Category Archives: Law and Justic

Burning Books: We Won’t Have To

Viktor Orban Meets With Angela Merkel In Berlin

My partner woke up in the middle of the night last night worrying about the Coronavirus.  He wasn’t worried about catching it, me catching it, or buying toilet paper.  He was worried about books.

“All the books are going to be online.”  He said to me this morning as we were lying in bed, propped up side-by-side, drinking coffee and watching the cats harass squirrels raiding the bird feeders attached to the windows.

“Before long books will all be digital and with one key stroke somebody like Trump can change them, change them just like that.”

“There won’t be any need to burn books anymore.”  I said.

“There won’t be any need to burn books.”

It’s not surprising that people like us are worrying about books during this Coronavirus crisis.  The Trump administration is quietly reaching out the evil fingers of authoritarianism all over the social order.  I can almost feel them burrowing their way underneath the covers of the bed every night.

In Hungary, Prime Minister Viktor Orban did not seize power.  The Hungarian Parliament handed it over to him by passing a new law that gives him broad powers supposedly to deal with the Coronavirus.  There is no end date set for these expanded powers and others are so concerned that they are calling for the EU to expel Hungary.

Orban, who has bragged about being the champion of “illiberal democracy” now has the power to jail people who publicize what are viewed as untrue or distorted facts which could alarm people.  No by-elections can be held as long as the law remains in force.  The government has the power to suspend laws.

The new rules can only be lifted with a two-thirds vote of the parliament AND A PRESIDENTIAL SIGNATURE.

Tell me that’s comforting.

https://news.yahoo.com/rule-decree-hungary-reopens-wounds-011612093.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

They’ve Got Time: The Rich and Powerful Take Advantage of Every Crisis

honore In an interview on MSNBC, Lt. Gen. Honore reminds us to pay attention to what is going on behind the scenes of this crisis.  While the rich and the powerful are wasting time actually dealing with the Convid-19 crisis, they have well enough make sure their pockets are lined.

The bailout package passed last week is just one example.  While containing some provisions for regular people, most of the money is a giant bailout for large corporations.  After Democrats fought for oversight of this slush fund, the President issued a signing statement that he will ignore the oversight.  When asked about this, Nancy Pelosi just said that the Congress will exercise its power.  Right.  Let’s see how that works out.

Even people you wouldn’t ordinarily expect to be pointing out the graft and corruption that is going to be a central part of this crisis, like Lt. Gen. Honore, are sounding the alarm.

In an interview with Crag Melvin on MSNBC, Honore warned that powerful people in the administration had time to change the EPA regulations about companies dumping pollutants into an area known as “Cancer Alley,” in Louisiana.  This dumping always most negatively affects low income and people of color.

We will see more and more of this as the crisis continues.  They will use every opportunity to bilk profits, endanger regular people and steal.  When this is over, they will tell us we can’t afford even basic services.  We cannot let them steal the country during this crisis.

 

 

 

 

 

Disaster Economics: Part 1

pitchfork

The more useless the corporate news media becomes, the more essential it is to find good, informative podcasts.

Today, I listened to a podcast from Pitchfork Economics called “Disaster Economics.”  It’s worth 100 hours of listening to the gossip of Nicolle Wallace, the geek coronavirus obsession of Rachael Maddow, or the endless inspirational anecdotes of CNN.

Pitchfork Economics Podcast

Discussion notes:

The hope is that this crisis will force a reexamination of forty years of neoliberal policies.  Republicans and libertarians have fought for years to make government small enough to (as Grover Norquist once said) strangle in a bathtub.  Well, now that’s what we’ve got, and it’s ill equipped to respond to the coronavirus pandemic.

Even knowing that this type of pandemic was possible, the government scaled down and down government agencies like the CDC and failed to adequately prepare for a crisis.  Trump eliminated pandemic planning units of the government and trivialized the problem even when he was repeatedly warned about it.

Neoliberal policies have led to a situation where, for example, this country has the lowest per capita percentage of hospital beds in the advanced industrialized world.  The massive hospital consolidation which has been allowed to occur, may have made running particular hospitals more “efficient.”  Hospitals, for example, make more money when they have 70% to 80% of their hospital beds full all the time.  And, this makes private equity guys happy, but when there is a crisis, the country is not prepared.

We must use this crisis to make regular people more empowered.  For 40 years, capitalists have used disasters to disempower people.  We must use them to seize back the power we have to determine our own futures.

Capitalism is the Crisis: The Repubicans Paved the Way for This

burr, richard

This afternoon, Jason Easley (3/19/20) at Politicsusa reported that Sen. Richard Burr, Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, was dumping $1.6 million in his own personal stock at the same time he was publicly reassuring the American people that their government had the coronavirus well in hand.

Burr was also warning his rich donors that this virus was likely to rival the 1918 flu virus that caused widespread devastation, thereby alerting them that they should scurry like rats leaving a sinking ship.  Burr, as head of the Intelligence Committee, was receiving daily updates (which included some of the nation’s most highly classified information) on the status of the virus and the extent of the threat to US security.

If the American people aren’t not furious about this, they should be.  They are losing their jobs, their financial security, and their retirement investments while a Republican member of Congress trades off his position to evade something like a 30% loss on his stocks.

As Miriame Kaba, an organizer recently interviewed on “The Intercept” stated, “capitalism is the crisis.”

This country has been thrown into social and economic turmoil by a group of people who have been telling the rest of us that the markets would take care of everything and that the individual pursuit of profit would make us free.  Meanwhile, they are busily trying to make money off the crisis.

If there is anything positive to be gleaned out of this crisis, it is the hope that people will finally realize that we are under the rule of  what Sarah Kenzior calls a crime syndicate posing as a government.  This includes not just Trump and his family.  This includes most of the members of the Congress as well.

I would be willing to bet that none of the corporate news media outlets will cover this story.  They will, instead, run video after video of reporters walking backward in grocery stores telling us that the shelves are empty as if this was edifying in any way.

Trump said today that the federal government was not a “shipping clerk.”  What he meant was that people were on their own, they couldn’t count of the federal government, their government, the government that they fund, to help them out.

We have no reason to be surprised.  Anyone could have seen this crisis coming.  It was never a question of whether, it was a question of when.  Experts in the field warned of the likelihood of a pandemic and people lived through an ebola crisis.

But for decades, the Republican party has been paving the way for just such a crisis.  They are the party that denigrates and ridicules science, reason, government, and expertise.  Why would anyone voting Republican expect anything different?

We are told we live in the richest, best country in the world, but we can’t afford testing kits to establish the severity of a pandemic.

 

Joe Biden is Full of it: The Clarence Thomas Hearings

I am still watching the Biden town hall on CNN, but I just want people to hear the bullshit answer Biden just gave to a woman in the audience.  She made the statement that times had changed since the Clarence Thomas hearings, and asked Biden how he had changed and how he would answer people who were still unsatisfied with how he handled the hearing.

I just want you to read the answer he gave.

  • “I opposed Clarence Thomas (unintelligible) beginning. I believed Anita Hill from the beginning. And I tried to control the questions under the laws that exist for the Senate.  And I was unable to do it.  Just like the last hearing…they were unable to control, keep people from being able to ask questions.  What I did was I made a commitment; I made a commitment never again would the Judiciary Committee only have men on that committee.  So, I went out and I campaigned for two people, Carol Mosley Brawn, an African American senator from the state of Illinois and Diane Feinstein…on the condition that if they won they would join the committee….I kept that commitment.  And secondly I made another commitment, that I was going to get the Violence Against Women Act passed which…I wrote myself, the Violence Against Woman Act.  Number three, I’ve spoken with Anita Hill and I apologized for not being able to protect her more.  I’m trying to think, and I raised the question for example, I raised the question, should we in fact have those hearings in camera….when, because you’re gonna always be subject to being vilified no matter who comes and says he said she said this happened, and so here’s the deal….and she said, and I think she’s right, she said No, it’s better not to do that.  We should have it in the open, so we gotta find a way to change the rules as to what can be asked, but in a hearing….it’s impossible to say you can’t ask the question…I won’t go into more detail…I wish I could have protected her more.  I publicly apologized, apologized then and I was able to…we owe her…a lot…because what she did by coming forward, she gave me the ability to pass the violence against women act.  We owe her a great deal of credit.”

 

 

 

 

MONDAY THOUGHTS…MSNBC IS TRASH

morning joe in pajamas

  • When I turned on the television this morning, the first thing I saw on Morning Joe was a clip of Sanders explaining to CNN that he couldn’t say exactly what Medicare for All would cost. Scarborough, of course, played this clip as an excuse to mock Sanders.  When the camera came back to Scarborough, he had on what can only be described (by my partner) as a “shit eating grin.”  Scarborough then started to repeat phrases like: “radically change the economy,” “radically overturn” and create a revolution.
  • Scarborough made the ridiculous statement that Sanders would “radically change the economy in a way that it hasn’t been changed since the republic was formed…”
  • The dreadful, opportunistic bobble headed Mika said that Sanders was “threatening to tear the party apart.”
  • Journalism my ass.  This is not journalism.  It is propaganda designed to promote favored candidates and destroy others.
  • In 2016, Morning Joe started almost every program with a clip of Donald Trump on the campaign trail. They gave him millions (billions?) in free advertising.  Joe Scarborough and the dreadful Mika helped Trump get elected and they were at Mara-shitgo after the election.  They asked his permission to use certain questions in an interview (we know this only because they were taped doing so) and only broke with Trump because he threatened and then outed their adulterous affair.
  • Joe Scarborough, like Jennifer Rubin and other former Republicans have destroyed their own party.  They willingly helped build a structure that launched an administration hell bent toward establishing authoritarianism in this country.  Now they are telling the Democrats what to do and who to nominate.
  • But, it’s not just Joe and the dreadful Mika.
  • MSNBC has conducted an all-out campaign against Bernie Sanders.  The coverage took a downward dive and a more overtly contemptuous and attacking tone in the past couple of months as they saw that Sanders was indeed viable.
  • MSNBC’s coverage of the results of the Nevada caucuses on Saturday was an outrageous point in that downward spiral.
  • On Saturday night, I sincerely thought Nicolle Wallace and Joy Reid were going to start crying.
  • The only reason I now watch MSNBC is to document the outrageous campaign against Sanders.  In 69 years of living, I have never, never, seen a news organization put on such an overtly expressed attack on one candidate.
  • The day before the Nevada caucases, one of the MSNBC commentators, Jason Johnson, who has had on every panel, 24/7, for weeks, did a radio interview in which he called the black women who work for Sanders an “island of misplaced black girls.”  None of these people would say anything, anything like this about the women who worked for any other candidate.
  • Then, that same night, Chris Matthews likened the Sanders victory to the invasion by the Nazis of France.  But, this was just the latest comment by Matthews smearing Bernie Sanders.  He has been doing it for at least a year.
  • Tonight, Matthews apologized, APOLOGIZED, for his “misplaced analogy.”  As I say over and over again, there are things you cannot apologize for.  Saying what you mean is not something you can apologize for, and Matthews has meant every mean, contemptuous, slanderous thing he has ever said about Sanders.
  • Matthews earlier this year implied that Sanders would stand and watch Matthews be executed in Times Square.  I hate to clue him in, but Matthews isn’t important enough to execute.  But anyway, Matthews also pulled out of his ass a statement that Sanders would be the last person to stop for someone who was in distress by the roadside.  This is journalism?  What kind of journalism?  These are the kinds of things that idiots say in a bar.
  • Why, why do we have to listen to people like this?  Matthews in 2016 made a joke with Clinton about “roofies.”
  • Matthews interrupts, talks down, and generally treats with contempt most of the women on his show.  But, MSNBC continues to employ him.
  • MSNBC cannot apologize for their coverage of Sanders over the past four years, especially the past few months and especially Saturday night.
  • MSNBC came out tonight with a statement saying they were going to look for more progressives to put on their shows.  Really?  It must be hard to find them while they have under contract so many overpaid and ignorant circle-jerk “strategists” and Clinton mean-girls like Adrienne Elrod and Neera Tandem.

Enough of that.  Another thing:

  • Everybody seems to be going wild because Sanders said that not everything about Cuba is negative.  Well, duh?  DUH?  Can people use their brains here?
  • Cuba has the highest rate of literacy in Latin America.
  • At least when I was there, everybody had access to free education and health care.  The government subsidized books and they cost almost nothing.  Everyone had access to language training.  Everybody had shoes, jobs, an income.  They had a thriving, fascinating theatre culture.  Musicians got a salary. No, not everything about Cuba is negative.
  • But, the elite would rather live in a bubble.  And the corporate media, part of that elite, refuses to cover reality.
  • I was contracted to write a freelance article years ago when I went to Cuba. When I wrote an article talking about the advances in education in Cuba, the Times Educational Supplement said that it was “too positive.”  They would not print the article.  This was almost 40 years ago.  The slander against Cuba has been going on for a long time.  The coverage of Cuba is characterized by the same kind of distortion that goes on about Bernie and about Democratic Socialism.
  • I am sick of the corporate media and I’m sick of MSNBC.  They are terrified of a Sanders victory.  The “progressive” MSNBC is more hateful about Sanders because  MSNBC is full of people who will never be able to get near the White House if Sanders is elected.
  • The DNC “strategist”/pundit class would rather help Trump win four more years than risk their cushy jobs and privileged positions.
  • I am sick of them and of mealy-mouthed commentators (Chuck Rosenberg, Joyce (even though I love her) Vance. At least Rachal Maddow has started to tell people that this is a crisis.  We are not on the edge of a crisis.  We not in a situation of concern.  We are in a red alarm, democracy going down the drain crisis.
  • If you are not setting your hair on fire, you don’t understand what is going on.

A final comment:

Biden is running an ad campaign asking why Bernie Sanders wanted to primary Obama.  Biden is trying to imply that Sanders “didn’t have the back of the first African American” president.  Biden is blatantly trying to call Sanders a racist.  Well, let’s see why Sanders might, just might have thought about a challenge to Obama.  Maybe because Obama richly deserved to be challenged?  Maybe because it’s a democracy?  But, no, it must be racism.  I can’t even come up with one reason to challenge Obama except, oh yeah, how about stumbling all over himself putting Wall Street in his cabinet and then refusing to prosecute those responsible for the financial crisis?  But, then again, I’m one of those “vicious” Bernie Bros.  (Adrienne Elrod actually accused me of that and then blocked me.)  I’m proud, proud of that.

Night.

  • IMG_1547

Just Another Coinkydink: There are so many coincidences. Don’t believe in conspiracy theory.

 

Mitch McConnell

  • In September, Mitch McConnell announced that he would block a bill  to lower prescription drug costs.
  • By the end of December McConnell had raked in more than $50,000 in contributions from political action committees and individuals tied to the pharmaceutical industry.
  • The bill that would have allow the federal government to negotiate prices for Medicare, restrict price hikes and limit out-of-picket costs.
  • McConnell called this “socialist price controls.”
  • 80% of Americans believe that it is only right to have the federal government negotiate prices with the Drug Companies.
  • Mitch McConnell says no.
  • Then,
  • “On Oct. 16, McConnell received a $2,500 check from Takeda Pharmaceuticals’ political action committee, according to McConnell’s reports to the Federal Election Commission.
  • The same campaign finance filings show that a few weeks after that, multinational pharmaceutical company Novartis’ PAC also sent $2,500 to McConnell. Then, a PAC for another pharma company, Emergent BioSolutions, kicked in $2,500.
  • By the end of December, McConnell’s campaign reported, he had received at least $30,000 more from the corporate political action committees of Bluebird Bio ($2,500), Boehringer Ingelheim ($5,000), Greenwich Biosciences ($2,500), Teva USA ($10,000), and UCB ($2,500).
  • According to filings from his Bluegrass Committee leadership PAC, Merck & Co. also contributed $5,000 to support McConnell and Sanofi donated $2,500.
  • Over that time period, McConnell’s campaign also received $5,000 from Gilead Sciences CEO Daniel O’Day, $2,000 from Amgen lobbyist Helen Rhee, and $5,600 from his former policy director and current Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America registered lobbyist Hazen Marshall
  • Amgen, Boehringer Ingelheim, Gilead Sciences, Merck, Novartis, Sanofi, Takeda, Teva, and UCB are all members of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, which has said the bill would have a “devastating effect on the industry” and would cause fewer treatments to be developed.”

But, least you all be consumed by CONSPIRACY THEORIES, all claim that there is no connection between the donations to McConnell and “positions taken on specific legislation.”

Please, don’t be a fool.  Vote Republicans out of office.  We have to end this government by corporations.  And, just another plea: don’t let the words: “I don’t believe in conspiracy theories” come out of your mouth.  Do you know how much money these corporations and the right have spent to have that scripted statement come out of our mouths?

the American Independent (2/18/20)  https://americanindependent.com/mitch-mcconnell-pharmaceutical-industry-donations-prescription-drug-costs-senate-gop-republicans/