In the 2016 Democratic Primary, Bernie Sanders won all 55 countries in West Virginia. In the general election, however, Trump took 68.5 percent of the vote . This was his largest share of the vote in any state.
By the time of the 2020 Democratic primary, Sanders had suspended his campaign (after the DNC annointed Joe Biden).
Trump won 69 percent of the vote opposing Biden.
West Virginia is the poorest state in the nation.
The state is characterized by an opioid epidemic.
The death rate in recent years from drug overdose has exceeded any other state.
The cancer rates in the state are high.
The southern part of the state has been turned into a toxic waste dump by coal companies.
West Virginia is a “resource colony” and displays the consequent devastation in the environment and the health of the people living there.
So, why in a state characterized by such poverty, illness and exploitation did people vote for Trump?
Big Coal has orchestrated a decades old long propaganda campaign to convince people who should know better that big coal is their friend.
People identify with big coal and express pride when they, for example, develop black lung disease. The disease demonstrates that they have worked hard all their lives to keep the “lights on” in America.
If evidence comes to light of the egregious exploitation of big coal, people write it off as “bad companies.” These companies are the “bad apples” but not the harvest.
West Virginians have been separated from their own radical past through the suppression of information about actions such as the 1921 armed uprising on Blair Mountain., where miners took on the coal industry.
So, coal and fracking continue to result in environmental and health damage.
People in West Virginia believed Bernie Sanders would do something about changing the conditions of their lives. They, however, did not believe that the corporate Democrats (Clinton an Biden) would.
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.
Mike Siegel, progressive candidate for the House in Texas is interviewed by Deconstructed. The district Siegel ran in was drawn to be permanently Republican through gerrymandering.
According to Siegel, the Democratic Party has a narrow range of issues it “recommends” their candidates run on. The Party does the research, the polling, and tell the candidate what they should do. If they receive any push back, it is possible for them to withdraw funds and ruin the campaign, so most candidates find themselves in a position to go along.
Party pollsters do the research and tell the candidate what the talking points are, what segment of the voting population the candidate should reach.
Organizing with poor people is a long difficult process and it doesn’t appeal to the donor class. As Siegal says, “We need to get out the non-voters.”
The Party, Siegal says is “too invested in conservative donors” These donors are “moderating the message” so that only an extremely narrow set of issues is ever talked about. “They (the party operatives) are cynical about democracy…”
Party consultants produce TV ads in a quick time frame. Then, they come to the candidate and say: Give me this many dollars, we can run this may ads, we can expect this much shift in the polling.
The consultants tell the candidates: We made 2,000 calls, these are the issues that matter. These are the issues you should stress. These are the talking points. As Siegel says, “it’s relatively conservative.”
The consultants do their research and say your issue is, for example, health care, these are the talking points.
As Siegel says of the party consultants: “They completely narrow what they think you can accomplish.”
If the candidate disagrees or tries to change the messaging of the campaign, the consultants say: “That doesn’t poll quite as well as health care.”
“At every point they (the consultants) push back against you.”
As Siegel points out, there are not pollsters and consultants who work with a populist message. There are no people you can hire who know how to run what Siegel calls a “left campaign.”
The framework, according to Siegel, is how can you raise and spend x dollars and change vote this much.
Siegel challenged one of the wealthiest members of congress, and had a lot of progressive support, but came up short.
Siegel says: “We need to do deep organizing.”
But, the take-away from the interview is that the Democratic Party, their donors and their elite consultants have no interest in “deep organizing.” Deep organizing takes time and money and an actual interest in the problems of working and lower class people. It involves demonstrating to people who have seen politicians come and go and their lives not change, that politics is important to them. The issue is demonstrating this, not just telling them.
Another problem is that the Democratic party is a party obsessed with technocratic solutions. One of the points that screams out from this interview with Siegel is that pollsters are dominating party strategy. These are the same pollsters who (based on their scientific models) predicted landslides in 2016 and 2020. Either their technology was wrong, or Republicans are systematically stealing elections through electronic voting manipulation. There are no other options. But, electronic voting manipulation is an issue that Democrats consistently refuse to talk about. In fact, just raising the issue provokes angry denials and even more angry accusations about the motivations of people who talk about the issue. It is the unspeakable topic.
The Party pollsters would rather point to their own failures in predicting the outcomes of the last two elections than admit that the vast difference between the poll numbers and the election results might be the product of cheating. There is a very good reason for this. If, in fact, Republicans are cheating, systematically, repeatedly then pollsters become irrelevant. The last thing they want to be is irrelevant because they would then be out of business.
So, the consultants and pollsters themselves acknowledge that their predictions have been wildly inaccurate, but they are still put in the position of essentially determining the way individual Democratic campaigns are run. How does this make sense?
Jennifer Cohn, an election security advocate, writer, and attorney is essential reading if you are at all interested in fair elections. One of the downsides to Biden winning the 2020 election is that everybody wants to go home, drink and relax. As women keep saying to me, they want to get back to “normal.” But, “normal” brought us here and as in the quote from Thomas Wolfe: “You can’t go home again.” Normal, or what people are referring to as normal, is over. It will never return, at least not in our lifetimes. In fact, normal on the political scene has been over for a long time, at least since 2000. Most people just never noticed.
I don’t claim to understand what happened in the election of 2020. I was certain that the Republicans would cheat electronically just like they cheated when wiping hundreds of thousands of people off the voter rolls, enacting laws that acted as voter suppression, closed down polling places, decreased hours for voting, sabotaged the post office in an attempt to slow if not stall the movement of votes and tried the best they could to restrict mail-in voting.
They lost at least at the presidential level. They didn’t lose outright at the state level. The Democrats actually lost seats in the House and they are fighting for their lives in the Senate. Once again, the polls predicted a landslide for Biden. He barely squeaked through. They predicted losses in the Senate, but Collins and McConnell and others won. The two Republicans running for Senate in Georgia will most probably win.
But, since we cannot see into the vote count, because machines count our votes and partisans in the race control the voting process, how would we know what happened, really?
As Jennifer Cohn tweeted today:
• “Polls predicted Trump would lost in a landslide, Rs blocked robust election audits (#SAFEAct), GOP senate wins are red shifted, voters lack means to investigate, DEM leaders won’t do it, and Rs are the ones screaming fraud. I see no progress toward evidence-based elections.”
• “Evidence-based elections are the only way to know if electronic election outcomes are legitimate. They require hand Marked Paper Ballots plus robust manual audits plus a secure and transparent (perhaps videotaped) chain of custody through conclusion of the audit.”
• “I worry we win a battle only to soon lose a war.”
• “The next four years will be hell if the GOP maintains control of the Senate. The next election could be hell too. And I see no Democrats discussing the possibility that the GOP cheated. I hope they are just waiting until Ds Hopefully win the senate.”
• “…Those of us not in Congress must…continue to sound the alarm re some of these unexpected red shifts and other anomalies favoring Rs.”
• “…Rs and right-wing media will spend the next 4 years claiming falsely that Biden is illegitimate when it was Republicans that blocked progress toward evidence-based elections and, if anything, it is suspicious that Trump and the GOP did as well as they did.”
• “We cannot let Rs spin this faulty narrative…the GOP steadfastly blocked efforts to move to evidence-based elections and that DeJoy engaged in highly suspect conduct with vote by mail. WE MUST STAND FOR EVIDENCE BASED ELECTIONS.
I despise the celebrity culture that has taken over this country. The Democratic National Convention was nothing other than a cheap, vacuous, celebrity infomercial devoid of policy and full of “cult of personality” programming. It was an embarrassment.
Somehow, we were supposed to believe that because Joe Biden is a nice guy and has lost family members, he should be president of the United States. Somehow, we were supposed to pat ourselves on the back and glory in the fact that we had nominated an African American, Asian woman to be vice president. Never mind the policies of these two people. Never mind their histories. It is supposed to be enough that these two are telegenic, just as nice as they can be, and fit certain categories of human beings.
That is evidently where we are.
After the convention we were treated to more infomercials. In one of them, Kamala Harris had a charming, laughing, conversation with Barak Obama about Biden liking ice cream and wearing a certain kind of sunglasses. This was seriously intended to get us to vote for the Democrats – the fact that the party elite could chat on television and laugh about the personal foibles of the candidate. This is what they think of us. This is nothing but insulting.
In the true fashion of this celebrity worship culture we have going on, the corporate media is this weekend, endlessly talking about the life of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. We are in the middle of a war for a democratic society, and we are engaging in celebrity worship.
As Elie Mystal pointed out writing in the Nation, we don’t have time for this, and Ginsburg would be the first person to see that we don’t have time for this.
Ginsburg occupied a pivotal position on the U.S. Supreme Court and her death has created a crisis that just illustrates the dysfunction of the government and the society. The death of a judge, one judge, shouldn’t throw the country into a crisis. The appointment of one judge shouldn’t mean the difference between democracy and authoritarianism. But, it does. It hands to the Republicans the opportunity to conclusively warp this society into an authoritarian kleptocratic state devoid of rights for regular ordinary human beings.
This is where we are. We have to fight this authoritarian take-over with everything in our beings. But, tonight, on CNN they are hosting Scalia’s son to discuss (out of all the other things about Ginsburg’s life) the beautiful relationship between Ginsburg and one of the arch enemies of law and therefore democracy, Antonin Scalia.
I’m sorry but I just can’t stomach this. I suppose there is somewhere, something laudatory about being able to be friends with people who are sitting at the peak of privilege and wealth and power and working to destroy democracy and the rule of law for the rest of us, but I just don’t see it.
If we have to sit through this eulogizing of Ginsburg, the last thing we need is to have right-wing Federalist Society zealots to talk about her. The last thing we need is to try to convince people that what we need is more bipartisan cooperation. No, we need less, and we need to fight for democratic law and democratic institutions.
The corporate Democrats who have much more reason to talk about Ginsburg, are bad enough. Last night, Nina Totenberg was on Rachael Maddow talking about her friendship with Ginsberg. She said wistfully that Ginsburg had planned to retire in 2016 and have her successor named by the first woman president. Isn’t that special? I might plan to have thoroughbred horses fly out of my ass, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to happen.
This story was presented as if it demonstrated something positive about Ginsburg, and it has been retweeted today by people who obviously think the same thing.
To me, it just demonstrates what was wrong with the Democratic Party elite in 2016 and what is still wrong with the Democratic Party elite today.
Barak Obama declined to tell the American people the truth about something crucially important to them. He refused to tell them that Russian operatives had intervened in the 2016 election to the extent of penetrating the voting systems in 50 states.
Obama made this decision, as far as I can tell, because first, he was afraid of the reaction of Republicans if he came out and told the American people without bipartisan support. He was so afraid of appearing partisan he lied by omission, lied about something vital to the functioning of democracy. Mitch McConnell refused to join Obama and make a public, bipartisan statement and Obama didn’t have the guts to do it alone.
Second, Barak Obama was afraid of tarnishing his cherished legacy by appearing to be “partisan” in the 2016 election. He was more concerned with his legacy (to people who despise him) than his country.
Third, Barak Obama was so sure Hillary Clinton was going to win, he decided he wouldn’t have to tell the truth to the American people. Clinton could solve the problem after she was elected.
All three of these excuses stink to high heaven and again illustrate something characteristic about the Democratic corporate elite.
This professional class of Democrats think they know better than the American people how to run the country. They think that their judgement is better than everybody else’s.
They can handle, among themselves, an unprecedented intrusion into the election process. Why tell the unwashed masses?
Obama reportedly thought that telling the truth would shake the confidence of the American people in the election process. He’s not the only member of the Democratic elite to think this. There are an astounding number of people out there who will react like vicious dogs if the integrity of the election process is even questioned.
The logic of this position just amazes me. It goes something like this. The election process has been corrupted but we mustn’t tell the American people because it might shake their confidence in an election process that because of corruption can be no longer relied on. So, it’s better to have the American people believe a lie, continue to trust an election system that can’t be trusted. It’s better because we (the Democratic elite) can deal with it ourselves, behind closed doors. That worked out really well.
This same kind of hubris evidently led Ruth Bader Ginsburg to think she could continue (in ill health and advanced age) to sit on the Supreme Court and have Clinton name her replacement. Having the first woman president name her replacement made a good story, a fitting end to her career. And, like Obama, she was convinced (so convinced she was willing to risk our future) that Clinton was going to win. Even with a compromised election process (which they all knew about), Clinton’s baggage and low approval ratings and an e-mail scandal, Clinton was going to win. Why? Because they wanted her to.
I’ve got news for these people. They don’t get to determine what’s going to happen. They don’t control events. What kind of delusional hubris leads one to stay in a position at the Supreme Court, a crucial position, a history changing pivotal position, counting on the fact that they are going to waltz out with the first woman president because that’s what they want to happen?
I’m sorry. Ginsburg appears to have been a wonderful person, lawyer, activist, but someone genuinely concerned with and committed to the struggle, with the future of the country for ordinary people, would have resigned during Obama’s administration to make sure that the ideals she believed in and fought so hard for, had a chance of continuing.
And, I fault not only Ginsburg but Obama and his administration for not pushing her resignation. I ask you: What is wrong with these people?
I keep going back to a film quote. As Yankees are overrunning Atlanta, Aunt Pittypat is concerned about Scarlet having a chaperone. Dr. Meade, in utter and complete frustration yells: “Good God, woman, this is a war, not a garden party.”
But, this Democratic elite – the politicians, the “strategists,” the pollsters, the pundits – all of them are so filled with pride and smug assuredness that they can’t see what is happening around them.
Even now, after all the mistakes of 2016, the Democratic corporate elite seems to be waltzing off an electoral cliff supported by their own delusions.
Ginsburg wasn’t a healthy 50-year-old. They knew she was ill, had known for years. If they couldn’t convince her to resign when Obama could nominate a successor, they should have had a strategy for what they were going to do if she suddenly died during Trump’s administration. They should have hit the ground running on Friday night, not sat stunned, grief stricken, and still counting on the Republicans to “do the right thing.”
I mean, Jesus F…ing Christ. Anybody who is now, four years into this administration, relying in any way on the Republicans to do the right thing, is just brain dead (I include Cory Booker in that category).
For the first time on Friday night, I heard Chris Hayes interview somebody (Rebecca Traister) who sounded like I and a lot of other people have felt for four years. Traister was and said she was terrified and furious. She sounded like somebody who was terrified and furious, not like the stable of “calmers”, the “institutions are holding” gang on MSNBC who have been interviewed today. Cory Booker, Klobuchar, the presidential historians, Hirono (as much as I love her), Capehart, Jarrett.
I swear I think that part of the deal to convince all the corporate democrats to drop out of the race and endorse Biden was an agreement by MSNBC to interview them every fifteen minutes.
Last week, Cory Booker was on Ari Melber’s (also disgustingly celebrity laden) show claiming that what we needed was a “return to civic grace.” That’s Booker’s answer to an authoritarian take-over, a return to “civic grace.” I’m sure Mitch McConnell will take that “return to civic grace” and stuff it up Booker’s nose.
Joe Biden’s campaign is telling the American people through an advisor and long-time friend of Joe Biden, former Sen. Ted Kaufman, that the Biden administration will not stand up for regular working Americans with economic policy. “When we get in, the pantry is going to be bare,” said Kaufman speaking to reporters during the Democratic convention.
Kaufman is leading Biden’s transition team. “When you see what Trump’s done to the deficits…all the deficits that he built with the incredible tax cuts. We’re going to be limited.”
So the Biden campaign is already laying the groundwork for backing off most of his campaigns economic promises. Earlier this month, Bloomberg News reported that the Biden campaign had “rolled out a $35 trillion economic program….(that) promises to invest in clean energy and caregiving, buy more made-in-America goods, and start narrowing the country’s racial wealth gaps.”
At the same time, Biden was speaking to his donors and saying that despite his pubic campaign promises, he would not be pushing new legislation to change corporate behavior. This was not covered by MSNBC, or NPR.
And, after the Kaufman announcement to Wall Street Journal reporters, almost nobody noticed what David Sirota called important signaling that the Biden administration may back off “the entire agenda it is campaigning on.”
For the Democratic Party to return to an austerity model in this economic context is unconscionable. The outlines of this “destructive and insane” policy are presented by economist Dean Baker.
Even more disturbing is the lack of coverage of the story, and the lack of outcry from the left. Sirota notes that the lack of push-back from the left may well indicate that the left coalition has decided to repeat 2009 and just defer to the anticipated democratic president.
Sirota, David (8/20/20 ) “Team Biden…” Too Much Information.
There are three important stories in the news within the past week relating to Latin America.
First, the Trump administration has appointed Elliott Abrams U.S. Special Representative for Iran. For those of us who have been interested in Latin America for decades, Elliott Abrams is a criminal who is widely despised. He should be in jail. If there was anything like a justice system for high level corporate, political and white collar criminals, he would be.
As Common Dreams (8/6/20 ) has noted, “Abrams is one of the architects of right-wing “regime change.” He “has made a career of lying and committing criminal acts that have led to the death and suffering of innocent people from Guatemala to Iraq.” “He embraces militarism, covers up for gross human rights abuses, and has a history of supporting authoritarian regimes.”
As if this wasn’t enough, Abrams pleaded guilty to lying to Congress in 1991 as part of the Iran-Contra affair. He was later pardoned by George H.W. Bush. Abrams admitted that he had willfully withheld information from congress in 1986 when he testified about the “secret Contra supply network and his role in soliciting a $10 million contribution for anti-Sandinista rebels in Nicaragua” (the Contras).
See “CODEPINK Denounces Elliott Abrams’…” common Dreams. August 6, 2020
The second story is about the release of a report detailing a State Department plan for regime change in Nicaragua intended to oust popularly elected members of the Sandinistas.
Ben Norton reports in The Grayzone that:
This newly released document outlines plans for USAID to oversee a regime-change plan to oust Nicaragua’s elected leftist government.
USAID (also widely despised in Latin America), is planning to establish a “market economy” in Nicaragua and purge the Sandinistas.
The socialist government in Nicaragua is democratically elected.
USAID, as always, functions here as a “regime-change” vehicle that “uses the pretense of humanitarian aid to advance Washington’s aggressive foreign-policy interests.”
The document presents this as a plan for “Nicaragua’s transition to democracy.” This is a euphemism for removing the leftist Sandinistas.
The report doesn’t even pretend to be anything but a hardline neoconservative document. It refers to the “Ortega regime” and makes it clear that the intent is to install a “neoliberal administration that will privatize the economy and…purge all institutions of any trace of the leftist Sandinista movement.”
The third, and related story, is that Joe Biden has recruited Anna Navarro to help him mobilize the Hispanic vote. The Democrats are opening positions of power within the party to a variety of never-Trump Republicans who have no goals or interests in common with publicly stated Democratic positions.
As Ban Norton (3/1/20) points out in his article published on The Gray Zone, Navarro has become “something of a celebrity among the anti-Trump republicans…” She has also become a welcome anti-Trump Republican voice among the corporate media. She is, for example, a frequent commentator on CNN and “The View.”
As Norton points out, “corporate media networks give Navarro a massive platform to attack progressives like Bernie Sanders and rebrand her neoconservative politics before impressionable liberal viewers who despise Trump, Navarro’s professional background has faced little scrutiny.”
Navarro, however, “lobbied for El Salvador’s corruption-drenched right-wing government.” “Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) documents reviewed by The Grayzone reveal that Ana Navarro and her Republican lobbyist husband, Al Cárdenas, have worked with some of the most corrupt right-wing governments in recent Latin American history, including leaders who have overseen egregious human rights abuses and been convicted for serious criminal offenses.”
“Navarro hails from a wealthy family in Nicaragua, and still today she remains a staunch supporter of the Contras, far-right death squads that the CIA armed and trained in the 1980s in a regime-change war targeting the country’s socialist Sandinista government. The Contras waged a relentless terrorist campaign, massacring and torturing civilians in hopes of destabilizing the country. And Navarro has celebrated them as freedom fighters.
Navarro, now calls herself a “strategist” has branded herself a “moderate.”
None of this bodes well for Nicaragua or Latin America. And, it only reinforces the argument that Joe Biden, the corporate Democrats and the corporate media are turning the Democratic Party into Republican-light. It gives us even less reason to stay with the party.