Category Archives: White Collar, Corporate and Political Crime

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)

essential podcasts: majority report interview with jared yates sexton

This is by far the best podcast out there. I know the corporate media is seductive, but your time would be better spent giving this a listen. Sam Seder puts together some of the most interesting and pertinent interviews available.

Sam Seder

Sam Seder interviews Jared Yates Sexton

https://majorityreportradio.com/2020/12/08/12-8-american-rule-how-a-nation-conquered-the-world-but-failed-its-people-w-jared-yates-sexton

From the Majority Report Website:

“Sam hosts writer and political analyst Jared Yates Sexton to discuss his new book, American Rule: How a Nation Conquered the World But Failed Its People, and why the foundational myths of American Exceptionalism have such a hold on the populace.

Sam and Jared explore the stories Americans told themselves throughout the country’s history, from how the process behind writing the Constitution to how the “Mound Builders” stories helped justify indigenous Americans’ slaughter. The two consider how these stories have shaped the populace’s thinking and why it’s essential to reject politics as a spectacle. 

Follow on @cjjohns1951

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. 

“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

Nevada: stop the count

5:00 PM

The Nevada Independent is reporting that Trump’s campaign and Nevada Republican Party officials have filed an emergency appeal requesting the Nevada Supreme Court to immediately order Clark County to stop processing mail ballots.

Even though a District Court last week, issued an order denying their request, they have gone to the Nevada Supreme Court. The request is for Clark County to stop using an automatic signature verification machine and to stop “duplication” of all mail ballots. The “duplication” occurs when a mail in ballot has something wrong with it that prevents it being processed by a machine, so another ballot is created to record the vote.

If Clark County doesn’t immediately stop counting, the attorneys argue, “Nevadans – and the rest of the country – will be left wondering whether the results of the election are legitimate.”

The Registrar of Voters in Clark County has stated that if the use of the signature verification machine is stopped, it is unlikely that they will be able to complete the counting of ballots by the deadline set by state law.

And, this is exactly the intent. The Republicans will do anything to win, anything.

Exit polls, already warning us that they are unreliable

Monday, 2 November 2020

At a time when many people who have read the information about electronic vote manipulation seriously question the integrity of the vote count in the coming election, FiveThirtyEight, one of the most visible of the polling companies, is already warning us that exit polling will be “even less reliable this year.” 

Even though exit polling is extensively used all over the world to monitor the possibility of fraudulent elections, U.S. polling firms and media outlets maintain that their exit polling cannot be used to monitor election integrity.  They say that their exit polls are not designed to detect fraud, but to predict elections and flesh out demographics.

Even when the vote count has been widely different from the exit polling, professional pollsters and corporate media pundits have denied even the possibility of fraud in this country. 

But, as election integrity expert Jonathan Simon notes in his book “Code Red,” 

“America’s electoral system has been corrupted in the most direct and fundamental of ways: the computers that now count virtually all our votes in secret can be—and, the evidence indicates, have been—programmed to cheat…”

And, if the Republicans cheat in this election and eke out tiny margin of victory across a few key states, how will that cheating be uncovered?  We as a country have allowed Republicans (and to a certain extent Democrats) to bury the vote counting process in the secrecy of electronic vote counting systems that cannot be meaningfully audited. 

Again, Simon:

“We continued merrily on our way, election to computerized election, sending our votes into the partisan pitch-dark of cyberspace with nothing much besides our thoughts and prayers to protect them.”

the “elite industrial complex” at work

What Elie Mystal calls the “elite industrial complex” has already started, before the election(which the Democrats are convinced they are going to win) to make the case for allowing Trump and the Republican crime family escape accountability for all the crimes they have committed not least of which is an attempt to subvert democracy and turn this into an authoritarian kleptocratic state.

We wouldn’t even have a crime network running the government, had we a functioning criminal justice system for white collar, corporate and political criminals.  Just take your pick from the various scandals and crimes the Trump family has been accused of (  sexual assault against women, including marital rape; defrauding the U.S. government through racial discrimination in housing; tax fraud; consumer fraud through Trump University; tenant intimidation; bankruptcy fraud; use of undocumented workers, including models; casino fraud; antitrust violations; money laundering; refusing to pay workers and contractors; charitable foundation fraud through the Trump Foundation; various frauds and scams related to ties with organized crime).  As Jeff Wise has written in the New Yorker:  “His entire life, after all, is one long testament to the power of getting away with things, a master class in criminality without consequences..”

But the elite industrial complex has already started working over time to pave the way for minimizing, normalizing and burying Trump’s crimes.  

On October 16, the Washington Post published an astounding article by Jill Lepore who claimed to be responding to a suggestion by Chris Hayes that “if we survive this” (meaning the Trump administration,) we should establish a truth and reconciliation commission.  She noted that NPR did a piece about a truth and reconciliation commission the same week.

“This is a terrible idea.” She wrote. 

Lepore then reminded the reader that this country has a tradition of a “peaceful transfer of power” and of conceding an election “without violence.”  What she didn’t point out was that there is nothing, nothing about a truth and reconciliation commission that implies a non-peaceful transfer of power or a resort to violence.  Lepore is, therefore, objecting to something that has never been proposed, setting up a straw man to knock it down.  This is how she starts.

Lepore then goes on to quote Thomas Jefferson.  “If there be any among us who would wish to dissolve this union or to change its republican form, let them stand undisturbed as monuments of the safety with which error of opinion may be tolerated, where reason is left free to combat it.” 

Lepore is arguing that the crime spree that has taken place in the past four years, calls for violence, threats not to allow an election, reminders by the likes of Mike Lee of Utah that the goal is not democracy, are just errors of opinion.  No.  These are not errors of opinion.  Shaping foreign policy to fulfill your own personal agenda and financial interests instead of that of the country is not an “error of opinion.”  Soliciting a bribe from the leader of another country, proposing to release public money in exchange for dirt on a political opponent is not an “error of opinion.”  I could go on for pages if not books in this vein, but you get the point.  Only an imbecile or a propagandist would call these errors of opinion.

The quote itself ends with a phrase that contradicts Lepore’s premise.  Jefferson says to let these folks stand undisturbed “where reason is left free to combat” their wishes to dissolve the union or change its republican form.  But, reason is not free to combat this effort at replacing a democratic system with an autocracy.  We have Fox News churning out propaganda 24 hours a day.  We have social media promoting the worst, most base fear mongering propaganda 24 hours a day.  No.  Reason is not “left free to combat” the threat.  So the quote Lepore’s using contradicts the argument she is advancing.

Lepore then quotes Justice Robert Jackson, chief counsel for the U.S. at the Nuremberg trials.  “The wrongs which we seek to condemn and punish have been so calculated, so malignant and so devastating that civilization cannot tolerate their being ignored, because it cannot survive their being repeated.”

Once again, Leopre’s own quote belies her entire argument.  The crimes and attacks on democracy and justice by the Republicans have indeed been “calculated,” “malignant” and “so devastating that civilization cannot tolerate their being ignored.”  And, democracy “cannot survive their being repeated.” 

I am not at all convinced that Joe Biden will even win the election.  The Republicans have been working for decades to install a system of voter suppression, stuffing the courts with right-wing religious zealots, voting system manipulation, data mining through social media (Cambridge Analytica) and legislation that erodes voting rights.  They have too much to lose to allow a Biden win and I do not think they will do so.  And withe Supreme Court packed with right-wing ideologues who have no respect for the law, I doubt we will get another chance to hold a fair election.

Lepore goes on to assert that Trump was elected in a “fair election.”  But, there is evidence that this is not the case.  A former president of the United States, Jimmy Carter, an expert in election security, has said as much.   We have indictments of Russian nationals who hacked computer systems.  We have a Mueller report that details the handing over of computer voting information to the Russians by Paul Manafort.  And, this is just the tip of the iceberg.  Lepore self-righteously asserts that truth and reconciliation commissions don’t take place after democratic elections.  Well, that may well not have been a democratic election.

And, then, idiotically enough, Lepore just asserts, without question, that we can trust “investigative journalism, a functioning judiciary, legislative deliberation and action and dissent” to solve any problems caused by the crime spree of the last four years.

Well, investigative journalism is the first thing to go in newsrooms taken over by conglomerates and has been gutted.  We certainly don’t have investigative journalism from television networks that are owned by corporations.  The Republicans have worked for decades to stock the courts with ideologues who have no respect for law, but for dogma and some of whom have even been deemed incompetent by their own Bar Association.  Mitch McConnell bragged recently on Fox News that he totally blocked any legislative agenda the Obama administration had in the last six years Obama was in office.  And, we just had an impeachment process where Republicans in the Senate voted not to even hear evidence against the President, let alone convict him.  Dissent has been met with violence and illegal surveillance of the protestors, and Lepore is suggesting we rely on people protesting during a pandemic.

In short, this essay is idiocy and the fact that the Washington Post published it is a travesty.  But, as Elie Mystal notes, it’s the “elite industrial complex at work.”  Rick Stengel was on MSNBC waxing poetic about the “lovely” way in which the Biden campaign refused to engage in recriminations.  And, Joe Biden is part of this complex.  As Lepore points out, Biden has already said that pursuing charges against Trump officials is “probably not very…good for democracy.” 

“We are facing too many crises, we have too much work to do, we have too bright a future to have it shipwrecked on the shoals of anger and hate and division.”  This was Biden at Gettysburg, delivering a speech that had been carefully crafted to make the case for unilateral surrender. 

So, Biden and the “elite industrial complex” like Lepore will work to convince us we just have to engage in “self-reflection.”  Sen. Cory Booker thinks what we need is a “return to civic grace.”

Leopore ends with the statement: “Lock him up” cannot be the answer to “lock her up.”  What she fails to see, however, is that one of them is guilty and the other is not.