Category Archives: Trump

The Leader of Your Party: Afghanistan

I am a cynical person.  It takes a lot to amaze me. But, twice in the past couple of years I have been utterly and completely astounded by the blatant manipulative nature of the corporate media.  I don’t know exactly why this should be so.

Years ago, I wrote a book about ideology, the media and the invasion of Panama.  I started off the book relating a story of sitting in my study watching the coverage of the invasion.  The invasion.  That’s what it was called by the news media in the beginning because that was what it was.  It only took a few hours, however, until otherwise respectable news people became cheerleaders for the clearly illegal invasion.  And, also within a few hours they started referring to the invasion as “Operation Just Cause.”

I kid you not.  Major news anchors would say: “We are covering Operation Just Cause” using the name given to the invasion by the military.

I wouldn’t at all be surprised (although I would be disgusted) if by Monday, the major corporate news outlets started referring to the Biden withdrawal from Afghanistan as “Operation Just Ending to a Forever War.”

Another reason none of this should surprise me is that I sat and watched the outrageous effort on the part of MSNBC news to destroy Bernie Sanders’s candidacy after he won the Arizona primary.  I have photos on my cell phone of Joy Reid’s devastated face when she had to report Sanders’s win, a win that was multi-ethnic and that included union members who refused to obey their bosses and voted for Sanders. 

After that primary, MSNBC anchors (especially Reid) went into overdrive to help the DNC prevent Sanders from being nominated and promoting Joe Biden.  There was nothing subtle about it.  Chris Matthews even said on his dreadful nightly show that Bernie Sanders would take people like him (Matthews) out in Central Park and execute them.  (We can only wish).

Now, this time, corporate news, especially MSNBC, is busily trying to whitewash Biden’s ill-conceived and disastrously bungled withdrawal from Afghanistan.  They are doing it for the same reason they worked to destroy Bernie Sanders – to promote and protect Joe Biden.

Since early last week I have been watching with growing alarm the Taliban take over Afghanistan.  Every time I looked at an article with a map of who controlled territory in Afghanistan the Taliban’s control expanded.  I had read with shame and disbelief about the decision to abandon Bagram air force base in the middle of the night without even consulting and informing the local governments.

I had read with disgust about the “negotiating” between the Trump administration and the Taliban.  Who in their right mind would even think of “negotiating” with the Taliban?  But, that was Trump and the dangerously ill religious zealot Pompeo.  We had elected Biden to change things.

Then, I watched with utter horror and incomprehension as Joe Biden doggedly continued to pursue a policy of total withdrawal from Afghanistan by a specific date even in the face of mounting evidence that we could not even get all the Americans out much less all the Afghans who fought with us and for us.

I was 24 when the U.S. withdrew from Saigon.  I had nightmares about those scenes well into my 40s and I had been an anti-war activist who worked with SDS.  I opposed that war.

I opposed the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.  But, even the most anti-war activist can make a distinction between going into a war and getting out of one.  I opposed the war in Afghanistan but once we were there, had been there for 20 years, we owned it.  We couldn’t just walk away as if we had never started any of this.

But that was evidently exactly what Joe Biden intended to do.  I just could not wrap my mind around it.  Who was this precipitous withdrawal intended to please?  To what constituency was this supposed to appeal? 

Added to this, the behavior of Biden and his administration was so Trumpian it made me sick to my stomach.  Biden appeared on television doubling down on his decision to pursue this ill planned and ill conducted withdrawal.   He would not even admit that there had been any mistakes.  It was a “do you believe me or your lying eyes” strategy.  I thought we voted for Biden to stop that kind of behavior.  Ned Price (from whom I expected more) and Jake Sullivan spouted bureaucratic-speak nonsense from the podium trying to legitimate the policy.  They were both utterly terrible at it.  They lied and obfuscated with evasive eye movements and even hostility when they were asked to answer legitimate questions.

It reminded me of the “I’m the smartest person in every room” hubris of the Obama people who have always felt that criticizing or even questioning Obama’s policies or behavior was tantamount to treason and also a personal affront.

On the corporate news, in an attempt to protect Joe Biden, hosts minimized the chaos and the impact of the set of decisions Biden made with regard to this withdrawal from Afghanistan.

As Charlotte Rampell wrote, otherwise rational people seem to be having a great deal of trouble distinguishing between the withdrawal from Afghanistan and the way in which this particular withdrawal was carried out.  They are having trouble and they are having trouble for a reason, they wish to protect Joe Biden.

As one former Republican, Matthew Dowd, hosted on several of the programs last week said, Democrats should circle the wagons around Joe Biden, support the president, because that’s what the Republicans would do.  So, this guy is treated like an oracle because he is saying was that we should support the leader of our party whatever he does because he is the leader of the party. 

As someone tweeted recently: You can unwaveringly support your ethics and morals or you can unwaveringly support the leader of your party, you can’t do both.  

The boot of authoritarianism: if they thought for one minute they could get away with it

Dereck Chauvin put his knee on the neck of George Floyd, stared into the camera and dared us to do anything about it.     

         Donald Trump did exactly what Chauvin did – he put his knee on the neck of democracy, decency, legality. He stared into the camera and dared us to do anything about it.

         Putin has done exactly what Chauvin did – he has put his knee on the neck of Navalny, stared into the camera and dared us to do anything about it.

         These are lessons, authoritarian lessons.  They are demonstrating to us that that they can do whatever they want.  They can even murder one of us right in front of our very eyes and we can’t do a damn thing about it.

         We have won tonight, in the Chauvin case.  We have won because of the mobilization of millions of people putting pressure on the system to live up to its ideals.  We have won because of the courage and discipline of a group of witnesses.  We have won and we can win again.

         We must stand together and stand up to the boot of authoritarian rule on our necks.  We stopped them with the Chauvin verdict.  That’s why the legal system avoids jury trials if at all possible, especially for powerful defendants.  We can, and we must stop them again.  We must demand that the participants in the corrupt crime spree that was the Trump administration are held to account.  We must demand that dangerous men like Putin and the oligarchs that surround him are held to account.

         If we do not see, truly see that these actions are preparations for authoritarianism, they will come back for us. They are obviously not phased in the least by the electoral defeat in 2020.  The tidal wave of voter suppression being orchestrated by the Republicans is just another way to take power because they cannot win it legitimately. It is their way back in power.  We must take them seriously or we will find ourselves in 2022 and 2024 with another authoritarian take-over of the governmental process. If we flirt with that possibility, we may never recover.

         That look you saw on Chavin’s face when he was kneeling there, crushing the life out of a man, is the same look you would see on the face of Bill Barr, Donald Trump, Jared Kushner, Roger Stone, Steve Bannon, Pompeo, Pence, Steven Miller, Manafort and many others while they crushed the life out of anyone who opposed them if they thought for one minute they could get away with it.   If we let them get away with it, they will crush the life out of democracy and our lives will be unalterably changed.  If we don’t take them seriously, if we don’t fight them we will find ourselves living under that knee being given the same compassion and respect Dereck Chavin gave George Floyd. 

a “bad day”

It has been days since I have watched corporate TV news.  I have been reading, writing, painting and binge-watching Dickens, Trollope, and Austen on Amazon Prime. 

Every time I turn on the corporate news I find CNN hosts interviewing other CNN hosts about their new books.  On MSNBC, I find people like Jason “Island of misfit black girls” Johnson, pontificating and acting like he’s something other than a vicious attack dog there to repeatedly blame the progressives in the Democratic Party for all the failures of the party establishment.    

Morning Joe has turned into a prayer meeting with Joe Scarborough spending whole segments lecturing viewers on what a “true Christian” is.  This is the news?  Mika Brzezinski relentlessly promotes her “know your worth” marketing/money making strategy.  She actually seems to think that people are going to believe this from a woman who “knew her worth” to such an extent she had an adulterous affair and then married her boss.  She defers to him, babies him, allows herself to be regularly demeaned, interrupted and ridiculed by him.  This is women knowing their worth.

In the afternoons, former Senator Claire MacCaskill has taken obsequious behavior to new heights, fawning over Nicolle Wallace at every turn, baking cakes for Wallace and lighting candles on the cake while lauding Wallace’s journalism.  This is the news?

MacCaskill does this while the other members of the panel (including the other prime ass-kisser, Jason Johnson) clap their hands like school children.  It is just nauseating.

There is no, no international news anymore on either CNN or MSNBC.  The amount of information being communicated is almost nil.  It’s like a televised circle-jerk, reporters interviewing other reporters, promoting each other’s books or (worse still) interviewing members of Congress, as if any member of congress is going to say anything either interesting or informative.  There are only a handful of people in the entire Congress who say ANYTHING that is not a collection of focus-group tested nonsense. 

The corporate media is, in short, like a toy my friend told me she bought her grandson a couple of years ago.  I couldn’t even grasp what she was talking about as she described this gadget.  It was a mechanical thing that had no purpose except to move.  It was called a “fidget spinner.”  The corporate news media is an intellectual fidget spinner – words and words and words and interview after interview after interview filling up space, for no reason except to make money for somebody and create the impression that things are under control.  As Scarborough says the “institutions are holding.”

Meanwhile, the institutions are not holding.  The criminal enterprise that was the Trump administration has gone without accountability or punishment, and will continue to do so.  The legal system works to prosecute, hold accountable, and punish only the poor.  We are repeatedly treated to an orgy of spectacle creating the impression that the powerful will be held accountable only to watch the whole sorry exercise collapse.

The Supreme Court which has sold democracy down the tubes with decisions such as Citizens’ United, is poised to further structure the legal system to favor the wealthy and powerful.  The Congress is afraid of its shadow.  If the Biden administration does not do away with the filibuster, alter the Supreme Court, fight for ordinary Americans, and ensure election fairness and security, the Trump/McConnell crime family will be back in power partially in two years, and totally in four.

All you have to do it look at the flood of voter suppression laws that have been passed in Georgia and other states to see that Republicans are going to make sure that the Democrats lose control of the Congress in 2022 and the presidency in 2024.  They are circling like sharks.  All four years of Trump did for them was to give them the smell of blood and demonstrate how easily they could turn this into an authoritarian Christian nationalist state.

Meanwhile, Ari Melber makes jokes, quotes banal rap lyrics (of sexist rap stars) like they were great literature and/or philosophy and interviews celebrities, barely keeping himself from peeing his pants with glee at his proximity to fame.  It is all just really disgusting.

And, then there’s today.  A 21-year-old man has murdered eight women and was on his way to murder more.  But, as the Georgia Sheriff’s office spokesman said, he “had a bad day.”  There are so many things wrong with this story and the coverage of it and the people involved, I don’t know where to begin.

I feel like my mother when she first started watching the O.J. Simpson trial.  She watched for a couple of hours.  “What do you think?”  I said.  “I think they should all be put in prison now,” she replied getting up in disgust to go and read.  “Who?” I asked.  “All of them.”  She said.  “Simpson, the judge, the prosecutors, the defense attorneys, the reporters, all of them.”  She was, of course, right.

That’s precisely what I feel about everybody involved in this murder case in Atlanta.

The Georgia Sheriff and CNN are talking about “sex addiction” as if sex addiction was  something real.  Law enforcement, politicians and the corporate media are actually mouthing the ludicrous sex equivalent of the “Twinkie Defense” for this Long guy.  The Cherokee Sheriff’s office guy, Baker, found it his responsibility to provide an excuse for a man who walked into businesses that employ women (at starvation wages) to cater to the perverted pleasures of men and murder them.   What is this Baker, Long’s defense attorney?  Official law enforcement provides a narrative for the future jury pool excusing this man because of his “sex addiction.”

“Sex addiction?” There is no such thing as a sex addiction.  It’s a fake con devised by the rehabilitation industry to make money.  No serious person would even allow those two words together to come out of their mouth.  A male reporter on CNN said that the young man “had issues.”  ISSUES?////// ISSUES????????? 

He hates women, that’s the issue, he hates and despises women and has racist exploitive sexual fantasies about them that he felt entitled to act out.  It has nothing to do with addiction.  Long is not mentally ill, that we know of.  He is just the same kind of oppressive, abusive, exploitive, violent bastard that this culture turns out by the millions.  He’s just like Donald Trump, Jeffrey Epstein, that old man who used to be a comedian who doped and then raped women (I’m 70.  I can’t remember his f…ing name), Weinstein, Cuomo, and God knows how many more. 

But, we can’t talk about that.  We can’t talk about a culture that makes the hatred of women fundamental, trades in the commodification of women’s bodies at every turn, provides a market for sexual perversion of every sort and then blames the impoverished women who are forced to participate in it for their own destruction at the hands of the very men they are forced to service. 

This guy “had a bad day.”  That’s what Baker, the Sheriff’s Office guy, said. He had a “bad day” and “issues” and “a sexual addiction.”  No, the women who were killed and their families had a bad day, a tragic day.  This guy acted out his violent racist sexual perversions, violent sexual perversions that are fed every day by the media and the entertainment industry and politics. 

IT’S NOT JUST THE CORPORATE MEDIA THAT PERPETUATED THE DELUSION THAT TRUMP WAS IRRELEVANT

Michael Isikoff

Just listened to a podcast, Skullduggery, hosted by Michael Isikoff. This episode was recorded before the coup attempt. He was talking with someone and they were saying that Trump was likely to just fade away. Why do we have journalists, not just celebrity “journalists”, people who should know better, dismissing Trump and his movement?

I don’t understand it.

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/skullduggery/id1333621434

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 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.

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.