Category Archives: Graft, Greed and Corruption

Economic rape and the republicans

  • The Republicans are turning a massive failure of infrastructure and privatization in Texas into a condemnation of renewable energy.  Even the Governor of the State is on national television spewing lies and disinformation. 
  • Gov. Greg Abbott, on Fox News, said that the problem was caused by renewable energy systems.
  • Officials were told in 2011 that they needed to winterize the Texas system.  But, the State of Texas didn’t make that winterization and other changes obligatory.  Because the grid is operated by private companies, allowed to make as much profit as they can, the State failed to winterize and now we are watching people lose their lives.
  • Message #1: Don’t elect people to run government that don’t believe in government.
  • Message #2: Capitalism is going to kill us.
  • Message #3: We are living in a failed state. 

scarborough, both sidesism, fbi, georgia is not a beacon of hope

Joe Scarborough, both-sideser in chief and head MSNBC misogynist is at it again this morning joined by his usual kiss ass crew.  He got in a little trouble yesterday by repeatedly asking guests whether it was necessary to impeach Trump.  The dreadful Mika told him to stop and he responded like the petulant bully he is, by berating her and trying to embarrass her on national television.

This morning, he and Peter Baker are trying to figure out how “we” can work with the Republicans like James Langford, who have suddenly had an attack of conscience over trying to overthrow an election.

But, for Scarborough and Baker, that’s just a minor blip.  Sedition?  Just apologize and Scarborough will find a way to launder your reputation (if you are a Repubican). 

Baker’s contribution to this was to lament the fact that, in his words, both sides have decided to go back into their partisan corners.  Equal corners, right?  One side is providing the rationale for sedition and the other is trying to restore democracy, but they are both equally to blame. 

On to other matters.

On Ari Melber’s MSNBC show last night, Eugene Robinson (Mr. Mild Manners himself) said that the Republicans created this division and now they are buying body armor.

AOC was evidently so afraid when the attack was going on, she was fearful of going into a safe room with Republicans.  She thought they might lead the attackers to her.  It was not an unreasonable suspicion since one of the members of the House was texting out the location of Nancy Pelosi.

Lindsey Graham characterized the impeachment proceedings as “sheer hatred.”  I can’t wait to find out why Graham did a 180 turn to support Trump.  Maybe if Trump gets more and more frustrated, he will start to spill the dirt. 

Rep Madeleine Dean, who will be one of the impeachment managers said “Lindsay Graham knows better.”   “You too” she said referring to Graham, “are complicit…” 

Trump evidently brought Bannon back into the sedition circle.  Roger Stone was the one who came up with the “Stop the Steal” rallying cry. 

Tony Schwartz is saying that Trump is now moving “between rage and delusion.”  And that Trump has unleashed forces that we may well see become more powerful in the future.  

Peter Strzok, former FBI, expressed “frustration and anger” at the lack of preparedness at the Capitol.  If you look at other events, Strzok argued: “The government can secure the capitol when it wants to and that didn’t happen here.”  Strzok said that the tour groups that evidently went through the Capitol the day before the assault needed to be “looked into.”

Elizabeth Newmann, former Assistant Secretary for Threat Presentation and Security Policy at DHS, explained that the Terrorist Watch List is a separate list from the No Fly List and is broader, larger.  She says it includes “suspected white supremacists.”  But, she also said, this list functions more as an alert system than a surveillance system.  If, for example, someone got arrested, law enforcement could run the name and the person would show up as on this Terrorist Watch List.  But, there is no ongoing surveillance on these people.  So, they could all decide to go to Washington at the same time and go and there would be no automatic alert because of this list.

Last night, Rachael Maddow was commenting on the absurdity of having people on this list, but not knowing that they were all converging on the same problematic location.  The only way law enforcement could know this is if these people were under constant surveillance and I’m not sure that’s what we want.

A number of people are already pointing out on Twitter and in articles that this siege of the Capitol may well end up working to the disadvantage of legitimate protest.  As always, it’s easy to argue for more surveillance of individuals when they are opposed to you politically.  But, these same surveillance measures can be turned quickly against legitimate protest.

I heard no discussion yesterday of the way in which a person might be put on this Terrorist Watch List.  Once on this list, are you ever taken off?  What surveillance measures can the government take after you are put on this list? These are questions we need to answer.

Newman, after explaining the list, went on to say that there was “no excuse for the lack of preparation” at the capitol.  She pointed out that that the Executive Branch, while reluctant to tell another branch of government what to do, has a “duty to warn” of dangerous situations.  They, for example, should have issued a “Joint Intelligence Bulletin.”  They did not.  “They knew that violence was planned” Newman continued.  “You always assume the worst, prepare for the worst…”

Petef Strzok expressed disappointment that we had not heard from Director Wray.  He wondered whether the FBI attempted to warn other agencies but was prevented from doing so.  Strzok didn’t say by whom. 

Anna Palmer noted that since the COVID outbreak, the Capitol had been like a “ghosttown.”  She noted the extensive security measures for even going into the Capitol as a reporter.  “It’s been months since people were even around” she noted.  These tours were highly unusual. 

Biden has named Jamaal Bowman head of the DNC.  It has not escaped notice that Bowman is against Medicare For All. 

And, lastly, in Georgia…

I had an interesting exchange with a friend on Facebook.  He commented that when the FBI asked all these low-level attackers who are being arrested if they had any coordination or contact with Congressmen or Trump, they would flip and implicate them.

I responded: True, if the FBI agents ask them.

Now, as usual, he took exception to this.  Most people, especially those who have worked around law enforcement accept a law enforcement ethos.  They resist any aspersions on the integrity of the force, even confronted with daily evidence to the contrary.

He responded in a curious way.  First he said that I shouldn’t paint all agents with a “broad brush.”  Seemed to me that he was painting them with a broad brush, just assuming that the FBI would be trying to turn offenders on higher ups.  Why this assumption is made, I don’t know. 

We have just witnessed years of the most curious behavior on the part of the FBI and the Justice Department in recent memory.  Why did James Comey make public the absurd reopening of the investigation of Hillary Clinton right before the 2016 election?  Why did he within the past few days argue publicly that Biden should pardon Trump?  What was going on in the New York City office of the FBI in 2016 that almost lead to a work stoppage?  These are just a few threads that need to be followed up here.  In addition, why was the Justice Department so easily compromised by Jeff Sessions and then Bill Barr?  Why was the Mueller investigation so limited as to make it meaningless?

I’m sorry, but I just don’t think we can assume that all those FBI agents out there are crusaders for justice especially when it comes to investigating people at the top of the food chain.  (See Jesse Eisinger’s “The Chickenshit Club.)

Then, my friend said that the last time he talked to me I was (overly) concerned “dismayed” with voter suppression in Georgia, and Georgia had become the beacon of election security.  Georgia, he said had become the “honest election state that is saving democracy. What truly happened?”

Now, I have no idea what this last paragraph has to do with FBI agents working overtime to get dirt on powerful Congressmen, but there you are.

I find the statement amazing.  I fully realize that the media, prone as they are to simplistic narratives, is trying to make heroes out of Raffensperger, Sterling and Kemp, but anybody who reads should know that Georgia is far from a beacon of hope.

Brian Kemp’s government spent a fortune on a fancy new voting machine system.  And they conducted a propaganda operation by replacing all the “I voted” material with “I secured my Vote.”  It was all a propaganda operation.  I did poll worker training in Georgia before the general and I left at lunch and didn’t go back.  It was obvious to me then that the new system was unwieldy and full of holes.  The measures taken to “secure the vote” were geared toward security threats in the 19th century.  Nobody could answer questions about hacking into the system. 

Even though the media has touted “paper ballots” as an indication of transparency, in Georgia, they are not really “paper ballots.”

The ballots are marked by a machine.  Then, the voter gets a sheet of paper which has his choices printed on it. The voter is supposed to check these choices to make sure they are right.  But, the scanners that count the votes do not even register the words printed on the ballot.  They count a bar code at the bottom of the ballot.  The voter cannot read the bar code.  The poll workers cannot read the bar code.  I don’t think anybody outside of the Voting Machine company can read the bar codes.  It’s protected by law.  What kind of state of affairs is that?

Before the general election, Brian Kemp’s government made a decision that any recount in Georgia would be done by simply feeding the same ballots (with the same bar codes) through the scanners again.

In short, Georgia spent a fortune on a voting system that is impenetrable.  They regularly send out “experts” who claim that the system cannot be hacked.  But, Jennifer Cohn, Jonathan Simon and the Coalition for Good Governance have repeatedly offered evidence that at best, we don’t know this.

In addition, Kemp is the king of voter suppression.  That’s how he won a race against Stacey Abrams for governor.  Raffensperger and Sterling were in the voter suppression game up to their eye balls.  Kemp, Raffensperger and Sterling are like the guys who are willing to drive the getaway car, but not willing to go into the liquor store with the gun.

Oh,

Just in case you hadn’t heard…Kyle Rittenhouse is out on bail and sitting in a bar drinking and yucking it up with the Proud Boys. Reality Winner has COVID and in still in jail.  I know she’s not receiving her mail because I have a box of returned letters.

Essential reading

Podcast of Preet Bharara

Bharara is a former U.S. Attorney.

In this episode, Bharara interviews Rachael Maddow about her book “Bagman.”

Notes:

Agnew was on the take in Maryland before he was chosen Vice President by Nixon.

Nixon liked Agnew partly because he talked aggressively about race in his speeches and public appearances.

Agnew was essentially getting a cut of every construction contract in Maryland. He wanted to try to establish that relationship with federal contracts.

George HW Bush tried to squelch the investigation into Agnew’s criminal behavior. These Bushes have a lot to answer for. They are a crime family just like the Trumps only better behaved in public and more circumscribed.

When Agnew started to be aware of the fact that he was being seriously investigated, he invented a story that he was the target of assassination plots. He talked publicly about buying a gun to protect himself against government agents.

Agnew engaged in “grievance politics.” He was always the victim being pursued by bad men. After he left office he established a career for himself as an “anti-Semite” for hire.

Podcast: Preet Bharara

https://www.wnycstudios.org/podcasts/preetbharara

Bharara is a former U.S. Attorney.

In this episode, Bharara interviews Rachael Maddow about her book “Bagman.”

Notes:

Agnew was on the take in Maryland before he was chosen Vice President by Nixon.

Nixon liked Agnew partly because he talked aggressively about race in his speeches and public appearances.

Agnew was essentially getting a cut of every construction contract in Maryland. He wanted to try to establish that relationship with federal contracts.

George HW Bush tried to squelch the investigation into Agnew’s criminal behavior. These Bushes have a lot to answer for. They are a crime family just like the Trumps only better behaved in public and more circumscribed.

When Agnew started to be aware of the fact that he was being seriously investigated, he invented a story that he was the target of assassination plots. He talked publicly about buying a gun to protect himself against government agents.

Angew engaged in “grievance politics.” He was always the victim being pursued by bad men. After he left office he established a career for himself as an “anti-Semite” for hire.

Republicans don’t want people to vote

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

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

THE DEVIL HIMSELF: ERIK PRINCE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

erik prince: the devil himself, a classified contract with your money

The reporting is that Trump’s new buffoon appointments in the Pentagon have awarded EriK Prince (read, the Devil) a classified contract to run mercenary operations in Africa.

This is the best book out there about the true depth of corruption and violence represented by Erik Prince.

“everything toxic” Neera Tanden and Biden

Biden’s Choices

Biden’s choice of Neera Tanden to head the Department of Management and Budget is yet another slap in the face of progressives and a further indication that progressives need to leave the Democratic Party.

As Briahna Joy Gray, a former press secretary for Sanders’ 2020 presidential campaign, tweeted about the nomination:  “Everything toxic about the corporate Democratic Party is embodied in Neera Tanden.”

Since 2003, Tanden has been the head of what some in the media term a “left of center” think tank, the Center for American Progress.  This think tank was supposedly established to counter more conservative think tanks like the Heritage Foundation.

But, according to article in Business Insider, “Tanden has come under scrutiny from some of her own colleagues over allegations that she censored employees who were critical of Israel while the organization attempted to build a stronger bond between the Democratic Party and the right-wing Israeli government. Under Tanden, the think tank shut down its independent journalistic arm, Think Progress…following its unionization.”

Former employees of CAP also criticized Tanden for using the think tank as more of a vehicle for her own ambition than an institution based on any left of center policy commitment.  Tanden has openly opposed single payer health care, supported cuts in Social Security, and is friendly with Israel’s conservative leadership. That simply cannot be termed “left of center.”

Tanden is being nominated for this important position after having been a close advisor to Hillary Clinton’s 2008 and 2016 presidential campaigns, both failures.  And, she was closely involved with engineering the ACA, another notable policy failure.

But, Tanden is part of the entitled professional class surrounding Clinton and Obama who are being put back in government by Biden just as progressives warned.  As Biden said in a speech to wealthy donors – “nothing will change.” That’s what progressives who were being badgered to vote for Biden feared, and that is what we are seeing.

The nomination of Tanden is yet another indication that the corporate elite in the Democratic Party have contempt for the progressive vote and are determined to block any meaningful social change. 

“There are very few people who have been as aggressively critical — I would say sometimes obsessively critical — of the progressive left, and in particular of Bernie Sanders, than Neera,” a former senior Center for American Progress employee told Business Insider.

Tanden is already cynically using her supposedly deprived family background to try to evoke sympathy.  She is saying that her family found it necessary to use the social services she will have an impact on funding.  She is evidently using this argument as a way of placating the progressive wing of the party. But, this only means that her opposition to Medicare for All and adequate funding of Social Security is all the more ruthless and contemptuous of working families.  She had to rely on these services herself, but that doesn’t mean she believes others are entitled to them. 

Neera Tanden is part of a little mafia of women (Zerlina Maxwell, Jennifer Palmieri and others) who felt themselves entitled to win the presidency, entitled to be in the White House and livid that Bernie Sanders had the nerve to run against the Queen. 

In addition, these women felt that they had some kind of right to the presidency because of gender. A question asked Bernie Sanders in the 2016 primary sums it up. Yamiche Alcindor (who, after confronting Sanders, went from being a low level New York Times reporter to being on television every night and then hosting programs on NPR) asked Sanders if he didn’t think it was sexist to run against Clinton.

This little mafia ring of women never stopped blaming Sanders for all their own failures in the Clinton campaigns.  And, they never missed an opportunity to slam and slander Sanders and his campaign in the corporate media. 

Neera Tanden, as Gray says, is just the beginning and she illustrates everything that is wrong with the Democratic Party.  The leadership in the Democratic Party is smug, entitled, vindictive, ruthless and bought up to the eyeballs by corporate money. 

Resources

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

GEORGIA: THE USUAL SUSPECTS

Republicans are furious with Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and SOS Brad Raffensperger because even with a new $150 million voting machine system, they couldn’t reliably deliver a win for Trump and two Republican Senators.  The two senate candidates, Perdue and Loeffler, called for Raffensperger’s resignation.  Kemp, it will be remembered, is widely thought in Georgia to have stolen the governorship from Stacey Abrams in 2018. 

Given the amount of voter suppression, the millions spent in overt propaganda to convince Georgians that their voting machine system was “secure,” and the black-box nature of machines which cannot be meaningfully audited, the only reason Kemp and Raffensperger couldn’t deliver is the large number of mail in ballots that were cast. 

Geogia’s highly touted “secured” voting system, includes paper ballots with the voter’s printed choice of candidate on them.  One big problem is that the scanner that counts the votes, doesn’t count the words printed on the page.  The scanners count a barcode at the bottom of the page that neither the voter nor the voting officials can read.  Many people, like me, voted by mail because this allowed circumventing the Ballot-marking devices and the barcode scanners.   

So now, Kemp and Raffensperger are scrambling to save their political careers.  Even though there is a large margin for Biden in the state, they have announced that there will be a recount.  Yesterday (November 11) Raffensperger announced that the recount would be a hand recount of every ballot.  He even made jokes about the amount of overtime that would cost counties to do such a recount.  I’m not sure they shared his humor.

Jennifer Cohn and others have been on twitter, however, pointing out that the SOS has no authority to mandate a hand recount, so the legality of this proposal is dubious.  Several other Georgia watchers have also pointed out that lawyers representing Trump in litigation about the election are also representing the State of Georgia.  This conflict of interest has not been explained.

According to the Chicago Tribune, Georgia state law requires an audit but leaves up to elections officials the choice of race. This leaves the people in charge of the election in charge of determining what race to audit. Officials in Georgia have chosen the presidential race to recount rather than the senate races.  The certification deadline in Georgia is November 20.  It is unclear how counties in Georgia (where they are already pleading for volunteers to help monitor the recount) are going to do a total hand recount by the deadline for certification.  This may in fact be the game.

On Twitter: @cjjohns1951

What Could Go Wrong?

Florida’s governor, Ron DeSantis, has crafted and circulated to legislators a new “anti-mob” piece of legislation.  This legislation is an expansion of Florida’s “stand your ground” law.  The law would:

  • allow armed citizens to shoot suspected looters or anyone engaged in “criminal mischief” that disrupts a business;
  • allow vigilantes to justify violent actions against protesters;
  • opens for door for death as a punishment for property crimes;
  • allows people to use force against people who engage in criminal mischief that results in the “interruption or impairment” of a business;
  • enhances criminal penalties for those involved in “violent or disorderly assemblies;”
  • makes it a third-degree felony to block traffic during a protest;
  • allows the withholding of state funds from local governments that cut law enforcement budgets.

Ceballos, Miami Herald, 11/10/20).