Category Archives: Democratic Party

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.  

“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.  

Don’t bother, you don’t need to know. After all, it’s uncle joe

ISRAEL

The Biden administration is taking on the same elitist “we’ll handle this you don’t need to bother” attitude that characterized the Obama administration.  And, the result will probably be the same. 

When there was clear evidence that the Russians had hacked into the election infrastructure in 2016, Obama, fearful of appearing partisan, refused to make the information public.  Harry Reid all but announced the information, but the corporate media ignored him.  But, Obama, remained silent.

According to staffers, Obama was so confident that Hillary was going to win, he figured she would take care of the issue after she was elected.  “We’ll handle this.”  Right.

Well, it didn’t turn out that way and we wound up with a Russian puppet in the White House for four years.  We will never know the extent of the devastation of that four years.

Obama cared more about his legacy than he did about the American people and the damage is incalculable.

Biden is issuing the same patronizing kinds of statements about the recent outbreak of conflict in Israel.  The administration is  doing “quiet diplomacy.”  That’s the story.  “We’ll handle this you don’t need to bother.”  It’s behind the scenes because really cool guys (like Biden) with experience (like Biden) know that it’s better to move behind the scenes than come out publicly and (in this case) demand a ceasefire.

In fact, not that you would know it from watching corporate news (celebrity gossip, agent driven interviews about new books, rap lyric quotes, hand wringing about the hypocrisy of the Republicans, the creation of Liz Cheney as a super-star) but the U.S. government has blocked a UN Security Council call for a ceasefire three times since this conflict began. 

Why, why would the U.S. block a call for a ceasefire?  What possible purpose would that serve unless you wanted to signal to Netanyahu that we support driving the Palestinians into the sea?

But, there is not a peep about this on the corporate news, or at least not that I have seen.  It’s all reassuring elitist head patting.  “We’ve got this under control.”  “Don’t worry.”  “You don’t have to know what’s going on.  Just trust us.”  “After all, it’s uncle Joe and his son died.”

When Barak Obama decided he knew better than the American people what to do about the Russian hacking, we wound up with the disaster of Trump, three Supreme Court justices not to mention a legion of federal court judges who comprise a ticking time bomb.  Biden adopting the same “trust me” attitude is not comforting. 

The corporate news by and large is promoting its usual “both sides” analysis.  Well, the Israelis are launching some missiles and Hamas is launching some missiles.  But, as was pointed out on Christine Amanpour’s show on 17 May 2021, there is no symmetry in the destructive power of the two entities. 

And, as Ehaled Elgindy, former advisor to the Palestinian authority commented on Amanpour’s program, the Israelis are essentially asking that Hamas stop firing on Israel in exchange for the Israelis stopping firing at some time in the future as yet undetermined. 

Elgindy noted that what was needed was the “robust” involvement of Biden in the situation, not the passive approach he is taking at the moment.  Elgindy argued that Biden was essentially saying to Netanyahu, go ahead, we’ll run diplomatic interference for you until you get what you want.  Biden should be calling for an immediate cease fire.  Because he is not, Biden is “greenlighting” the process. 

Elgindy continued that the policy in Washingon is basically that we have to “hug Israel” to get them to do anything.  Through 54 years of occupation, expulsions, and blockades, all Washington is willing to come up with are “positive inducements.”  The U.S. has “enabled” the situation for decades.

This week on the horrible Morning Joe (home for all middle of the road has beens who have nothing, and I mean nothing,to say) David Ignatius claimed that there wasn’t really anything the U.S. could do about the situation. 

Meanwhile, Washington approved $735 million in precision-guided weapons to Israel.  The Democrats were largely silent.

Sources

U.S. Today

https://www.usnews.com/news/world/articles/2021-05-17/biden-administration-approved-735-million-arms-sale-to-israel-sources

Christine Amanpour (5/17/21)

A breath of fresh air, a democrat tells the truth about christopher wray, fbi

Blog: Christopher Wray

For reasons inexplicable to me, the corporate media has always tried to make a hero out of Christopher Wray.  Most of the Democratic establishment has refused to criticize him and Biden has decided to allow him to remain as FBI Director.

But, in a giant departure from the way Wray is talked about by the corporate news media and the Democratic party, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse from Rhode Island, last night on MSNBC’s Chris Hayes, told the truth.  It was a breath of fresh air. Democrats ought to try it more often.

Whitehouse told Hayes that in Wray’s testimony before the Senate, he was “less clear” than Merrick Garland that the Justice Department would follow the investigation of the January 6, insurrection wherever it may lead. 

Whitehouse was particularly concerned that the investigation would be dumped on the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia.  Were this to happen, Whitehouse argued, there would be real questions of whether the investigation would go further than low level participants to “upstream investigations” of people who were actually driving the crime.  Whitehouse seemed to feel confident that Garland would pursue these “upstream” investigations.

When asked directly by Hayes if he thought Wray was a “straight shooter,” Whitehouse issued a scoffing laugh.  “If so, that would be a new phenomenon.” 

“I’ve spent three years trying to get him to answer questions and he has hidden behind every conceivable dodge” continued Whitehouse.  “We have unanswered questions from 2017.”

According to Whitehouse, in hearing after hearing during the Trump administration, Wray failed to answer questions not only submitted by Democrats, but those submitted by Republicans.  In seven of nine hearings Wray participated in, the committee got no answers. 

“He (Wray) participated in or ran a massive traffic jam that stopped answers to huge numbers of QFRs (questions for the record)…and to all of our letters.  At the same time, he set up this side road where they could run” lots of documents into the Republicans to do the Cross Fire Hurricane investigation. 

Whitehouse said he still wanted to know why questions got “jammed into the traffic jam” while “Trump friendly” questions got high speed treatment.  He wanted to know “why were we stonewalled all those years…what was the method, on whose instruction was that done, what was the scheme, what was the plan, why did it happen, all that.” 

And Whitehouse, quite rightly, pointed out that the FBI under Wray engaged in an absurd exercise characterized as an “investigation” of the charges against Brett Kavanaugh. 

Whitehouse said it was necessary to go back to “the FBI investigation of Bret Kavanaugh and whether that was real or fake and what happened with that so called tip line FBI ran, because as best as I can tell…all the information (from the tip line)…got dumped straight into the bin.”  None of it got reviewed “pursuant to standard FBI procedures for reviewing the information that comes in through a tip line.  It was more a tip dump than a tip line.  And understanding if that happened, why that happened on whose direction, presumably from the White House.”

Whitehouse concluded: “If this guy (Wray) presided over a fake FBI investigation, we need to know that.”

I would like to point out that Sen. Chris Coons, Democrat, helped set up that FBI investigation.  He and Christopher Wray need to be held to account. 

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/

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.