Category Archives: Capitalism

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

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. 

joe manchin’s West virginia

Chris Hedges interviews Eleanor Goldfield, director of the film, “Hard Road of Hope.” This is the state Joe (they don’t need any more money) Manchin represents.

https://www.rt.com/shows/on-contact/514762-goldfield-west-virginia-strikes/

Notes:

  • 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.

Film

DEMOCRACY OR AUTHORITARIANISM, YOU CHOOSE

147 Republican members of Congress voted against seating Joe Biden’s electors.  They moved against accepting the votes of the people in this country based on no evidence that there was a significant problem with the voting system. 

These 147 Republican members of Congress did not win, but they tried to.  There are not 147 Trumps.  These people are Republicans.  They are Republicans who do not support democracy.  But, as of today, they are all still in Congress.

Just like all the other outrages of the Trump administration, the fact that 147 members of Congress tried to throw out the results of an election, is being normalized.  Corporate news anchors are repeatedly asking representatives of the Biden administration how they can claim to seek “unity” when they are proposing legislation that differs from (what purports to be) the Republican agenda. 

The past four years has been difficult, nerve wracking, infuriating, but since the nomination of Biden, it has been even more infuriating.  It is perhaps a bit less stressful since I don’t wake up every morning dreading to find out what the president has done while I was asleep, but the Democrats and the corporate media seen to have learned nothing, NOTHING from the last four years.

The Democrats have not learned how to run against the Republicans, and the corporate media (in the face of an insurrection) is still indulging in mindless bothsidesism.

When Trump was in office, it seemed like a frontal assault, every day.  Now, I have the feeling that the corporate media is playing music while people are relentlessly creeping up behind me. 

Unlike many of the people I know, I feel no relief with the election of Biden.  The Democrats are still talking about “unity” and “bipartisanship” with people who have demonstrated that they want to destroy democracy to maintain their power.  It’s like watching a government negotiate, trying to win over the Naxi party.  It is enraging and it is terrifying.

While the Democrats waltz around congratulating each other for representational appointments, the Republicans are seizing 2022.

In Georgia, Warnock is up for reelection in 2022.  We don’t have six years with Warnock, we have less than two.  We have to do this again.  We have to drag out a win in what is essentially a red state, and we have to do it in a circumstance where the state government is already actively working to eliminate as many potential voters as possible.

In Georgia, Republicans have proposed steps to make it harder to vote by mail and easier to throw out legally cast ballots.  The same Republicans who the corporate media celebrated – Kemp, Raffensperger, Sterling – are beavering away to purge voters from the rolls and make it more difficult for people to vote.

What people need to remember is that Kemp, Raffensperger and Sterling went along with every Trump inspired move to suppress voting except put themselves in criminal jeopardy by changing votes.  They are like the gang members who were perfectly willing to drive the get away car, but not willing to go into the liquor store with the gun.

They will be even more willing to drive the car now because they are trying to get back into the good graces, and the donations, of right-wing supporters.

Across the Country

Emily Singer (1/22/21) is reporting in the Independent that efforts to make it harder to vote are going on in most of the GOP-controlled state legislatures.  They are introducing legislation to make voter registration and voting by mail more difficult.

These voter suppression moves have been practiced by the Republicans for decades, but picked up steam especially after Biden’s win in 2020.  Republicans are daily pointing out the dangers of what they see as “voter fraud” and legitimating moves to keep people from voting in the name of eliminating “voter fraud.”

In Montana, the state House began hearings on a bill which would eliminate same-day voter registration.  This is what the SOS refers to as “election integrity.”  These measures are expected and intended to affect the voting of Native Americans and students.  Both groups vote Democratic by a wide margin.

In New Hampshire, the GOP-controlled House started hearings on a bill that would repeal same-day registration and putt barriers to students who want to vote.  Students must, if the bill is passed, prove that they qualify for in-state tuition before registering to vote.  Republicans passed a similar law ahead of the 2020 election which required students to become permanent residents to vote.  This law was struck down by a judge.

In Arizona, a GOP-run legislature is weighing getting rid of the state’s Permanent Early Vote List, which allows residents to register to receive mail-in ballots automatically. They are also working to impose restrictions on recounts and add other burdens to discourage people from voting.

In Pennsylvania, a Republican state senator introduced a bill that would eliminate no-excuse absentee voting. 

In Mississippi, a Republican state senator proposed a bill which would lock Mississippi from releasing vote totals in presidential elections until after all states had cast their votes in the Electoral College. 

Democrats in the House are working to pass H.R.1, which would require states to implement automatic voter registration and limit their ability to purge voters from the rolls.  An identical bill passed the House in 2019, but McConnell blocked it from getting a vote. 

So, Democrats are trying to make it easier for people to vote.  Republicans, who realize they cannot win if there is a popular vote, are working furiously to purge voting lists and make it more difficult for people to vote. 

One Party is advocating and working for democracy. The other party is fighting against it.  You choose.

Resources

https://americanindependent.com/gop-lawmakers-states-legislation-voter-suppression/

essential podcasts: majority report interview with jared yates sexton

This is by far the best podcast out there. I know the corporate media is seductive, but your time would be better spent giving this a listen. Sam Seder puts together some of the most interesting and pertinent interviews available.

Sam Seder

Sam Seder interviews Jared Yates Sexton

https://majorityreportradio.com/2020/12/08/12-8-american-rule-how-a-nation-conquered-the-world-but-failed-its-people-w-jared-yates-sexton

From the Majority Report Website:

“Sam hosts writer and political analyst Jared Yates Sexton to discuss his new book, American Rule: How a Nation Conquered the World But Failed Its People, and why the foundational myths of American Exceptionalism have such a hold on the populace.

Sam and Jared explore the stories Americans told themselves throughout the country’s history, from how the process behind writing the Constitution to how the “Mound Builders” stories helped justify indigenous Americans’ slaughter. The two consider how these stories have shaped the populace’s thinking and why it’s essential to reject politics as a spectacle. 

Follow on @cjjohns1951

You won’t even be able to trust that your food is safe if republicans have their way

“Six days after President Donald Trump lost his bid for reelection, the U.S. Department of Agriculture notified food safety groups that it was proposing a regulatory change to speed up chicken factory processing lines, a change that would allow companies to sell more birds. An earlier USDA effort had broken down on concerns that it could lead to more worker injuries and make it harder to stop germs like salmonella.”

Propublica 11/25/20

This is what Republicans stand for. There’s no reason to ask why Republicans “went along” with Trump. They didn’t go along, they happily colluded with him because he delivered policy changes that they had advocated for decades.

Republicans don’t want people to vote

Trump most likely lost because of mail in ballots. So…

The Georgia state senators pledged on Tuesday to eliminate no-excuse absentee voting, require a photo ID to obtain a ballot, outlaw drop boxes and scrap a court agreement to quickly tell voters about signature problems on ballots so that they could be fixed…new york times.

THE DEVIL HIMSELF: ERIK PRINCE

While corporate media pundits spend time interviewing each other about interviews they have done ( Lemon interviewing Tapper about his interview with Biden, dogs sniffing assholes)  and touting their books (Maddow and Scarborough), Trump has dangerously upped the ante in the crime spree that has been the Trump/Republican administration.  They are stealing billions from the American people and neither the corporate media nor the Democratic Party is screaming bloody murder as they should be.

As just one minor example of a story that should have been hammered for days, Trump, after getting rid of a top level of Pentagon officials, has appointed stooges (Lewandowski) who will facilitate the massive grifting of the federal government.

With this top layer of sycophants in place, it is being widely reported that (the devil himself) Erik Prince has been awarded a “classified contract” to take over military operations in Africa.

This move would help facilitate a long-pursued project of Prince’s to take over military operations for the U.S. government (he proposed doing so in Afghanistan) and for the Republicans to privatize the enormous defense budget every more than it’s already been farmed out to giant defense contractors.

It was reported that Prince proposed a take-over of the Afghanistan war to the Trump administration earlier in the year.  It is not clear why he was turned down.  He has come back with his hand out for part of the spoils being awarded by Trump and the Republicans.

In case you don’t remember, Erik Prince is the brother of Betsy de Vos.  He was the founder of a mercenary contracting group that was unleashed in Iraq and wreaked so much uncontrolled, unfettered terror among the population, they finally had to prosecute Blackwater and some of his operatives.

Erik Prince is another of the multitude of people (Paul Manafort, Donald Trump, Ivanka Trump, Donald Trump,Jr. Jared Kushner, Roger Stone, Rick Gates, Michael Flynn, etc.) who would already have been in prison in 2016 if we had a functioning Justice Department which prosecuted white collar, corporate and political crimes (See “The Chickenshit Club” by Jesse Eisinger).

Also see Jeremy Skahill’s book about Blackwater and (the Devil) Erik Prince.

“everything toxic” Neera Tanden and Biden

Biden’s Choices

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. 

Resources

Relman, E. (11/30/20) “Biden’s…” Business Insider

FAIR ELECTION? “i SEE NO PROGRESS TOWARDS AN EVIDENCE-BASED ELECTION.”

Jennifer Cohn, an election security advocate, writer, and attorney is essential reading if you are at all interested in fair elections.  One of the downsides to Biden winning the 2020 election is that everybody wants to go home, drink and relax.  As women keep saying to me, they want to get back to “normal.”  But, “normal” brought us here and as in the quote from Thomas Wolfe: “You can’t go home again.”  Normal, or what people are referring to as normal, is over.  It will never return, at least not in our lifetimes.  In fact, normal on the political scene has been over for a long time, at least since 2000.  Most people just never noticed.

I don’t claim to understand what happened in the election of 2020.  I was certain that the Republicans would cheat electronically just like they cheated when wiping hundreds of thousands of people off the voter rolls, enacting laws that acted as voter suppression, closed down polling places, decreased hours for voting, sabotaged the post office in an attempt to slow if not stall the movement of votes and tried the best they could to restrict mail-in voting.

They lost at least at the presidential level.  They didn’t lose outright at the state level.  The Democrats actually lost seats in the House and they are fighting for their lives in the Senate.  Once again, the polls predicted a landslide for Biden.  He barely squeaked through.  They predicted losses in the Senate, but Collins and McConnell and others won.  The two Republicans running for Senate in Georgia will most probably win.

But, since we cannot see into the vote count, because machines count our votes and partisans in the race control the voting process, how would we know what happened, really? 

As Jennifer Cohn tweeted today:

•        “Polls predicted Trump would lost in a landslide, Rs blocked robust election audits (#SAFEAct), GOP senate wins are red shifted, voters lack means to investigate, DEM leaders won’t do it, and Rs are the ones screaming fraud.  I see no progress toward evidence-based elections.”

•        “Evidence-based elections are the only way to know if electronic election outcomes are legitimate.  They require hand Marked Paper Ballots plus robust manual audits plus a secure and transparent (perhaps videotaped) chain of custody through conclusion of the audit.”

•        “I worry we win a battle only to soon lose a war.”

•        “The next four years will be hell if the GOP maintains control of the Senate.  The next election could be hell too.  And I see no Democrats discussing the possibility that the GOP cheated.  I hope they are just waiting until Ds Hopefully win the senate.”

•        “…Those of us not in Congress must…continue to sound the alarm re some of these unexpected red shifts and other anomalies favoring Rs.”

•        “…Rs and right-wing media will spend the next 4 years claiming falsely that Biden is illegitimate when it was Republicans that blocked progress toward evidence-based elections and, if anything, it is suspicious that Trump and the GOP did as well as they did.”

•        “We cannot let Rs spin this faulty narrative…the GOP steadfastly blocked efforts to move to evidence-based elections and that DeJoy engaged in highly suspect conduct with vote by mail.  WE MUST STAND FOR EVIDENCE BASED ELECTIONS.