Category Archives: Books on Politics

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

 

 

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.’

Notes from “Hiding in Plain Sight” by Sarah Kenzior

hiding

The Bellwether of American Decline

“…the facts make you wish they were fiction, but that is all the more reason we need to hear them.”

Greitens, governor of Missouri

“Whereas once mere publicity about his scandals would have prompted resignation, Greitens proved that hanging on to executive power to dodge or manipulate prosecution remains a viable option in an era of unfettered corruption—a lesson the Trump administration knows well. One of the most awful things about the Greitens case is that Missourians felt lucky he left, like peasants relieved at the passing of an evil king. There was never accountability, there was never transparency—there was just luck, otherwise known as dead expectations.
“When asked to vote on a specific issue, Missourians chose the most progressive options. But when asked to vote for a politician, over half of Missourians chose Republicans who sought to strike down the very ballot initiatives for which they had voted.”

 

The 1980s: Roy Cohn’s Orwellian America

 

“In 1984, one year after the tower’s completion, Soviet army veteran David Bogatin purchased five luxury condos for six million dollars—a purchase so substantial that Trump made sure to personally oversee the closing.”

 

“In 1987, Bogatin admitted he had purchased the Trump Tower condos “to launder money, to shelter and hide assets…”

 

“…a Senate investigation revealed him to be a leading figure in the Russian mafia. The Russian mafia had been growing in New York City due to a wave of Soviet émigrés and a crackdown on the Italian mob…”

 

“…Comey, who replaced Mueller as FBI head in 2013, the FBI removed Mogilevich—the dangerous Russian mafia head who had been ancillary to Trump since the 1980s—from the Ten Most Wanted list in December 2015 and replaced him with a bank robber. “

 

“When the press works against its own financial interest—as it did by rejecting the harrowing truth of Trump—there is a deeper problem.”

 

“…documents to claim that, beginning in 1977, Trump would remain “completely tax-exempt for the next 30 years” thanks to a mysterious arrangement between his company and the American government; that he was contractually bound to have three children with Ivana (which he did); and that he was being groomed to run for president in 1988 (which he nearly did).”:

 

“February 20, 2017, one month after Trump’s inauguration, Churkin died suddenly at the age of sixty-four….Churkin had been the fifth Russian diplomat to die unexpectedly and in an unexplained fashion since Trump won the election.”

 

“…1987, he (Trump) told journalist Ron Rosenbaum that he sought to partner with Russia on nuclear weapons with the aim of threatening other countries into compliance.”

 

“Stone was involved in every Trump presidential run thereafter as well as in Trump’s near-run for New York governor in 2014.

 

“Trump had one condition for entering a race: his win needed to be preordained.”

 

“…crime committed brazenly is over time redefined as something other than crime. It is entertainment, and then it is autocracy, and then it is too late.”

 

“That a significant number of today’s high-profile journalists did know the Trump family personally is cause for concern.”

 

“These powerful sectors of society have been overtaken by connections rather than merit, and dynasties rather than unbiased workforces.”

 

“The deep secret of all Trump coverage is that it is cost-effective news—”

 

“David Cay Johnston, author of multiple bestsellers about Trump, noted that in addition to refusing to cover the rape of Ivana, the 2016 press would not report on Trump’s documented ties to organized crime.”

 

“..confessed drug trafficker. [The trafficker is Joseph Weichselbaum,”

 

“This is called “normalcy bias”: the idea that if a situation is truly dangerous, if massive crimes are being committed in plain sight, someone will intervene and stop them.”

 

“Who controls the past, controls the future: who controls the present, controls the past,” Orwell wrote in 1984. “Past events, it is argued, have no objective existence, but survive only in written records and in human memories. The past is whatever the records and the memories agree upon. And since the Party is in full control of all records, and in equally full control of the minds of its members, it follows that the past is whatever the Party chooses to make it.”

Notes From “Hiding in Plain Sight” by Sarah Kenzior

Hiding in Plain Sight: The Invention of Donald Trump and the Erosion of America

Kendzior, Sarah

“To millionaire elites, many of whom already had an apocalyptic bent, a depopulated world is not a tragedy but an opportunity—…”

“American exceptionalism—the widespread belief that America is unique among nations and impervious to autocracy—is the delusion that paved Trump’s path to victory.”

“Oligarchs and government officials have a synergistic relationship aimed at streamlining state corruption and facilitating white-collar crime.”

“Deutsche Bank—is notorious for facilitating Russian money-laundering.”

Harry “Reid wrote that Russian operatives sought to falsify election results and begged Comey to give the American people the full story before they went to the polls.”

“Comey refused, and refused again after Reid wrote a follow-up letter in October.”

“Once an autocrat gets into office, it is very hard to get them out. They will disregard term limits, they will purge the agencies that enforce accountability, they will rewrite the law so that they are no longer breaking it. They will take your money, they will steal your freedom, and if they are clever, they will eliminate any structural protections you had before the majority realizes the extent of the damage….That is why it is important to act early…”

“Trump is part of a complex illicit network including individuals from Russia, Saudi Arabia, Israel, the United Kingdom, the United States, and more—some of whom do not have loyalty to any particular country. Their loyalty is to themselves and their money. Many are criminals without borders who have moved from hijacking businesses to hijacking nations. Some call them fascists; I avoid this term because being a fascist requires an allegiance to the state. To these operatives, the state is just something to sell.:

“This elite criminal network has been building for decades. It is linked to other groups: right-wing Republican extremists, apocalyptic religious movements of varied faiths, social media corporations, advocacy groups like the National Rifle Association, and parts of the mainstream media.”

“But over the course of decades, disparate parties have joined together to destroy democracy.”

“Naomi Klein phrases it, “disaster capitalists” who see opportunity in a dying planet, and who will spare no expense in pursuit of their own preservation.”

“His rise was made possible by a coterie of criminals who do not want to be punished but delight in being caught. Flaunting their criminal impunity is part of the thrill.”

“Their belief that they would never be held accountable is logical since they had never faced serious consequences despite spending decades committing illegal acts. In fact, they had reaped ample rewards. Now, finally, they had the greatest reward of all: the power to rewrite law itself.”

“…vulnerable people waited for responsible officials to intervene. They are still waiting.”

“Pundits and politicians like to say that “No one saw it coming,” but what they mean is that they consider the people who saw it coming to be no one.”

“February 2014, he went on Fox News to defend Russia. Why a reality TV host was on Fox News defending Russia is its own story, but here is what he said about his desired outcome for the United States: “You know what solves it? When the economy crashes, when the country goes to total hell and everything is a disaster. Then you’ll have a [chuckles], you know, you’ll have riots to go back to where we used to be when we were great.”

“Public leverage is disappearing along with the concept of the public good as a priority of the powerful.”

“What they’re trying to do is establish power: they are lying to flaunt power. They are saying to us: ‘We know that you know that this is a lie, and we don’t care, because there is absolutely nothing you can do about it.’”

 

BOOK: Death in Mud Lick. Corporate Crime, Greed and Destruction

Review of Death in Mud Lick

Dwight Garner, “How Painkiller Pushers Took over Coal Country.” nyt

Eric Eyre, the reporter who wrote this book, won a Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting in 2017.  One of the important things he did was to expose, for the first time, in exact numbers, opioid shipments to West Virginia.  These were eye-opening statistics that made the responsibility for this crisis real to many people.

In the book, Eyre started with a story of one pharmacy in Kermit, WV, population 382.  In two years, the Sav-Rite in Kermit distributed nearly nine million opioid pain pills to its customers.  People were driving hundreds of miles to get to this particular pharmacy, bypassing other pharmacies.  Once there, the lines were so long, the owner sold hot dogs and popcorn to people waiting in the drive-in lane.

Most of the recipients started off with some kind of injury, usually work related.  But they very quickly found doctors willing to write prescriptions for pain medication and anti-anxiety drugs on top of that.  The toll was soon to follow – addicted babies, full jails, families destroyed, hospital emergency rooms overrun.

Eyre, unlike many journalists covering the same story, went after the big fish in the story, not the cash rich pharmacy owners or even the corrupt doctors, but the real high-level drug pushers.  He called what happened in West Virginia “a man-made disaster fueled by corporate greed and corruption.”

Eyre, for example, took aim at Cardinal Health (a drug wholesaler), which “sent more pain pills into West Virginia than any other company.”  Between 2007 and 2012, Cardinal sent a combined 240 million pills into WV.  That was 130 pain pills for every resident.  “The coal barons,” Eyre wrote, “no longer ruled Appalachia. Now it was the painkiller profiteers.”

Among the long list of villains in this story is West Virginia’s Trump loving attorney general, Patrick Morrisey.  Morrisey tried to derail Eyre’s investigation of Cardinal at the same time his (Morrisey’s) wife was being paid to lobby for the company.  According to Eyre (4/28/18) “Cardinal Health paid Denise Morrisey and her lobbying firm $1.4 million after her husband became attorney general…”

Morrisey also had ties to the company of his own.

At the same time his wife was lobbying on behalf of Cardinal Health, Morrisey’s office was overseeing a lawsuit that accused Cardinal Health of “fueling the opioid epidemic by shipping excessive amounts of hydrocodone and oxycodone to the state.”

Morrisey stepped aside from the case only after the Charleston Gazette reported that his inaugural party was paid for by Cardinal Health.

In 2008, Cardinal Health paid a $34 million fine to settle allegations that it had shipped hydrocodone to rogue Internet pharmacies that filled bogus prescriptions.  In 2016, Cardinal Health paid $44 million for opioid shipping violations.

MORRISEY IS STILL WEST VIRGINIA’S ATTORNEY GENERAL.

MORRISEY NARROWLY LOST HIS BID TO BECOME A U.S. SENATOR.

CARDINAL HEALTH IS STILL IN BUSINESS.

MORRISEY’S WIFE IS STILL A LOBBYIST FOR THE HEALTH CARE INDUSTRY.

ERIC EYRE LEFT THE CHARLESTON GAZETTE-MAIL LAST WEEK.

 

 

 

 

Notes:

Eyre (4/28/18) https://www.wvgazettemail.com/news/politics/morrisey-s-wife-lobbied-on-opioids-for-drug-firm-disclosures/article_be3d9ee8-00e1-570c-b161-c7b59c7c31d0.html

Cardinal Health lists on its website: “Cardinal Health: We Supply Everything You Need.

Heller, Matthew ()“Cardinal Health Fined $8M for FCPA violations.”  https://www.cfo.com/legal/2020/03/cardinal-health-fined-8m-for-fcpa-violations/

Review in New York Times: Death in Mud Lick

Burning Books: We Won’t Have To

Viktor Orban Meets With Angela Merkel In Berlin

My partner woke up in the middle of the night last night worrying about the Coronavirus.  He wasn’t worried about catching it, me catching it, or buying toilet paper.  He was worried about books.

“All the books are going to be online.”  He said to me this morning as we were lying in bed, propped up side-by-side, drinking coffee and watching the cats harass squirrels raiding the bird feeders attached to the windows.

“Before long books will all be digital and with one key stroke somebody like Trump can change them, change them just like that.”

“There won’t be any need to burn books anymore.”  I said.

“There won’t be any need to burn books.”

It’s not surprising that people like us are worrying about books during this Coronavirus crisis.  The Trump administration is quietly reaching out the evil fingers of authoritarianism all over the social order.  I can almost feel them burrowing their way underneath the covers of the bed every night.

In Hungary, Prime Minister Viktor Orban did not seize power.  The Hungarian Parliament handed it over to him by passing a new law that gives him broad powers supposedly to deal with the Coronavirus.  There is no end date set for these expanded powers and others are so concerned that they are calling for the EU to expel Hungary.

Orban, who has bragged about being the champion of “illiberal democracy” now has the power to jail people who publicize what are viewed as untrue or distorted facts which could alarm people.  No by-elections can be held as long as the law remains in force.  The government has the power to suspend laws.

The new rules can only be lifted with a two-thirds vote of the parliament AND A PRESIDENTIAL SIGNATURE.

Tell me that’s comforting.

https://news.yahoo.com/rule-decree-hungary-reopens-wounds-011612093.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alternative Podcasts: Sheer Intelligence

Robert Scheer interviews Max Blumenthal about the “lesser of two evils” approach centrists in the Democratic Party have been pushing for decades.

The Clinton Machine Will Do Anything to Stop Bernie

https://www.kcrw.com/culture/shows/scheer-intelligence/the-clinton-machine-will-do-anything-to-stop-bernie

NOTES:

 

 

 

Scheer Intelligence Podcast: The Housing Crisis, the Real Culprits (More of Them) Clinton, Bush, Obama

mnuchin

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/bipartisan-profiteers-who-demolished-american-dream/id1054586928?i=1000459492107

Review of Home Wreckers

https://www.politico.com/news/2019/10/22/kamala-harris-attorney-general-california-housing-053716