Tag Archives: PROGRESSIVES

“it was not the outcome we had anticipated”: afghanistan

During the past few weeks the corporate news media has been studiously ignoring the disastrous military and humanitarian crisis shaping up in Afghanistan.  They have been doing so, I think, because the crisis makes Biden look feckless, ruthless, and incompetent. 

For so long, there was almost nothing on the corporate news, but every day it was possible to read about astonishing advances by the Taliban.  Every day estimates of how much of Afghanistan was controlled by the Taliban increased, and estimates of how long it would be until the Taliban took over Kabul decreased.

I am no foreign policy expert, but even I could see that the Biden withdrawal of forces in Afghanistan was accelerating a Taliban takeover of the country.

The negotiated “peace plan” was non-existent.  I never understood what was being “negotiated” with the Taliban in the first place either by the Trump or the Biden administration.  One reporter late this week said that the “negotiated” peace process was not only on hold, it was in the basement with the door locked. 

And who had the bright idea that the Taliban could be negotiated with in the first place?  The group is defined by a suicidal religious refusal to compromise or negotiate with the modern world. 

Let me be clear, I did not support the invasion of Afghanistan or Iraq but even I acknowledge that once you have invaded and occupied a country you can’t just walk out and leave everyone who has fought with you at the mercy of the enemy.  You cannot just withdraw without considering the implications for the population you are leaving behind.

But this is precisely what the Biden administration seems to have done.  They either didn’t consider the implications for the population, or they didn’t care.  I’m not sure which is worse.

Reports today (Friday) are that members of the Biden administration knew that this disaster was coming.  The Joint Chiefs warned them.  But the Biden administration decided that the disaster was inevitable (although they have denied this reality).  One official was quoted by Peter Baker as saying: It’s a tragedy, but it’s not our tragedy.  Who would say something this crass and unfeeling? There is not even much of a pretense of having any empathy with the abandoned population.

And in an effort to make the chaotic, precipitous, and disastrous withdrawal look better, the Biden administration has blamed everyone in sight – except themselves.

Evidently, the defense department that costs us trillions every fifteen minutes, just couldn’t manage to plan a withdrawal from a country they had occupied that didn’t create a humanitarian crisis.  How can that be?

Gen. John Kirby, in a painful press conference today, said the Afghanis had every conceivable advantage in the war.  A reporter asked Kirby how the Afghanis could have every conceivable advantage and still be losing.  Kirby balked at the rudeness of the question, then evaded answering it.  He went on to list all the advantages the Afghanis had (airplanes, an air force, more soldiers, etc.).  So, according to Kirby, the Afghanis have all these advantages and it’s just a great fucking mystery why they are losing.

The people of this country are told repeatedly that we have the greatest military in the history of the world, but that military just can’t figure out how after twenty years of supplying and training and fighting, to get the Afghanis in a position to hold their own against the opposing force. 

Earlier this week I listened to a podcast where the panel was pointing out that supply lines were a problem in Afghanistan.  Supply lines?  Twenty years and they haven’t figured out how to secure supply lines?  Even my cat knows not to go further away from the door than he can safely run back should there be a threat.  And they can’t figure out secure supply lines?  I just find this preposterous.  What the bleeding devil have they been doing for twenty years?

A lot of the feedback on Twitter consists of people arguing that the very fact that we have been in Afghanistan for twenty years legitimates the withdrawal. But, nobody is objecting to the withdrawal, it’s the way the withdrawal is carried out. 

As Paul Riekhoff said on Nicolle Wallace’s show the other night, this was a “reckless” withdrawal.  Riekhoff’s honesty about the situation made me wonder if the producers on MSNBC knew what he was going to say. (The next night I don’t think Wallace even talked about Afghanistan). Riekhoff lambasted the Biden administration’s withdrawal.  And Riekhoff, like Kevin Baron from Defense One, stated flatly that the administration was not “leveling” with the American people. 

The refusal to “level” was painfully obvious in the Pentagon presser this afternoon with Gen. John Kirby.  Kirby couldn’t even bullshit with any talent the obfuscation was so blatant.  Kirby stood at the podium and spewed nonsense.  He looked like a man experiencing a severe attack of piles as he fielded questions from reporters. 

He was fine with questions like that from MSNBC’s Pentagon correspondent.  After a day when every conceivable TV pundit repeated like a parrot: “The administration was not surprised with what happened but at the speed with which it happened” she asked if the administration was surprised at the speed with which the take over had happened.  Seriously?   

Another reporter doggedly tried to get Kirby to say that Kabul was “isolated.”  “Would you say Kabul was isolated?”  He asked repeatedly.  Kirby verbally danced all over the universe refusing to say that Kabul was “isolated.”  We all fucking know that Kabul is “isolated.”  What is the purpose of a journalist taking up valuable time trying to get Kirby to say the word?  Kirby said everything under the sun else except that Kabul was “isolated.”  What goddamn difference does it make if he uses the word?

I don’t think I have seen such a blatantly pathetic Pentagon press conference since Vietnam, and even then the brass talked the bullshit with some panache.  Kirby just seemed to be desperate to finish, desperately uncomfortable, resentful of meaningful questions.  John Kirby is a bad liar and bullshitter. If they are going to try to pass off this level of (do you believe me or your lying eyes) bullshit, they need to get another spokesperson.

And, it seems that we should have learned (with the best military in the history of the world) that the solution to a badly thought-out war is not (or should not be) a badly thought-out withdrawal.  Evidently not.

But the thing that keeps sticking in my craw and going through my mind for the past few days is why?  How could the Biden administration be so inept as to create this situation?  Who was this precipitous withdrawal designed to please?  I just can’t think of anybody placated or pleased with this hair-brained withdrawal.  Why, after breezing through the deadline in May that the Trump administration had set, did Biden rush headlong into this withdrawal that seems so badly planned.

I will give just one example.  On another podcast about Afghanistan the commentators were pointing out that the Taliban ratchets up fighting in the Spring and then makes a big push over the summer.  Then, I suppose because of the weather, they retreat to bases in Pakistan in the fall and fighting dies down.  The panel members were pointing out that if Biden had just waited over the summer and pulled out most of the troops in the fall, it would have helped immensely.  So, what was the problem with that small change?

And there another thing that keeps going through my mind.  This is in response to a comment made on the Majority Report (a great podcast).  The guest was saying that there are many competing factions represented within the Biden administration – progressives (damn few), conservatives, moderates, hawks.  When some policy or appointment comes up that sparks strong opposition among these groups, they fight it out vociferously.  Fine. But when all this fighting and debate occurs, when positions are entrenched, Biden evidently does not step in and make a decision so everybody can go on.  Biden refuses to take make a decision that might alienate somebody and so everybody retreats to their respective corners.  The result is that nothing gets done.  The example that was being talked about was an appointment that had remained vacant for months.

I can’t keep from wondering if something like that happened here.  There was such strong disagreement about what to do, everybody was fighting and pushing and Biden just walked away (sort of like he’s doing in Afghanistan) and nothing got done. The withdrawal just ticked on without Biden taking control.  It was easier to do nothing than to make a decision.  Now, the administration is facing not only a humanitarian crisis, but a political disaster.

I have watched Fox News, OANN, and that other channel of Steve Bannon’s in the past two days.  You can bet they are making hay over this situation.  And, to my great discomfort and consternation, I agree with some of the commentary. 

A final thing that makes me uncomfortable about this situation is how similar it is to the way Democrats are handling the serious threat Republicans pose to the continuation of democracy. 

Democrats are so engorged with hubris, so convinced that the world is the way they want it to be, they are leading us into disaster at every turn.

I fear that they are going to do with Republicans exactly what they are doing with the Taliban – negotiate without reason, rely on the good intentions of murderous men determined to assume power at all costs and then when these men pull off a religious based authoritarian take over, wring their hands and say it was not the outcome they had anticipated.  

When do you act like you are in charge?

Ali Velshi of MSNBC started last night trying to push what I can only suppose will be the corporate media line, i.e. that the election in Georgia had nothing to do with policy.  It had nothing to do with voters choosing one view of the future and the way to get there over another.

Velshi said that the wins in Georgia were not due to “ideology.”   This is the quote:

“What happened here in Georgia…This stopped being a Republican versus Democrat thing in Georgia and became a referendum on everything that was going on – on the Senate, on federal politics, on Perdue and Loeffler who are two of the richest senators alive, Loeffler is in a whole different field of her own….they were involved with stock trading.  This was not a battle of ideology, Democratic versus liberal ideology or conservative versus liberal ideology.” 

Later on in the night, Kimberly Atkins handed Velshi his head on a plate.  She talked about the “issues that drove them to the polls,” like criminal justice reform.  And, she said, these voters have a sense of “urgency” about change.  They want something “beyond forming commissions.” And they are going to let Biden know.

But, Velshi couldn’t help himself.  He had to take another shot at progressives by claiming that they “sat on their hands” in 2016. 

Whenever there is anything like a progressive win, or a demonstration that the corporate democrats are on the wrong track in terms of fighting for power, the corporate media consolidates like a fist.  They did it after Sanders won Nevada.

Jamil Smith (Rolling Stone) was on the same panel with Kimberly Atkins.  He also put Velshi right about what was going on.  He noted that Abrams decided to “turn out the people who are already on our side” rather than going after people who aren’t.  For four years corporate Democrats like Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden and the DNC have courted independents and republicans rather than try to appeal to their own base.

“At what point” Smith asked, “do you act like you are in charge” and stop trying to negotiate with “people who have promoted hatred and lies about you.”  When are the Democrats going to start to “….act like they have a mandate?  “At what point do you act like you belong there…you’re in charge?”  

I could have listened to Smith all night.

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“everything toxic” Neera Tanden and Biden

Biden’s Choices

Biden’s choice of Neera Tanden to head the Department of Management and Budget is yet another slap in the face of progressives and a further indication that progressives need to leave the Democratic Party.

As Briahna Joy Gray, a former press secretary for Sanders’ 2020 presidential campaign, tweeted about the nomination:  “Everything toxic about the corporate Democratic Party is embodied in Neera Tanden.”

Since 2003, Tanden has been the head of what some in the media term a “left of center” think tank, the Center for American Progress.  This think tank was supposedly established to counter more conservative think tanks like the Heritage Foundation.

But, according to article in Business Insider, “Tanden has come under scrutiny from some of her own colleagues over allegations that she censored employees who were critical of Israel while the organization attempted to build a stronger bond between the Democratic Party and the right-wing Israeli government. Under Tanden, the think tank shut down its independent journalistic arm, Think Progress…following its unionization.”

Former employees of CAP also criticized Tanden for using the think tank as more of a vehicle for her own ambition than an institution based on any left of center policy commitment.  Tanden has openly opposed single payer health care, supported cuts in Social Security, and is friendly with Israel’s conservative leadership. That simply cannot be termed “left of center.”

Tanden is being nominated for this important position after having been a close advisor to Hillary Clinton’s 2008 and 2016 presidential campaigns, both failures.  And, she was closely involved with engineering the ACA, another notable policy failure.

But, Tanden is part of the entitled professional class surrounding Clinton and Obama who are being put back in government by Biden just as progressives warned.  As Biden said in a speech to wealthy donors – “nothing will change.” That’s what progressives who were being badgered to vote for Biden feared, and that is what we are seeing.

The nomination of Tanden is yet another indication that the corporate elite in the Democratic Party have contempt for the progressive vote and are determined to block any meaningful social change. 

“There are very few people who have been as aggressively critical — I would say sometimes obsessively critical — of the progressive left, and in particular of Bernie Sanders, than Neera,” a former senior Center for American Progress employee told Business Insider.

Tanden is already cynically using her supposedly deprived family background to try to evoke sympathy.  She is saying that her family found it necessary to use the social services she will have an impact on funding.  She is evidently using this argument as a way of placating the progressive wing of the party. But, this only means that her opposition to Medicare for All and adequate funding of Social Security is all the more ruthless and contemptuous of working families.  She had to rely on these services herself, but that doesn’t mean she believes others are entitled to them. 

Neera Tanden is part of a little mafia of women (Zerlina Maxwell, Jennifer Palmieri and others) who felt themselves entitled to win the presidency, entitled to be in the White House and livid that Bernie Sanders had the nerve to run against the Queen. 

In addition, these women felt that they had some kind of right to the presidency because of gender. A question asked Bernie Sanders in the 2016 primary sums it up. Yamiche Alcindor (who, after confronting Sanders, went from being a low level New York Times reporter to being on television every night and then hosting programs on NPR) asked Sanders if he didn’t think it was sexist to run against Clinton.

This little mafia ring of women never stopped blaming Sanders for all their own failures in the Clinton campaigns.  And, they never missed an opportunity to slam and slander Sanders and his campaign in the corporate media. 

Neera Tanden, as Gray says, is just the beginning and she illustrates everything that is wrong with the Democratic Party.  The leadership in the Democratic Party is smug, entitled, vindictive, ruthless and bought up to the eyeballs by corporate money. 

Resources

Relman, E. (11/30/20) “Biden’s…” Business Insider

Epstein and MSNBC

jeffrey epstein

  • Cornell Belcher, former Obama pollster and part of the corporate Democratic elite, tells progressives to “Shut the hell up and grow up.” Silence your criticisms of Biden, Belcher chides, and “fall in line.”  Make no mistake, that is their attitude to all progressives.  Obama and his administration purposefully squelched progressive participation in his administration.  Obama refused to prosecute members of the Bush administration who engineered and carried out torture.  He refused to prosecute those responsible for the 2008 crash.  Those two decisions helped get us where we are.  Biden will do the same.
  • Ghislaine Maxwell was finally arrested today. There are those who believe that Barr’s firing of Berman was to get more control over this investigation and prosecution.  I am not one of the people who find Berman’s behavior in this situation commendable.  He finally resigned and securing a promise to have his next in command take over the operations is not enough.  He should never have resigned.  He should have made them fire him.  It’s not enough.  I am not optimistic about the Maxwell prosecution.  This is one of those situations where too many powerful people have too much to lose to allow this to go forward.  They will stop it.  We don’t know how exactly, but trust me, they will stop it.
  • Chris Hayes on MSNBC tonight described narratives that question Epstein’s “suicide” as “conspiracy theories.” MSNBC can always be trusted to maintain the corporate Democratic line.
  • The two documentaries on Epstein fail to probe Epstein’s connection with intelligence.  https://consortiumnews.com/2020/06/18/epstein-case-documentaries-wont-touch-tales-of-intel-ties/

MONDAY THOUGHTS…MSNBC IS TRASH

morning joe in pajamas

  • When I turned on the television this morning, the first thing I saw on Morning Joe was a clip of Sanders explaining to CNN that he couldn’t say exactly what Medicare for All would cost. Scarborough, of course, played this clip as an excuse to mock Sanders.  When the camera came back to Scarborough, he had on what can only be described (by my partner) as a “shit eating grin.”  Scarborough then started to repeat phrases like: “radically change the economy,” “radically overturn” and create a revolution.
  • Scarborough made the ridiculous statement that Sanders would “radically change the economy in a way that it hasn’t been changed since the republic was formed…”
  • The dreadful, opportunistic bobble headed Mika said that Sanders was “threatening to tear the party apart.”
  • Journalism my ass.  This is not journalism.  It is propaganda designed to promote favored candidates and destroy others.
  • In 2016, Morning Joe started almost every program with a clip of Donald Trump on the campaign trail. They gave him millions (billions?) in free advertising.  Joe Scarborough and the dreadful Mika helped Trump get elected and they were at Mara-shitgo after the election.  They asked his permission to use certain questions in an interview (we know this only because they were taped doing so) and only broke with Trump because he threatened and then outed their adulterous affair.
  • Joe Scarborough, like Jennifer Rubin and other former Republicans have destroyed their own party.  They willingly helped build a structure that launched an administration hell bent toward establishing authoritarianism in this country.  Now they are telling the Democrats what to do and who to nominate.
  • But, it’s not just Joe and the dreadful Mika.
  • MSNBC has conducted an all-out campaign against Bernie Sanders.  The coverage took a downward dive and a more overtly contemptuous and attacking tone in the past couple of months as they saw that Sanders was indeed viable.
  • MSNBC’s coverage of the results of the Nevada caucuses on Saturday was an outrageous point in that downward spiral.
  • On Saturday night, I sincerely thought Nicolle Wallace and Joy Reid were going to start crying.
  • The only reason I now watch MSNBC is to document the outrageous campaign against Sanders.  In 69 years of living, I have never, never, seen a news organization put on such an overtly expressed attack on one candidate.
  • The day before the Nevada caucases, one of the MSNBC commentators, Jason Johnson, who has had on every panel, 24/7, for weeks, did a radio interview in which he called the black women who work for Sanders an “island of misplaced black girls.”  None of these people would say anything, anything like this about the women who worked for any other candidate.
  • Then, that same night, Chris Matthews likened the Sanders victory to the invasion by the Nazis of France.  But, this was just the latest comment by Matthews smearing Bernie Sanders.  He has been doing it for at least a year.
  • Tonight, Matthews apologized, APOLOGIZED, for his “misplaced analogy.”  As I say over and over again, there are things you cannot apologize for.  Saying what you mean is not something you can apologize for, and Matthews has meant every mean, contemptuous, slanderous thing he has ever said about Sanders.
  • Matthews earlier this year implied that Sanders would stand and watch Matthews be executed in Times Square.  I hate to clue him in, but Matthews isn’t important enough to execute.  But anyway, Matthews also pulled out of his ass a statement that Sanders would be the last person to stop for someone who was in distress by the roadside.  This is journalism?  What kind of journalism?  These are the kinds of things that idiots say in a bar.
  • Why, why do we have to listen to people like this?  Matthews in 2016 made a joke with Clinton about “roofies.”
  • Matthews interrupts, talks down, and generally treats with contempt most of the women on his show.  But, MSNBC continues to employ him.
  • MSNBC cannot apologize for their coverage of Sanders over the past four years, especially the past few months and especially Saturday night.
  • MSNBC came out tonight with a statement saying they were going to look for more progressives to put on their shows.  Really?  It must be hard to find them while they have under contract so many overpaid and ignorant circle-jerk “strategists” and Clinton mean-girls like Adrienne Elrod and Neera Tandem.

Enough of that.  Another thing:

  • Everybody seems to be going wild because Sanders said that not everything about Cuba is negative.  Well, duh?  DUH?  Can people use their brains here?
  • Cuba has the highest rate of literacy in Latin America.
  • At least when I was there, everybody had access to free education and health care.  The government subsidized books and they cost almost nothing.  Everyone had access to language training.  Everybody had shoes, jobs, an income.  They had a thriving, fascinating theatre culture.  Musicians got a salary. No, not everything about Cuba is negative.
  • But, the elite would rather live in a bubble.  And the corporate media, part of that elite, refuses to cover reality.
  • I was contracted to write a freelance article years ago when I went to Cuba. When I wrote an article talking about the advances in education in Cuba, the Times Educational Supplement said that it was “too positive.”  They would not print the article.  This was almost 40 years ago.  The slander against Cuba has been going on for a long time.  The coverage of Cuba is characterized by the same kind of distortion that goes on about Bernie and about Democratic Socialism.
  • I am sick of the corporate media and I’m sick of MSNBC.  They are terrified of a Sanders victory.  The “progressive” MSNBC is more hateful about Sanders because  MSNBC is full of people who will never be able to get near the White House if Sanders is elected.
  • The DNC “strategist”/pundit class would rather help Trump win four more years than risk their cushy jobs and privileged positions.
  • I am sick of them and of mealy-mouthed commentators (Chuck Rosenberg, Joyce (even though I love her) Vance. At least Rachal Maddow has started to tell people that this is a crisis.  We are not on the edge of a crisis.  We not in a situation of concern.  We are in a red alarm, democracy going down the drain crisis.
  • If you are not setting your hair on fire, you don’t understand what is going on.

A final comment:

Biden is running an ad campaign asking why Bernie Sanders wanted to primary Obama.  Biden is trying to imply that Sanders “didn’t have the back of the first African American” president.  Biden is blatantly trying to call Sanders a racist.  Well, let’s see why Sanders might, just might have thought about a challenge to Obama.  Maybe because Obama richly deserved to be challenged?  Maybe because it’s a democracy?  But, no, it must be racism.  I can’t even come up with one reason to challenge Obama except, oh yeah, how about stumbling all over himself putting Wall Street in his cabinet and then refusing to prosecute those responsible for the financial crisis?  But, then again, I’m one of those “vicious” Bernie Bros.  (Adrienne Elrod actually accused me of that and then blocked me.)  I’m proud, proud of that.

Night.

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