Category Archives: Democratic Elite

Ginsburg, celebrity culture and “civil grace.”

Saturday 19 September 2020

I despise the celebrity culture that has taken over this country.  The Democratic National Convention was nothing other than a cheap, vacuous, celebrity infomercial devoid of policy and full of “cult of personality” programming.  It was an embarrassment. 

Somehow, we were supposed to believe that because Joe Biden is a nice guy and has lost family members, he should be president of the United States.  Somehow, we were supposed to pat ourselves on the back and glory in the fact that we had nominated an African American, Asian woman to be vice president.  Never mind the policies of these two people.  Never mind their histories.  It is supposed to be enough that these two are telegenic, just as nice as they can be, and fit certain categories of human beings.

That is evidently where we are.

After the convention we were treated to more infomercials.  In one of them, Kamala Harris had a charming, laughing, conversation with Barak Obama about Biden liking ice cream and wearing a certain kind of sunglasses.  This was seriously intended to get us to vote for the Democrats – the fact that the party elite could chat on television and laugh about the personal foibles of the candidate.  This is what they think of us.  This is nothing but insulting.

In the true fashion of this celebrity worship culture we have going on, the corporate media is this weekend, endlessly talking about the life of Ruth Bader Ginsburg.  We are in the middle of a war for  a democratic society, and we are engaging in celebrity worship.

As Elie Mystal pointed out writing in the Nation, we don’t have time for this, and Ginsburg would be the first person to see that we don’t have time for this.

Ginsburg occupied a pivotal position on the U.S. Supreme Court and her death has created a crisis that just illustrates the dysfunction of the government and the society.  The death of a judge, one judge, shouldn’t throw the country into a crisis.  The appointment of one judge shouldn’t mean the difference between democracy and authoritarianism.  But, it does.  It hands to the Republicans the opportunity to conclusively warp this society into an authoritarian kleptocratic state devoid of rights for regular ordinary human beings. 

This is where we are.  We have to fight this authoritarian take-over with everything in our beings.  But, tonight, on CNN they are hosting Scalia’s son to discuss (out of all the other things about Ginsburg’s life) the beautiful relationship between Ginsburg and one of the arch enemies of law and therefore democracy, Antonin Scalia. 

I’m sorry but I just can’t stomach this.  I suppose there is somewhere, something laudatory about being able to be friends with people who are sitting at the peak of privilege and wealth and power and working to destroy democracy and the rule of law for the rest of us, but I just don’t see it. 

If we have to sit through this eulogizing of Ginsburg, the last thing we need is to have right-wing Federalist Society zealots to talk about her.  The last thing we need is to try to convince people that what we need is more bipartisan cooperation.  No, we need less, and we need to fight for democratic law and democratic institutions.

The corporate Democrats who have much more reason to talk about Ginsburg, are bad enough.  Last night, Nina Totenberg was on Rachael Maddow talking about her friendship with Ginsberg.  She said wistfully that Ginsburg had planned to retire in 2016 and have her successor named by the first woman president.  Isn’t that special?  I might plan to have thoroughbred horses fly out of my ass, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to happen.

This story was presented as if it demonstrated something positive about Ginsburg, and it has been retweeted today by people who obviously think the same thing.

To me, it just demonstrates what was wrong with the Democratic Party elite in 2016 and what is still wrong with the Democratic Party elite today. 

Barak Obama declined to tell the American people the truth about something crucially important to them.  He refused to tell them that Russian operatives had intervened in the 2016 election to the extent of penetrating the voting systems in 50 states. 

Obama made this decision, as far as I can tell, because first, he was afraid of the reaction of Republicans if he came out and told the American people without bipartisan support.  He was so afraid of appearing partisan he lied by omission, lied about something vital to the functioning of democracy.  Mitch McConnell refused to join Obama and make a public, bipartisan statement and Obama didn’t have the guts to do it alone.

Second, Barak Obama was afraid of tarnishing his cherished legacy by appearing to be “partisan” in the 2016 election.  He was more concerned with his legacy (to people who despise him) than his country. 

Third, Barak Obama was so sure Hillary Clinton was going to win, he decided he wouldn’t have to tell the truth to the American people.  Clinton could solve the problem after she was elected.

All three of these excuses stink to high heaven and again illustrate something characteristic about the Democratic corporate elite.

This professional class of Democrats think they know better than the American people how to run the country.  They think that their judgement is better than everybody else’s. 

They can handle, among themselves, an unprecedented intrusion into the election process.  Why tell the unwashed masses?

Obama reportedly thought that telling the truth would shake the confidence of the American people in the election process.  He’s not the only member of the Democratic elite to think this.  There are an astounding number of people out there who will react like vicious dogs if the integrity of the election process is even questioned.

The logic of this position just amazes me.  It goes something like this.  The election process has been corrupted but we mustn’t tell the American people because it might shake their confidence in an election process that because of corruption can be no longer relied on.  So, it’s better to have the American people believe a lie, continue to trust an election system that can’t be trusted.  It’s better because we (the Democratic elite) can deal with it ourselves, behind closed doors.  That worked out really well.

This same kind of hubris evidently led Ruth Bader Ginsburg to think she could continue (in ill health and advanced age) to sit on the Supreme Court and have Clinton name her replacement.  Having the first woman president name her replacement made a good story, a fitting end to her career.  And, like Obama, she was convinced (so convinced she was willing to risk our future) that Clinton was going to win.  Even with a compromised election process (which they all knew about), Clinton’s baggage and low approval ratings and an e-mail scandal, Clinton was going to win.  Why?  Because they wanted her to.

I’ve got news for these people.  They don’t get to determine what’s going to happen.  They don’t control events.  What kind of delusional hubris leads one to stay in a position at the Supreme Court, a crucial position, a history changing pivotal position, counting on the fact that they are going to waltz out with the first woman president because that’s what they want to happen?

I’m sorry.  Ginsburg appears to have been a wonderful person, lawyer, activist, but someone genuinely concerned with and committed to the struggle, with the future of the country for ordinary people, would have resigned during Obama’s administration to make sure that the ideals she believed in and fought so hard for, had a chance of continuing. 

And, I fault not only Ginsburg but Obama and his administration for not pushing her resignation.  I ask you: What is wrong with these people?   

I keep going back to a film quote.  As Yankees are overrunning Atlanta, Aunt Pittypat is concerned about Scarlet having a chaperone.  Dr. Meade, in utter and complete frustration yells:  “Good God, woman, this is a war, not a garden party.”

But, this Democratic elite – the politicians, the “strategists,” the pollsters, the pundits – all of them are so filled with pride and smug assuredness that they can’t see what is happening around them.

Even now, after all the mistakes of 2016, the Democratic corporate elite seems to be waltzing off an electoral cliff supported by their own delusions.

Ginsburg wasn’t a healthy 50-year-old.  They knew she was ill, had known for years.  If they couldn’t convince her to resign when Obama could nominate a successor, they should have had a strategy for what they were going to do if she suddenly died during Trump’s administration.  They should have hit the ground running on Friday night, not sat stunned, grief stricken, and still counting on the Republicans to “do the right thing.” 

I mean, Jesus F…ing Christ.  Anybody who is now, four years into this administration, relying in any way on the Republicans to do the right thing, is just brain dead (I include Cory Booker in that category).

For the first time on Friday night, I heard Chris Hayes interview somebody (Rebecca Traister) who sounded like I and a lot of other people have felt for four years.  Traister was and said she was terrified and furious.  She sounded like somebody who was terrified and furious, not like the stable of “calmers”, the “institutions are holding” gang on MSNBC who have been interviewed today.  Cory Booker, Klobuchar, the presidential historians, Hirono (as much as I love her), Capehart, Jarrett.

I swear I think that part of the deal to convince all the corporate democrats to drop out of the race and endorse Biden was an agreement by MSNBC to interview them every fifteen minutes.

Last week, Cory Booker was on Ari Melber’s (also disgustingly celebrity laden) show claiming that what we needed was a “return to civic grace.”  That’s Booker’s answer to an authoritarian take-over, a return to “civic grace.”  I’m sure Mitch McConnell will take that “return to civic grace” and stuff it up Booker’s nose.

Latin America, the “Democratic” Party and Never-Trumpsters

elliott

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.

Saturday Morning Articles

anna navarro 1

SATURDAY MORNING ARTICLE RUN DOWN

 

USAID plans for coup in Nicaragua

https://thegrayzone.com/2020/08/04/usaid-document-nicaragua-coup/

 

Biden is putting us in bed with the likes of Anna Navarro

https://thegrayzone.com/2020/03/01/contras-cnn-ana-navarro-lobbying-corruption/

 

Trump puts Criminal Elliott Abrams Representative in Iran

https://news.yahoo.com/u-iran-envoy-brian-hook-173327817.html

 

Victims in Epstein Case Get Second Attempt

https://news.yahoo.com/epstein-victims-second-chance-justice-181228243.html

 

Don MaGahn

https://www.newsweek.com/other-donald-behind-donald-trump-457514

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.’

Interview with Pankaj Mishra by the Intercept

pankajmishra

The Global System

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

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

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

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

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

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

Epstein and MSNBC

jeffrey epstein

  • Cornell Belcher, former Obama pollster and part of the corporate Democratic elite, tells progressives to “Shut the hell up and grow up.” Silence your criticisms of Biden, Belcher chides, and “fall in line.”  Make no mistake, that is their attitude to all progressives.  Obama and his administration purposefully squelched progressive participation in his administration.  Obama refused to prosecute members of the Bush administration who engineered and carried out torture.  He refused to prosecute those responsible for the 2008 crash.  Those two decisions helped get us where we are.  Biden will do the same.
  • Ghislaine Maxwell was finally arrested today. There are those who believe that Barr’s firing of Berman was to get more control over this investigation and prosecution.  I am not one of the people who find Berman’s behavior in this situation commendable.  He finally resigned and securing a promise to have his next in command take over the operations is not enough.  He should never have resigned.  He should have made them fire him.  It’s not enough.  I am not optimistic about the Maxwell prosecution.  This is one of those situations where too many powerful people have too much to lose to allow this to go forward.  They will stop it.  We don’t know how exactly, but trust me, they will stop it.
  • Chris Hayes on MSNBC tonight described narratives that question Epstein’s “suicide” as “conspiracy theories.” MSNBC can always be trusted to maintain the corporate Democratic line.
  • The two documentaries on Epstein fail to probe Epstein’s connection with intelligence.  https://consortiumnews.com/2020/06/18/epstein-case-documentaries-wont-touch-tales-of-intel-ties/

What Happened to the Democratic Party

For those of you interested in why some of us are so reluctant to jump on the Joe Biden bandwagon, please take the time to listen to this podcast.

http://pitchforkeconomics.com/episode/how-neoliberalism-captured-democrats-with-james-kwak/

“Nothing will change.” Joe Biden

biden

Well, it seems that advisors around the White House were not able to keep Trump from having the disgusting and embarrassing pressers every day.  He was out there again reading meaningless statistics, not wearing a mask, and becoming incensed when reporters asked him innocuous questions.

I have come to despise that sing-song voice he uses when he reads aloud.  And, he read aloud today.  I am sure his staff tried to get him to confine himself to reading aloud, but of course he couldn’t do that.  And, like usual, he made an ass out of himself attacking a female reporter.

The female reporters in these White House briefings could provoke a total melt down from Trump if they just persisted in asking relevant questions and refused to back down.  Or if one of them, just one of them, asked Trump if he realized that their job was to ask questions and his was to answer them.  But, as it stands now, none of them are prepared to do this.

When I complained once about the servility of the White House press on Twitter, I received multiple replies explaining to me that reporters couldn’t ask pointed questions because they might lose the positions they had worked so hard to attain.  This line of reasoning drives me crazy.

We have evidently become a society in which people simply assume that it is normal to abase themselves in order to keep a job.  I cannot count the number of times I have heard political pundits state in a matter-of-fact manner that members of Congress can’t do this or that because they might then have an opponent in a primary, or God-forbid lose an election.

When did we become a country in which it was assumed that everybody would just do what they were told, sacrifice any standard, abandoned any integrity, kiss any ass just to hold a job?  When did this become normal?

I’m sorry, but what ever happened to doing what is right?  I know, it went out of fashion.  I miss it.

Other notes from the News:

AFP.com (5/10/20)

  • The Supreme Court will tomorrow take up whether Trump is going to be forced (like every other person) to turn over his tax returns. He is the first president since Nixon to refuse to do so.  Trump’s lawyers have argued that this request for the tax returns is designed to “torment the president.”
  • Trump’s attorneys are arguing that he enjoys total immunity as long as he is in the White House.
  • In a friend of the court brief, lawyers argued that if the Supreme court rules for Trump and his lawyers “it will fundamentally alter the basic principles of accountability on which our democracy depends.”’
  • There are a lot of people who are still maintaining that our “institutions are holding.” I am not one of them.

Trudo, Hanna and Hunter Woodall (5/11/20) Daily Beast

In an interview on April 30, Joe Biden revealed that “…there’s some major Republicans who are already forming ‘Republicans for Biden.” He then specified that they were “major officeholders.”

  • “You don’t want something like this out on the street before it needs to be,” a GOP source said. “It just makes it much harder to do.”
  • Names that are being bandied about apparently include Jeff Flake, Bill Kristol, Michael Steele, Steve Schmidt, David Jolly and Mona Charen and John Kasich. .
  • Reached for comment, a spokesperson for the Biden campaign said, in part, “Vice President Biden is running for president to unite our country and rebuild the soul of the nation, and to accomplish that we need to bring together Americans from across the political spectrum to build the broadest possible coalition to defeat Donald Trump.”
  • At one point in late 2019, Biden even floated the prospect of selecting a Republican running mate.
  • In late April, Biden stated that he would consider naming Republicans to his Cabinet.

Derysh, Igor (Salon, 6/19/19).

  • In June of 2019, Biden assured rich donors at a New York fundraiser that “nothing would fundamentally change” if he is elected.
  • He promised not to “demonize” the rich and that “no one’s standard of living will change, nothing would fundamentally change.”
  • This was just after Biden appeared at the Poor People’s Campaign Presidential Forum where he said that poverty “was the one thing that can bring this country down.” “We have,” he stated “all the money we need to do it.”
  • Biden went on to say that the rich should not be blamed for income inequality, pleading to the donors, “I need you very badly.”
  • For the rich donors in New York: “I hope if I win this nomination, I won’t let you down. I promise you,” he added.
  • Biden also complained that some Democrats criticized his eagerness to work with Republicans after Republicans spent years blocking President Obama’s agenda and moving further right.
  • Biden pointed out that his ability to work with segregationists like former Mississippi Sen. James O. Eastland and Georgia Sen. Herman Talmadge showed that he could “bring people together,”
  • “I was in a caucus with James O. Eastland,” Biden said. “He never called me ‘boy,’ he always called me ‘son.'”
  • “At least there was some civility,” he said. “We got things done. We didn’t agree on much of anything. We got things done. We got it finished. But today, you look at the other side and you’re the enemy. Not the opposition — the enemy. We don’t talk to each other anymore.”

I hate to tell Joe Biden, but the problem here is not that we don’t talk to Republicans.  The problem is that we have listened to Republicans.  They want to establish a one-party Christian Nationalist state that has no room for democracy.

You cannot compromise, bring together, be civil to people who are trying to destroy democracy.  You either fight them or you let them win.  Joe Biden will let them win.  He has done it his entire career.

“Capitalism will handle it.” Right.

burr, richard

Interviewed on CNN today, a Republican member of congress dismissed the widespread alarm among the medical profession about the shortage of masks and other protective equipment for use combating the corona virus.  “Capitalism,” he said “will handle it.”

But, the corona virus crisis is a textbook example of the failure of capitalism to handle the corona virus crisis and the other underlying crises that have plagued this society for decades.

Republicans are illustrating hourly exactly what is wrong with free-market capitalist solutions to problems created by free-market capitalism.

Let’s just look at one example.

PROFITEERING

  • On 20 March 2020, it was reported that four senators (Burr, Leoffler, Inhofe and Feinstein) were selling off stock after receiving briefings about how serious the impact of the corona virus was going to be.
  • Burr and Loeffler went public with statements seeking to calm the populace about the threat of the pandemic while they were busily selling stock to cushion the blow for themselves.
  • Burr’s case was especially egregious. Burr, as Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, received briefings that included the country’s most classified information about the security threat of the virus.
  • And, Burr (in a recorded talk to his wealthy donors on February 27, 2020) warned of the serious implications of the outbreak at a time when he was seeking to calm the fears of the general population by telling them that the Trump administration had everything in hand. While reassuring the general public, to his wealthy donors, Burr was comparing the corona virus to the “1918 pandemic.”
  • Burr maintained that he was using only publicly available information, but he would, wouldn’t he? He also claimed that the event at which he informed party insiders was not an event for his wealthy donors.
  • NPR, however, reported that it had obtained a copy of the RSVP list for the event and that it included dozens of invited guests representing companies and organizations from North Carolina. The companies or their political committees donated more than $100,000 to Burr’s election campaign in 2015 and 2016 (NBC News)
  • The same day Burr was giving this speech, Trump was telling reporters that the corona virus was “going to disappear.” (NBC News)
  • In early February, Burr, co-wrote an op-ed for Fox News in which he said “the United States today is better prepared than ever before to face emerging public health threats, like the coronavirus.” In mid-February he started to unload the stocks.  The unloading was about a week before the markets started to plunge (NBC News 3/20/20).
  • One of the stocks Burr unloaded was shares in Wyndham Hotels and Resorts, which has now lost two-thirds of its value according to ProPublica. Burr dumped shares of another hotel chain, Extended Stay America. (NBC News 3/20/20)
  • It is Democrats who are calling for investigations, and also a Democrat (Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez) who is calling for Burr’s resignation and a law preventing legislators from owning stock.
  • Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said on Twitter that as chairman of the Intelligence Committee, Burr “got private briefings about Coronavirus weeks ago. Burr knew how bad it would be. He told the truth to his wealthy donors, while assuring the public that we were fine. THEN he sold off $1.6 million in stock before the fall. He needs to resign.” (NBC News 3/20/20)
  • We know about these stock sell-offs only because of a law requiring the legislators to report their stock dealings. Why not a law prohibiting them from owning stock while serving?

Sources

Gregorian, Dareh (3/20/20) “Burr, other senators…” NBC News.