Like Sharks in Charge of Water Safety: Elie Mystal and the Supreme Court

Elie Mystal, of the Nation Magazine, is a national treasure. 

He is like a breath of fresh air in the middle of the stale, phony, self-serving, power and celebrity worshiping hosts and commentators appearing regularly on corporate news.

One, just one of the reasons I love him is that he rolls his eyes on national television.  Another reason I love him is that he tells the truth and talks like a regular person.  He doesn’t use ten words with one will do, and he doesn’t surround every statement he makes with a boat load of qualifying phrases.  

He rolls his eyes, he tells the truth, he doesn’t obfuscate because (unlike almost every other person appearing on corporate news) he is not afraid.

The right is not afraid of stealing Supreme Court seats, lying, cheating, rigging elections, subverting justice and a whole host of other things.  The center, however, is a culture of people who are afraid.  They are afraid to see the truth right in front of their faces, afraid to confront depressing and distressing facts, afraid of the very possibility of offending somebody, afraid of being inconvenienced, afraid of not perhaps, maybe not getting some job they haven’t even thought of yet.

I spent almost a decade out of the country.  When I returned, I was astounded to hear a student tell me she couldn’t take an internship at World Wildlife (World Wildlife, not the Communist Party) because she might someday want to apply for a job with the State Department.  This is who we have become.  The right, the Republican party is fighting 24-hours-a-day to establish a Christo-fascist authoritarian government and those in the center are afraid of their shadows.

On Thursday, Nicolle Wallace, MSNBC, spent an entire segment of her program listening to people lionize the members of the January 6 Commission for considering, considering referring Steven Bannon to the Justice Department for criminal contempt.  But, as Eli Mystal pointed out on CNN this morning, the whole process of the referrals to the Justice Department is nothing but theatre.

What every news program and every host should have been pointing out is that the Committee has (but is not using) the right of inherent contempt.  Using this right, the Congress can jail people who don’t abide by subpoenas until they do abide.  They don’t have to refer the matter to the Justice Department and wait for Biden’s (wimp noodle) hatchet man, Merrick Garland to act. 

In addition, inherent contempt means that people like Bannon will be jailed and stay jailed until they provide the information that was subpoenaed.  Going down the criminal contempt path and referring to the Justice Department, assuming Garland will prosecute  (which he will not) and assuming a conviction, only punishes the offender for not cooperating.  It does not secure the information needed. 

So, the House Commission investigating the coup attempt should be shamed and criticized for not taking the path designed to get the information we need.  Instead, they are heralded as heroes, patriots, courageous public servants.  The Nicolle Wallace program last night became a virtual campaign ad for Benie Thompson and the other members.  Not once, did Wallace or any of the members of the panel she assembled tell the American people that what the Commission was doing was a sleight of hand maneuver to look like they were doing something and not doing it.

Similarly, the Commission Biden appointed to study the Supreme Court expansion was “designed to fail.”  As Mystal wrote in April when the commission was formed: “Biden’s choices confirm the worst fears court reformers had about the president: He doesn’t want a solution; he wants an excuse to do nothing.”

Quoting from Eli Mystal’s article IN APRIL:

“Instead of creating a commission of high-minded reformers or bare-knuckle politicos, Biden has created the quintessential government committee that is purposefully designed to accomplish nothing. The “Commission on the Supreme Court” isn’t even allowed to make policy recommendations on what to do about the Supreme Court. It is merely supposed to “study” the issue, which is like hiring a chef to draw pictures of food instead of cooking a meal. When Republicans take power, they don’t commission a book report on what they should do with the courts. They show up to Washington prepared to reshape the judiciary from day one. Biden showed up prepared to read a law review article.”

“Perhaps even more troubling, instead of balancing some of the center-left people on the commission with more, or any, outspoken advocates of court reform, Biden went the other way and put Federalist Society scholars and judges in there to drag the whole thing to the right. I cannot recall the last time a Republican president bothered even to consult a Democratic voice, never mind a genuinely left voice, on how to proceed with a matter related to the Supreme Court. But Democrats continue to act like they need a hall pass from Republicans before they take any action.”

Their inclusion—again, at the expense of some of the individuals who have been actively fighting these people and their conservative takeover of the courts—is insulting.

It’s also a giant waste of time. Donald Trump appointed 226 fire-breathing conservative judges to the federal bench in just four years; we are 20 months away from a midterm election during which Democrats might lose their tenuous grip on power; yet Biden’s committee on studying whether we should maybe, possibly try to fix the court will spend 180 days dickering with Federalist Society people about what Thomas Jefferson would do.”

This report did exactly what it was intended to do, provide cover for Biden who doesn’t have the stomach to expand the Supreme Court (or get rid of the filibuster for that matter).  As Mystal pointed out, the commission itself was composed of people who make their living arguing before the Supreme Court.  Appointing a commission like that is like appointing the sharks to supervise water safety.

In addition, the commission had nothing to say, nothing, about ethics and the Supreme Court.  The Supreme court is the only judicial body in the country with absolutely no ethics regulations.  There is no requirement for members of the Supreme Court to recuse themselves from cases in which they might have an interest.  There is nothing to prevent the wife of a sitting Supreme court Justice to participate in a coup attempt to overthrow the government.  Ethics complaints filed against Bret Kavanaugh were summarily buried after his appointment to the Supreme Court. 

But, the Biden administration, so widely hailed on corporate news spins its wheels, claims the high ground and does nothing.

Sources:

Eli Mystal

The Democrats and Haiti

MONDAY 27 SEPTEMBER 2021

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

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

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

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

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

Haiti                                                   

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Leader of Your Party: Afghanistan

I am a cynical person.  It takes a lot to amaze me. But, twice in the past couple of years I have been utterly and completely astounded by the blatant manipulative nature of the corporate media.  I don’t know exactly why this should be so.

Years ago, I wrote a book about ideology, the media and the invasion of Panama.  I started off the book relating a story of sitting in my study watching the coverage of the invasion.  The invasion.  That’s what it was called by the news media in the beginning because that was what it was.  It only took a few hours, however, until otherwise respectable news people became cheerleaders for the clearly illegal invasion.  And, also within a few hours they started referring to the invasion as “Operation Just Cause.”

I kid you not.  Major news anchors would say: “We are covering Operation Just Cause” using the name given to the invasion by the military.

I wouldn’t at all be surprised (although I would be disgusted) if by Monday, the major corporate news outlets started referring to the Biden withdrawal from Afghanistan as “Operation Just Ending to a Forever War.”

Another reason none of this should surprise me is that I sat and watched the outrageous effort on the part of MSNBC news to destroy Bernie Sanders’s candidacy after he won the Arizona primary.  I have photos on my cell phone of Joy Reid’s devastated face when she had to report Sanders’s win, a win that was multi-ethnic and that included union members who refused to obey their bosses and voted for Sanders. 

After that primary, MSNBC anchors (especially Reid) went into overdrive to help the DNC prevent Sanders from being nominated and promoting Joe Biden.  There was nothing subtle about it.  Chris Matthews even said on his dreadful nightly show that Bernie Sanders would take people like him (Matthews) out in Central Park and execute them.  (We can only wish).

Now, this time, corporate news, especially MSNBC, is busily trying to whitewash Biden’s ill-conceived and disastrously bungled withdrawal from Afghanistan.  They are doing it for the same reason they worked to destroy Bernie Sanders – to promote and protect Joe Biden.

Since early last week I have been watching with growing alarm the Taliban take over Afghanistan.  Every time I looked at an article with a map of who controlled territory in Afghanistan the Taliban’s control expanded.  I had read with shame and disbelief about the decision to abandon Bagram air force base in the middle of the night without even consulting and informing the local governments.

I had read with disgust about the “negotiating” between the Trump administration and the Taliban.  Who in their right mind would even think of “negotiating” with the Taliban?  But, that was Trump and the dangerously ill religious zealot Pompeo.  We had elected Biden to change things.

Then, I watched with utter horror and incomprehension as Joe Biden doggedly continued to pursue a policy of total withdrawal from Afghanistan by a specific date even in the face of mounting evidence that we could not even get all the Americans out much less all the Afghans who fought with us and for us.

I was 24 when the U.S. withdrew from Saigon.  I had nightmares about those scenes well into my 40s and I had been an anti-war activist who worked with SDS.  I opposed that war.

I opposed the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.  But, even the most anti-war activist can make a distinction between going into a war and getting out of one.  I opposed the war in Afghanistan but once we were there, had been there for 20 years, we owned it.  We couldn’t just walk away as if we had never started any of this.

But that was evidently exactly what Joe Biden intended to do.  I just could not wrap my mind around it.  Who was this precipitous withdrawal intended to please?  To what constituency was this supposed to appeal? 

Added to this, the behavior of Biden and his administration was so Trumpian it made me sick to my stomach.  Biden appeared on television doubling down on his decision to pursue this ill planned and ill conducted withdrawal.   He would not even admit that there had been any mistakes.  It was a “do you believe me or your lying eyes” strategy.  I thought we voted for Biden to stop that kind of behavior.  Ned Price (from whom I expected more) and Jake Sullivan spouted bureaucratic-speak nonsense from the podium trying to legitimate the policy.  They were both utterly terrible at it.  They lied and obfuscated with evasive eye movements and even hostility when they were asked to answer legitimate questions.

It reminded me of the “I’m the smartest person in every room” hubris of the Obama people who have always felt that criticizing or even questioning Obama’s policies or behavior was tantamount to treason and also a personal affront.

On the corporate news, in an attempt to protect Joe Biden, hosts minimized the chaos and the impact of the set of decisions Biden made with regard to this withdrawal from Afghanistan.

As Charlotte Rampell wrote, otherwise rational people seem to be having a great deal of trouble distinguishing between the withdrawal from Afghanistan and the way in which this particular withdrawal was carried out.  They are having trouble and they are having trouble for a reason, they wish to protect Joe Biden.

As one former Republican, Matthew Dowd, hosted on several of the programs last week said, Democrats should circle the wagons around Joe Biden, support the president, because that’s what the Republicans would do.  So, this guy is treated like an oracle because he is saying was that we should support the leader of our party whatever he does because he is the leader of the party. 

As someone tweeted recently: You can unwaveringly support your ethics and morals or you can unwaveringly support the leader of your party, you can’t do both.  

I Hope I’m Wrong: Afghanistan and biden

From an interview this morning with Leon Panetta, it seems likely that members of the corporate Democratic Party elite are advising Joe Biden to come out and take responsibility for the decision to precipitously withdraw from Afghanistan, and to admit that it was a mistake.

It has been reported that when Joe Biden was Vice President and Obama was thinking about withdrawing from Afghanistan, Biden went to Obama and counseled him not to listen to the generals, to withdraw. Obama didn’t follow Biden’s advice, but it looks as if Biden followed his own advice. He didn’t listen to the generals. That doesn’t appear to be working out very well for Biden and it has created a humanitarian disaster.

It is unlikely that Biden will accept responsibility. He may make some gratuitous statement that “the buck stops here.” But, I am willing to bet he also spends time outlining how the fault lies everywhere but with him and his administration.

Support for this comes from the reaction of the White House for the past week. Not only have they refused to take responsibility, they have issued a statement essentially blaming Donald Trump. They have as well blamed the Afghan government, corruption, the intelligence community, the Afghan “will to fight,” essentially everybody involved but themselves.

The amount of nonsense that has come out of the mouths of administration officials like Jake Sherman, Ned Price, Blinken and John Kirby is just breath taking. There is very little chance that Biden will do anything but dig himself deeper into this hole than he was a week ago.

I may be wrong. I hope I am wrong. But, I’m probably not.

“it was not the outcome we had anticipated”: afghanistan

During the past few weeks the corporate news media has been studiously ignoring the disastrous military and humanitarian crisis shaping up in Afghanistan.  They have been doing so, I think, because the crisis makes Biden look feckless, ruthless, and incompetent. 

For so long, there was almost nothing on the corporate news, but every day it was possible to read about astonishing advances by the Taliban.  Every day estimates of how much of Afghanistan was controlled by the Taliban increased, and estimates of how long it would be until the Taliban took over Kabul decreased.

I am no foreign policy expert, but even I could see that the Biden withdrawal of forces in Afghanistan was accelerating a Taliban takeover of the country.

The negotiated “peace plan” was non-existent.  I never understood what was being “negotiated” with the Taliban in the first place either by the Trump or the Biden administration.  One reporter late this week said that the “negotiated” peace process was not only on hold, it was in the basement with the door locked. 

And who had the bright idea that the Taliban could be negotiated with in the first place?  The group is defined by a suicidal religious refusal to compromise or negotiate with the modern world. 

Let me be clear, I did not support the invasion of Afghanistan or Iraq but even I acknowledge that once you have invaded and occupied a country you can’t just walk out and leave everyone who has fought with you at the mercy of the enemy.  You cannot just withdraw without considering the implications for the population you are leaving behind.

But this is precisely what the Biden administration seems to have done.  They either didn’t consider the implications for the population, or they didn’t care.  I’m not sure which is worse.

Reports today (Friday) are that members of the Biden administration knew that this disaster was coming.  The Joint Chiefs warned them.  But the Biden administration decided that the disaster was inevitable (although they have denied this reality).  One official was quoted by Peter Baker as saying: It’s a tragedy, but it’s not our tragedy.  Who would say something this crass and unfeeling? There is not even much of a pretense of having any empathy with the abandoned population.

And in an effort to make the chaotic, precipitous, and disastrous withdrawal look better, the Biden administration has blamed everyone in sight – except themselves.

Evidently, the defense department that costs us trillions every fifteen minutes, just couldn’t manage to plan a withdrawal from a country they had occupied that didn’t create a humanitarian crisis.  How can that be?

Gen. John Kirby, in a painful press conference today, said the Afghanis had every conceivable advantage in the war.  A reporter asked Kirby how the Afghanis could have every conceivable advantage and still be losing.  Kirby balked at the rudeness of the question, then evaded answering it.  He went on to list all the advantages the Afghanis had (airplanes, an air force, more soldiers, etc.).  So, according to Kirby, the Afghanis have all these advantages and it’s just a great fucking mystery why they are losing.

The people of this country are told repeatedly that we have the greatest military in the history of the world, but that military just can’t figure out how after twenty years of supplying and training and fighting, to get the Afghanis in a position to hold their own against the opposing force. 

Earlier this week I listened to a podcast where the panel was pointing out that supply lines were a problem in Afghanistan.  Supply lines?  Twenty years and they haven’t figured out how to secure supply lines?  Even my cat knows not to go further away from the door than he can safely run back should there be a threat.  And they can’t figure out secure supply lines?  I just find this preposterous.  What the bleeding devil have they been doing for twenty years?

A lot of the feedback on Twitter consists of people arguing that the very fact that we have been in Afghanistan for twenty years legitimates the withdrawal. But, nobody is objecting to the withdrawal, it’s the way the withdrawal is carried out. 

As Paul Riekhoff said on Nicolle Wallace’s show the other night, this was a “reckless” withdrawal.  Riekhoff’s honesty about the situation made me wonder if the producers on MSNBC knew what he was going to say. (The next night I don’t think Wallace even talked about Afghanistan). Riekhoff lambasted the Biden administration’s withdrawal.  And Riekhoff, like Kevin Baron from Defense One, stated flatly that the administration was not “leveling” with the American people. 

The refusal to “level” was painfully obvious in the Pentagon presser this afternoon with Gen. John Kirby.  Kirby couldn’t even bullshit with any talent the obfuscation was so blatant.  Kirby stood at the podium and spewed nonsense.  He looked like a man experiencing a severe attack of piles as he fielded questions from reporters. 

He was fine with questions like that from MSNBC’s Pentagon correspondent.  After a day when every conceivable TV pundit repeated like a parrot: “The administration was not surprised with what happened but at the speed with which it happened” she asked if the administration was surprised at the speed with which the take over had happened.  Seriously?   

Another reporter doggedly tried to get Kirby to say that Kabul was “isolated.”  “Would you say Kabul was isolated?”  He asked repeatedly.  Kirby verbally danced all over the universe refusing to say that Kabul was “isolated.”  We all fucking know that Kabul is “isolated.”  What is the purpose of a journalist taking up valuable time trying to get Kirby to say the word?  Kirby said everything under the sun else except that Kabul was “isolated.”  What goddamn difference does it make if he uses the word?

I don’t think I have seen such a blatantly pathetic Pentagon press conference since Vietnam, and even then the brass talked the bullshit with some panache.  Kirby just seemed to be desperate to finish, desperately uncomfortable, resentful of meaningful questions.  John Kirby is a bad liar and bullshitter. If they are going to try to pass off this level of (do you believe me or your lying eyes) bullshit, they need to get another spokesperson.

And, it seems that we should have learned (with the best military in the history of the world) that the solution to a badly thought-out war is not (or should not be) a badly thought-out withdrawal.  Evidently not.

But the thing that keeps sticking in my craw and going through my mind for the past few days is why?  How could the Biden administration be so inept as to create this situation?  Who was this precipitous withdrawal designed to please?  I just can’t think of anybody placated or pleased with this hair-brained withdrawal.  Why, after breezing through the deadline in May that the Trump administration had set, did Biden rush headlong into this withdrawal that seems so badly planned.

I will give just one example.  On another podcast about Afghanistan the commentators were pointing out that the Taliban ratchets up fighting in the Spring and then makes a big push over the summer.  Then, I suppose because of the weather, they retreat to bases in Pakistan in the fall and fighting dies down.  The panel members were pointing out that if Biden had just waited over the summer and pulled out most of the troops in the fall, it would have helped immensely.  So, what was the problem with that small change?

And there another thing that keeps going through my mind.  This is in response to a comment made on the Majority Report (a great podcast).  The guest was saying that there are many competing factions represented within the Biden administration – progressives (damn few), conservatives, moderates, hawks.  When some policy or appointment comes up that sparks strong opposition among these groups, they fight it out vociferously.  Fine. But when all this fighting and debate occurs, when positions are entrenched, Biden evidently does not step in and make a decision so everybody can go on.  Biden refuses to take make a decision that might alienate somebody and so everybody retreats to their respective corners.  The result is that nothing gets done.  The example that was being talked about was an appointment that had remained vacant for months.

I can’t keep from wondering if something like that happened here.  There was such strong disagreement about what to do, everybody was fighting and pushing and Biden just walked away (sort of like he’s doing in Afghanistan) and nothing got done. The withdrawal just ticked on without Biden taking control.  It was easier to do nothing than to make a decision.  Now, the administration is facing not only a humanitarian crisis, but a political disaster.

I have watched Fox News, OANN, and that other channel of Steve Bannon’s in the past two days.  You can bet they are making hay over this situation.  And, to my great discomfort and consternation, I agree with some of the commentary. 

A final thing that makes me uncomfortable about this situation is how similar it is to the way Democrats are handling the serious threat Republicans pose to the continuation of democracy. 

Democrats are so engorged with hubris, so convinced that the world is the way they want it to be, they are leading us into disaster at every turn.

I fear that they are going to do with Republicans exactly what they are doing with the Taliban – negotiate without reason, rely on the good intentions of murderous men determined to assume power at all costs and then when these men pull off a religious based authoritarian take over, wring their hands and say it was not the outcome they had anticipated.  

Glenn greenwald interviewed by chris hedges: monday notes

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    

•       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 Democratic elite and impeachment: When I say I’m handling it, I’m handling it.

A lot of people were extremely upset with the Democratic leadership for loudly proclaiming on the one hand, that Trump presented a grave danger to the country and on the other, calmly informing us that they were going to wait over the weekend to start impeachment proceedings.

I was one of those people.  This morning, turned on my computer to find that someone named Samantha Corbin was lecturing me about House rules.  According to her, Democrats could not reconvene until Monday without Unanimous Consent and Kevin McCarthy was holding this up.  So, I could just shut my uninformed mouth and stop carping.

Others who were disgusted with the Democrats were also lectured on Twitter their lack of understanding of House rules and procedures and chided for childish impatience.

This is so characteristic of the Democratic elite I just don’t know where to begin.

First of all, on the rules question.  Corbin and evidently Pelosi’s daughter @sfpelosi (whose tweets I am prevented from seeing because she strictly limits access) presented this rule about reconvening as iron clad.  The House could not reconvene until Monday, period.  No way, no how without the unanimous consent of the House.

But, as other people in the Twitter discussion pointed out, it was simply impossible to believe that there was not a way around this rule.  What happens, for example, if the House needs to meet on a Sunday because of a national emergency (which this is)?  Are they sincerely telling us that under no circumstance can the House meet before Monday without unanimous consent?

And @MattGlassman312 contested Corbin and Peliso’s read of the rule.  He wrote that was required was “consultation” with the minority leader, not consent, and definitely not unanimous consent.

So, there is a question of whether what Pelosi et. al. are asserting about the rule is even correct.  And, even if it is correct, aren’t there ways around the rule?  If Nancy Pelosi is the strategic genius her supporters (and her daughter) maintain she is, why hasn’t she figured out how to get around this rule?  I would be willing to take a bet that if this rule was constraining Mitch McConnell he would have figured out a way around the rule or would simply violate the rule and worry about the consequences later.

And, as another person in the discussion pointed out, even with all this self-righteous lecturing about the rule, we don’t know whether Pelosi formally requested a weekend session and McCarthy objected or whether the Democratic elite were simply assuming that McCarthy would object and not bothering to even ask.  One of the people in the discussion points out that a “statement would be helpful.” Ya think?

Pelosi et. al. are whining on Twitter about being misunderstood, receiving unfair criticism from ignorant people, but we wouldn’t even be in this position if the elite in the Democratic Party felt it in any way incumbent on them to explain to the American people what was going on. 

For at least yesterday and today, Pelosi’s phone couldn’t be reached. The mailbox is full and nobody is answering.  Now, if Nancy Pelosi sincerely wanted to know what the unwashed masses thought, she would arrange for her phones to be working and messages to be taken.  But, the truth is that she doesn’t care.

If indeed the Democrats absolutely cannot convene until Monday, they should be all over the news explaining exactly why and who is holding them up.  They aren’t. This is the very first time I have ever heard that the rules prevent them from convening and that McCarthy is holding them up.

Why, oh why, can’t the Democrats seem to understand that every time the Republicans obstruct them, pointing this out gains them political points?  What’s so hard about that?  Why can’t the Democrats bring themselves to tell the truth about their “colleagues?”

There is political advantage to be gained by first of all explaining what they are doing to the American people and second of all scoring points off the Republicans’ obstruction.  They just won’t do it.  You tell me why.

Part of the attitude seems to come from an unbelievable hubris that characterizes the Democratic elite and the absolute belief that a class of professionals who make an enormous amount of money for consulting and advising, know what’s best.  They aren’t out there explaining to the rest of what they are doing because they don’t think they have to.  They regard us as a necessary evil.   It reminds me of that line in “The Postman Always Rings Twice” where the lawyer (Hume Croyn) says with sinister finality: “When I say I’m handling it, I’m handling it.”  The Democratic elite doesn’t feel a need to explain.  They don’t feel a need to answer their phones in a crisis.  And, they get damn offended if anybody questions them.

Nancy Pelosi and her minions have managed to create this narrative that Pelosi is this genius strategist and that the rest of us just aren’t smart enough to understand the three-dimensional chess game she is playing.  I have heard this mouthed by Mika Brzezinski and Jennifer Rubin, to name but two.  The “she’s a genius” combined with a big chunk of “you’re just criticizing her because she’s a woman” intimidates a lot of people.

As another person in the twitter discussion (@RhiFionn) pointed out: “If you want understanding, explain what’s going on…”  

Where we are and how we got there. Corrupt AGs, Anti-democratic DNC

Under the category of “Where we are”

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.

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.