On the internet: Video after video of police officers behaving abusively, escalating situations, cursing at people, threatening them, intimidating them, killing them, all over the country. CNN has an expert on to explain that our brains work differently when we’re under stress.
The “stress professor” and the Vanderbilt guy both agreed that we need more training for police.
I’ve been involved in criminology in one way or another for fifty years. I did research on female police partners and male use of deadly force in the 70s. Training is not the problem. Minneapolis, for example, spent a small fortune on training.
Police culture will win out over all the training and policy in the world.
If you look at the Derek Chauvin case as an example, Chauvin didn’t take the stand because basically his defense is that he didn’t do anything wrong and that he would do it again if he had the chance.
It appears that Alexander Navalny is dangerously close to dying. In the past, he told colleagues he couldn’t understand people using hunger strikes to advance their cases. It seemed, to him, merely a way to hand the state a tool. But, evidently the situation for him in prison was so bad, he resorted to using his own body as a tool to try to get help. It’s unlikely to work. The world stands by and watches.
Gary Kasperov, former Russian chess player and current activist, pointed out on Twitter that the West continues to deal with Putin as if he were some quasi-democratic head of state. Kasperov noted that Biden’s decision to turn around a ship to try to appease Putin was the wrong tactic. Autocrats, kleptocrats, authoritarians view offers of compromise as weakness.
Biden deals with Putin the way the Democrats deal with the Republicans. When will they learn that authoritarians cannot be compromised with or appealed to?
Joe Scarborough, who helped elect Trump, is now back to his rabid Republican heckling. It is difficult for me to understand how anybody could think that Scarborough was an ally. He and the dreadful Mika were up Trump’s ass until Trump threatened to reveal their adulterous affair. People need to remember we have Mika on tape asking Trump’s permission to ask him a “hard” question. Morning Joe as outlived its usefulness if it ever had any. It belongs in the Chris Matthews trash bag of programming. MSNBC needs to do better.
While I’m on MSNBC, the nightly news programs continue to use Jason “island of misfit black girls” Johnson as a commentator. He lost his job at the Root for his nasty, racist comment about the women who worked for Bernie Sanders, and MSNBC punished him with a few weeks off air. But, he’s back now with a vengeance. Joy Reid loves him because she actively worked to destroy Sanders’ campaign. The lesson here? You can say anything and get away with it if it’s about Bernie Sanders or his campaign.
The new feral cat we are socializing woke me up at 3:30 in the morning because his food bowls were empty. I’m wide awake, but he’s back asleep, stretched out at the foot of the bed on a quilt. They learn so quickly. Cats are the masters of psychological manipulation. His name is Oliver Wendell Holmes.
In the 2016 Democratic Primary, Bernie Sanders won all 55 countries in West Virginia. In the general election, however, Trump took 68.5 percent of the vote . This was his largest share of the vote in any state.
By the time of the 2020 Democratic primary, Sanders had suspended his campaign (after the DNC annointed Joe Biden).
Trump won 69 percent of the vote opposing Biden.
West Virginia is the poorest state in the nation.
The state is characterized by an opioid epidemic.
The death rate in recent years from drug overdose has exceeded any other state.
The cancer rates in the state are high.
The southern part of the state has been turned into a toxic waste dump by coal companies.
West Virginia is a “resource colony” and displays the consequent devastation in the environment and the health of the people living there.
So, why in a state characterized by such poverty, illness and exploitation did people vote for Trump?
Big Coal has orchestrated a decades old long propaganda campaign to convince people who should know better that big coal is their friend.
People identify with big coal and express pride when they, for example, develop black lung disease. The disease demonstrates that they have worked hard all their lives to keep the “lights on” in America.
If evidence comes to light of the egregious exploitation of big coal, people write it off as “bad companies.” These companies are the “bad apples” but not the harvest.
West Virginians have been separated from their own radical past through the suppression of information about actions such as the 1921 armed uprising on Blair Mountain., where miners took on the coal industry.
So, coal and fracking continue to result in environmental and health damage.
People in West Virginia believed Bernie Sanders would do something about changing the conditions of their lives. They, however, did not believe that the corporate Democrats (Clinton an Biden) would.
I don’t pretend to fully understand the ideology of Chris Hedges or Glenn Greenwall, and there are important positions I disagree with them on. But, I think they are important to at least listen to given the lack of criticism on the part of the corporate media for the Biden Administration. CNN is doing a “celebrity piece” on Kamala Harris where she is asked to tell stories from her life.
The media is supposed to be a critic of those in power, not their best friends.
These are notes from an interview Chris Hedges did on his RT program “On Contact.”
Points made by Greenwald:
• Bernie Sanders was rebuffed in his attempt to get the Secretary of Labor position in the Biden administration. Sanders has expressed frustration with the Biden appointments.
• AOC was denied a position on the Commerce Committee.
• (Note: The DNC also refused to give Katie Porter a waiver to stay on another important committee)
• What the Biden nominations represent is a third term of the Obama administration.
• Susan Rice was nominated for the Domestic Policy Council
• Biden has a long completely obvious history. He has supported militarism. He was a key supporter of the Invasion of Iraq, 2002, as Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee
• Biden’s state is the center of Banking and credit card industry. He was so supportive of them that it provoked Sen. Warren to get into politics. Biden was the architect of a bankruptcy bill that made Warren furious.
• Biden, in addition, was more responsible for the crime bill than anybody else.
• Biden has shown himself to be a man who serves imperialism and corporatism.
• Wall Street celebrated when he picked Harris as Vice President.
• (Greenwald lives in Brazil.) People ask him why Brazil suddenly lurched to right. He explains that after years of what billed itself as being a “liberal” system, the system failed people. They rallied behind anybody who seemed to oppose the system that failed them. That’s what has happened with Trump.
• Now, the Biden administration is going to do exactly what the Obama administration did, nothing, for regular people. And so, if you are doing exactly the same thing, you have to expect the same outcome. The Obama failures led to the Trump administration. And, now the Biden administration is setting itself up to repeat Obama’s failures. (Note: See Majority Report discussion noting that the Biden Administration seems to have learned from the failures of the Obama administration.) According to Greenwald, the Middle class will continue to be destroyed. Jobs will continue to be moved overseas. The drug addiction, suicide, and anger that characterize working class communities will all continue to get worse.
• Note: There were such enormous hopes for Obama. My brother, noting the support enjoyed by Obama, said “He could be the next Roosevelt.” But, Obama wasn’t the next Roosevelt. Obama was constitutionally predisposed to behave himself in many senses of that. No matter what happened, Obama was going to behave himself. Research the discussion about “behaving” and race. Also, the Obama administration assumed that the Republicans were operating from a position of good faith, (what ever that means). The Republicans are definitely not operating from a position of “good faith” and have not done so for decades. How long it will take the Democrats to acknowledge this, I don’t know. And, Obama was never a progressive, never a supporter of real change. The movement that helped Obama get elected was jettisoned immediately after the election in 2008. The group organizing for him were told to “behave.’ People were told not to give money to these groups, but to give the money to support Obama. These groups, by and large, went silent under Obama.
Christ Hedges: Biden and Obama regard progressives as the enemy.
• Biden has always had contempt for the left. As has Obama.
• And, the left is now more submissive than ever. They are even praising Biden for distancing himself from Bernie, saying it was a savvy political move. They played along with the excuse was that it was better to leave Barnie in the Senate than appointment his labor secretary.
• There are no progressives in the cabinet.
• And, even with this fact, there is little dissent on the left.
• The choice that is presented is you can either unite behind the Democratic Party or succumb to fascism.
• The left has embraced censorship coming from corporations, and Biden is calling for new terrorism law. Biden was an architect of the Patriot Act.
• Hedges brings up the Hunter Biden laptop story which, he says, was censored out of the Intercept (the organization Greenwald co-founded).
• Hedges points out that progressives supported Markey in Massachusetts against a primary challenge from Joe Kennedy. After Markey won, he participated in a hearing with Zuckerberg. Markey told Zuckerberg: we don’t believe you are censoring too much, you’re not censoring enough.
• Obama released a statement before election in which he said that the internet was the greatest threat to democracy.
• The political center has decided we cannot have free speech in this technological age. The center was pleading with billionaires to censor people even before the election.
• World leaders denounced the banning of Trump from the internet (Merkle, Obredor of Mexico).
• These leaders are well aware that tech corporations can do this to them (censor them) and their countries. The EU has tried to break up these big Silicon valley companies without success.
• What Google has done is to destroy a competing platform, Parler (AOC, Khana, and others supported this).
• This will make more difficult the ability to organize on the internet. Corporations are outside democratic accountability.
• Hedges points out that Greenwald has gone to Substack as has Matt Taibi.
• This is an effort of destruction of any outlet that permits independent voices of dissent. They are laying the groundwork for rightwing censorship. They will go after others. It won’t be long before they are Turning guns on Substack and Patrion.
• Greenwald became concerned (about the media) when, during the Bush administration, the mainstream media presented torture as a “both sides” issue. They wouldn’t call torture torture because the Bush administration said it wasn’t torture. They took the position of “who are we to decide?” We can’t call it torture because the Bush administration says it’s not true. We’ll just present both sides and let you decide. This is not journalism.
Article about Greenwald, Counterpunch
• Greenwald first came to prominence as an anti-Bush blogger
• He published much of the Snowden reporting in “The Guardian.”
• He co-founded along with Jeremy Scahill and Laura Poitras, The Intercept.
• His columns have become “insufferable.”
• There is “almost no ideology besides reflexive contrarianism.”
• Greenwald is “a kind of fanatic.”
• The tendency toward contrarianism has led him to increasingly align with the far right.
• For example, Greenwald has made comparisons between Trump and Bernie.
• Matt Taibbi has taken a “similar turn.”
• He is an opponent of the national security state.
The Attorney General of Texas was awaiting trial on securities fraud charges when he actively lobbied Donald Trump for a pardon. How can a man who has been charged with securities fraud and who used the powers of the office of the Attorney General to harass the enemies of his cronies, stay in power? And, now, after lobbying Trump for a pardon why is he still in office?
Under the category of “How we got here”
The DNC pushed new untried technology into the Iowa caucus process in 2020. The story was that the DNC wanted to know in real time exactly what the vote count was. But, the new technology was a disaster and the Iowa vote count was also a disaster. Because the new technology caused such a chaos, the win was not immediately announced and this left Pete Buttigieg a window to declare himself the winner.
The upshot of all this was to deny Bernie Sanders, who polls showed was going to win Iowa in a landslide, crucial momentum, and an untold amount of free publicity which would have come with a clear win.
The DNC has plead incompetence, which is, I suppose, better than admitting that they interfered in the process deliberately to deny Sanders a clear win.
And, it is important to remember that Pete Buttigieg quit the run for president and endorsed Biden right on cue, along with all the other corporate democrats. As a reward, Buttigieg has just been named Secretary of Transportation.
In talking about his fitness for the job, Buttigieg said that he had always liked transportation as a kid (had a train set?), and that he had proposed to his partner at an airport. You can’t make this up.
Biden’s choice of Neera Tanden to head the Department of Management and Budget is yet another slap in the face of progressives and a further indication that progressives need to leave the Democratic Party.
As Briahna Joy Gray, a former press secretary for Sanders’ 2020 presidential campaign, tweeted about the nomination: “Everything toxic about the corporate Democratic Party is embodied in Neera Tanden.”
Since 2003, Tanden has been the head of what some in the media term a “left of center” think tank, the Center for American Progress. This think tank was supposedly established to counter more conservative think tanks like the Heritage Foundation.
But, according to article in Business Insider, “Tanden has come under scrutiny from some of her own colleagues over allegations that she censored employees who were critical of Israel while the organization attempted to build a stronger bond between the Democratic Party and the right-wing Israeli government. Under Tanden, the think tank shut down its independent journalistic arm, Think Progress…following its unionization.”
Former employees of CAP also criticized Tanden for using the think tank as more of a vehicle for her own ambition than an institution based on any left of center policy commitment. Tanden has openly opposed single payer health care, supported cuts in Social Security, and is friendly with Israel’s conservative leadership. That simply cannot be termed “left of center.”
Tanden is being nominated for this important position after having been a close advisor to Hillary Clinton’s 2008 and 2016 presidential campaigns, both failures. And, she was closely involved with engineering the ACA, another notable policy failure.
But, Tanden is part of the entitled professional class surrounding Clinton and Obama who are being put back in government by Biden just as progressives warned. As Biden said in a speech to wealthy donors – “nothing will change.” That’s what progressives who were being badgered to vote for Biden feared, and that is what we are seeing.
The nomination of Tanden is yet another indication that the corporate elite in the Democratic Party have contempt for the progressive vote and are determined to block any meaningful social change.
“There are very few people who have been as aggressively critical — I would say sometimes obsessively critical — of the progressive left, and in particular of Bernie Sanders, than Neera,” a former senior Center for American Progress employee told Business Insider.
Tanden is already cynically using her supposedly deprived family background to try to evoke sympathy. She is saying that her family found it necessary to use the social services she will have an impact on funding. She is evidently using this argument as a way of placating the progressive wing of the party. But, this only means that her opposition to Medicare for All and adequate funding of Social Security is all the more ruthless and contemptuous of working families. She had to rely on these services herself, but that doesn’t mean she believes others are entitled to them.
Neera Tanden is part of a little mafia of women (Zerlina Maxwell, Jennifer Palmieri and others) who felt themselves entitled to win the presidency, entitled to be in the White House and livid that Bernie Sanders had the nerve to run against the Queen.
In addition, these women felt that they had some kind of right to the presidency because of gender. A question asked Bernie Sanders in the 2016 primary sums it up. Yamiche Alcindor (who, after confronting Sanders, went from being a low level New York Times reporter to being on television every night and then hosting programs on NPR) asked Sanders if he didn’t think it was sexist to run against Clinton.
This little mafia ring of women never stopped blaming Sanders for all their own failures in the Clinton campaigns. And, they never missed an opportunity to slam and slander Sanders and his campaign in the corporate media.
Neera Tanden, as Gray says, is just the beginning and she illustrates everything that is wrong with the Democratic Party. The leadership in the Democratic Party is smug, entitled, vindictive, ruthless and bought up to the eyeballs by corporate money.
There are three important stories in the news within the past week relating to Latin America.
First, the Trump administration has appointed Elliott Abrams U.S. Special Representative for Iran. For those of us who have been interested in Latin America for decades, Elliott Abrams is a criminal who is widely despised. He should be in jail. If there was anything like a justice system for high level corporate, political and white collar criminals, he would be.
As Common Dreams (8/6/20 ) has noted, “Abrams is one of the architects of right-wing “regime change.” He “has made a career of lying and committing criminal acts that have led to the death and suffering of innocent people from Guatemala to Iraq.” “He embraces militarism, covers up for gross human rights abuses, and has a history of supporting authoritarian regimes.”
As if this wasn’t enough, Abrams pleaded guilty to lying to Congress in 1991 as part of the Iran-Contra affair. He was later pardoned by George H.W. Bush. Abrams admitted that he had willfully withheld information from congress in 1986 when he testified about the “secret Contra supply network and his role in soliciting a $10 million contribution for anti-Sandinista rebels in Nicaragua” (the Contras).
See “CODEPINK Denounces Elliott Abrams’…” common Dreams. August 6, 2020
The second story is about the release of a report detailing a State Department plan for regime change in Nicaragua intended to oust popularly elected members of the Sandinistas.
Ben Norton reports in The Grayzone that:
This newly released document outlines plans for USAID to oversee a regime-change plan to oust Nicaragua’s elected leftist government.
USAID (also widely despised in Latin America), is planning to establish a “market economy” in Nicaragua and purge the Sandinistas.
The socialist government in Nicaragua is democratically elected.
USAID, as always, functions here as a “regime-change” vehicle that “uses the pretense of humanitarian aid to advance Washington’s aggressive foreign-policy interests.”
The document presents this as a plan for “Nicaragua’s transition to democracy.” This is a euphemism for removing the leftist Sandinistas.
The report doesn’t even pretend to be anything but a hardline neoconservative document. It refers to the “Ortega regime” and makes it clear that the intent is to install a “neoliberal administration that will privatize the economy and…purge all institutions of any trace of the leftist Sandinista movement.”
The third, and related story, is that Joe Biden has recruited Anna Navarro to help him mobilize the Hispanic vote. The Democrats are opening positions of power within the party to a variety of never-Trump Republicans who have no goals or interests in common with publicly stated Democratic positions.
As Ban Norton (3/1/20) points out in his article published on The Gray Zone, Navarro has become “something of a celebrity among the anti-Trump republicans…” She has also become a welcome anti-Trump Republican voice among the corporate media. She is, for example, a frequent commentator on CNN and “The View.”
As Norton points out, “corporate media networks give Navarro a massive platform to attack progressives like Bernie Sanders and rebrand her neoconservative politics before impressionable liberal viewers who despise Trump, Navarro’s professional background has faced little scrutiny.”
Navarro, however, “lobbied for El Salvador’s corruption-drenched right-wing government.” “Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) documents reviewed by The Grayzone reveal that Ana Navarro and her Republican lobbyist husband, Al Cárdenas, have worked with some of the most corrupt right-wing governments in recent Latin American history, including leaders who have overseen egregious human rights abuses and been convicted for serious criminal offenses.”
“Navarro hails from a wealthy family in Nicaragua, and still today she remains a staunch supporter of the Contras, far-right death squads that the CIA armed and trained in the 1980s in a regime-change war targeting the country’s socialist Sandinista government. The Contras waged a relentless terrorist campaign, massacring and torturing civilians in hopes of destabilizing the country. And Navarro has celebrated them as freedom fighters.
Navarro, now calls herself a “strategist” has branded herself a “moderate.”
None of this bodes well for Nicaragua or Latin America. And, it only reinforces the argument that Joe Biden, the corporate Democrats and the corporate media are turning the Democratic Party into Republican-light. It gives us even less reason to stay with the party.
The Trump pressers and the now daily appearances are humiliation sessions. Trump regularly demeans and silences the voices of reporters and this morning, a nurse who has first hand experience working with the Coronavirus. This is what authoritarian governments do, normalize the silencing of dissent. Every time Trump silences, demeans, and both demands and receives acquiescence in this silencing, people are taught what’s expected, that submission is a normal way to behave. We need to admit that we live in a culture of cowardice, compliance, and willing submission. We need to stop obsessing about Trump’s behavior and look at ourselves.
This is a culture that deludes itself into thinking that it is characterized by independent thought and action when in fact, what characterizes most individuals is compliance.
Every time Trump is allowed to bully and demean others without reaction, Americans become a little bit more compliant with authority.
It is being reported this morning that guidelines from the CDC about reopening society were ignored by the Trump administration. The CDC, evidently, has been gutted of professionals who will stand up for fact and independent thought. The man in charge of the CDC has been investigated for misrepresenting his own research data.
It is time to ask what the benefits are to the administration from the virus becoming worse. They include 1) massive profits from the wild west profiteering off medical supplies, 2) reinforcing people’s notion that government can’t work for their benefit, 3) reinforcing the Republican theory of government that we should have no government, 4) driving wages down, 5) providing an excuse for cutting and eliminating social programs, 6) encouraging the free-for-all economy the Republicans have worked to bring about for decades, 7) exacerbating a crisis that will cover other authoritarian moves which will go unnoticed, 8) killing off a large proportion of vulnerable people, 9) justifying closing the borders. These are just a few advantages of the crisis getting worse.
The corporate media has ceased to be any kind of check on power. They are worse than useless. They don’t even have to be censored, they censor themselves. The feckless questions asked in the presidential pressers is an example of this. The county is in the middle of an economic and health crisis, and reporters ask questions like: Thank you Mr. President. Do you think, Mr. President, that citizens should congregate on the mall?
The Biden apologia articles arguing that 1) Tara Reade is not credible that her charges are somehow different from those of Blassy Ford, or that 2) the charges are believable, but we should vote for Biden anyway are just astounding. It is astonishing how many women are willing to publicly argue that a presidential candidate with multiple women accusers should be given a pass.
I am disappointed that a number of women I know who are pleading with me to silence myself about Biden’s obvious failures as a candidate. Please, they ask, don’t speak or write the truth. We have to remain silent and protect our candidate, the candidate the Democratic Party and the corporate media cheated to install as the candidate.
Equally disheartening is the number of people engaging in a gigantic act of delusion by relying on voting in 2020 to solve our problems. The Republicans have done and will do everything in their power to subvert a democratic vote. They have and will also enable interference in the election on their behalf. There is too much at stake for Republicans to allow a loss. We must move beyond this Cinderella-fiction that we can just vote Trump out in 2020. The Republicans are being so brazen and craven, not even pretending to believe in democracy, because they know they will win. And, the Democrats will blame Bernie Sanders and his supporters and cower in place just as the Democratic Party is doing at the moment.
Democrats are remaining silent, hoping that Trump will destroy himself over the Corona virus pandemic. Instead of fighting every day, pointing out to the American people every day that what is happening is a textbook example of what happens in a culture where you put people in charge of government who are trying to destroy government. It is a textbook case of what a pandemic looks like managed by people who value profits over everything else. This is unfettered capitalism, no regulations, no rules except that everyone is free to profit off untold misery to their heart’s content.
Instead of going on television every day to point out what a giant class rip off the bailout bill was, the Democrats went on television trying to make political points for compromising with (caving to) the Republicans in a windfall (yet another one) for the 1%.
Bernie Sanders has gone silent at a time when every day is an illustration of why the changes he proposed for the country are essential to the survival of working people and democracy.
Barak Obama seems to stay above the fray unless he has to step in to prevent fundamental social change for working people. Obama refused, refused to prosecute those responsible for the 2008 financial crisis. He helped enable lack of accountability for the wealthy and powerful.
We have to face the facts. Hiding our heads in the sand will accomplish nothing.
The corporate media is a complete waste of time. They failed us in 2016 and they are spectacularly failing us now. We must turn to other news sources. These are excerpts from The Nation Magazine.
Grey, Rohan, Nation Manazine, April 20/27 2020).
Biden indicated that as president, he would veto Medicare for All legislation because of concern over the price tag. “Biden has been a deficit hawk his entire career. As a Senator, he broke with his party to support a Repubican-sponsored balanced budget amendment, and as vice president he spearheaded efforts to achieve a bipartisan deficit reduction deal that included cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.”
“In the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, the Obama administration allowed millions to lose their homes in order to “foam the runways” for the banking system, while the Republicans cynically weaponized deficit and debt hysteria in order to deny the Democrats the political credit of a more successful recovery.”
“…much of the suffering attributable to this pandemic will not come from people directly contracting the virus, but from our collective failure to provide adequate care and support to the elderly, the physically vulnerable, the poor, and people in less fortunate countries during their hour of need. The virus itself may be a novel twist, but the broader story is regrettably all too familiar.”
Biden, in the debates, “…acknowledged that upon entering office in 2009, he and President Obama were informed by the Department of Defense that climate change was the single greatest threat to American national security—a point Sanders has been making for years. However, when the moderators pointed out that his climate plan was $14 trillion less than Bernie’s, he retreated into defensive bluster and nostalgic promises to restore the 2016 Paris Agreement. Gone was the sense of existential urgency and ambition that had animated his earlier remarks about the coronavirus.
“…whatever it takes means embracing the inevitability of a head-on conflict with the self-interest of concentrated private capital. A few months ago, it would have sounded extreme to propose placing Amazon, Walmart, Netflix, Uber, and American Airlines under public ownership. But today the socially contingent nature of these corporate behemoths—from their financial engine, to their workforce, to the goods and services they provide—has been laid bare. If luxury perfume companies like Christian Dior and Givenchy can be repurposed to make hand sanitizer to save lives, surely we can consider the same for the companies responsible for essential basic staples such as food, ventilators, and toilet paper. We want clean hands. But we also want bread, roses, and the means to wipe our asses.”
A discussion of politics, law, justice, and crime.