GUESS WHO IS “MYSTERIOUS AND IRRATIONAL?” MANCHIN OR SINEMA?

It started last night and then in a totally predictable way, Joe Scarborough amplified and continued it this morning. “It” is the newly minted narrative about the difference between Manchin and Sinema.  Both are holding up essential legislation to maintain a half-decent society.  But, one is doing so as a statesman and the other is a crazy bitch.

The spinning out of this narrative started (for me at least) on Lawrence O’Donnell’s show last night where there was a general male circle-jerk session including Lawrence, John Heileman, and (surprisingly) Adam Jentleson.  There was no end of stereotypical criticism of Sinema.

Now, before I get started on this I want to make perfectly clear, I despise Sinema and everything she stands for.  Likewise, I despise Joe Manchin.  They are both mercenary, self centered hacks pretending to be public servants (which makes them not much worse than the most of the congress).  They are both without conscience, decency or integrity.  But, the narrative of Statesman vs. Crazy Bitch is just so infuriating and sexist I cannot even discuss it without having my blood pressure rise.

Just take a wild guess at who was being described in these quotes?

“works 24 hours a day”

Maintains a “constant line of communication” (on his houseboat)

“A pro at the game”

…has “no problem using leverage.”

“a predictable force”

“a predictable actor”

or

“too cute by half”

“too clever by half”

“Infuriating the white House”

…has “played this game”

“very frustrating to all sides”

“directionless”

“continuing this game”

“mysterious and irrational” (John Heileman)

Mysterious and irrational is my personal favorite.

I might add that none of these “journalists” bothered to point out the vested financial interests both Manchin and Sinema have in holding up a vote for needed programs for the rest of the country.  This is why it is not only useless to watch the corporate media (MSNBC and CNN) it is dangerous.

The Democrats and Haiti

MONDAY 27 SEPTEMBER 2021

On MSNBC, Ari Melber was reporting that the Democrats were not sure they were going to pass the infrastructure bill so central to Biden’s plans. 

Even so, Melber was describing Pelosi as “a master tactician.”  This has become the received wisdom of those in the corporate news.  No matter what Pelosi does, the pundits assume that she is playing two dimensional chess or fifteen dimensional chess.  Even though none of us can figure out what she is doing, it is assumed that she can.  

Josh Marshall, from Talking Points Memo, pointed out that neither Manchin nor Sienna will explain exactly what they object to in the $3.5 trillion bill, and therefore why they are threatening to hold it up.  Even though they are in the position to bring the entire bill to its knees, there is nothing specific that Manchin or Sienna can name that would satisfy them and cause them to vote for the bill.  Marshall claims that they are more concerned with positioning themselves than developing policy.  There is not, in effect, much difference in terms of policy, the two senators just want to have themselves positioned as or known to be positioned as “moderates” rather than Senators on the “extreme.”

As Marshall notes: “There’s not really a disagreement over policy.”

Juanita Tolliver noted that if the Republicans don’t vote for the bill, it will hurt the Republicans politically.  Note: If she thinks that warning the Republicans that they are going to be hurt politically if they stand strong and don’t vote for the infrastructure bill will work, I think she is sadly mistaken.  Republicans cannot be shamed.

Haiti                                                   

 A “principled resignation” Chris Hayes called the decision of Daniel Foote, the Special Envoy to Haiti to quit.  We haven’t, Hayes continued, seen one of those in years.  I have to agree with him.  Milley watched a potential nuclear war unfolding in front of him, set in motion by Donald Trump, and even though he placed a call to China, he didn’t stand in front of the American people and resign.

Foote did.  Appointed as special envoy to Haiti in July of 2021, after the assassination of the Haitian president, Jovenel Moise, Foote resigned over what he characterized as “inhumane” and “counterproductive” deportation of thousands of Haitians back into a desperately troubled country. 

In his letter of resignation, Foote noted that American officials  were confined to secure compounds in Haiti because of the danger of armed gangs which operated freely.

The situation of a failed state was so dangerous, Americans were advised not to travel to Haiti and those living there were told to confine themselves to armed areas.  But, the Biden Administration airlifted an estimated 2,000 Haitians back to Port-au-Prince and dumped them in a country where some of them had no friends, relatives, or means of support.  Many of them had not even lived in Haiti for years.

In Foote’s resignation letter, he not only pointed out the immediate political situation, Foote noted a “cycle of international political interventions in Haiti” that have “consistently produced catastrophic results.”  Foote warned that the number of people who would show up on the borders of the U.S. would increase as long as we refused to confront the fundamental problems surrounding Haiti and our policy toward the country.

It doesn’t seem to be an especially radical thing to say. 

Foote wasn’t reluctant to pass his judgment on to the Biden Administration.  After all, he was supposedly appointed for that very reason.  But, Foote claimed that his recommendations were “ignored and dismissed.”

So, Biden administration officials who trusted his experience and judgment so much that they called upon him when the president of the country had just been assassinated and the country was turning into an anarchy, refused to listen to his assessment of the situation in Haiti and dismissed recommendations based on his expertise.

The thanks Foote received for pointing out that in regards to Haiti “Our policy approach to Haiti remains deeply flawed,” was conveyed to him by Ned Price.  In an unusually graceless strike back at Foote Price said that Foot’s recommendations were “even harmful to our commitment to the promotion of democracy in Haiti.”

Contradicting what some have said about the reception of differing opinions on Afghanistan (Sarah Chase), Price snipped that “no ideas are ignored.”  He finished up, “but not all ideas are good ideas.”   

But, Foote was not the only one familiar with the situation in the country who was disagreeing with Biden administration policy.  Representative Andy Levin (D-Michian), chairman of the House Haiti Caucus, said that the Biden administration was “propping up” the governent of Ariel Henry, Haiti’s acting prime minister.  After Henry had been accused by Haiti’s chief prosecutor as having been involved in the assassination of Moises, Henry summarily removed him from office.  Mr. Levin told reporters on Thursday:

“The Haitian people are crying out for the opportunity to chart their own country’s future, and the United States is ignoring their pleas.”  

Del Rio Refugees

FRIDAY 24 SEPTEMBER

A number of people on Twitter have been asking why refugees are congregating at Del Rio, Texas and why most of them are Haitians. 

From available sources, this is the best I can do.

The Border

A large number of the people congregated at the border around Del Rio, Texas are Haitan.  It is estimated that most of these people have not recently fled Haiti, but have lived in Central or South America for several years.

The displacement of Haitians is the result of an increase in human rights violations in the past decade in addition to several disastrous earthquakes and hurricanes.  It is estimated that the 2010 earthquake alone displaced1.5 million people.   

Initially countries like Brazil, Bolivia, Peru and Panama welcomed the immigrants because they provided cheap labor.   

But, as the pandemic’s effects caused tightening economic conditions, Haitian immigrants increasingly faced a backlash. 

It is thought that for most of these refugees, U.S. residence was always the goal, but an increasingly racist backlash in host countries prompted the current move. 

In addition, after Biden took office, immigration rules for Haitians changed.  In May, the Biden administration extended temporary protected status for 150,000 Haitians already living in the U.S.  

Several experts have argued that many Haitians, in response to the changed immigration rules, mistakenly thought that they would be accepted if they appeared at the border.

Rumors picked up and repeated on social media often cause mass movements of people.  For example, shortly after the assassination of Haiti’s president, hundreds of Haitians flocked to the embassy in Port-au-Prince carrying their belongings after false rumors spread on social media that the U.S. was handing out humanitarian visas.

But why Del Rio?  The only explanation I can find is that the entry point at Del Rio is not as heavily dominated by the cartels as other entry points.  Again, word of mouth and social media posts, likely identified Del Rio as a remote site where refugees were less likely to be victimized by cartel members.

Reading:

New York Times

The Nation Magazine: Biden’s disastrous deportation of Haitians https://www.thenation.com/podcast/world/biden-haiti-deportation/

AP: Racism in immigration policy https://apnews.com/article/immigration-race-and-ethnicity-mexico-haiti-asylum-seekers-a81ac1148118db38824d2d8f62139b87

  • Haitians are granted asylum at a lower level than other national groups.

USA Today: How did so many Haitians End up in Del Rio

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2021/09/21/what-led-haitian-nationals-migrating-u-s-southern-border/8419170002/

  • Natural disasters and dysfunctional governments have prompted a steady flow of immigrants.
  • The end goal of most was always the U.S.
  • 2010 earthquake displaced more than 1.5 million. 
  • Brazil was facing a labor shortage and therefore welcomed fleeing Haitians. 
  • Brazil extended residence visas in 2014 and 2016.  By August 2020, there were more than 143,000 Haitians in Brazil.
  • After the needs for cheap labor ran out, Haitians faced increasing pressure to leave and shrinking opportunities.
  • Increasing Human rights violations in Haiti over the past 10 years prompted immigration
  • In August, the State Department issued an advisory urging American not to visit Haiti due to “kidnapping, crime, civil unrest and covid.

Human Rights Watch

https://www.hrw.org/news/2021/09/21/us-treatment-haitian-migrants-discriminatory#

Significant Events in Haiti

2021 August Earthquake

2020 Hurricane Laura

2018 Earthquake

2016 Hurricane Matthew

2012 Hurricane Sandy

2010 Earthquake, Cholera epidemic Port-au-Prince

Significant Political events

1492 – Spain colonises the island of Hispaniola after the arrival of Christopher Columbus. Two hundred years later Spain cedes the western half to France. Plantations worked by slaves of African origin produce sugar, rum and coffee that enrich France.

1801 – Former slave Toussaint Louverture leads a successful revolt and abolishes slavery.

1804 – Haiti becomes independent under former slave Jean-Jacques Dessalines, who is assassinated in 1806.

1915 – United States invades Haiti, withdrawing in 1943 but keeping financial control and political influence.

1937 – In the worst incident of long-standing rivalry with neighbouring Dominican Republic, thousands of Haitians in border area are massacred by Dominican troops on the orders of dictator Trujillo.

1957 – Francois “Papa Doc” Duvalier takes power with military backing, ushering in a period which sees widespread human rights abuses.

1964 – Duvalier declares himself president-for-life. His dictatorship is marked by repression, enforced by the feared Tonton Macoutes secret police.

1971 – Duvalier dies and is succeeded by his son, Jean-Claude, or “Baby Doc”. Repression increases. In the following decades, thousands of Haitian “boat people” flee by sea to Florida, many dying on the way.

1986 – Popular revolt forces Baby Doc to flee Haiti to exile in France. Lieutenant-General Henri Namphy takes over.

1988 – General Prosper Avril takes over from Namphy in a coup.

1990 – Avril declares a state of siege amid protests but resigns ahead of elections under international pressure.

1990 – Former parish priest Jean-Bertrand Aristide, a leftist champion of the poor, wins Haiti’s first free election. He is ousted in a coup in 1991.

1994 – U.S. troops intervene to oust military regime and Aristide returns. U.N. peacekeepers deploy in 1995 and Aristide protege Rene Preval is elected president.

1999 – Aristide is elected president for a second term despite disputed results.

2004 – Political unrest forces Aristide to flee but the country descends into violence.

2006 – Preval wins election.

2008 – 2010. Series of protests, triggered by food shortages, a cholera outbreak and then over elections.

2010 – A catastrophic earthquake kills between 100,000 and 300,000 people, according to various estimates, causing widespread damage in Port-au-Prince and elsewhere. Despite an international relief effort, the country is all but overwhelmed, exacerbating political, social and economic problems.

2011 – Michel Martelly wins second round of presidential election.

2012-14 Frequent anti-government protests fueled by corruption and poverty. Demonstrators demand Martelly resign.

2017 – Jovenel Moise, a banana exporter-turned-politician, is declared winner of 2016 presidential election.

2019 – Moise steadily amasses power and rules by decree after Haiti fails to hold elections due to political gridlock and unrest.

Thousands take to the streets chanting “No to dictatorship” and calling for Moise’s resignation.

Compiled by Angus MacSwan; Editing by Nick Macfie

2021 – Moise is shot dead after gunmen open fire with assault rifles in his private residence on July 7.

2021 – A 7.2-magnitude earthquake strikes western Haiti on Aug. 14, likely causing high casualties and widespread disaster, the U.S. Geological Survey said.

“Over-the-Horizon” Foreign Policy” Afghanistan

Pundit after pundit in the corporate media has given the U.S. military enormous credit for coming clean and admitting to the world that they made a “mistake” with the drone strike that killed 10 people in Afghanistan, including 7 children.

It seems evident, however, that the military would have never admitted the tragic error had the New York Times not done a documented investigation of the strike that made it impossible for the military leadership to do anything else.

Because we still had reporters in Afghanistan, in Kabul, they were able to visit the site and document the outrageous irresponsible drone strike. But, the U.S. military has been carrying out drone strikes for 20 years in Afghanistan and almost none of them were subjected to the kind of scrutiny this one was.

In the period that led up to the total withdrawal from Afghanistan, the U.S. military carried out two drone strikes in Kabul that we know of. They initially claimed with certainty that the attack on August 29, 2021 was a hit on Isis. It was not. That means that if we believe them, their rate of successful targeting of Isis was 50%. Is that what we are willing to accept?

CNN and MSNBC are no longer worth watching. This podcast episode, put out by the New York Times, should be listened to by every citizen.

Sources:

Podcast:

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/a-righteous-strike/id1200361736?i=1000536128627

New York Times

DC Rally and the Corporate Media

Despite several Twitter friends who repeatedly tell me to stop torturing myself by watching the corporate news channels, I can’t help myself.

DC Rally

The corporate news has spent weeks and untold hours of air time fretting about the right-wing rally today in Washington.  It’s almost 2 PM, and there are not more than a handful of people at the rally.  What an enormous waste of time and energy and money.  In addition, what a diversion from covering some of the more serious issues that confront the society.

I am not minimizing the seriousness of this right-wing, authoritarian movement, but there was no need to spend hours and hours of valuable media time with people talking about what MIGHT happen today.  In addition, because of all the hype, the low turn-out crowd makes it seem as if the media is blowing the threat out of proportion.  The threat is not taken seriously enough, not talked about seriously enough, but the coverage of what might happen in one rally is overblown.

We have a house full of sick cats and Wednesday night I spent sleeping on the floor downstairs so I could hear if one of them needed something.  Needless to say, I did not sleep, but spent most of the night listening to podcasts.

One of the very best was an interview of Kathleen Belew about right-wing movements.

Belew pointed out that the coup attempt on January 6, was intended as a recruiting tool, not a violent insurrection.  Far from a failure, the right widely considered Jan. 6 a stunning success.  I would guess that they view September 18 as something similar, a fake out of the corporate media and a demonstration of how they can make fools of the establishment.

The podcast is Spy Talk, part of the Deep State Radio group.

Just a note: MSNBC has its anchors sitting outside on a platform as if they are covering Macy’s Parade.  There is nothing, just nothing that corporate media can’t cheapen.  A deeply serious challenge to democracy itself turned into a spectator sport. 

NEWS RUNDOWN: WEDNESDAY 8 SEPTEMER 2021

News Rundown

The BBC is reporting that women staging a protest in Afghanistan were met with pepper spray by the authorities. They were demanding the right to work.  Taliban leaders have said that women will not be given senior roles in the new government (BBC 9/4/1).

Fighting is still going on in the Panjshir Valley (BBC, 9/4/21).

The new caretaker government has been announced in Afghanistan including a new Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior (wanted by the FBI).  There were no women or outsiders appointed (BBC, 9/8/21).

Protests of Pakistan’s support of the Taliban.  Taliban fired in the air in response to the protests (BBC, 9/8/21). 

The UN says that basic services are collapsing in Afghanistan (CNN, Podcast, 9/8/21)

9/11 planner, Shalid Sheikh Mohammed, is still awaiting trial.  Lawyers for Mohammed are still awaiting documents.  They argue that the government is trying to hide evidence of torture before Mohammed was moved to Guantanamo.  Had he been tried in a normal court; this would have been over a decade ago.  It is possible that there will never be a trial (Apple News, 9/8/21). 

ABC News Article: Shalid Sheikh Mohammed https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/trial-911-mastermind-khalid-sheikh-mohammed-resumes-hits/story?id=79876586

While there is a narrative that police officers are leaving in droves in response to a lack of confidence in police, the figures don’t bear this out (The Marshall Plan).

If you are interested in the history of the war against terrorism since 9/11, this is a really good book by spencer Ackerman. 

“We’ll be fine”

TODAY:

  • Afghanistan has evidently disappeared since Biden and the corporate democrats have declared the war over and the operation a “success.” 
  • Now, the corporate media evidently intends show hundreds of hours of disaster coverage.  Fortunately, there is a hurricane that can be used as an excuse for doing any real investigative reporting.  The disaster coverage comes in two categories.  The first is telling us what has happened and reciting statistics, flood levels, houses affected, etc.  The other involves telling “hero” stories, heart-warming stories of heroic behavior during difficult times.  These stories are designed to convince Americans that what they are watching is not clear evidence that climate change is an existential threat.  As one New York Congresswoman said today “We’ll be fine.”  That should be the sentence running over and over endlessly at the bottom of the screen. 
  • The “hero” stories are like the “brave first responder” stories that always follow a mass shooting.  Look, the corporate media says, this is not a mass shooting which should make you go bat shit crazy over the state of the society you live in, this is an example of how wonderful we really are, how we are an exceptional people.  And, with the hurricane, this is not about climate change that has been brought about by the greed and corruption of a few, but an opportunity to celebrate our heroic natures. 
  • Meanwhile, as the corporate media is interviewing the hundredth reporter standing in water saying NOTHING OF INTEREST TO ANYBODY, Kevin McCarthy is using the Republican Party and threatening to destroy private companies if they comply with a lawful investigation into the Jan. 6 coup attempt.  Just let that sink into your head.  Kevin McCarthy (with the agreement of Marjorie Taylor Greene and Tucker Carlson) is promising to use the power of the government to destroy private companies if they comply with federal law while Democrats are in power.
  • You can’t appoint members of the Supreme Court if the Democrats are in power and you cannot comply with a lawful order if Democrats are in power.
  • But, why get too bent out of shape?  We’ll be fine.
  • Neal Katyal, the darling of legal commentary on MSNBC, is on Nicolle Wallace’s show to comment on the Texas SCOTUS decision about abortion.  Katyal is whining about the decision and blaming the Republicans for putting three radical authoritarian judges on the Supreme Court.  Katyal was the person who introduced Gorsuch in his confirmation hearings.  Katyal wrote an article scolding Democrats and liberals for not supporting Gorsuch as the best qualified candidate.  And, MSNBC still has him on.  And, to make matters even worse (if that’s possible) Katyal is now saying that we have to “do something” about the state of the judiciary.  Well, there were people who were trying to “do something” about the state of the judiciary when Kaytal was out there trying to win career brownie points chiding liberals for pointing out the dangers of a Gorsuch appointment.  I am so sick of these people.