Despite several Twitter friends who repeatedly tell me to stop torturing myself by watching the corporate news channels, I can’t help myself.
The corporate news has spent weeks and untold hours of air time fretting about the right-wing rally today in Washington. It’s almost 2 PM, and there are not more than a handful of people at the rally. What an enormous waste of time and energy and money. In addition, what a diversion from covering some of the more serious issues that confront the society.
I am not minimizing the seriousness of this right-wing, authoritarian movement, but there was no need to spend hours and hours of valuable media time with people talking about what MIGHT happen today. In addition, because of all the hype, the low turn-out crowd makes it seem as if the media is blowing the threat out of proportion. The threat is not taken seriously enough, not talked about seriously enough, but the coverage of what might happen in one rally is overblown.
We have a house full of sick cats and Wednesday night I spent sleeping on the floor downstairs so I could hear if one of them needed something. Needless to say, I did not sleep, but spent most of the night listening to podcasts.
One of the very best was an interview of Kathleen Belew about right-wing movements.
Belew pointed out that the coup attempt on January 6, was intended as a recruiting tool, not a violent insurrection. Far from a failure, the right widely considered Jan. 6 a stunning success. I would guess that they view September 18 as something similar, a fake out of the corporate media and a demonstration of how they can make fools of the establishment.
The podcast is Spy Talk, part of the Deep State Radio group.
Just a note: MSNBC has its anchors sitting outside on a platform as if they are covering Macy’s Parade. There is nothing, just nothing that corporate media can’t cheapen. A deeply serious challenge to democracy itself turned into a spectator sport.
CNN is showing video of piles of dead and injured people in the sewage ditch just outside the Kabul airport. They are blurring the image. That seems to me to be highly symbolic. The corporate media has been blurring the images coming from Afghanistan for twenty years.
Also, why should Americans have the reality of what is happening in Afghanistan softened?
The corporate media no longer finds it necessary to cover international stories. We are treated to video after video of Biden boarding a plane to go somewhere, but the assassination of the President of Haiti is barely mentioned.
The assassination of Haiti’s president, Jovenel Moise, was barely covered last week.
From what I have read, this is some of what we know.
During an attack early in the morning of July 7, President Jovenel Moise, was killed and his wife wounded in their private residence on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince. The wife was flown to Miami.
The attack has been described by the NYT as “well-planned.” And there were reports that many of the attackers were foreigners who spoke Spanish.
A great many questions are left unanswered about how Moise, President of the country, who usually traveled with more than a dozen armored cars and police guards could be so easily targeted.
The NYT reports that Moise had over 100 officers from the presidential guard around his home. Nevertheless, Moise was found lying on the floor at the foot of his bed “bathed in blood.”
There were 12 bullet holes visible in the body according to a Haitian Justice of the Peace, Carl Henry Destin, who was on the scene.
The house had been ransacked. The servants had been tied up.
There are two Americans among the 20 people who have been detained so far. They were described as Florida residents of Haitian descent. Other members of the hit squad were described as Colombians. Mr. Edmond described the men as “well-trained professionals, killers, commandos.”
The Americans told authorities that they were merely translators and had not been in the room where Moise was killed.
Clement Noel, a judge involved in the investigation said that the two Americans had met with other members of the hit squad at a suburban hotel to plan the attack. They said that the attack had been planned over the course of a month. The two American men maintained that the goal was not to kill Moise (the body had 12 gunshot wounds), but to bring him to the national palace.
It has not been reported when the American men entered Haiti, or what connection they had with the other hit men before the assassination.
Judge Noel said that it was one of the Americas Solages who can be heard on audio of the attack, yelling out that the attackers were DEA agents. Solages had previously worked as a security guard at the Canadian Embassy in Haiti and there had been no evidence reported that indicates there was any DEA connection. Why this particular claim was made aloud at the beginning of the attack is not known.
Haiti’s interim prime minister, Claude Joseph, put the country under martial law after the assassination. It is not clear whether he has the legal authority to do so. In fact, most of what is going on in Haiti at the moment is of dubious legal basis.
Days before his death, Moise, had appointed a new prime minister, Ariel Henry. Henry says he should be in charge of the government.
There is no clear designation of authority in the executive branch and there is no functioning Parliament in Haiti. There are only 10 sitting senators out of 30. The terms of the other 20 have expired. The entire lower house is no longer sitting because their terms expired last year. The head of the Supreme Court died of Covid.
Haitian government officials told the NYT that they had asked the U.S. to provide troops to protect infrastructure.
According to a BBC podcast (7/7/21), Moise had become increasingly autocratic during his tenure as president. He was pushing through a referendum which would have changed the constitution so he would stay in power longer.
The former Prime Minister is Laurent Lamothe.
Haiti’s ambassador to the U.S. Bocchit Edmond.
Claude Joseph is Haiti’s interim prime minister.
The two American men were identified as Joseph Vincent and James J. Solages.
Former President, Michael Martelly, left office in an electoral crisis in 2016. He was able to use his political power, however, to see his supporter, Moise, elevated to the presidency. Protestors were in the streets demanding Martelly’s ouster in 2016. He left office formally giving presidential power to the leader of the National Assembly.
Martelly (like Moise) was criticized for not holding elections during his years. Martelly was accused of surrounding himself with “cronies, some of them criminals.” NYT (2016)
When Martelly was elected, the process was said by critics to be riddled with fraud.
Former dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier was ousted in 1986.
The Biden administration is taking on the same elitist “we’ll handle this you don’t need to bother” attitude that characterized the Obama administration. And, the result will probably be the same.
When there was clear evidence that the Russians had hacked into the election infrastructure in 2016, Obama, fearful of appearing partisan, refused to make the information public. Harry Reid all but announced the information, but the corporate media ignored him. But, Obama, remained silent.
According to staffers, Obama was so confident that Hillary was going to win, he figured she would take care of the issue after she was elected. “We’ll handle this.” Right.
Well, it didn’t turn out that way and we wound up with a Russian puppet in the White House for four years. We will never know the extent of the devastation of that four years.
Obama cared more about his legacy than he did about the American people and the damage is incalculable.
Biden is issuing the same patronizing kinds of statements about the recent outbreak of conflict in Israel. The administration is doing “quiet diplomacy.” That’s the story. “We’ll handle this you don’t need to bother.” It’s behind the scenes because really cool guys (like Biden) with experience (like Biden) know that it’s better to move behind the scenes than come out publicly and (in this case) demand a ceasefire.
In fact, not that you would know it from watching corporate news (celebrity gossip, agent driven interviews about new books, rap lyric quotes, hand wringing about the hypocrisy of the Republicans, the creation of Liz Cheney as a super-star) but the U.S. government has blocked a UN Security Council call for a ceasefire three times since this conflict began.
Why, why would the U.S. block a call for a ceasefire? What possible purpose would that serve unless you wanted to signal to Netanyahu that we support driving the Palestinians into the sea?
But, there is not a peep about this on the corporate news, or at least not that I have seen. It’s all reassuring elitist head patting. “We’ve got this under control.” “Don’t worry.” “You don’t have to know what’s going on. Just trust us.” “After all, it’s uncle Joe and his son died.”
When Barak Obama decided he knew better than the American people what to do about the Russian hacking, we wound up with the disaster of Trump, three Supreme Court justices not to mention a legion of federal court judges who comprise a ticking time bomb. Biden adopting the same “trust me” attitude is not comforting.
The corporate news by and large is promoting its usual “both sides” analysis. Well, the Israelis are launching some missiles and Hamas is launching some missiles. But, as was pointed out on Christine Amanpour’s show on 17 May 2021, there is no symmetry in the destructive power of the two entities.
And, as Ehaled Elgindy, former advisor to the Palestinian authority commented on Amanpour’s program, the Israelis are essentially asking that Hamas stop firing on Israel in exchange for the Israelis stopping firing at some time in the future as yet undetermined.
Elgindy noted that what was needed was the “robust” involvement of Biden in the situation, not the passive approach he is taking at the moment. Elgindy argued that Biden was essentially saying to Netanyahu, go ahead, we’ll run diplomatic interference for you until you get what you want. Biden should be calling for an immediate cease fire. Because he is not, Biden is “greenlighting” the process.
Elgindy continued that the policy in Washingon is basically that we have to “hug Israel” to get them to do anything. Through 54 years of occupation, expulsions, and blockades, all Washington is willing to come up with are “positive inducements.” The U.S. has “enabled” the situation for decades.
This week on the horrible Morning Joe (home for all middle of the road has beens who have nothing, and I mean nothing,to say) David Ignatius claimed that there wasn’t really anything the U.S. could do about the situation.
Meanwhile, Washington approved $735 million in precision-guided weapons to Israel. The Democrats were largely silent.
It has been days since I have watched corporate TV news. I have been reading, writing, painting and binge-watching Dickens, Trollope, and Austen on Amazon Prime.
Every time I turn on the corporate news I find CNN hosts interviewing other CNN hosts about their new books. On MSNBC, I find people like Jason “Island of misfit black girls” Johnson, pontificating and acting like he’s something other than a vicious attack dog there to repeatedly blame the progressives in the Democratic Party for all the failures of the party establishment.
Morning Joe has turned into a prayer meeting with Joe Scarborough spending whole segments lecturing viewers on what a “true Christian” is. This is the news? Mika Brzezinski relentlessly promotes her “know your worth” marketing/money making strategy. She actually seems to think that people are going to believe this from a woman who “knew her worth” to such an extent she had an adulterous affair and then married her boss. She defers to him, babies him, allows herself to be regularly demeaned, interrupted and ridiculed by him. This is women knowing their worth.
In the afternoons, former Senator Claire MacCaskill has taken obsequious behavior to new heights, fawning over Nicolle Wallace at every turn, baking cakes for Wallace and lighting candles on the cake while lauding Wallace’s journalism. This is the news?
MacCaskill does this while the other members of the panel (including the other prime ass-kisser, Jason Johnson) clap their hands like school children. It is just nauseating.
There is no, no international news anymore on either CNN or MSNBC. The amount of information being communicated is almost nil. It’s like a televised circle-jerk, reporters interviewing other reporters, promoting each other’s books or (worse still) interviewing members of Congress, as if any member of congress is going to say anything either interesting or informative. There are only a handful of people in the entire Congress who say ANYTHING that is not a collection of focus-group tested nonsense.
The corporate media is, in short, like a toy my friend told me she bought her grandson a couple of years ago. I couldn’t even grasp what she was talking about as she described this gadget. It was a mechanical thing that had no purpose except to move. It was called a “fidget spinner.” The corporate news media is an intellectual fidget spinner – words and words and words and interview after interview after interview filling up space, for no reason except to make money for somebody and create the impression that things are under control. As Scarborough says the “institutions are holding.”
Meanwhile, the institutions are not holding. The criminal enterprise that was the Trump administration has gone without accountability or punishment, and will continue to do so. The legal system works to prosecute, hold accountable, and punish only the poor. We are repeatedly treated to an orgy of spectacle creating the impression that the powerful will be held accountable only to watch the whole sorry exercise collapse.
The Supreme Court which has sold democracy down the tubes with decisions such as Citizens’ United, is poised to further structure the legal system to favor the wealthy and powerful. The Congress is afraid of its shadow. If the Biden administration does not do away with the filibuster, alter the Supreme Court, fight for ordinary Americans, and ensure election fairness and security, the Trump/McConnell crime family will be back in power partially in two years, and totally in four.
All you have to do it look at the flood of voter suppression laws that have been passed in Georgia and other states to see that Republicans are going to make sure that the Democrats lose control of the Congress in 2022 and the presidency in 2024. They are circling like sharks. All four years of Trump did for them was to give them the smell of blood and demonstrate how easily they could turn this into an authoritarian Christian nationalist state.
Meanwhile, Ari Melber makes jokes, quotes banal rap lyrics (of sexist rap stars) like they were great literature and/or philosophy and interviews celebrities, barely keeping himself from peeing his pants with glee at his proximity to fame. It is all just really disgusting.
And, then there’s today. A 21-year-old man has murdered eight women and was on his way to murder more. But, as the Georgia Sheriff’s office spokesman said, he “had a bad day.” There are so many things wrong with this story and the coverage of it and the people involved, I don’t know where to begin.
I feel like my mother when she first started watching the O.J. Simpson trial. She watched for a couple of hours. “What do you think?” I said. “I think they should all be put in prison now,” she replied getting up in disgust to go and read. “Who?” I asked. “All of them.” She said. “Simpson, the judge, the prosecutors, the defense attorneys, the reporters, all of them.” She was, of course, right.
That’s precisely what I feel about everybody involved in this murder case in Atlanta.
The Georgia Sheriff and CNN are talking about “sex addiction” as if sex addiction was something real. Law enforcement, politicians and the corporate media are actually mouthing the ludicrous sex equivalent of the “Twinkie Defense” for this Long guy. The Cherokee Sheriff’s office guy, Baker, found it his responsibility to provide an excuse for a man who walked into businesses that employ women (at starvation wages) to cater to the perverted pleasures of men and murder them. What is this Baker, Long’s defense attorney? Official law enforcement provides a narrative for the future jury pool excusing this man because of his “sex addiction.”
“Sex addiction?” There is no such thing as a sex addiction. It’s a fake con devised by the rehabilitation industry to make money. No serious person would even allow those two words together to come out of their mouth. A male reporter on CNN said that the young man “had issues.” ISSUES?////// ISSUES?????????
He hates women, that’s the issue, he hates and despises women and has racist exploitive sexual fantasies about them that he felt entitled to act out. It has nothing to do with addiction. Long is not mentally ill, that we know of. He is just the same kind of oppressive, abusive, exploitive, violent bastard that this culture turns out by the millions. He’s just like Donald Trump, Jeffrey Epstein, that old man who used to be a comedian who doped and then raped women (I’m 70. I can’t remember his f…ing name), Weinstein, Cuomo, and God knows how many more.
But, we can’t talk about that. We can’t talk about a culture that makes the hatred of women fundamental, trades in the commodification of women’s bodies at every turn, provides a market for sexual perversion of every sort and then blames the impoverished women who are forced to participate in it for their own destruction at the hands of the very men they are forced to service.
This guy “had a bad day.” That’s what Baker, the Sheriff’s Office guy, said. He had a “bad day” and “issues” and “a sexual addiction.” No, the women who were killed and their families had a bad day, a tragic day. This guy acted out his violent racist sexual perversions, violent sexual perversions that are fed every day by the media and the entertainment industry and politics.
In this unique collection of over 50 essays, “The Sickness is the System: When Capitalism Fails to Save Us from Pandemics or Itself,” Richard D. Wolff argues clearly that “returning to normal” no longer responds adequately to the accumulated problems of US capitalism. What is necessary, instead, is transition toward a new economic system that works for all of us.
“The Sickness is the System” is published by Democracy at Work. Professor Wolff generously donated his time and work so that all sales revenue could go to support d@w. This book is now available as a paperback.
The corporate news media is a vast wasteland, a mental fidget-spinner of trite nonsense. It’s purpose, as far as I can tell, is to keep the lid on, to convince the population that the “institutions are holding,” and to stupify the public into believing that nothing is really wrong.
There is the endlessly repeated both-sidesism enmeshed in the discussion of every topic. Tonight, for example, in covering the allegations that DeSantis, Governor of Florida, participated in making it possible for rich campaign donors to skip the line on vaccines, Ari Melber felt it was necessary to show photographs of Cuomo and note for the audience that the show also covered Democrats who were accused of wrongdoing.
And, there are the jokes, the uplifting People Magazine stories, the fashioning of narrative to make heroes out of every person who just behaves with normal human decency.
Essentially, the corporate news media is a waste of time.
But, there are other places to go for news. There are more podcasts than one person can listen to in a lifetime, and there are a few TV channels. Freespeech TV is one of them.
Richard Wolff hosts a program called Economic Update. There are no guests, no video clips, no commercials. The program is adult news, discussion.
These are notes on the episode from 3/3/21
History Lessons on Capitalism’s Failures
• Even if you argue that the present economic system works in normal times, it certainly has not worked in a crisis like the pandemic.
• Freemarket capitalism produced no warehouses of supplies (masks, ventilators) waiting to be distributed . There were no facilities in population centers stocked with testing equipment. There was no plan for dealing with the dislocations that a pandemic would cause. There’s no money, no profit in it.
• Private enterprise isn’t going to provide a plan or products, or logistics for dealing with a pandemic before it happens. Only government can do that.
• The signs the system isn’t up to the job of dealing with a crisis are everywhere. Take, for example rising food prices. The evidence is that globally food prices are increasing. Private enterprise is not going to function to ensure the distribution of food in a pandemic. Secondly, under the current system of capitalism, the eviction crisis will only exacerbate the pandemic problem. In a pandemic people need to stay at home, but with evictions uncontrolled by the government, that’s exactly what we will not get. Thirdly, only 5% of private schools are having internet learning due to the pandemic. Private schools can afford to take measures to ensure safety. They can have smaller classes, move people to other buildings. 65% of public schools, however, are not meeting students. They are forced into distance learning. The students on the bottom of the economic scale are taking the hit of the pandemic.
• As Richard Wolff notes, the problems are so evident that the question is really: “Why are there people not understanding this still?”
• Wolff goes on to discuss the settlement of a criminal case against Boeing in which the company that makes most of the planes we travel in, was allowed to pay its way out of criminal prosecution for $2.5 billion dollars. Boeing, the settlement said, lied and put “profit before candor.” But, in a capitalist society, profit is put before everything. The people who run Boeing make careers from profit, not from candor.
In the midst of an on-going coup attempt, the Washington Post is continuing to publish puff pieces about Trump staffers and family. The seemingly inexplicable nature of this has led some on Twitter to hypothesize that the puff pieces are pay back for individuals who previously provided access to Post reporters and/or who passed on information to them.
When I read this speculation from someone who is a journalist this morning, I couldn’t stop thinking about it.
I know to some people this must sound naïve, but what kind of newspaper sells positive stories for information? The Washington Post unabashedly uses “Democracy dies in darkness” as a slogan. Democracy dies in darkness, but reporters are making back room deals selling positive coverage for information?
How exactly do these deals work? Is there an explicit negotiation? Does a reporter say to Ivanka Trump, we’ll give you five 3000 word totally positive personal write-ups in exchange for a hot piece of information?
If this kind of negotiation is going on, why isn’t that considered essential to disclose to the reader. After all, the reader is consuming the story as if it is independent journalism, not a glamour piece placed by Ivanka Trump’s agent.
Why is such a practice considered ethical? Why is such a practice not a scandal, not considered as what it is, a bribe?
When our local newspaper publishes a puff piece about a doctor and his practice which looks like an article, it is at least identified as such. I don’t even think that practice is ethical, but it at least involves disclosure for those who are interested enough to look, that the piece is bought and paid for, not independent journalism.
There is no such disclosure for these little fluff pieces churned out in exchange for “access.”
That would be one kind of disclosure, letting the reader know that the piece is paid for. But, another type of disclosure is also necessary.
The assumption is that publishing a paid-for personal ad as independent journalism is worth the “access” given the reporter. Well, I would like to be able to judge that for myself. If the Washington Post is going to allow itself to be bribed into publishing particular stories, what was the going price? I as a reader have a right to know.
There are a lot of problems with the current widespread practice of “access journalism.” First of all, it’s lazy. Reporters are too lazy to go out and establish sources for a story, so they tell themselves they have to spend endless hours socializing with powerful people at parties or retreats in the country to get information. Second, journalists are supposed to be keeping the powerful honest, not spending weekends with them in their country estates. No journalist is going to keep honest the people s/he is socializing with and on whom he is dependent for information. People in power are not supposed to be a reporter’s friends. Third, how much trust can you put in information that is intentionally leaked to you by the powerful. There have been countless instances where “access” has resulted in journalists being turned into stenographers for those in power. The powerful leak the stories they want to be published.
Now, evidently, we have to add to the problems of access journalism, other stories, published by other reporters that are part of some deal for access. To portray staffers and members of Trump’s family as glamorous, hard-working innocent bystanders with a promising political future in exchange for some undisclosed piece of information is unconscionable.
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.
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.