In the 2016 Democratic Primary, Bernie Sanders won all 55 countries in West Virginia. In the general election, however, Trump took 68.5 percent of the vote . This was his largest share of the vote in any state.
By the time of the 2020 Democratic primary, Sanders had suspended his campaign (after the DNC annointed Joe Biden).
Trump won 69 percent of the vote opposing Biden.
West Virginia is the poorest state in the nation.
The state is characterized by an opioid epidemic.
The death rate in recent years from drug overdose has exceeded any other state.
The cancer rates in the state are high.
The southern part of the state has been turned into a toxic waste dump by coal companies.
West Virginia is a “resource colony” and displays the consequent devastation in the environment and the health of the people living there.
So, why in a state characterized by such poverty, illness and exploitation did people vote for Trump?
Big Coal has orchestrated a decades old long propaganda campaign to convince people who should know better that big coal is their friend.
People identify with big coal and express pride when they, for example, develop black lung disease. The disease demonstrates that they have worked hard all their lives to keep the “lights on” in America.
If evidence comes to light of the egregious exploitation of big coal, people write it off as “bad companies.” These companies are the “bad apples” but not the harvest.
West Virginians have been separated from their own radical past through the suppression of information about actions such as the 1921 armed uprising on Blair Mountain., where miners took on the coal industry.
So, coal and fracking continue to result in environmental and health damage.
People in West Virginia believed Bernie Sanders would do something about changing the conditions of their lives. They, however, did not believe that the corporate Democrats (Clinton an Biden) would.
147 Republican members of Congress voted against seating Joe Biden’s electors. They moved against accepting the votes of the people in this country based on no evidence that there was a significant problem with the voting system.
These 147 Republican members of Congress did not win, but they tried to. There are not 147 Trumps. These people are Republicans. They are Republicans who do not support democracy. But, as of today, they are all still in Congress.
Just like all the other outrages of the Trump administration, the fact that 147 members of Congress tried to throw out the results of an election, is being normalized. Corporate news anchors are repeatedly asking representatives of the Biden administration how they can claim to seek “unity” when they are proposing legislation that differs from (what purports to be) the Republican agenda.
The past four years has been difficult, nerve wracking, infuriating, but since the nomination of Biden, it has been even more infuriating. It is perhaps a bit less stressful since I don’t wake up every morning dreading to find out what the president has done while I was asleep, but the Democrats and the corporate media seen to have learned nothing, NOTHING from the last four years.
The Democrats have not learned how to run against the Republicans, and the corporate media (in the face of an insurrection) is still indulging in mindless bothsidesism.
When Trump was in office, it seemed like a frontal assault, every day. Now, I have the feeling that the corporate media is playing music while people are relentlessly creeping up behind me.
Unlike many of the people I know, I feel no relief with the election of Biden. The Democrats are still talking about “unity” and “bipartisanship” with people who have demonstrated that they want to destroy democracy to maintain their power. It’s like watching a government negotiate, trying to win over the Naxi party. It is enraging and it is terrifying.
While the Democrats waltz around congratulating each other for representational appointments, the Republicans are seizing 2022.
In Georgia, Warnock is up for reelection in 2022. We don’t have six years with Warnock, we have less than two. We have to do this again. We have to drag out a win in what is essentially a red state, and we have to do it in a circumstance where the state government is already actively working to eliminate as many potential voters as possible.
In Georgia, Republicans have proposed steps to make it harder to vote by mail and easier to throw out legally cast ballots. The same Republicans who the corporate media celebrated – Kemp, Raffensperger, Sterling – are beavering away to purge voters from the rolls and make it more difficult for people to vote.
What people need to remember is that Kemp, Raffensperger and Sterling went along with every Trump inspired move to suppress voting except put themselves in criminal jeopardy by changing votes. They are like the gang members who were perfectly willing to drive the get away car, but not willing to go into the liquor store with the gun.
They will be even more willing to drive the car now because they are trying to get back into the good graces, and the donations, of right-wing supporters.
Across the Country
Emily Singer (1/22/21) is reporting in the Independent that efforts to make it harder to vote are going on in most of the GOP-controlled state legislatures. They are introducing legislation to make voter registration and voting by mail more difficult.
These voter suppression moves have been practiced by the Republicans for decades, but picked up steam especially after Biden’s win in 2020. Republicans are daily pointing out the dangers of what they see as “voter fraud” and legitimating moves to keep people from voting in the name of eliminating “voter fraud.”
In Montana, the state House began hearings on a bill which would eliminate same-day voter registration. This is what the SOS refers to as “election integrity.” These measures are expected and intended to affect the voting of Native Americans and students. Both groups vote Democratic by a wide margin.
In New Hampshire, the GOP-controlled House started hearings on a bill that would repeal same-day registration and putt barriers to students who want to vote. Students must, if the bill is passed, prove that they qualify for in-state tuition before registering to vote. Republicans passed a similar law ahead of the 2020 election which required students to become permanent residents to vote. This law was struck down by a judge.
In Arizona, a GOP-run legislature is weighing getting rid of the state’s Permanent Early Vote List, which allows residents to register to receive mail-in ballots automatically. They are also working to impose restrictions on recounts and add other burdens to discourage people from voting.
In Pennsylvania, a Republican state senator introduced a bill that would eliminate no-excuse absentee voting.
In Mississippi, a Republican state senator proposed a bill which would lock Mississippi from releasing vote totals in presidential elections until after all states had cast their votes in the Electoral College.
Democrats in the House are working to pass H.R.1, which would require states to implement automatic voter registration and limit their ability to purge voters from the rolls. An identical bill passed the House in 2019, but McConnell blocked it from getting a vote.
So, Democrats are trying to make it easier for people to vote. Republicans, who realize they cannot win if there is a popular vote, are working furiously to purge voting lists and make it more difficult for people to vote.
One Party is advocating and working for democracy. The other party is fighting against it. You choose.
147 Republican members of Congress voted against seating Joe Biden’s electors. They voted against accepting the votes of the people based on no evidence that there was a significant problem with the voting system. These members didn’t win, but that’s how they voted. There are not 147 Trumps. These people are Republicans who do not believe in democracy.
What they were saying was, the people of this country can have an election, but after that election Congress will decide whether they accept what the American people have decided. As Chris Hayes stated it: You can vote, but if you vote for the wrong person, we will decide.
In Arizona, a member of Congress has introduced a bill giving the legislature the explicit power to override the Secretary of State’s certification of electoral votes. This bill has a reasonable change of passage. Again, what this means is that people can vote (as in other countries like Russia) but the vote is meaningless. A small group of elites decide who will run the country.
As Rep. Ruben Gallego noted on Chris Hayes’ show (1/29/21) the Republican party reacted to losing a presidential election by trying to further restrict who votes (voter suppression) and trying to find means of overthrowing elections they lose.
These people are working, every day, every minute. They are not going away, and they are going to come back in 2022 stronger than ever. If anyone has any doubt about this, just watch Fox News or Newsmax for 10 minutes.
This is no time for waltzing off into the sunset in a delusion of representational politics. It ain’t over, not by a long shot.
If you are new to the Reality Winner story, this is an excellent place to begin. There are a number of things I disagree with in this podcast, especially the assumptions and analysis of Chris Hayes at certain points, but it is well worth listen to.
In June 2018, Reality Winner pleaded guilty in a plea agreement that resulted in the longest-ever sentence imposed for a leak of national security information to the media.
As her mother wrote:
Although Reality’s legal team did their best to build a defense for her, the court ruled against them at every turn, and the threat of 10 years in prison and hefty fines if she didn’t prevail at trial became too much to battle against.
Despite having a spotless record, distinguished military service, documented volunteerism, and service to her community, the government’s sentencing memo…portrayed Reality as an enemy of the country.
On August 23, 2018, the court sentenced Reality to 63 months in prison and three years of supervised release.
In a press release, U.S. Attorney Bobby Christine stated that resolving the case with this plea agreement was the best resolution, as a trial…[might] risk the further disclosure of classified information.
He said that the sentence imposed on Reality “promotes respect for the law and affords deterrence to similar criminal conduct in the future” — using Reality as the example. He referred to her as a “quintessential example of an insider threat.”
After releasing a press statement bragging about the length of the sentence, Christine continued to preside over her persecution. He fought her move for Compassionate Release.
I don’t pretend to fully understand the ideology of Chris Hedges or Glenn Greenwall, and there are important positions I disagree with them on. But, I think they are important to at least listen to given the lack of criticism on the part of the corporate media for the Biden Administration. CNN is doing a “celebrity piece” on Kamala Harris where she is asked to tell stories from her life.
The media is supposed to be a critic of those in power, not their best friends.
These are notes from an interview Chris Hedges did on his RT program “On Contact.”
Points made by Greenwald:
• Bernie Sanders was rebuffed in his attempt to get the Secretary of Labor position in the Biden administration. Sanders has expressed frustration with the Biden appointments.
• AOC was denied a position on the Commerce Committee.
• (Note: The DNC also refused to give Katie Porter a waiver to stay on another important committee)
• What the Biden nominations represent is a third term of the Obama administration.
• Susan Rice was nominated for the Domestic Policy Council
• Biden has a long completely obvious history. He has supported militarism. He was a key supporter of the Invasion of Iraq, 2002, as Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee
• Biden’s state is the center of Banking and credit card industry. He was so supportive of them that it provoked Sen. Warren to get into politics. Biden was the architect of a bankruptcy bill that made Warren furious.
• Biden, in addition, was more responsible for the crime bill than anybody else.
• Biden has shown himself to be a man who serves imperialism and corporatism.
• Wall Street celebrated when he picked Harris as Vice President.
• (Greenwald lives in Brazil.) People ask him why Brazil suddenly lurched to right. He explains that after years of what billed itself as being a “liberal” system, the system failed people. They rallied behind anybody who seemed to oppose the system that failed them. That’s what has happened with Trump.
• Now, the Biden administration is going to do exactly what the Obama administration did, nothing, for regular people. And so, if you are doing exactly the same thing, you have to expect the same outcome. The Obama failures led to the Trump administration. And, now the Biden administration is setting itself up to repeat Obama’s failures. (Note: See Majority Report discussion noting that the Biden Administration seems to have learned from the failures of the Obama administration.) According to Greenwald, the Middle class will continue to be destroyed. Jobs will continue to be moved overseas. The drug addiction, suicide, and anger that characterize working class communities will all continue to get worse.
• Note: There were such enormous hopes for Obama. My brother, noting the support enjoyed by Obama, said “He could be the next Roosevelt.” But, Obama wasn’t the next Roosevelt. Obama was constitutionally predisposed to behave himself in many senses of that. No matter what happened, Obama was going to behave himself. Research the discussion about “behaving” and race. Also, the Obama administration assumed that the Republicans were operating from a position of good faith, (what ever that means). The Republicans are definitely not operating from a position of “good faith” and have not done so for decades. How long it will take the Democrats to acknowledge this, I don’t know. And, Obama was never a progressive, never a supporter of real change. The movement that helped Obama get elected was jettisoned immediately after the election in 2008. The group organizing for him were told to “behave.’ People were told not to give money to these groups, but to give the money to support Obama. These groups, by and large, went silent under Obama.
Christ Hedges: Biden and Obama regard progressives as the enemy.
• Biden has always had contempt for the left. As has Obama.
• And, the left is now more submissive than ever. They are even praising Biden for distancing himself from Bernie, saying it was a savvy political move. They played along with the excuse was that it was better to leave Barnie in the Senate than appointment his labor secretary.
• There are no progressives in the cabinet.
• And, even with this fact, there is little dissent on the left.
• The choice that is presented is you can either unite behind the Democratic Party or succumb to fascism.
• The left has embraced censorship coming from corporations, and Biden is calling for new terrorism law. Biden was an architect of the Patriot Act.
• Hedges brings up the Hunter Biden laptop story which, he says, was censored out of the Intercept (the organization Greenwald co-founded).
• Hedges points out that progressives supported Markey in Massachusetts against a primary challenge from Joe Kennedy. After Markey won, he participated in a hearing with Zuckerberg. Markey told Zuckerberg: we don’t believe you are censoring too much, you’re not censoring enough.
• Obama released a statement before election in which he said that the internet was the greatest threat to democracy.
• The political center has decided we cannot have free speech in this technological age. The center was pleading with billionaires to censor people even before the election.
• World leaders denounced the banning of Trump from the internet (Merkle, Obredor of Mexico).
• These leaders are well aware that tech corporations can do this to them (censor them) and their countries. The EU has tried to break up these big Silicon valley companies without success.
• What Google has done is to destroy a competing platform, Parler (AOC, Khana, and others supported this).
• This will make more difficult the ability to organize on the internet. Corporations are outside democratic accountability.
• Hedges points out that Greenwald has gone to Substack as has Matt Taibi.
• This is an effort of destruction of any outlet that permits independent voices of dissent. They are laying the groundwork for rightwing censorship. They will go after others. It won’t be long before they are Turning guns on Substack and Patrion.
• Greenwald became concerned (about the media) when, during the Bush administration, the mainstream media presented torture as a “both sides” issue. They wouldn’t call torture torture because the Bush administration said it wasn’t torture. They took the position of “who are we to decide?” We can’t call it torture because the Bush administration says it’s not true. We’ll just present both sides and let you decide. This is not journalism.
Article about Greenwald, Counterpunch
• Greenwald first came to prominence as an anti-Bush blogger
• He published much of the Snowden reporting in “The Guardian.”
• He co-founded along with Jeremy Scahill and Laura Poitras, The Intercept.
• His columns have become “insufferable.”
• There is “almost no ideology besides reflexive contrarianism.”
• Greenwald is “a kind of fanatic.”
• The tendency toward contrarianism has led him to increasingly align with the far right.
• For example, Greenwald has made comparisons between Trump and Bernie.
• Matt Taibbi has taken a “similar turn.”
• He is an opponent of the national security state.
Joe Scarborough, both-sideser in chief and head MSNBC misogynist is at it again this morning joined by his usual kiss ass crew. He got in a little trouble yesterday by repeatedly asking guests whether it was necessary to impeach Trump. The dreadful Mika told him to stop and he responded like the petulant bully he is, by berating her and trying to embarrass her on national television.
This morning, he and Peter Baker are trying to figure out how “we” can work with the Republicans like James Langford, who have suddenly had an attack of conscience over trying to overthrow an election.
But, for Scarborough and Baker, that’s just a minor blip. Sedition? Just apologize and Scarborough will find a way to launder your reputation (if you are a Repubican).
Baker’s contribution to this was to lament the fact that, in his words, both sides have decided to go back into their partisan corners. Equal corners, right? One side is providing the rationale for sedition and the other is trying to restore democracy, but they are both equally to blame.
On to other matters.
On Ari Melber’s MSNBC show last night, Eugene Robinson (Mr. Mild Manners himself) said that the Republicans created this division and now they are buying body armor.
AOC was evidently so afraid when the attack was going on, she was fearful of going into a safe room with Republicans. She thought they might lead the attackers to her. It was not an unreasonable suspicion since one of the members of the House was texting out the location of Nancy Pelosi.
Lindsey Graham characterized the impeachment proceedings as “sheer hatred.” I can’t wait to find out why Graham did a 180 turn to support Trump. Maybe if Trump gets more and more frustrated, he will start to spill the dirt.
Rep Madeleine Dean, who will be one of the impeachment managers said “Lindsay Graham knows better.” “You too” she said referring to Graham, “are complicit…”
Trump evidently brought Bannon back into the sedition circle. Roger Stone was the one who came up with the “Stop the Steal” rallying cry.
Tony Schwartz is saying that Trump is now moving “between rage and delusion.” And that Trump has unleashed forces that we may well see become more powerful in the future.
Peter Strzok, former FBI, expressed “frustration and anger” at the lack of preparedness at the Capitol. If you look at other events, Strzok argued: “The government can secure the capitol when it wants to and that didn’t happen here.” Strzok said that the tour groups that evidently went through the Capitol the day before the assault needed to be “looked into.”
Elizabeth Newmann, former Assistant Secretary for Threat Presentation and Security Policy at DHS, explained that the Terrorist Watch List is a separate list from the No Fly List and is broader, larger. She says it includes “suspected white supremacists.” But, she also said, this list functions more as an alert system than a surveillance system. If, for example, someone got arrested, law enforcement could run the name and the person would show up as on this Terrorist Watch List. But, there is no ongoing surveillance on these people. So, they could all decide to go to Washington at the same time and go and there would be no automatic alert because of this list.
Last night, Rachael Maddow was commenting on the absurdity of having people on this list, but not knowing that they were all converging on the same problematic location. The only way law enforcement could know this is if these people were under constant surveillance and I’m not sure that’s what we want.
A number of people are already pointing out on Twitter and in articles that this siege of the Capitol may well end up working to the disadvantage of legitimate protest. As always, it’s easy to argue for more surveillance of individuals when they are opposed to you politically. But, these same surveillance measures can be turned quickly against legitimate protest.
I heard no discussion yesterday of the way in which a person might be put on this Terrorist Watch List. Once on this list, are you ever taken off? What surveillance measures can the government take after you are put on this list? These are questions we need to answer.
Newman, after explaining the list, went on to say that there was “no excuse for the lack of preparation” at the capitol. She pointed out that that the Executive Branch, while reluctant to tell another branch of government what to do, has a “duty to warn” of dangerous situations. They, for example, should have issued a “Joint Intelligence Bulletin.” They did not. “They knew that violence was planned” Newman continued. “You always assume the worst, prepare for the worst…”
Petef Strzok expressed disappointment that we had not heard from Director Wray. He wondered whether the FBI attempted to warn other agencies but was prevented from doing so. Strzok didn’t say by whom.
Anna Palmer noted that since the COVID outbreak, the Capitol had been like a “ghosttown.” She noted the extensive security measures for even going into the Capitol as a reporter. “It’s been months since people were even around” she noted. These tours were highly unusual.
Biden has named Jamaal Bowman head of the DNC. It has not escaped notice that Bowman is against Medicare For All.
And, lastly, in Georgia…
I had an interesting exchange with a friend on Facebook. He commented that when the FBI asked all these low-level attackers who are being arrested if they had any coordination or contact with Congressmen or Trump, they would flip and implicate them.
I responded: True, if the FBI agents ask them.
Now, as usual, he took exception to this. Most people, especially those who have worked around law enforcement accept a law enforcement ethos. They resist any aspersions on the integrity of the force, even confronted with daily evidence to the contrary.
He responded in a curious way. First he said that I shouldn’t paint all agents with a “broad brush.” Seemed to me that he was painting them with a broad brush, just assuming that the FBI would be trying to turn offenders on higher ups. Why this assumption is made, I don’t know.
We have just witnessed years of the most curious behavior on the part of the FBI and the Justice Department in recent memory. Why did James Comey make public the absurd reopening of the investigation of Hillary Clinton right before the 2016 election? Why did he within the past few days argue publicly that Biden should pardon Trump? What was going on in the New York City office of the FBI in 2016 that almost lead to a work stoppage? These are just a few threads that need to be followed up here. In addition, why was the Justice Department so easily compromised by Jeff Sessions and then Bill Barr? Why was the Mueller investigation so limited as to make it meaningless?
I’m sorry, but I just don’t think we can assume that all those FBI agents out there are crusaders for justice especially when it comes to investigating people at the top of the food chain. (See Jesse Eisinger’s “The Chickenshit Club.)
Then, my friend said that the last time he talked to me I was (overly) concerned “dismayed” with voter suppression in Georgia, and Georgia had become the beacon of election security. Georgia, he said had become the “honest election state that is saving democracy. What truly happened?”
Now, I have no idea what this last paragraph has to do with FBI agents working overtime to get dirt on powerful Congressmen, but there you are.
I find the statement amazing. I fully realize that the media, prone as they are to simplistic narratives, is trying to make heroes out of Raffensperger, Sterling and Kemp, but anybody who reads should know that Georgia is far from a beacon of hope.
Brian Kemp’s government spent a fortune on a fancy new voting machine system. And they conducted a propaganda operation by replacing all the “I voted” material with “I secured my Vote.” It was all a propaganda operation. I did poll worker training in Georgia before the general and I left at lunch and didn’t go back. It was obvious to me then that the new system was unwieldy and full of holes. The measures taken to “secure the vote” were geared toward security threats in the 19th century. Nobody could answer questions about hacking into the system.
Even though the media has touted “paper ballots” as an indication of transparency, in Georgia, they are not really “paper ballots.”
The ballots are marked by a machine. Then, the voter gets a sheet of paper which has his choices printed on it. The voter is supposed to check these choices to make sure they are right. But, the scanners that count the votes do not even register the words printed on the ballot. They count a bar code at the bottom of the ballot. The voter cannot read the bar code. The poll workers cannot read the bar code. I don’t think anybody outside of the Voting Machine company can read the bar codes. It’s protected by law. What kind of state of affairs is that?
Before the general election, Brian Kemp’s government made a decision that any recount in Georgia would be done by simply feeding the same ballots (with the same bar codes) through the scanners again.
In short, Georgia spent a fortune on a voting system that is impenetrable. They regularly send out “experts” who claim that the system cannot be hacked. But, Jennifer Cohn, Jonathan Simon and the Coalition for Good Governance have repeatedly offered evidence that at best, we don’t know this.
In addition, Kemp is the king of voter suppression. That’s how he won a race against Stacey Abrams for governor. Raffensperger and Sterling were in the voter suppression game up to their eye balls. Kemp, Raffensperger and Sterling are like the guys who are willing to drive the getaway car, but not willing to go into the liquor store with the gun.
Just in case you hadn’t heard…Kyle Rittenhouse is out on bail and sitting in a bar drinking and yucking it up with the Proud Boys. Reality Winner has COVID and in still in jail. I know she’s not receiving her mail because I have a box of returned letters.
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.
A discussion of politics, law, justice, and crime.