Tag Archives: Authoritarianism

Thursday Morning Notes: Capitalism, Republicans, Elections, Corruption, Biden, Delusion

joe biden

Morning Musings:

  • The Trump pressers and the now daily appearances are humiliation sessions. Trump regularly demeans and silences the voices of reporters and this morning, a nurse who has first hand experience working with the Coronavirus.  This is what authoritarian governments do, normalize the silencing of dissent.  Every time Trump silences, demeans, and both demands and receives acquiescence in this silencing, people are taught what’s expected, that submission is a normal way to behave.  We need to admit that we live in a culture of cowardice, compliance, and willing submission.  We need to stop obsessing about Trump’s behavior and look at ourselves.
  • This is a culture that deludes itself into thinking that it is characterized by independent thought and action when in fact, what characterizes most individuals is compliance.
  • Every time Trump is allowed to bully and demean others without reaction, Americans become a little bit more compliant with authority.
  • It is being reported this morning that guidelines from the CDC about reopening society were ignored by the Trump administration. The CDC, evidently, has been gutted of professionals who will stand up for fact and independent thought.  The man in charge of the CDC has been investigated for misrepresenting his own research data.
  • It is time to ask what the benefits are to the administration from the virus becoming worse. They include 1) massive profits from the wild west profiteering off medical supplies, 2) reinforcing people’s notion that government can’t work for their benefit, 3) reinforcing the Republican theory of government that we should have no government, 4) driving wages down, 5) providing an excuse for cutting and eliminating social programs, 6) encouraging the free-for-all economy the Republicans have worked to bring about for decades, 7) exacerbating a crisis that will cover other authoritarian moves which will go unnoticed, 8) killing off a large proportion of vulnerable people, 9) justifying closing the borders.  These are just a few advantages of the crisis getting worse.
  • The corporate media has ceased to be any kind of check on power. They are worse than useless.  They don’t even have to be censored, they censor themselves.  The feckless questions asked in the presidential pressers is an example of this.  The county is in the middle of an economic and health crisis, and reporters ask questions like: Thank you Mr. President.  Do you think, Mr. President, that citizens should congregate on the mall?
  • The Biden apologia articles arguing that 1) Tara Reade is not credible that her charges are somehow different from those of Blassy Ford, or that 2) the charges are believable, but we should vote for Biden anyway are just astounding. It is astonishing how many women are willing to publicly argue that a presidential candidate with multiple women accusers should be given a pass.
  • I am disappointed that a number of women I know who are pleading with me to silence myself about Biden’s obvious failures as a candidate. Please, they ask, don’t speak or write the truth. We have to remain silent and protect our candidate, the candidate the Democratic Party and the corporate media cheated to install as the candidate.
  • Equally disheartening is the number of people engaging in a gigantic act of delusion by relying on voting in 2020 to solve our problems.   The Republicans have done and will do everything in their power to subvert a democratic vote.  They have and will also enable interference in the election on their behalf.  There is too much at stake for Republicans to allow a loss.  We must move beyond this Cinderella-fiction that we can just vote Trump out in 2020.  The Republicans are being so brazen and craven, not even pretending to believe in democracy, because they know they will win. And, the Democrats will blame Bernie Sanders and his supporters and cower in place just as the Democratic Party is doing at the moment.
  • Democrats are remaining silent, hoping that Trump will destroy himself over the Corona virus pandemic. Instead of fighting every day, pointing out to the American people every day that what is happening is a textbook example of what happens in a culture where you put people in charge of government who are trying to destroy government.  It is a textbook case of what a pandemic looks like managed by people who value profits over everything else.  This is unfettered capitalism, no regulations, no rules except that everyone is free to profit off untold misery to their heart’s content.
  • Instead of going on television every day to point out what a giant class rip off the bailout bill was, the Democrats went on television trying to make political points for compromising with (caving to) the Republicans in a windfall (yet another one) for the 1%.
  • Bernie Sanders has gone silent at a time when every day is an illustration of why the changes he proposed for the country are essential to the survival of working people and democracy.
  • Barak Obama seems to stay above the fray unless he has to step in to prevent fundamental social change for working people. Obama refused, refused to prosecute those responsible for the 2008 financial crisis.  He helped enable lack of accountability for the wealthy and powerful.
  • We have to face the facts. Hiding our heads in the sand will accomplish nothing.

Interview with Sarah Kenzior: Hiding in Plain Sight

hiding

Deep State Radio Podcast

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5/5/20

Interview with Sarah Kenzior about her new book “Hiding in Plain Sight.”

Notes from the interview:

  • The Mueller investigation was deeply problematic in that Mueller completely avoided investigating Trump’s finances and the close connection with the Russian Mafia. Mueller also refused to indict or even interview key people like Jared Kushner.
  • Mueller made useless deals with people like Michael Flint that yielded nothing.
  • Mueller was lionized by the corporate media and assumed to be doing a real investigation. But, he virtually defined out of the investigation certain crucial areas like Trump’s finances.
  • The Republicans have no illusions that this will be a free and fair election in 2020. They have no intentions of trying to ensure it is. This should have been investigated from the very beginning.  It was not.
  • The Trump administration is a continuation of “streamlined corruption.” It is a continuation of a philosophy of government – began decades ago – to make government so small and powerless you could “drown it in a bathtub.”
  • Crises make it easier to push authoritarian policies.
  • 911 made it easy to carry out extra-legal surveillance activities.
  • The economic downturn helped solidify income rampant inequality.
  • There is a grave danger that the Coronavirus pandemic will help justify the use of advanced tracking technology that will further invade individual privacy.
  • Kenzior discusses the problems already in China with technology that such as facial recognition and social crediting which records purchases and activities.  For some people it is a branding system.  If you don’t have the right authorization, you can’t get a job, for example.  (Note: There is a documentary about this on the Wiegers.)
  • Kenzior also is concerned about health data being weaponized, there being classes of people who can and can’t get tested or classes of people identified as “infectious groups.”

Robert Redfield, CDC: “a sloppy scientist with a long history of scientific misconduct and an extreme religious agenda.”

robert redfield

Trump and the Republicans are working to establish a Christo-fascist one party authoritarian state.  The corporate media refuses to take this situation seriously, acting as if Trump’s personal disdain of science is just that, some kind of personal peccadillo.  It’s not.  The Republican party has worked for decades to erode public confidence in science and the scientific method.

Crucial people in the Trump administration and the Republican party think they have a religious mission to subvert democracy in this country.  Bill Barr (who numerous pundits on MSNBC assured us was an institutionalist) is just one example.  These people detest science because science has rules, can demonstrate facts that contradict religious belief.  These are people who do not want there to be any objective reality outside their own authoritarian determination of truth.  Science is a threat.

The Republican Party has spent decades fighting against science.  The science of climate change is a good example.  They must discredit science to discredit what is now agreed-upon scientific fact – the planet is warming, disastrously, and it is the effect of man-made (and therefore correctable) behavior.  But, acknowledging the reality of climate change means interfering with profits from fossil fuels.  The Republicans would rather savage the planet rather than cost the 1% profits.

As Malcolm Nance pointed out this week in an interview, these people are a lot like terrorist fanatics, they think they are protected by God from the effects of their behavior.  These folks think they can pursue profits and destroy the planet and they will not be affected.

As just one illustration of this thinking, last week there was video of people coming out of a religious service where people congregated regardless of the Coronavirus.  One woman stopped to talk to the reporter, and said: I’ve been washed by the blood of Jesus.  What she is saying is that she won’t be affected by the Coronavirus because God is protecting her.

This is dangerous thinking.  Extremely dangerous thinking.  And, it prevades an entire political party in this country.  These are not just a few isolated people.

Trump’s administration is packing the scientific agencies like the CDC with appointees who have no respect for, and positive suspicion of science.  Robert Redfield is one example. Redfield has essentially been given a pass by the corporate media.

The following are excerpts from an article about Redfield that took 5 seconds to find on the internet.

Redfield’s “…nomination was considered controversial, and was opposed by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, which cited Redfield’s lack of experience administering a public health agency, his history of scientific misconduct, and his religious advocacy in response to a public health crisis. Earlier reporting refers to his advocacy of a religious agenda in response to the AIDS crisis.”

In a statement by the President of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, Dr. Peter Lurie (published (3/21/18), the CSPI deemed the appointment of Redfield “disastrous” for at least three reasons. 1) Redfield had no experience running a public health agency and has no relationship with state and local public health officials.  2) Redfield had been “credibly accused of scientific misconduct for exaggerating the benefits of a putative HIV vaccine.”  Redfield was investigated for this by the military.  3) Redfield had supported a variety of policies related to HIV/AIDS that “are anathema to the great majority of public health professionals: mandatory HIV testing,  reporting of positive HIV results to public health without the patient’s consent and quarantining of HIV positive individuals in the military.”

Redfield in this public statement was called “a sloppy scientist with a long history of scientific misconduct and an extreme religious agenda.”

Further excerpts from an article in Mother Jones: Choma, Russ (3/7/2020) “Trump’s CDC director has a history of controversial…”

  • Redfield “… also has a long history of being a close ally to conservative politicians and their pet theories on HIV and AIDS.”
  • He advocated investigating the sexual histories of those who tested HIV positive.
  • Redfield advocated similar ideas outside of the military, aligning himself with a conservative Christian group called Americans for a Sound HIV/AIDS Policy (ASAP) which supported similar steps in the general public (mandatory testing and quarantines) to control the spread of the virus. According to Foreign Policy, in the introduction of a book by ASAP’s founder, Redfield rejected the medical norms for handling the epidemic and called for a more faith-based approach:
  • “It is time to reject the temptation of denial of the AIDS/HIV crisis; to reject false prophets who preach the quick-fix strategies of condoms and free needles; to reject those who preach prejudice; and to reject those who try to replace God as judge. The time has come for the Christian community—members and leaders alike—to confront the epidemic,” Redfield wrote.
  • Redfield named the breakdown of family values and increasing number of single-parent households as key factors responsible for the spread of AIDS.
  • “In the 1990s, Redfield endorsed an unproven HIV vaccine as a huge breakthrough. It wasn’t, and Redfield was investigated for scientific misconduct for his role in continuing to push the vaccine. (He was later cleared of accusations of misconduct.) He also publicly lobbied for legislation sponsored by a conservative member of Congress that would force medical workers to get tested for HIV and AIDS and lose their licenses to practice if they were infected. More recently, in the early 2000s, Redfield remained adamant that the best way to contain the AIDS epidemic in Africa was to encourage abstinence, monogamy, and the use of condoms only as a last resort.”
  • Redfield was not the Trump administration’s first choice for CDC director; she resigned after she was found to have traded tobacco stocks while running the CDC. Despite loud calls from CDC watchdogs like the Center for Science in the Public Interest, which accused Redfield of having a bad record “and an extreme religious agenda,” Redfield was appointed in 2018.
  • Redfield has enabled Trump’s politicization of the government’s response.

And, Deborah Brix has been a close associate of Redfield’s.

According to information reported by Wikipedia:

“Redfield continued studies of the…vaccine; the results of his 27-author phase II clinical trial were published in the Journal of Infectious Disease in 2000, with Deborah L. Birx as lead author.[22] Redfield’s multi-site study, a collaboration between the Department of Defense and the National Institutes of Health, laid the groundwork for future vaccine development and provided a better understanding of the biologic basis of HIV infection and its interaction with the host immune system. The work did not, however, result in an effective vaccine. 

HIV interventions

“The 1993 investigation did say that Redfield had an “inappropriate” close relationship with the non-governmental group “Americans for a Sound AIDS/HIV Policy” (ASAP), which promoted the gp160 vaccine. The group was founded by evangelical Christians that worked to contain the HIV/AIDS outbreak by advocating for abstinence before marriage, rather than passing out condoms — a view Redfield says he’s since changed.[]

Redfield served on the board of ASAP, which gay groups criticized for anti-gay, conservative Christian policies, such as abstinence-only prevention. Redfield also authored the foreword to the book co-written by ASAP leader W. Shepard Smith, “Christians in the Age of AIDS” which discouraged the distribution of sterile needles to drug users as well as condom use calling them “false prophets.” The book described AIDS as “God’s judgment” against homosexuals. At the time of his nomination to head the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Redfield maintained close ties with anti-gay and anti-HIV activists, although he has publicly supported the use of condoms and denied ever promoting abstinence-only interventions.[11] However, in the 2000s, Redfield was a prominent advocate for the ABCs of AIDS doctrine which promoted abstinence primarily and condoms only a last resort.

These people are dangerous, driven by religious fanaticism, and in charge of government agencies.

 

Alternative Media: Trump Watch Podcast

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As the corporate media becomes more and more useless in covering the Trump/Republican administration and the coronavirus crisis, we must seek alternative sources of news.

Try the “Trump Watch” Podcast.

In the April 16 episode, they do an interview with John Nichols from the Nation Magazine about the attempt by the Republicans to control voting in Wisconsin in order to assure the election of their hand-picked Supreme Court Judge.  They failed, but only because people came out with home-made masks and stood in lines for hours to vote against the Republicans.

Wouldn’t it be nice if the corporate media had covered this win for regular people in Wisconsin?  Wouldn’t it be nice if the corporate media actually talked about the attempt by Republicans, in Wisconsin and elsewhere, to thwart democracy and manipulate the voting process?

They won’t do it and we have to go elsewhere for our news.  The corporate media has ceased to cover any international news at all.  They are obsessed with interviewing everybody in the country about the minutiae of the Coronavirus issue.  They are obsessed with covering every minute of Trump’s propaganda sessions every afternoon and then talking endlessly about what he says.  They are obsessed with providing us inspirational stories about the “heroes” of the crisis and informing us of how we can entertain ourselves while staying at home as if we were children.

The Trump Watch podcast, starts every episode by saying that they cover what Trump DOES not just what he TWEETS.

The Republicans are using the Coronavirus to install a Christo-fascist one-party authoritarian state.  While the press is asking Trump is it is a good idea for Americans to congregate on the mall in Washington, D.C., the Republicans are stealing us blind.  After this is over, they will tell us we can’t afford Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Food Stamps, Head Start…because of the pandemic, not because they robbed us blind and gave the money to their buddies.

I would love to hear of other podcasts you find useful and any comments you might have.

Trump Watch Podcast

 

Burning Books: We Won’t Have To

Viktor Orban Meets With Angela Merkel In Berlin

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tell me that’s comforting.

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

Barr Auditioned to do Exactly What He is Doing. He Won’t Resign

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Bill Barr wrote a letter to the Trump administration auditioning for the job of Attorney General.  Barr decided at some point that Trump could be used to usher in an age of quasi-religious authoritarian government in the United States that people like him have been working to bring about for decades.  He sees himself as carrying out a mission and he will not resign because he is disapproved of by DOJ officials, prosecutors or judges.  He, like Trump, has no shame.

In an article (12/5/19) by Damon Linker, entitled “William Barr is shockingly clear about his authoritarianism,” Linker points out that:

In his “…October 11 speech at the University of Notre Dame,” Barr “…embraced a deeply anachronistic vision of religion in American public life. It was a story of a morally upstanding Republican majority upholding biblically based Judeo-Christian piety and righteousness against an aggressive minority faction of liberals and progressives who use positions of cultural and political power to impose an agenda of moral relativism on the nation.”

People like Barr believe that “…it’s crucially important for the future of American democracy that this (Barr’s) side prevail in its battle against godless relativists…”  In doing so, “Barr was providing a justification for using all the powers of the federal government to bring about that outcome.”  Just think about that.  William Barr is providing a justification for using all the powers of the federal government to bring about” the outcome he advocates.

If any more evidence is needed, five weeks after the Notre Dame speech, “…came Barr’s even more alarming speech to…The Federalist Society. Here he described the presidency (and because of that, American self-government itself) as under siege by Congress and the courts. The greatest achievement of the American constitutional framers, he claimed, was the creation of a strong, independent, and unitary executive. And yet the liberals and progressives in charge of these other branches of government do everything in their power to hobble and weaken the presidency, which should, and will, do everything it can to reaffirm its distinctive powers and prerogatives.”

According to Barr, Trump “…would ideally also be free…to impose the travel ban, end DACA, add a citizenship question to the census, and make American foreign policy in Eastern Europe serve his personal whims and conspiratorial obsessions without having to face any pushback from Congress or the courts. No subpoenas. No irritating injunctions. No pesky Freedom of Information Act requests. No endless investigations. Trump would simply lead, and everyone else would follow.”

Then, “at the Attorney General’s Award for Distinguished Service in Policing….Barr made a point of singling out those “communities” that fail to show “the respect and support that law enforcement deserves.” Those communities that don’t express the proper “support and respect,” he warned ominously, “might find themselves without the police protection they need.”

“It’s hard to read that passage without hearing it as a threat to minority (and especially African American) communities that have taken a stand in recent years against police brutality and excessive force….”

“It would be hard to think of a purer expression of the authoritarian mindset than this statement.”

“But Barr’s statement isn’t just an expression of authoritarianism. It’s also a reflection of the mob-boss mentality that prevails in the administration Barr serves with such abundant loyalty and enthusiasm….That isn’t how the rule of law is supposed to work. It’s the way authoritarian regimes, crime families, and robber gangs work. Unfortunately, it’s also how the president and his henchman at the Justice Department would very much like American government to work, from the Oval Office on down to the streets of our cities.”

“It’s up to the rest of us to show them both that we don’t share their admiration for rule by thug.”

See “William Barr is shockingly clear about his authoritarianism.” (12/5/19) Damon Linker.The Week.