Tag Archives: Democracy

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

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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

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Deep State Radio Podcast

Home

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.”

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Proof of Collusion: Seth Abramson

All you have to do is read this book to see how Robert Mueller was either a Chickenshit (See book by Eisinger) or part of the project to cover up the Trump/Russia collusion.  Neither alternative is a good one.

proof

Authoritarianism: Ain’t it Grand?

 

“A …report by the Justice Department’s inspector general is expected to sharply criticize lower-level F.B.I. officials as well as bureau leaders involved in the early stages of the Trump-Russia investigation, but to absolve the top ranks of abusing their powers out of bias against President Trump…”

 

As Nick Confessori (NYT) pointed out this morning, the very investigation of FBI “spying” or wrongdoing in the investigation of the Trump campaign, is a victory for Trump.

 

Donald Trump made a wild accusation at a campaign rally, based on nothing, and the Justice Department devoted time and resources investigating it.  So, even though they now say that there was nothing untoward in the investigation we have devoted serious attention to a wild accusation.

 

This is exactly what the corporate press does every day.  A substantial part of “Meet The Press” on Sunday was handed over to John Kennedy to propagate Russian propaganda, arguing that the “earth is flat” and that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election in the same way as did the Russians (who have been indicted).   Everyone knows that’s fiction, propaganda, so why does Chuck Todd book this liar and give him a platform?

 

The world is moving toward authoritarianism, and corporate media darlings like Nicolle Wallace laugh and joke and just have a wonderful time talking about the minutiae of Trump’s intentions and mind.

 

This is the way a country moves into authoritarianism without realizing it.  If there was something serious going on, wouldn’t the news anchors be talking about it as if it were a serious matter?  That’s what most people think, whether consciously or unconsciously.  When they see Nicolle Wallace having a high old time and Chris Hayes turning the news into a comedy show, they are relieved that they don’t have to take what is a move to a one-party authoritarian state seriously.

 

The corporate media repeatedly presents “both sides” and allows the right to vomit up endless streams of propaganda, treating it as if it were a reasonable narrative.

 

Just as the corporate media presents “both sides” the rational and the bat- shit crazy, Mueller and now the Justice Department Inspector General create a world of legal “bothsidesism.”

 

“The early accounts of the (Inspector General’s) report suggest that it is likely to stoke the debate over the investigation without definitively resolving it (Sound like Mueller?), by offering both sides different conclusions they can point to as vindication for their rival worldviews.”

 

We can’t let them get away with this.

 

Quotes from NYT article: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/22/us/politics/russia-investigation-inspector-general-report.html

They Were Chosen Because They Were Sleaze

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One of the main reasons we are in such a disastrous position politically in this country is the corporate media.  The corporate media gave Trump tens of millions of dollars of free airtime in the 2016 election, did not cover (and have still not adequately covered) Trump’s extensive criminal financial background and associations, and continues to normalize his criminal behavior and that of his minions.

Tuesday night, I tuned in to watch part of Nicolle Wallace’s program and found her and her panel constructing a narrative that US Ambassador to the EU, Gordan Sondland was basically a good guy who had wanted to be an ambassador for years.  As they spun the story, Sondland had worked so hard to get the job as an ambassador.  Sondland was just so thrilled to have been appointed, he wanted badly to please the Trump administration.  The poor inexperienced man was caught between Trump and Giuliani and was just trying to do the right thing for Ukraine.  Poor soul.  It was all just another example of how good people get ruined when they associate with Donald Trump.

There are so many things wrong with this narrative, I don’t know where to begin.  First, there is no evidence to support this fiction. Sondland didn’t work hard to get appointed ambassador.  He bought the position with a $1 million contribution to Trump’s campaign.  There is no evidence in the text messages and cables that Sondland cared one whit about doing the right thing for Ukraine.  He cared about assisting the “drug deal” that Trump, Guiliani and the rest of them were putting together.  Sondland knew what he was doing was wrong because he tried to cover it up by asking Volker to communicate with him over the phone rather than in writing about the plot.  Gordon Sondland is not a good person who got caught up in a criminal enterprise.  He was chosen because he was and is just the sort of person who would happily get involved in a criminal enterprise.

But, corporate media stars like Nicolle Wallace, Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski will white-wash all the major players in this running transnational scandal.  They have done so for years.

Scarborough and Brzezinski were called “supporters” by Trump himself and were celebrating at Mar-a-lago after the election.  They only broke with Trump after he outed their adulterous affair.  Nicolle Wallace spent months castigating all the Trump administration members who didn’t quit their jobs in the White House.  She, however, worked for George W. Bush and Dick Cheney who lied us into a war that killed almost 5,000 American and God knows how many Iraqis.  Wallace was on television just after Bret Kavanaugh delivered a contrived temper tantrum at the end of his confirmation hearings.  Wallace felt sorry for him, fell for it hook-line-and sinker.  Scarborough spent months before the Mueller report came out telling us that our “institutions continue to hold.”  This morning, Brezezinski told the MSNBC audience that Sen. Kennedy (sucks being this dumb) was a “good guy” and had allowed himself to be drawn into Trump’s sleaze.

These people are not good people who have been drawn into anything.  Most of them were chosen because they were the same sort of sleaze Trump is.  Others went into this with their eyes open, so craven they didn’t care what they were agreeing to.  They all deserve contempt, ridicule, impeachment, many of them prosecution, and shunning.

These people were immoral scum before Trump even thought about running for office and they will be immoral scum after he leaves.  People like Mitch McConnell and William Barr are not “good guys.”  They are dangerous men, willing to do anything, anything to maintain this shot at permanent power they have carved out around Donald Trump.

When people like Wallace and Scarborough and Brzezinski try to absolve them of guilt and weave fictional narratives explaining their behavior, they become enablers of this attempt to overthrow and crush democracy.

The Most Dangerous Bulls in the Herd: Greg Sargent, William Barr and the Corporate Media

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Yesterday, I spent hours reading about William Barr launching a criminal investigation into the origins of the Russia probe.  What struck me most forcefully was the repeated dismissal of the action by various corporate media commentators.

There is a squad of normalizers out there in the corporate news world, working overtime to convince us that we are not seeing what is right before our eyes, an authoritarian take-over of the state.

The attitude was, “Oh well, this is just a distraction.”  “Don’t worry, there’s nothing there.”  “They don’t even know what they’re investigating.”  “The prosecutor (Durham from Connecticut) is a fine man.”  “Who could imagine that such a fine man would be participating in anything nefarious.”

The Attorney General of the United States has launched a criminal investigation into the Justice Department’s own Russia investigation.  The effect of this investigation will be to harass, to target, and to punish members of the intelligence community and the FBI who dared, dared to follow up credible leads that the Trump Campaign was consorting with Russians in order to steal an election.

As David Lohfman, head of the counterintelligence section at Justice at the time stated Thursday night on Rachael Maddow, “We would have been derelict” had an investigation not been initiated.

But the Attorney General is now using a criminal investigation to punish and silence anyone who participated in this lawful investigation.  And, the normalizers tell us that there’s nothing to see here.

They are tying themselves in knots trying to dismiss what has happened.  It reminds me of a Time Magazine cover during Watergate where all the principles were surrounded by audio tape, desperately pointing at each other.

The normalizers shout that what Barr is doing is merely a “distraction.”

But it doesn’t make a damn bit of difference if it is.  It doesn’t make any difference at all why Barr is pursuing this investigation.  Once the Justice Department becomes an enforcement tool of the White House you have authoritarianism.

The corporate media refuses, refuses to state what is obvious to anyone who has eyes and ears.  Instead, they work overtime to bring on the appeasers to tell us that what we are seeing are “stunts” “empty gestures,” nothing to worry about.

I read a tweet from somebody yesterday wondering if the corporate media would have normalized the rise of Mussolini.  I think most definitely so.

I had barely stumbled into my study this morning and turned on the computer before I was confronted with Greg Sargent in the Washington Post making his contribution to the to the normalizing.

Under the headline “Explosive William Barr news points to Trump’s weakness and panic.” (WP 10/25/19), Sargent beings his article with the sentence: “Don’t freak out.”  What?  We’re not supposed to “freak out” over explosive news?

Sargent proceeds to call Barr’s investigation “deeply worrying” a standard utterance widely used yesterday along with “concerning.”  (Concern used to be a noun.)

Then Sargent tells his readers that even though “when we’re talking about Barr, the most nefarious designs imaginable must be treated as a serious possibility,” it’s possible “POSSIBLE” that Barr’s actions are NOT SERIOUS.  Well, hell, it’s POSSIBLE that my head is going to fly off into the goddamn air and become a spotted calf, but I’m not going to waste time talking about it, especially not in the goddamn Washington Post.

Sargent, evidently realizing the utter imbecility of his case, drags in the help of the New York Times, saying that the Times comments that Barr’s actions may “raise alarms” that Trump “is using the Justice Department to go after his perceived enemies.”  May?

Both corporate news outlets refrain from saying what is obvious, that Trump and Barr ARE using the Justice Department go to after enemies.  No, The Washington Post and the New York Times must phrase it differently.  According to them, Barr’s actions MAY “raise alarms” that this is happening.  They don’t say this IS happening, or that we SHOULD BE alarmed, what they say (in all the courage of their convictions) is that these things might be happening, and might raise the alarms of a certain unidentified group of people that it might be happening.

Sargent goes on to state that it is “at least possible” that Barr turning the Justice Department into an enforcement branch to silence Trump’s detractors isn’t “quite as serious as it seems.”  I suppose in some goddamn fictional world, that it’s possible that it’s not as serious as it seems, but I don’t know where that is.  In the world I inhabit, it is serious, goddamn serious.  It is using the investigative branch of the government in a blatant action to silence the President’s enemies.

Sargant says it’s POSSIBLE that it’s not as serious as it seems because the investigation might just be an attempt to calm the president.

Following this logic, it’s O.K. if the Justice Department is pursuing bogus criminal investigations if it’s just to calm the president.  WHAT MAKES THAT O.K.?  IN WHAT WORLD IS THAT ALRIGHT?

Sargent sees it as reassuring that neither the Times nor the Post are “clear what potential crime Durham and Barr are investigating.”  No, that’s not reassuring.  That makes it even more terrifying.  The very fact that Barr managed to initiate a criminal investigation based on NOTHING, should be terrifying, not reassuring.

Sargent drags the Cato Institute in and uses them to say that the criminal matter “could be something relatively less serious” say a leak from the Russia probe.  Again, this is supposed to make us feel better?  The Justice Department intends to drag government officials who were doing their jobs through years of investigation and possible prosecution, but if it’s for something relatively minor, we’re supposed to feel better?

Sargent then adopts the Barbara McQuade idiotic statement of the day from yesterday, that this is merely a diversion from the impeachment probe.  Whether or not it is a diversion from the impeachment probe it is a criminal prosecution trumped up for no reason, to uncover no known crime which will chill investigations in the future.

Again, this is said as if since the criminal investigation is a diversion, we should all relax and move on.  I just don’t understand that.

After repeating McQuade’s ludicrous utterance, Sargent then manages to try to tie himself up in knots by stating: “I’m not saying Barr’s machinations aren’t deeply dangerous. They absolutely are.”

Then why has he has just spent an entire article telling us why they AREN’T deeply dangerous?

“Given Barr’s apparent willingness to place law enforcement at Trump’s political disposal, it’s very possible Barr’s designs are maximally nefarious. But one can also imagine the criminal probe is of some intermediate matter.”

What “intermediate matter?”  What difference does that make?

The very fact that Barr has managed to open this criminal investigation is the point.  What he intends to do, what crime he is targeting (if any), whether the investigation will “go anywhere” is not the goddamn point.

Barr’s Justice Department tried to keep Trump’s Ukraine plot buried by advising against the transmission of the whistleblower complaint about it to Congress, and by successfully declining to investigate the referral within the Justice Department.  He has now successfully launched a criminal investigation targeting Trump’s foes.  This is serious.  Any attempt to portray it as otherwise is deeply subversive, that includes opinion pieces from the Washington Post.

I’m beginning to believe that the corporate media is more dangerous than Trump and to borrow a phrase from ancient Rome about Crassus, William Barr is the most dangerous bull in the heard.