope in the next administration.  Hopefully the new social movements like Black Lives Matter, can maintain a kind of pressure which hopefully shapes the decisions of the new administration (if it indeed comes about).

But, we see what happened to the social movements that arose with the election of Obama.  He was elected by something resembling a social movement.  But, once elected, Obama had no further use for this movement.  The “social movement disappeared.”  In the Obama administration, we had the same old faces from the Clinton administration and from Wall Street.

The future of democracy can’t be left in the hands of administrations, but must be in the hands of these social movements.