Category Archives: Republican Party

executions, impeachment, Geraldo, kemp, Republican attorneys general

  • The federal government has executed the first woman in almost 70 years.  The woman had a history of mental illness and sexual abuse and sex trafficking in her childhood.  The ACLU had appealed to the federal government to halt scheduled executions.
  • Liz Cheney has said yes to impeachment.
  • Trump, yesterday called for unity and calm while also threatening the nation and the President-Elect.
  • Kevin McCarthy is saying that Trump shouldn’t be impeached.
  • Geraldo has joined the group of people trying to save what is left of their reputations repudiating Trump.  He also advanced a line used by Toomy used, saying that losing the election made Trump crazy.  “After the election, he (Trump) took this to an entirely different place, orders of magnitude different,” Toomey said to NBC.
  • On the “trying to salvage what little is left of his reputation,” subject, Brian Kemp of Georgia is reviving an image he used in a former campaign saying he will drive around Georgia in his pick up truck to distribute vaccine.  For some reason, Kemp feels this casts him in a positive light.  Since he finds himself incapable of managing the state’s distribution network even though he is governor, he hopes to salvage his image by making people believe that delivering vaccine personally in a pick up truck is better.
  • Also in Georgia, a man charged in the capitol siege, Christopher Stanton, has committed suicide.  This is the second suicide reported among those involved in the insurrection.  A capitol hill police officer was also reported as having committed suicide.
  • Right-wing activist Ali Alexander (who has gone into hiding and raised $20,000 on a Christian crowdfunding site) says that Reps. Gosar and Biggs worked with him in planning the rally that led to the attack on the Capitol. 
  •  Rep Lauren Boebert has been arrested four times, including for resisting arrest.  She cheered the Capitol rioters and live-tweeted her colleagues’ locations.  Last night, she refused to go through a metal detector to get to the House floor.  Why she is adamant about taking a weapon into the House chamber nobody knows.
  • Rep. Mikie Sherrill has said that members of Congress gave tours to people through the Capitol on a “reconnaissance” mission one day before the riot.  She says that she is going to see that they are “held accountable, and if necessary ensure they don’t serve in Congress.”
  • The Rule of Law Defense Fund (RLDF), funded robocalls directing people to the rally in Washington, told them they would be marching to the Capitol and used the “Stop the Steal” rallying cry invented by Roger Stone.
  • The RLDF is closely associated with the Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA). 
  • Florida’s AG, Ashley Moody, was on the board of directors for the RLDF, the group that on the day of the Capitol attack sent out robocalls urging attendance.  After the attack, Moody’s office scrubbed references to the group (Tampa Bay Times).
  • RAGA donated more than $1million to Moody’s political committee in 2018. 
  • Moody has been prominent in the legal fight to overturn the 2020 election in favor of Trump.  She also after taking office, joined 14 other Republican state attorneys general in urging the federal government to drop its case against Michael Flynn. 
  • Alabama AG, Steve Marshall, blamed “staff” for the robocall that urged people to go to the Trump rally in Washington. 
  • The executive director of the RAGA resigned on Monday.
  • The website for March to Save America, the Trump rally, listed the RLDF as one of the participating organizations.  The graphic which listed the participating organizations has since been deleted (Atlanta Journal Constitution).
  • Diane Feinstein had filed the paperwork to run for reelection.

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.

no federal pandamic plan, mcconnell packing the courts and other morning delights

MORNING RUNDOWN

•       At the beginning of the pandemic, because of the total lack of a federal plan to deal with the problem, New York spent $1.1 billion for supplies to deal with the crisis.  According to the New York Times (NYT) Both the state and city governments entered into contracts rushing to try to deal with the pandemic.  Now they are trying to avoid paying vendors who they say didn’t deliver on time, and making void contracts now that the crisis has abated.  The New York Times called the behavior a “frantic buying spree.”  But, this buying “spree” was the result of the lack of a federal plan and the decision to allow states to bid against each other for emergency supplies. (See NYT, 12/17/20)

•       Several health care workers in Alaska have had severe reactions to the new vaccine.  There is no coverage of the idea that rational people may be reluctant to have a vaccine because it was developed under the Trump administration.  There are almost weekly stories about the Trump administration’s successful influence over the CDC.  The corporate media is filled with stories about how black people and reluctance to get the vaccine.  To give you an idea of how in touch these corporate media people are, one commentator noted that black people were reluctant to get the vaccine because of the Tuskeegee “airmen.”    (NYT, 12/17/20)

•       The Judiciary is time bomb waiting to explode. (NYT, 12/17/20)   The NYT reviewed more than 10,000 published decisions and dissents during the first three years of the Trump administration.  Trump appointees were “more likely…to disagree with peers selected by Democrats…” and “more likely to agree with their Republican colleagues.”  The “published opinions from the nations’ appeals courts this year show that Trump appointees stand out from other judges…”  The “conservative imprint” is only deepening.  One of the reasons we managed to escape another Trump term is the federal judiciary.  But, that is the reason Mitch McConnell is packing the federal courts with “right-thinking” judges.  Next time, these judges may side with even the most outrageous lawsuits to maintain the power of the Republican party.  McConnell has encouraged federal judges to retire to make room for these more radical colleagues. (NYT, 12/17/20)

•       The new version of the stimulus bill doesn’t include the get out of jail fee card for corporations wanted by McConnell (NYT 12/17/20)

You won’t even be able to trust that your food is safe if republicans have their way

“Six days after President Donald Trump lost his bid for reelection, the U.S. Department of Agriculture notified food safety groups that it was proposing a regulatory change to speed up chicken factory processing lines, a change that would allow companies to sell more birds. An earlier USDA effort had broken down on concerns that it could lead to more worker injuries and make it harder to stop germs like salmonella.”

Propublica 11/25/20

This is what Republicans stand for. There’s no reason to ask why Republicans “went along” with Trump. They didn’t go along, they happily colluded with him because he delivered policy changes that they had advocated for decades.

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 corporate media and access journalism

Corporate Media and the Trump Family

In the midst of an on-going coup attempt, the Washington Post is continuing to publish puff pieces about Trump staffers and family.  The seemingly inexplicable nature of this has led some on Twitter to hypothesize that the puff pieces are pay back for individuals who previously provided access to Post reporters and/or who passed on information to them.

When I read this speculation from someone who is a journalist this morning, I couldn’t stop thinking about it.

I know to some people this must sound naïve, but what kind of newspaper sells positive stories for information?  The Washington Post unabashedly uses “Democracy dies in darkness” as a slogan.  Democracy dies in darkness, but reporters are making back room deals selling positive coverage for information?

How exactly do these deals work?  Is there an explicit negotiation?  Does a reporter say to Ivanka Trump, we’ll give you five 3000 word totally positive personal write-ups in exchange for a hot piece of information? 

If this kind of negotiation is going on, why isn’t that considered essential to disclose to the reader.  After all, the reader is consuming the story as if it is independent journalism, not a glamour piece placed by Ivanka Trump’s agent. 

Why is such a practice considered ethical?  Why is such a practice not a scandal, not considered as what it is, a bribe?

When our local newspaper publishes a puff piece about a doctor and his practice which looks like an article, it is at least identified as such.  I don’t even think that practice is ethical, but it at least involves disclosure for those who are interested enough to look, that the piece is bought and paid for, not independent journalism. 

There is no such disclosure for these little fluff pieces churned out in exchange for “access.” 

That would be one kind of disclosure, letting the reader know that the piece is paid for.  But, another type of disclosure is also necessary.

The assumption is that publishing a paid-for personal ad as independent journalism is worth the “access” given the reporter.  Well, I would like to be able to judge that for myself.  If the Washington Post is going to allow itself to be bribed into publishing particular stories, what was the going price?  I as a reader have a right to know.

There are a lot of problems with the current widespread practice of “access journalism.”  First of all, it’s lazy.  Reporters are too lazy to go out and establish sources for a story, so they tell themselves they have to spend endless hours socializing with powerful people at parties or retreats in the country to get information.  Second, journalists are supposed to be keeping the powerful honest, not spending weekends with them in their country estates.  No journalist is going to keep honest the people s/he is socializing with and on whom he is dependent for information.  People in power are not supposed to be a reporter’s friends.  Third, how much trust can you put in information that is intentionally leaked to you by the powerful.  There have been countless instances where “access” has resulted in journalists being turned into stenographers for those in power.  The powerful leak the stories they want to be published.

Now, evidently, we have to add to the problems of access journalism, other stories, published by other reporters that are part of some deal for access.  To portray staffers and members of Trump’s family as glamorous, hard-working innocent bystanders with a promising political future in exchange for some undisclosed piece of information is unconscionable. 

The corporate media has a lot to answer for.

Biden is not going to just say “come on man” and have McConnell get down on his knees.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., right, walks to meet with Senate Republicans on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, Jan. 31, 2020, after the Senate voted to not allow witnesses in the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. (AP Photo/ Jacquelyn Martin)

It is increasingly apparent to me that watching the corporate news will be as difficult over the next four years as it was over the last four. 

Nicolle Wallace, one of the Never-Trumpers that the corporate Democrats love so much, just begged a reporter for information on Republicans who are likely to cooperate with the Democrats.  The reporter cited SUSAN COLLINS as one of those likely Republicans.  Susan Collins?  If we are pinning our hopes on Susan f…ing Collins, we are in sad shape.

Wallace and the reporter spent ages discussing how “fascinating” watching the relationship between Biden and McConnell was going to be.  It will be a real test, the reporter said, to see if Biden can move McConnell on “anything at all.” 

There is no test here.  And, Biden is wasting his time.  McConnell is not going to cooperate with Joe Biden because Biden’s a nice guy.  The Democrats essentially nominated and ran Biden not for any policy agenda, but because he was a “nice guy.”  Well, I will just go out on a limb here and say that Mitch McConnell is not going to change the total obstruction that has characterized his entire leadership due to the power of Joe Biden’s personality.

Mitch McConnell, Bill Barr, Pompeo and others are on a mission.  They perceive themselves to be fighting a war and that war didn’t end just because we were lucky enough to have Trump turned out because of mail-in ballots.

The entire Democratic nominating convention was a celebrity creation exercise.  It had nothing to do with policy which was hardly mentioned.  It was about creating and marketing a celebrity.  Part of that process was trying to convince the consumer that the power of Biden’s personality was going to change politics in Washington.

I am afraid that Biden has come to believe his own hype and truly thinks that he’s going to walk into the Senate, put his arm around Mitch McConnell and say, “come on man” and McConnell is going to go down on his knees.  It ain’t gonna happen.  I’ll say it again.  It ain’t gonna happen.

But corporate media hosts like Nicolle “I facilitated torture” Wallace will spend hours of valuable ideological real estate publicly wondering which Republicans are going to “cooperate” and the ins and outs of some kind of personal relationship between Biden and McConnell.

The corporate media and the Democratic Party still perpetuate the notion that Trump and the Republican Party are different. Biden has said that once Trump is gone, the Republicans are going to return to “normal.”   The Republicans were completely willing to use Trump and his crazed supporters as a vehicle to advance their agenda.  They are not going to stop advancing that agenda, not now, not when they are this close to establishing a one-party authoritarian state. 

If Democrats think that the power of Biden’s personality is going to change what is, for Republicans, a holy war, they are delusional.  But, I guess we already knew that. 

“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

ESSENTIAL PODCAST: DECONSTRUCTED INTERVIEW WITH PROGRESSIVE MIKE SIEGEL

Essential Podcasts: Deconstructed (Episode 11/6/20)

Mike Siegel, progressive candidate for the House in Texas is interviewed by Deconstructed. The district Siegel ran in was drawn to be permanently Republican through gerrymandering.  

  • According to Siegel, the Democratic Party has a narrow range of issues it “recommends” their candidates run on.  The Party does the research, the polling, and tell the candidate what they should do.  If they receive any push back, it is possible for them to withdraw funds and ruin the campaign, so most candidates find themselves in a position to go along.
  • Party pollsters do the research and tell the candidate what the talking points are, what segment of the voting population the candidate should reach. 
  • Organizing with poor people is a long difficult process and it doesn’t appeal to the donor class.  As Siegal says, “We need to get out the non-voters.” 
  • The Party, Siegal says is “too invested in conservative donors”  These donors are “moderating the message” so that only an extremely narrow set of issues is ever talked about.  “They (the party operatives) are cynical about democracy…” 
  • Party consultants produce TV ads in a quick time frame.  Then, they come to the candidate and say: Give me this many dollars, we can run this may ads, we can expect this much shift in the polling.
  • The consultants tell the candidates: We made 2,000 calls, these are the issues that matter.  These are the issues you should stress.  These are the talking points.  As Siegel says,   “it’s relatively conservative.”
  • The consultants do their research and say your issue is, for example, health care, these are the talking points.
  • As Siegel says of the party consultants: “They completely narrow what they think you can accomplish.”
  • If the candidate disagrees or tries to change the messaging of the campaign, the consultants say: “That doesn’t poll quite as well as health care.”
  • “At every point they (the consultants) push back against you.”
  • As Siegel points out, there are not pollsters and consultants who work with a populist message.  There are no people you can hire who know how to run what Siegel calls a “left campaign.” 
  • The framework, according to Siegel, is how can you raise and spend x dollars and change vote this much. 
  • Siegel challenged one of the wealthiest members of congress, and had a lot of progressive support, but came up short.  
  • Siegel says: “We need to do deep organizing.”

But, the take-away from the interview is that the Democratic Party, their donors and their elite consultants have no interest in “deep organizing.”  Deep organizing takes time and money and an actual interest in the problems of working and lower class people.  It involves demonstrating to people who have seen politicians come and go and their lives not change, that politics is important to them.  The issue is demonstrating this, not just telling them.

Another problem is that the Democratic party is a party obsessed with technocratic solutions.  One of the points that screams out from this interview with Siegel is that pollsters are dominating party strategy.  These are the same pollsters who (based on their scientific models) predicted landslides in 2016 and 2020.  Either their technology was wrong, or Republicans are systematically stealing elections through electronic voting manipulation.  There are no other options.  But, electronic voting manipulation is an issue that Democrats consistently refuse to talk about.  In fact, just raising the issue provokes angry denials and even more angry accusations about the motivations of people who talk about the issue.  It is the unspeakable topic.

The Party pollsters would rather point to their own failures in predicting the outcomes of the last two elections than admit that the vast difference between the poll numbers and the election results might be the product of cheating.  There is a very good reason for this.  If, in fact, Republicans are cheating, systematically, repeatedly then pollsters become irrelevant.  The last thing they want to be is irrelevant because they would then be out of business. 

So, the consultants and pollsters themselves acknowledge that their predictions have been wildly inaccurate, but they are still put in the position of essentially determining the way individual Democratic campaigns are run.  How does this make sense? 

You can follow me on Twitter @cjjohns1951

In my neck of the intellectual woods, we call it justice

October 20, 2020

Not long ago a friend of mine was complaining about MSNBC.  “I don’t watch MSNBC anymore,” he said.  “I’m tired of the blame game.”

I didn’t question the statement since I figured I’d already pushed the conversation to its limit.  That means, I had already opened my mouth at least once.  In this day and age, for me, that’s always one too many times.

I spent almost ten years living outside the country, missed the entire 80s, while this country was going through what another friend referred to as the “moving right show.”  When I returned to the country, I usually refrained from talking about politics since my perspective was radically different from almost anybody I socialized with on a regular basis.  And, I was a writer.  You don’t need to talk to people about politics and law if you write about them.  In fact, most of the time, it’s the last thing you want to talk about.

The past four years, however, have not only pushed me further to the left than I already was (which was pretty far to the left), but made me believe that it was possible to talk to other people about politics since the Trump/Republican crime family was openly dismantling everything decent there ever was about the society.

But, what I quickly found was that even though people wanted to grouse, when you got right down to it, they didn’t want to do much more.  What most people wanted was to 1) vent and to 2) “get back to normal.”  They didn’t much appreciate it when I pointed out that “normal” was what got us Trump.

In the past four years I have been infuriated, disgusted, and repelled by Trump and the Republican party.  But, my real rage has been provoked by Democrats.  I suppose you expect the worst from your enemies, but when you see it coming from your friends, it is both disheartening and alienating.

Early on in 2016, after Trump was elected and people (even in Georgia) started to mobilize, I had an exchange with one of the group of women I call the “southern ladies” that summed up my dilemma.

We were at a street demonstration peopled largely by the elderly and women.  (I am both.)  An acquaintance said: Now, we have to be careful that we’re respectful.  I looked at her and blinked.  “Why?”  I asked.  She looked back at me and blinked herself.  Neither of us could understand what on earth the other was talking about.

I have spent the past four years trying to understand what she was talking about, what the Democratic Party was talking about.  I have been dumfounded, utterly dumbfounded by people who act like the worst thing in the world would be to be perceived by other people as “disrespectful.”

Now, I grew up in the South where being rude was a cardinal sin.  But we are watching the destruction of democracy, the transformation of a country into an authoritarian kleptocratic state and people, grown people, are worried about whether or not they will be perceived by the people dismantling democracy as disrespectful.  I don’t get it.

And, it’s not only regular people.  I sit and watch hearing after hearing where Democrats are in a position to expose the utter corruption and rot that is characteristic of the Republican party and Senator after Senator, Representative after Representative virtually gets down on their hands and knees and apologizes for asking questions.  It disgusts me and enrages me.

And, as if things weren’t bad enough, the week after Diane Feinstein went out of her way to grovel at the feet of Lindsay Graham and possibly cost the Democrats a crucial Senate seat, Democrats have already started promising Republicans not to hold them accountable for the crimes that brought us to this point.  Democrats, like my friend, might call this “the blame game” but in my neck of the intellectual woods we call it justice.  And I am a believer in justice.

We would not even be here, on this precarious knife edge, if there was justice in this country for white collar, corporate and political criminals.  Donald Trump, Roger Stone, Paul Manafort, Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump, and many others would not even be in a position to hold office if we had a criminal justice system that prosecuted the crimes of the wealthy.  They would be in jail.  Instead, they control the government.

And, already, even before the Democrats have won the election *, they are already trying to bow down and promise they will not hold accountable the people who have done everything in their power to steal and degrade democracy.  On Nicolle Wallace’s show on Monday, Rick Stengel found it necessary to point out one of the things that he thought was “lovely about the Biden campaign.”  Lovely? This thing was that the Biden campaign talks about “bringing the country together [in a way that] is not about recrimination, not about punishing people who may have made a mistake.”  We need, says Stengel to be “moving ahead.”

I have been saying for months that people who think that a Biden administration will do anything to hold the Trump/Republican crime family to account are delusional.  Biden will do exactly what Obama did in the face of people who had recklessly and greedily brought down an economy.  He will say that we need to “move on.”  People like Rick Stengel are just paving the way. 

George Bush used the Justice Department to create a fictional legal foundation for the use of torture, but Obama said we should move forward not backward.

Every time leadership evades responsibility for holding criminals accountable for their crimes, it paves the way for more crime.  Barak Obama and Eric Holder paved the way for Trump as surely as if they had nominated him as the candidate of the Republican party.

*I do not believe that the Democrats will win the “election.” I believe the Republicans will steal it.