Pankaj Mishra · Flailing States: Anglo-America Loses its Grip · London Review of Books, 16 July 2020
‘The abyss of history is deep enough to hold us all,’ Paul Valéry wrote in 1919, as Europe lay in ruins. The words resonate today as the coronavirus blows the roof off the world, most brutally exposing Britain and the United States, these prime movers of modern civilisation, which proudly claimed victory in two world wars, and in the Cold War, and which until recently held themselves up as exemplars of enlightened progress, economic and cultural models to be imitated across the globe.
‘The true test of a good government,’ Alexander Hamilton wrote, ‘is its aptitude and tendency to produce a good administration.’ It is a test the United States and Britain have failed ruinously during the current crisis. Both countries had weeks of warnings about the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan; strategies deployed by nations that responded early, such as South Korea and Taiwan, could have been adapted and implemented. But Donald Trump and Boris Johnson chose instead to claim immunity. ‘I think it’s going to work out fine,’ Trump announced on 19 February. On 3 March, the day the UK’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies warned against shaking hands, Johnson boasted after a visit to a hospital treating coronavirus patients: ‘I shook hands with everybody, you will be pleased to know, and I continue to shake hands.’
As the corporate media becomes more and more useless, we must turn to other sources.
Podcast: America’s Lawyer, Mike Papantonio
April 1, 2020 Episode: The risks to meat packing employees of the mandated openings; the complicity of the Democrats in the class rip-off of the stimulus bill; Schumer and fast-tracking judicial appointments; claims of Tara Reade; lawsuits against big banks for discriminating against small businesses; insurance companies who refuse to pay claims because of the pandemic.
DNC Lawyers Argue DNC Has Right to Pick Candidates in Back Rooms
When Science Loses Its Voice
Late February, after the director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, Nancy Messonnier, warned of the coming pandemic, Mike Pance was put in charge of the White House Coronavirus, and the CDC started declining interviews. Federal employees were limited in what they could say publicly. The NYT reported that federal health officials were required to coordinate their statements with Pence’s office. Several lawsuits and complaints and lawsuits have been filed.
MSNBC public editor: Why pundits and journalists insist on false balance.
There is an illusion the media feels obliged to preserve, even more than the illusion of objectivity. “What broadcast media is really selling—literally selling, to its advertisers and to its viewers—is the illusion of stability and certainty in American life, as well as its own role as a wise, trustworthy leader within that system.”
“National news organizations like MSNBC cannot operate effectively outside the assumption of calm, professional equanimity. Their real stock-in-trade is the impression, the conviction, that they know what is going on in the world; that is the reason viewers tune in and the basis of every ad buy. Normality. Stability, a world that is comprehensible and comprehended.”
The Senate Corporate Bailout Package Is a ‘Robbery in Progress,’ Warn Critics
“It’s not a bailout for the coronavirus. It’s a bailout for twelve years of corporate irresponsibility.”
The corporate media is a complete waste of time. They failed us in 2016 and they are spectacularly failing us now. We must turn to other news sources. These are excerpts from The Nation Magazine.
Grey, Rohan, Nation Manazine, April 20/27 2020).
Biden indicated that as president, he would veto Medicare for All legislation because of concern over the price tag. “Biden has been a deficit hawk his entire career. As a Senator, he broke with his party to support a Repubican-sponsored balanced budget amendment, and as vice president he spearheaded efforts to achieve a bipartisan deficit reduction deal that included cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.”
“In the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, the Obama administration allowed millions to lose their homes in order to “foam the runways” for the banking system, while the Republicans cynically weaponized deficit and debt hysteria in order to deny the Democrats the political credit of a more successful recovery.”
“…much of the suffering attributable to this pandemic will not come from people directly contracting the virus, but from our collective failure to provide adequate care and support to the elderly, the physically vulnerable, the poor, and people in less fortunate countries during their hour of need. The virus itself may be a novel twist, but the broader story is regrettably all too familiar.”
Biden, in the debates, “…acknowledged that upon entering office in 2009, he and President Obama were informed by the Department of Defense that climate change was the single greatest threat to American national security—a point Sanders has been making for years. However, when the moderators pointed out that his climate plan was $14 trillion less than Bernie’s, he retreated into defensive bluster and nostalgic promises to restore the 2016 Paris Agreement. Gone was the sense of existential urgency and ambition that had animated his earlier remarks about the coronavirus.
“…whatever it takes means embracing the inevitability of a head-on conflict with the self-interest of concentrated private capital. A few months ago, it would have sounded extreme to propose placing Amazon, Walmart, Netflix, Uber, and American Airlines under public ownership. But today the socially contingent nature of these corporate behemoths—from their financial engine, to their workforce, to the goods and services they provide—has been laid bare. If luxury perfume companies like Christian Dior and Givenchy can be repurposed to make hand sanitizer to save lives, surely we can consider the same for the companies responsible for essential basic staples such as food, ventilators, and toilet paper. We want clean hands. But we also want bread, roses, and the means to wipe our asses.”
Amid the absurdly trivial corporate media coverage of the Coronavirus crisis, are stories that slip by unnoticed. One of them is another investigation, another investigation by a congressional subcommittee about whether “the U.S. government is paying too much for ventilators made by a Dutch company that received millions in tax dollars to develop an affordable one for pandemics, but is now charging quadruple the price under a new deal.”
The deal for the ventilators was struck between the Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Division of the Dutch Company. (See other stories in Propublica).
In 2014, the agency’s Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) struck a $13.8 million deal with the company to develop ventilators for the Strategic National Stockpile. Based on the advice of experts, the agreement called for the devices to be low cost, portable, durable and easy to use by personnel with limited medical training.
Once Philips’ Respironics division received clearance for that ventilator from the Food and Drug Administration last year, BARDA ordered 10,000 of them for $3,280 each — a price agreed upon when Philips entered into the original deal in 2014.
As Propublica previously reported, Philips never produced any of those devices for the stockpile. Instead, as the coronavirus spread, the company manufactured commercial versions of the ventilator at its factory outside Pittsburgh and sold them for far higher prices overseas. Then, rather than pushing the company to accelerate the delivery of the ventilators developed for the stockpile, HHS this month agreed to buy 43,000 of the commercial version at a price of $15,000 per ventilator.
But once Philips got the crucial FDA clearance for the new design, Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi said, “they turn around — at the very time we most need these ventilators — and use the fruits of taxpayers’ dollars to essentially sell a high-margin version of what taxpayers wanted to foreign consumers and deprioritized the sales of what taxpayers wanted.”
Contact Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, who chairs the Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy. The subcommittee falls under the House Committee on Oversight and Reform.
Article: Callahan, Patricia and Sebastian Rotella (4/16/20) Congress is investigating…” Propublica
Today’s press conference was even more useless than usual. Trump has decided to launch some kind of drug war in the middle of the Coronavirus crisis. I sat and looked into the eyes of the men behind him, men who were uniformly congratulating him, complimenting him, carrying out his will. Every one of them is dangerous and every one of them needs to be in jail.
And, the press conference was no different from the past ones in that it reinforced the notion that:
-government is there to conduct a prolonged ad for big corporations;
-government has no role in helping people during a crisis;
-science is a hoax;
-the role of the government is to propagandize people into doing things against their self-interest.
Additional Notes from Today:
But, as Sen. Cassidy (and the rest of the Repubican Party) maintain: Capitalism will handle it.
Interviewed on CNN today, a Republican member of congress dismissed the widespread alarm among the medical profession about the shortage of masks and other protective equipment for use combating the corona virus. “Capitalism,” he said “will handle it.”
But, the corona virus crisis is a textbook example of the failure of capitalism to handle the corona virus crisis and the other underlying crises that have plagued this society for decades.
Republicans are illustrating hourly exactly what is wrong with free-market capitalist solutions to problems created by free-market capitalism.
Let’s just look at one example.
Gregorian, Dareh (3/20/20) “Burr, other senators…” NBC News.
This afternoon, Jason Easley (3/19/20) at Politicsusa reported that Sen. Richard Burr, Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, was dumping $1.6 million in his own personal stock at the same time he was publicly reassuring the American people that their government had the coronavirus well in hand.
Burr was also warning his rich donors that this virus was likely to rival the 1918 flu virus that caused widespread devastation, thereby alerting them that they should scurry like rats leaving a sinking ship. Burr, as head of the Intelligence Committee, was receiving daily updates (which included some of the nation’s most highly classified information) on the status of the virus and the extent of the threat to US security.
If the American people aren’t not furious about this, they should be. They are losing their jobs, their financial security, and their retirement investments while a Republican member of Congress trades off his position to evade something like a 30% loss on his stocks.
As Miriame Kaba, an organizer recently interviewed on “The Intercept” stated, “capitalism is the crisis.”
This country has been thrown into social and economic turmoil by a group of people who have been telling the rest of us that the markets would take care of everything and that the individual pursuit of profit would make us free. Meanwhile, they are busily trying to make money off the crisis.
If there is anything positive to be gleaned out of this crisis, it is the hope that people will finally realize that we are under the rule of what Sarah Kenzior calls a crime syndicate posing as a government. This includes not just Trump and his family. This includes most of the members of the Congress as well.
I would be willing to bet that none of the corporate news media outlets will cover this story. They will, instead, run video after video of reporters walking backward in grocery stores telling us that the shelves are empty as if this was edifying in any way.
Trump said today that the federal government was not a “shipping clerk.” What he meant was that people were on their own, they couldn’t count of the federal government, their government, the government that they fund, to help them out.
We have no reason to be surprised. Anyone could have seen this crisis coming. It was never a question of whether, it was a question of when. Experts in the field warned of the likelihood of a pandemic and people lived through an ebola crisis.
But for decades, the Republican party has been paving the way for just such a crisis. They are the party that denigrates and ridicules science, reason, government, and expertise. Why would anyone voting Republican expect anything different?
We are told we live in the richest, best country in the world, but we can’t afford testing kits to establish the severity of a pandemic.
But, least you all be consumed by CONSPIRACY THEORIES, all claim that there is no connection between the donations to McConnell and “positions taken on specific legislation.”
Please, don’t be a fool. Vote Republicans out of office. We have to end this government by corporations. And, just another plea: don’t let the words: “I don’t believe in conspiracy theories” come out of your mouth. Do you know how much money these corporations and the right have spent to have that scripted statement come out of our mouths?
the American Independent (2/18/20) https://americanindependent.com/mitch-mcconnell-pharmaceutical-industry-donations-prescription-drug-costs-senate-gop-republicans/