Tag Archives: Government

Stealing the Election: Behind our Backs and in front of our faces

It is tempting to think that authoritarian governments come to power through sudden and dramatic coups, but often they do not.  Instead, they come to power through a creeping co-opting of authority.  This is the preferred method, the most successful method of taking control. 

A sudden, dramatic take-over of a society provokes resistance.  Sliding the society into authoritarianism accomplishes the same thing, but doesn’t so dramatically jar everybody’s sensibilities.

The Trump Administration could try to cancel the 2020 elections and stay in power.  But, that would draw a backlash, and hopefully a powerful resistance.  The Republicans would prefer to to stay in power through a manipulated election, and that is what they are seeking.  Republicans want the show and appearance of an election without the actuality of an election, i.e., they want a pre-determined outcome.  In other words, they want exactly what Putin has. 

It is clear that the Republicans want to remain in power by manipulating the 2020 election process.  They do not want to bring troops into polling places and seize ballots, but they are not above doing that if they must.  They are clearly planning strategies for both eventualities.    

One of the techniques authoritarian governments use to bring about illegal and unconstitutional change that ensures the maintenance of their power is to test out their intentions ahead of time.  Test, measure reaction, pull back if necessary, test again or go forward.  The history of the Trump/Republican administration is one of using this strategy.

On first consideration, this might seem counter intuitive.  Why would they signal in advance their intention to subvert the law?  Why alert the opposition so they can prepare? 

One very good reason is to inoculate citizens and the media, slowly injecting the idea of electoral intervention a little at the time so that if it becomes necessary, the idea will not be totally new.

First, this means that Republican supporters will be brought along carefully, introducing them to the idea, signaling what may come.  Second, the introduction of the idea allows time to lay the foundation of the argument of why this may become “necessary.”  Third, the advanced announcement, or threat, causes the opposition to go on alert.  As time passes though, and other threats are issued, the heightened sensitivity can’t be maintained, and the opposition relaxes. 

The Republicans have turned this threat/reaction circle into a joke, a way of ginning up outrage among their opposition which they then ridicule.  The legitimate outrage at the idea of the subversion of democracy becomes an object of mockery.  So, Republican supporters know exactly how to react to this moral outrage if and when it actually happens.  They jeer, mock and dismiss.

Fourth, the announcement alerts the opposition, but through repeated threats, the opposition wears down and the heightened sensitivity cannot be maintained.  The press loses interest in even covering the threats because they aren’t new.  The press and the citizenry become desensitized. 

The Republicans have used this tactic repeatedly through various surrogates and through Trump.  At the moment, they are testing the waters of electoral interference through people like Roger Stone.  There are a number of reasons why Roger Stone is not in prison.  First, he was paid off so he would not do a deal with prosecutors and tell them about the Republicans’ various corrupt activities.  Second, Stone functions as an effective mouthpiece.  He publicly says that the Republicans should do this or that.  Then, Republicans wait for the reaction.  That reaction informs them of just how far they can go. 

Roger Stone, stated over the weekend on Alex Jones’s Infowars that Trump and the Republicans should seize total power over the society and jail opponents including Bill and Hillary Clinton should he lose to Biden.  Stone argued that Trump should consider invoking the Insurrection act.  He also recommended arresting Harry Reid. 

Stone said: “The ballots in Nevada on election night should be seized by federal marshals and taken from the state. They are completely corrupted. No votes should be counted from the state of Nevada if that turns out to be the provable case. Send federal marshals to the Clark county board of elections, Mr. President!”

Later, attacking the Democratic governor of Nevada, Steve Sisolak, Trump said: “This is the guy we are entrusting with millions of ballots, unsolicited ballots, and we’re supposed to win these states. Who the hell is going to trust him? The only way the Democrats can win the election is if they rig it.”

On Sunday, on ABC’s This Week, senior Trump campaign adviser Jason Miller also attacked mail-in ballots in Nevada. He also called Sisolak a “clubhouse governor … who, by the way, if you go against him politically … politically speaking, you’ll find yourself buried in the desert.”

So, the Republicans are signaling that they may intervene in the election if it becomes necessary, telling their supporters what to expect and providing a rationale for the clearly illegal and unconstitutional action.

Stone, in the interview, advocated “forming an election day operation using the FBI, federal marshals and Republican state officials across the country to be prepared to file legal objections [to results] and if necessary to physically stand in the way of criminal activity.”

In an interview broadcast on Saturday night, Trump told Fox News he would happily “put down” any leftwing protests about the results of the election.  “We’ll put them down very quickly if they do that,” he told Jeannine Pirro.

As well as signaling his supporters and threatening his opponents, this move is also a head-fake.  In other words, Republicans are shouting from the media mountain tops that they may well physically intervene in the election, seizing ballots, sending in troops.  The corporate media spends hours and hours talking about this and pointing out the obvious fact that it is illegal and unconstitutional.  But, what the Republicans are hoping for, banking on, is that they can accomplish the same take-over of the election process through more covert means, voter purges, voting machine processes that are impenetrable and therefore subject to manipulation, refusing to count mail-in ballots that come in “late,” closing polling places, etc.

The Republicans are stealing the 2020 election.  They are doing so behind our backs and in front of our faces. 

See, the Guardian

https://news.yahoo.com/roger-stone-donald-trump-bring-021241564.html

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

robert redfield

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

According to information reported by Wikipedia:

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

HIV interventions

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

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

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

 

Why Free Market Capitalism Will Bury Us, Literally

capitalism

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.”

Notes:

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

 

Disaster Economics: Part 2

pitchfork

Notes from the podcast Pitchcock Economics

 

“Disaster Economics” 23 March 2020

  • This crisis brings into focus the damage of forty years of neo-liberal politics. These policies have been corrosive.
  • The effect of a crisis reveals how well the society was prepared in the first place. If, when a hurricane is coming, the society lived in houses that were already built to withstand a hurricane and have good plumbing, the effect of the hurricane is not so disastrous.  For us, it’s like we have been living in tin huts.
  • Decades of wage suppression have left people living on the edge of financial survival.
  • If you cannot survive a $400 emergency, if you don’t have the reserves to last over a $400 emergency, you are going to have to go back to work, no matter what the risks. If people go back to work, they are going to destroy the social distancing measure effect.
  • Over the past 40 years, the richest 1% got richer. The poorer got poorer.
  • By Mid-March 18% of the workforce will lose their jobs or suffer reduced hours due to the epidemic. We could see 20% unemployment.
  • Even on the Democratic side, politicians are steeped in neoliberalism.
  • As the Republicans have been saying, they want a government so small it could be drowned in a bathtub. Well, that’s what we now have, a government that is unprepared to deal with a crisis like this.  We have underfunded all the collective capacity of the government to deal with a situation like this.  We have done so to maintain a society whose entire organizational structure is designed to make rich people richer.
  • One example of this that is particularly pertinent at the moment is massive hospital consolidation which has left us without the adequate health care capacity to deal with a pandemic. While this consolidation has made private equity guys rich, it has not benefited the rest of us..
  • The U.S. has one of the lowest per capita percentages of hospital beds in the developed world. In Italy, where there is an unmitigated disaster, they have significantly more capacity in their hospital system.
  • While it’s more “efficient” when 70% – 80% of your hospital beds are filled at any one time. In a crisis, you need more beds.  When you don’t have them you are in a situation like we are in now, where we’re choosing who gets health care and who doesn’t.  We are forced to choose who will live and who will die with people who would otherwise survive.
  • Grover Norquist said that his goal (and the goal of the Republican Party) was to establish a government that was small enough to be drowned in a bathtub.
  • But, there is no alternative to collective capacity. You can’t buy own ventilators. You can’t prepare for pandemic on your own. You can’t establish your own CDC, develop your own vaccines.
  • (Note: Quote from Mario Cuomo saying that government is like family, sharing resources between those who have and those who have not).
  • China was able to respond quickly to the crisis because they have a well established collective capacity. We, on the other hand, are still struggling just to establish social distancing.
  • We are still not testing. Only way to control this pandemics is to test and isolate those infected, but we are not doing this.
  • (Note: The notion of American exceptionalism is one of the things that blocks us from taking effective action. The assumption is that we are Americans, we won’t be affected like the rest of the world, we can go back to work in the middle of a pandemic and not be hurt.)
  • McConnell and the whole gang of libertarian idiots, at least said that they believed we would all be better off on our own, without government.
  • But, the airlines asking for a $60 billion bailout. During the past decade the airlines have had high profits, but they didn’t use those profits to prepare. They did CEO raises and share buy backs.  And now they are waiting, demanding that the government bail them out.
  • The airline industry spent $800 billion on share buy backs last year. That’s one year.  They could have chosen to pay their workers more.  But, they have established no cushion for disaster.   This is an economy where  corporations assume that any upturn is going to last forever.  “They thought it was going to go on forever.”
  • Boeing is a good example of corporate irresponsibility. Their 737 max has been grounded for a year due to incompetence.  But, during that time last year Boeing was borrowing money to buy back stock.  Going into debt, borrowing money to return “value” to shareholders.  This at a time when they were facing biggest internal management crisis in their history.
  • “The shareholders should be wiped out.” They allowed an incompetent company to run itself into the ground.  But, rather than the investors absorbing the hit, the government is going to bail them out.
  • It should be part of the bill that no company gets a bail out without giving citizens preferred stock. The government could create a joint stock company, and everyone with a social security card, would be a co-equal share holder. This would be like a Sovereign Wealth Fund.  Citizens would own the stock, not the government.  Preferred stock means that the holders are given preference over all other stock holders.  They get paid first if there’s a liquidation.
  • Individuals would own stock in any company accepting a bailout.
  • Vast majority of these companies are going to thrive, and instead of old shareholders being bailed out, middle class citizens would own shares along with the old shareholders.
  • This is a fair way to recapitalize these companies.
  • When you retire, you get your share.
  • And, by doing it this way, we would have seats on the board.
  • This is one way of turning lemons into lemonade
  • The vast majority of wealth in this country is owned by a minority. We could make this the new disaster capitalism.  For the past 40 years economic and other types of disasters have been used to disempower regular people, to disenfranchise and impoverish them.  We can re-empower regular people by making new rules in this crisis.
  • We can change the rules. We can set rules for those companies that are requiring bail outs.  We could require, for example, that labor be on boards of these companies.  Other countries do this.
  • We can make rules that these bailout companies have to keep their employees employed. We are not bailing you out so you can downsizes lay off people.
  • We could require that companies have to offer $15 minimum wage, paid sick leave. If these companies need the money they will have to take the rules. Otherwise they don’t have to take the money.
  • Crises like these make vivid past policy failures – the fact that there is no national policy on paid sick leave.

We should:

Make the tax structure make more progressive, raise the taxes on capital gains and dividend, to same level as ordinary income.  I

Increase highest tax level for those making above $1 million to 50%

There is an insane amount of money available to meet the challenges of society if we just make the tax system fair.

Have a national health care system that disintermediates private insurers – from health care transactions.

Implement common sense labor reforms, national paid sick leave, raise minimum wage, increase wages for bottom 60%.

Establish expanded unemployment programs.  The length and the amount of unemployment should be increased.

 

Pease Listen to Bernie and Stop Listening to MSNBC

morning joe in pajamas

MORNING THOUGHTS

 

MSNBC is no longer a news channel.  It is a channel where the corporate Democratic strategists talk to each other and try to convince the rest of us that what they want to be true is true.

 

Morning Joe was devoted today to everything about every candidate in New Hampshire except the front runner, Bernie Sanders.

 

Early in the program, MSNBC posted a chart showing Sanders as the front runner and his steady line as the front runner in New Hampshire.  So, was the conversation about Sanders?  Of course not.  It was about Buttigieg and Klobuchar.  According to the panel, the campaigns of Klobuchar and Buttigieg were taking off.  They are the “candidates on the move.”

 

John Heileman had to try to make Sanders’ steady lead sound like it was a negative.  He said that Sanders was in the lead, but he was just “sitting there.”

 

Scarborough (who helped Trump get elected) talked about Biden being in the “second tier” in the polls.  If, he added, you BELIEVE IN THE POLLS.  Morning Joe and the panel have been touting polls for months showing Biden leading, but all of a sudden, when he’s in fourth or fifth place, Joe has to add “if you believe in the polls.”

 

(Note: I would just like to add that Scarborough and the dreadful Mika were at Mara-la-go AFTER the 2016 election.  Their break with Trump came after he outed their adulterous affair.)

 

O.K.  then, we have the panel trying desperately to rehabilitate Biden, just like always.  They tried to make excuses for Biden’s lack of ability to raise money at the grassroots.  Well, one said, he is old school.  He “can’t raise money online.”  Adrienne Elrod (one of the Clinton mean girls who is still incapable of expressing anything but contempt and resentment at Bernie Sanders because he dared DARED to run against Clinton) had to add that Biden didn’t really “plan to run well” in Iowa, i.e., he didn’t really try.  (This is the best excuse she could come up with?)

 

Elrod then adds that Biden also doesn’t expect to run well in New Hampshire, already trying to dampen expectations before the primary.  Talking about the Biden campaign, she says “they want to move on.”  Want to move on?  Where the hell to they expect to move on to?  Where do they expect to win?  This is the man that @MSNBC pundits have been telling us was the front runner for months.

 

Then, MSNBC shows us a Biden campaign ad (when was the last time they showed us a Bernie campaign ad?) and say that the problem is that Biden isn’t being allowed to be Biden.  In the ad, Biden contrasts what are supposed to be his best contributions to history, with the most trivial things Buttigieg has ever done.  The panel argues that this ad and these little episodes with Biden, where he acts like an entitled ass, are to be blamed on his campaign not letting him be himself.  The Dreadful Mika has to add that Biden would never respond with contempt and derision if he was in a room with a former Mayor (like Buttigieg) who was touting his accomplishments.  Jesus. We are supposed to believe that the ad made by his campaign, approved by him is “not Biden.” Those little episodes (pointing fingers at the chest of voters, telling one she’s a liar, acting like a pathetic old man pretending to be a hard ass) are not Biden.  That’s ignorant.  Those episodes are Biden.  That’s what he is, a resentful, entitled, defensive old man who thinks he’s owed being president.  (Remind you of anybody?)

 

Then, Morning Joe announced their guests for the morning, James Carville, David Plouffe, Klobuchar and Bennett.  A progressive is in the lead in New Hampshire.  Any Progressives?  Hell no, a show full of people who despise Bernie Sanders and everything he stands for.

 

Then, we must hear about Bloomberg and how he is “driving Trump crazy.”  What evidence is there for this?  Who’s ass do they pull this stuff out of?  Everybody on the panel agrees.  Oh, they slobber, Bloomberg is “tougher” than Trump, “richer” than Trump.  Bloomberg’s money will be the “great equalizer” in the race.  When was a rich man running against another rich man ever considered a “great equalizer?”  Joe Scarborough obviously enjoys bragging about how much more money Bloomberg has than Trump.

 

(Note:  This is where we are folks.  The obvious delight with which Scarborough describes Bloomberg’s wealth just tells you everything about him.)

 

Elrod says that Bloomberg is “still the most electable” candidate for many Americans.  Again, who’s ass did she drag that out of?  What evidence is there for that?  She would rather choke than say such a thing about Bernie even though there is much more evidence that the same statement about Bernie.

 

The panel ended with a discussion of the “fear” that the populace has about the current crop of candidates.  What they are communicating is that they have a deathly “fear” of Bernie Sanders.  All of them know that Sanders and his people would never let them get near the White House if he was elected.  That’s what they are scared of.

 

I can’t watch MSNBC anymore.  The only reason for watching is to document the almost complete slide into corporate Democratic promotion as the Party and the party elite face the terror of people, real people, exercising their rights and fighting for their rights.

 

Turn over to CSPAN and you can watch Bernie giving a speech in New Hampshire. The reason the corporate media doesn’t ever show you Bernie unless they have to is that they are terrified people will see what a real candidate is like, a candidate who believes in what he is saying, a real person, fighting, perhaps giving his life, to fight for regular people, for the changes that will give regular people an opportunity to take some benefit from a society they contribute so much to.  Please listen to Bernie Sanders.  Please stop listening to MSNBC and CNN.

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

Afternoon Notes: Epstein, the House Intelligence Committee Report, MSNBC,Ukraine

ukraine scandal

 

House Intelligence Committee Report

The House Intelligence Committee has released their preliminary impeachment report.

Included are phone records that document phone calls between Giuliani and OMB, made from the White House.  This makes it impossible to maintain the fiction that Giuliani was conducting a “rogue operation.”

Epstein

Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz told The Miami Herald on Wednesday that he does not believe investigating the outcome of pedophile multimillionaire Jeffrey Epstein’s case is a wise move, saying it would set a “dangerous” precedent of second-guessing prosecutorial decisions.” The Intellectualist.

If you don’t know just how outrageous this plea deal was, you need to do some reading.  The plea deal immunized not only Epstein, but anyone associated with him, unnamed.

Ukraine Scandal

Seth Abramson pointed out on Twitter that the Trump/Ukraine story is far worse than the Democrats are presenting.  They are conducting a concerted attempt to dumb down the impeachment inquiry to the most elementary story hoping that then, people will understand it.

Abramson writes: “It’s much worse than we’ve been told.”

Trump, Pompeo, Giuliani, Nunes, Solomon, Parnas, Lutsenko and Fruman, Abramson notes began their plotting much earlier than is being considered.  (Note: Schiff referred to this in his statement today after the report was released).

The plotting began at a time when the participants didn’t know if Mueller would take down Trump.  It started when Trump learned he was being investigated over Russia.

Trump, Abramson argues, believed that Mueller would take him down.  The push towards Ukraine was a defense to allegations he knew were being made against the Kremlin, which he believed were going to be connected to him via Manafort.

This was not a plot against Biden.  Biden was just the icing on the cake.

“This was a plot to exculpate Trump, Putin and the man who connected them: Manafort.  It was a plot to end sanctions and pave the way for Trump deals in Russia.”

The key events started before anyone knew that Biden was going to run for president.

Duncan Hunter and Sentencing

Duncan Hunter is going to be allowed to plead guilty to corruption charges he vehemently denied for years.  Hunter claimed the charges against him were politically motivated and a (sign) “witch hunt.”  He refused to admit his wrongdoing, publicly claimed that he was being persecuted and still holds his position in the congress, but he is being allowed to plead guilty to one charge.  Even though he has been charged with multiple crimes, and potentially faces five years in prison, the reporting is that he will most probably get a little over a year.

There is no functioning criminal justice system for white collar, corporate and state criminals in this country.  That’s why Trump and Manafort and others like them were running around free to engage in political campaigns.  This must stop or we will have no democracy left.

The Corporate Media

At this extremely serious time, Nicolle Wallace has Donnie Deutsch on her show as a member of the panel.  Deutsch is a “marketing expert.”  This, folks, is where we are as a country, and where the corporate media is.

The Corporate Media and the Wet Dreams of a Man Who Controls the Nuclear Codes: We Can’t Let Them Get Away with it.

impeach mf

 

It’s been a bad few days, a shocking few days, a disorienting few days.

First, late last week, the story broke that Bill Barr had launched a criminal investigation into the 2016 FBI probe of Russian attacks on the election.  In doing so, the Justice Department became an authoritarian enforcement arm for the White House.  The clear purpose of this criminal inquiry is to harass and punish people in the FBI and the intelligence communities who dared to investigate a transnational criminal who was running for, and then became president, Donald Trump.

But, no sooner had the story broken than the corporate news normalizers (Chuck Rosenberg, et. al.) hit the air waves to tell us that this wasn’t what it was – the use of the Justice Department to prosecute Trump’s enemies.

“It’s only a diversion from the impeachment inquiry,” we were told.  “Barr’s co-conspirator John Durham is a man of integrity, an adult in the room. He would never be involved with anything improper.”  “The investigation is going nowhere.”  “They haven’t even said what crime they were investigating.”  “Let’s wait and see what they come up with.”

There’s a fundamental kind of disorientation you experience when what is right in front of your eyes is denied by others looking at the same thing.  I am used to it from the corporate media, but the past few days have just been crazy-making.

Sunday morning, I turned on the television and before I had a chance to take the first sip of coffee, I was confronted with Donald Trump’s ugly face staring out of the television screen, making some sort of announcement.  I felt like the deer in the headlights.  My partner and I sat propped up in bed, speechless, and listening first to a dead-toned reading of a prepared statement about Bathdadi’s death and then to a totally unhinged Trump wet dream about the actual killing.

When Trump talks about violence he does so with relish.  He draws out the phrases and words almost as if he were tasting them on his tongue.  Sunday, he was visibly savoring the details of Baghdadi’s death.  He was enjoying the video of the man’s humiliation, his crying, his whimpering, his terror.

I have listened to Trump enough to know when he’s pulling shit out of his ass.  I knew even then he was making this up.  What we were listening to was a violent wet dream inside the diseased head of a man who controls the nuclear codes.  I felt nauseous.

Donald Trump’s brain is filled with sick-making fantasies.  Some of these fantasies are of the terrorizing, humiliation and utter destruction – in slow motion and in technicolor – of his enemies.  What we were listening to Sunday morning was what he would like to do to anyone who opposes him.  What we were listening to was what he would do to anyone who opposes him if he thought he could get away with it.  What we were listening to was what he will do to anyone who opposes him if we don’t stop him.

By the time Trump finished and I got to the study to turn on the computer, the corporate media was doing its job.

I sat and stared with disbelief into the face of a young woman reporter who had listened to the same public statement I had.  “Trump” she said “is a vivid storyteller.”  He has an “unconventional style.”

What the corporate media then did throughout the day was transform an obscene display of crassness, mental illness and sadism into a question of style. Donald Trump is not a vivid storyteller. Donald Trump is not unconventional.  Donald Trump is a madman.

I tried to spend most of the day dealing with cats, Naan, and working on a seminar about the 1960 film, Elmer Gantry.

Monday morning, I hadn’t even turned on the television when my Twitter feed went wild.  Reaching over to get the Mini, I read a stream of comments that made me groan out loud.

The two worst people in the entire world (Joe Scarborough and the dreadful Mika) were evidently on air lecturing the rest of us and calling us “unAmerican” for booing Donald Trump and chanting “lock him up” at a ball game.  These two narcissistic, self-promoting, vacuous and disgusting examples of what this society has become had the audacity to scold and shame American citizens for exercising their First Amendment rights.

These two people helped get Trump elected by giving him millions in free air time.  Trump himself referred to them as his “supporters.”  They got his permission before they asked him difficult questions in an interview, and they were partying at Mar-a-Lago after the election.  They saw themselves in the White House.  Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski turned on Trump only after he threatened to (and eventually did) out their adulterous affair.

Morning Joe is usually good fodder and provides such delicious examples of wretched corporate media coverage (not to mention obsequious butt kissing from the panel), but I couldn’t even turn on the television.  I knew I would throw something and I enjoy that television.

By mid-morning my Twitter feed was telling me that the most hypocritical, sanctimonious and compromised of all Democrats, Chris Coons, had joined the Joe and Mika team admonishing Americans for spontaneous political expression.  Coons, while presenting himself as being “bi-partisan” and oh such a good guy, helped arrange a sham “investigation” of Bret Kavnaugh that helped him get to the Supreme Court.

The one true point of all this is that the Club of Elites (including the corporate media and the political establishment) wants to handle the Trump fiasco itself.  They do not want the American people empowered.  They do not want legitimate outrage, protests, boos, chants, action.  They are terrified that people in this country might realize they have the power to throw the bastards out whenever they choose to.  They are terrified that people might realize that they have the power to provide themselves with adequate health care, good public schools, living wages and jobs, a fair criminal justice system.  They have the power to demand that the white collar, corporate and political criminals be put under the goddamn jail for their blatant thievery and gutting of the American economy.

The sheer fact of the matter is that the Joe Scarboroughs, Mika Brzezinski’s, the Chris Coons, the Nancy Pelosis, the Ellens, the Danny Deutschs of the world have more in common with each other than they do with us.

They want Trump out because he’s upsetting the game, but they want to handle it themselves.  That way, the polite in-house corruption, cheating, self-dealing and graft can continue.

The corporate media is not even remotely on our side.  They will debate minutiae, trivialize political division, suppress radical expression, flood the air waves with normalizers. They will never, unless they are forced to by the American people, admit that what we are experiencing is a disaster, a terrifying crisis, the transformation of a once proud democratic country into an authoritarian state.  For as long as they can get away with it, they will tell us to “move along.”  “Don’t freak out.”  Go enjoy yourselves, look the other way.

We must not let them get away with it.

“I trust him.” Famous last words about Durham and Barr

barr

  • The Bill Barr’s DOJ has initiated a criminal investigation into its own Russia investigation, clearly sending a message that there is reason to believe crimes were committed when the original investigation of the Russia connection was started.
  • This is exactly what Trump promised Hillary Clinton he would do, i.e., start criminal investigation and prosecution of his political enemies.
  • But, the usual corporate news media “our institutions will hold” chorus shrugs it off.
  • Barbara McCabe said it’s a “distraction” from the impeachment inquiry, a stunt.
  • Several commentators (including Sean Patrick Maloney, D-NY) dismissed the inquiry in interviews by saying who cares, there’s nothing to find. Chuck Rosenberg, interviewed on Rachael Maddow, said: “I have a feeling that this is going nowhere.”
  • In taking this position, these pundits ignore (n tot for the first time) the clear fact that this is a serious step towards authoritarianism.
  • The chorus of “our institutions will save us” commentators, including chief normalizer Chuck Rosenberg, are praising John Durham, Barr’s co-conspirator who is traveling the world trying not to “find evidence” as corporate media pundits describe it, but to find people who will manufacture evidence to fit their investigation.
  • In an interview Thursday night on Rachael Maddow, Rosenberg said of Durham: “I know, I like, and I admire John Durham. I trust him.”
  • You will remember that Rosenberg (whose podcast MSNBC advertises) also said that William Barr was an institutionalist, implying that Barr would never allow partisan politics to enter the hallowed halls of the Justice Department.
  • He was outrageously wrong then and he is wrong now.
  • Rosenberg pointed out that perhaps there were “discordant” notes sounded by the initiation of a criminal investigation. Dear, dear, discordant notes.
  • Rosenberg continued that if we want John Durham to “get to the bottom of this” we should welcome a grand jury. So, according to the “institutionalist chorus” we should just shrug our shoulders and wait and see.  Just like they advised us to do with Barr.
  • “John,” Rosenberg stressed to reassure, “needs some factual basis in order to open a grand jury.” When Maddow pointed out that Bill Barr was the official deciding what “factual basis” met the threshold, Rosenberg had no answer.  But, his faith in the integrity of the Justice Department was still there.
  • Mine is not.
  • In a ridiculously contradictory set of statements, Rosenberg pointed out that he worried about the “chilling effect” that the initiation of such an investigation would have. But, Durham, he said, was “a credible prosecutor.”
  • Interestingly, Rosenberg noted that Durham “has been asked to do things like this before and…has closed…investigations after several years without bringing charges.”
  • That makes Durham the perfect stooge to investigate, feed into the Republican narrative that it was the Trump Campaign that was wronged in the 2016 election, and then after two years of harassment, quietly drop the investigation.
  • Later in Thursday night’s Rachael Maddow show, David Lohfman, former head of the counterintelligence section inside the Justice Department said, “I have high regard for John Durham.” He is “a distinguished prosecutor.”  “It’s hard for me to imagine that John Durham would associate himself with the frivolous initiation of a criminal investigation.”
  • But, then a few seconds later, Lohfman noted that the people in the Justice department would have been “derelict if we had not pursued that line of investigation.” They would have been derelict not to pursue it, therefore there was no question in his mind that the investigation was appropriate.  But, the “distinguished prosecutor” is perfectly reasonable to lend his credibility to the initiation of an investigation that clearly targets those who started the initial investigation.  There are no people of courage any more.
  • Lohfman ended the interview by saying: “I have every confidence that John Durham will withstand any pressures that may buffet him to go down a road that he thinks is not supported by the facts and law.” But, he has just done that by joining this new criminal investigation.
  • If the investigation is unwarranted, and also will contribute to chilling future investigations, why didn’t Durham if he is such a hero, refuse to take part in it.
  • The job of a prosecutor is not to expend taxpayer money and harass people pursuing frivolous investigations when s/he thinks there’s nothing there. That is an abuse of office.
  • But none of the “our institutions will save us” chorus will say that. No, they just assure us that Bill Barr or Durham are great people of integrity.
  • Let’s not take too seriously the initiation of a criminal investigation into Donald Trump’s political opponents. The institutions will save us.
  • I agree with people who have argued that Bill Barr is the most dangerous bull in the heard. He must be impeached, now.