Propublica didn’t start out investigating Clarence Thomas. They were investigating travel and happened on the Crowe connection with Clarence Thomas. Thomas had taken Crowe’s private plane and flown to Connecticut for only a few hours. Talking to charter companies, they said that renting a jet for a comparable flight would cost somewhere like $70,000.
Crowe is very involved in pro0business conservative politics. He’s a major republican donor. Also, he has given millions to ideological efforts to move the judiciary to the right. He sits on the board of major conservative think tanks.
Joshua Kaplan was one of three reporters who broke the initial story of the Thomas corruption.
2019, Thomas flew to Indonesia and spent nine days island hopping on Crowe’s super yacht complete with private chefs.
The first direct financial transaction was an undisclosed financial transaction, involved the house Thomas mother lived in. Money directly flowed from Crowe into Thomas’ pocket.
There are few rules about what kind of gifts Supreme Court Judges can receive. Thomas appears to have broken the law for not disclosing any of these gifts.
Then, after these stories broke, there were other stories, like that of Neil Gorsuch who struggled to sell a property and then nine days after being confirmed to the Supreme Court suddenly sold it to the head of a top law firm.
Then, there was the wife of Chief Justice Roberts who made $10 million placing lawyers with law firms. Some of them have had had business before the court.
There is no oversight of the court.
This is one of those nights when I think I am going to lose my mind. First, there was Nicolle Wallace weeping on national television over the fact that Tim Russert died and his son wrote a book. You would think that nobody’s parent ever died in the history of the world. First, I have never understood why people find it necessary to winge on and on about Russert. I am sure he was a nice guy, but please, all this adoration? I don’t get it. Second, Luke Russert is not the only person who has ever experienced grief or hardship. Why does his grief merit an entire segment on nightly corporate news? Third, Nicolle Wallace was making it perfectly clear to her audience last night that she was crying over gun deaths. We do not need news anchors weeping. We need a media that will stand up for what is right, cover something beside the latest episode in the “Trump’s Legal Trouble” saga.
Alright. Then, there’s Ari Melber. Melber’s guests are talking about how the brinksmanship over the debt limit is “so yesterday.” The base seems to have moved on to fights with Disney, etc. I have no idea how this conclusion was reached by Chai Komanduri, a guest on Melber’s show. I really think that establishment Washington is incapable of realizing that the REALLY CRAZY faction of the Republican party actually wants to throw the world into economic chaos. People like Steve Bannon want there to be an economic catastrophe so they can establish a religious fascist state in the ruins.
Establishment Democrats refuse to fight, refuse to look at the reality of the political situation in this country. The Republicans are not going to be defeated in some kind of nice, rules-based debating session. They want to tear down society, to tear it apart. It seems like they will have to do it before establishment Washington will realize the truth. But, we will be the losers.
In this episode of Gaslit Nation, the podcast opened with a clip of a television interview Bernie Sanders did with some anchor. She starts rabbiting on and he interrupts her to say what most other Democrats will not say, i.e., that Joe Manchin never intended to support the Biden Climate Plan and that Democrats have to stop talking to him like was serious.
Note: It amazes me how few Democrats there are who will actually tell the truth. When CNN or MSNBC starts to interview a member of congress, I just fast-forward through the segment. It is almost always a waste of time. None of them (with a few exceptions) can even talk without sounding like a staff edited version of a focus group tested script.
In this interview Sanders also pointed out the obvious (but again unsaid) fact that Manchin receives massive contributions from fossil fuel interests and from Republican billionaires.
Note: Biden should make sure that the locks on Manchin’s office doors are changed, have his parking slot taken away, arrange for Machin’s wife to lose her cushy position, start telling people what Machin’s daughter does to make a living, take Manchin off all his committees, and primary him, for a start.
Sanders reacted with the disdain that every Democrat should demonstrate when the host says that Manchin argues that he’s concerned about West Virginia. “Really, reaalllllly,” Sanders says. But most of the rest of the Democratic party is concerned about being nice.
Sanders continued that statements like the one made by Manchin were “…the same nonsense that Manchin has been talking about for years.” West Virginia is one of the poorest states in the country. “Ask the people of West Virginia.” Sanders concluded. “Manchin represents the wealthy not the working people of this country.”
Note: It is obvious why the Democratic Party would rather blow up the world rather than have a progressive like Bernie Sanders leading the party.
Gaslit Nation is a podcast about “rising autocracy around the world.”
Sarah Kenzior describes Merrick Garland is a “mafia state enabler.”
And notes that this may be the last free election we have if the Republicans assume power.
She notes the North Carolina gerrymandering case to be decided by the Supreme Court next year.
Kenzior notes that Garland’s use of the Barr memo to restrict DOJ cases which might (in some conceivable world) appear “political,” is much like the OLC memo Mueller hid behind to keep from having to indict Trump for crimes he himself detailed in his report.
Garland, she concluded, is taking his cues from Barr.
Garland is labelled as an “institutionalist,” but the institution he is leading is rotted and corrupt and complicit. It was so when Barr was AG at the end of the Bush administration.
Manchin killed the Biden climate package. It is in Joe Manchin’s financial interest that climate change is not addressed.
There is very little leverage with Manchin. The more he tells the Democrats he is going to destroy their agenda, the more his popularity in West Virginia rises.
Manchin was pushing a tax on “pass through” entities. He was evidently not aware that a lot of businesses use this structure. This tax was going to fund climate change programs. Monied interests complained to Manchin, so he pulled his support from his own proposal.
Manchin is one of the most corrupt members of Congress. He and his wife secured funding for a new conservation area that just happened to adjoin their vacation property. (Note: His wife has been appointed to a profitable job as part of the courting of Manchin and Manchin’s daughter has also engaged in controversial deals.)
(Note: When Biden gave the Rose Garden speech recently, Manchin hung around like a groupie trying to shake hands with Biden. Unlike MSB, he didn’t seem to get even a fist bump.)
Majority Report did an interview with Ryan Grim about Manchin (7/15/22).
Biden is “on the brink” of declaring a climate emergency.
More horror stories come to light as women with difficult pregnancies are unable to get adequate medical care because hospitals and doctors are afraid of running afoul of the new abortion laws. Women, in some instances, are allowed to not only suffer but become dangerously ill waiting for a condition where doctors feel comfortable giving them medical care. Fearing litigation patients are allowed to worsen until their lives are in jeopardy. This is occurring even in situations where there is no viable fetus.
The belief behind these laws is that pregnancy, illness, spontaneous abortions are the will of God. If the woman dies, that’s just the will of God. We are all being dragged into the hell of their religious beliefs. These laws reflect a desire to punish. “They are fundamental theocrats,” says Sam Seder. They get to decide what God wills.
Other fresh hell
Biden’s polling numbers are dismal. Democratic candidates are doing better than Biden.
COVID is on the rise.
Because of objections by Rand Paul (?) Chad Meridith has been dropped for a federal judgeship. This story gets more and more weird. (What the f..k was this about?)
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.