It started last night and then in a totally predictable way, Joe Scarborough amplified and continued it this morning. “It” is the newly minted narrative about the difference between Manchin and Sinema. Both are holding up essential legislation to maintain a half-decent society. But, one is doing so as a statesman and the other is a crazy bitch.
The spinning out of this narrative started (for me at least) on Lawrence O’Donnell’s show last night where there was a general male circle-jerk session including Lawrence, John Heileman, and (surprisingly) Adam Jentleson. There was no end of stereotypical criticism of Sinema.
Now, before I get started on this I want to make perfectly clear, I despise Sinema and everything she stands for. Likewise, I despise Joe Manchin. They are both mercenary, self centered hacks pretending to be public servants (which makes them not much worse than the most of the congress). They are both without conscience, decency or integrity. But, the narrative of Statesman vs. Crazy Bitch is just so infuriating and sexist I cannot even discuss it without having my blood pressure rise.
Just take a wild guess at who was being described in these quotes?
“works 24 hours a day”
Maintains a “constant line of communication” (on his houseboat)
“A pro at the game”
…has “no problem using leverage.”
“a predictable force”
“a predictable actor”
“too cute by half”
“too clever by half”
“Infuriating the white House”
…has “played this game”
“very frustrating to all sides”
“continuing this game”
“mysterious and irrational” (John Heileman)
Mysterious and irrational is my personal favorite.
I might add that none of these “journalists” bothered to point out the vested financial interests both Manchin and Sinema have in holding up a vote for needed programs for the rest of the country. This is why it is not only useless to watch the corporate media (MSNBC and CNN) it is dangerous.
What Elie Mystal calls the “elite industrial complex” has already started, before the election(which the Democrats are convinced they are going to win) to make the case for allowing Trump and the Republican crime family escape accountability for all the crimes they have committed not least of which is an attempt to subvert democracy and turn this into an authoritarian kleptocratic state.
We wouldn’t even have a crime network running the government, had we a functioning criminal justice system for white collar, corporate and political criminals. Just take your pick from the various scandals and crimes the Trump family has been accused of ( sexual assault against women, including marital rape; defrauding the U.S. government through racial discrimination in housing; tax fraud; consumer fraud through Trump University; tenant intimidation; bankruptcy fraud; use of undocumented workers, including models; casino fraud; antitrust violations; money laundering; refusing to pay workers and contractors; charitable foundation fraud through the Trump Foundation; various frauds and scams related to ties with organized crime). As Jeff Wise has written in the New Yorker: “His entire life, after all, is one long testament to the power of getting away with things, a master class in criminality without consequences..”
But the elite industrial complex has already started working over time to pave the way for minimizing, normalizing and burying Trump’s crimes.
On October 16, the Washington Post published an astounding article by Jill Lepore who claimed to be responding to a suggestion by Chris Hayes that “if we survive this” (meaning the Trump administration,) we should establish a truth and reconciliation commission. She noted that NPR did a piece about a truth and reconciliation commission the same week.
“This is a terrible idea.” She wrote.
Lepore then reminded the reader that this country has a tradition of a “peaceful transfer of power” and of conceding an election “without violence.” What she didn’t point out was that there is nothing, nothing about a truth and reconciliation commission that implies a non-peaceful transfer of power or a resort to violence. Lepore is, therefore, objecting to something that has never been proposed, setting up a straw man to knock it down. This is how she starts.
Lepore then goes on to quote Thomas Jefferson. “If there be any among us who would wish to dissolve this union or to change its republican form, let them stand undisturbed as monuments of the safety with which error of opinion may be tolerated, where reason is left free to combat it.”
Lepore is arguing that the crime spree that has taken place in the past four years, calls for violence, threats not to allow an election, reminders by the likes of Mike Lee of Utah that the goal is not democracy, are just errors of opinion. No. These are not errors of opinion. Shaping foreign policy to fulfill your own personal agenda and financial interests instead of that of the country is not an “error of opinion.” Soliciting a bribe from the leader of another country, proposing to release public money in exchange for dirt on a political opponent is not an “error of opinion.” I could go on for pages if not books in this vein, but you get the point. Only an imbecile or a propagandist would call these errors of opinion.
The quote itself ends with a phrase that contradicts Lepore’s premise. Jefferson says to let these folks stand undisturbed “where reason is left free to combat” their wishes to dissolve the union or change its republican form. But, reason is not free to combat this effort at replacing a democratic system with an autocracy. We have Fox News churning out propaganda 24 hours a day. We have social media promoting the worst, most base fear mongering propaganda 24 hours a day. No. Reason is not “left free to combat” the threat. So the quote Lepore’s using contradicts the argument she is advancing.
Lepore then quotes Justice Robert Jackson, chief counsel for the U.S. at the Nuremberg trials. “The wrongs which we seek to condemn and punish have been so calculated, so malignant and so devastating that civilization cannot tolerate their being ignored, because it cannot survive their being repeated.”
Once again, Leopre’s own quote belies her entire argument. The crimes and attacks on democracy and justice by the Republicans have indeed been “calculated,” “malignant” and “so devastating that civilization cannot tolerate their being ignored.” And, democracy “cannot survive their being repeated.”
I am not at all convinced that Joe Biden will even win the election. The Republicans have been working for decades to install a system of voter suppression, stuffing the courts with right-wing religious zealots, voting system manipulation, data mining through social media (Cambridge Analytica) and legislation that erodes voting rights. They have too much to lose to allow a Biden win and I do not think they will do so. And withe Supreme Court packed with right-wing ideologues who have no respect for the law, I doubt we will get another chance to hold a fair election.
Lepore goes on to assert that Trump was elected in a “fair election.” But, there is evidence that this is not the case. A former president of the United States, Jimmy Carter, an expert in election security, has said as much. We have indictments of Russian nationals who hacked computer systems. We have a Mueller report that details the handing over of computer voting information to the Russians by Paul Manafort. And, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Lepore self-righteously asserts that truth and reconciliation commissions don’t take place after democratic elections. Well, that may well not have been a democratic election.
And, then, idiotically enough, Lepore just asserts, without question, that we can trust “investigative journalism, a functioning judiciary, legislative deliberation and action and dissent” to solve any problems caused by the crime spree of the last four years.
Well, investigative journalism is the first thing to go in newsrooms taken over by conglomerates and has been gutted. We certainly don’t have investigative journalism from television networks that are owned by corporations. The Republicans have worked for decades to stock the courts with ideologues who have no respect for law, but for dogma and some of whom have even been deemed incompetent by their own Bar Association. Mitch McConnell bragged recently on Fox News that he totally blocked any legislative agenda the Obama administration had in the last six years Obama was in office. And, we just had an impeachment process where Republicans in the Senate voted not to even hear evidence against the President, let alone convict him. Dissent has been met with violence and illegal surveillance of the protestors, and Lepore is suggesting we rely on people protesting during a pandemic.
In short, this essay is idiocy and the fact that the Washington Post published it is a travesty. But, as Elie Mystal notes, it’s the “elite industrial complex at work.” Rick Stengel was on MSNBC waxing poetic about the “lovely” way in which the Biden campaign refused to engage in recriminations. And, Joe Biden is part of this complex. As Lepore points out, Biden has already said that pursuing charges against Trump officials is “probably not very…good for democracy.”
“We are facing too many crises, we have too much work to do, we have too bright a future to have it shipwrecked on the shoals of anger and hate and division.” This was Biden at Gettysburg, delivering a speech that had been carefully crafted to make the case for unilateral surrender.
So, Biden and the “elite industrial complex” like Lepore will work to convince us we just have to engage in “self-reflection.” Sen. Cory Booker thinks what we need is a “return to civic grace.”
Leopore ends with the statement: “Lock him up” cannot be the answer to “lock her up.” What she fails to see, however, is that one of them is guilty and the other is not.
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.
I have tried my best not to look at the television today. Last night was just so infuriating. The celebratory champagne-uncorking of MSNBC pundits over their chosen candidate, Joe Biden, finally, finally winning a primary, was just revolting. Above you can see the facial expressions that characterized the coverage when Bernie won.
I was, however, pleased to see that Chris Matthews was not included in the coverage last night. I thought that perhaps (oh how naïve I am) that Matthews had been left out because of his outrageous attacks on Bernie Sanders. But, evidently, even though similar attacks were enough to get the pundit Jason Johnson fired, they were not enough to get the serial offender Chris Matthews fired. This is a true tragedy for all of us.
Matthews managed to escape being called to task over 1) likening Bernie’s win in Nevada to the Nazis invading France, 2) saying that Bernie would happily preside over Matthews being shot in Times Square, and 3) that Bernie would be the last person to stop and help if you were stranded on the side of the road. But, he has been removed from the air temporarily because he has been accused of inappropriate behavior with yet another woman.
According to the Hill, GQ columnist Laura Bassett accused Matthews of sexual harassment. In an opinion piece published Friday, Bassett claimed that Matthews told a network makeup artist to “keep putting makeup on her” and asked “Why haven’t I fallen in love with you yet?”
Bassett evidently wrote about the behavior, which occurred four years ago, previously but wasn’t confident enough to mention Matthews’ name. She said, however, that a number of women knew immediately who she was talking about.
“In 2016, right before I had to go on his show and talk about sexual-assault allegations against Donald Trump, Matthews looked over at me in the makeup chair next to him and said, ‘Why haven’t I fallen in love with you yet,'” Bassett wrote. “When I laughed nervously and said nothing, he followed up to the makeup artist. ‘Keep putting makeup on her, I’ll fall in love with her.”
“Another time, he stood between me and the mirror and complimented the red dress I was wearing for the segment. ‘You going out tonight?’ he asked. I said I didn’t know, and he said — again to the makeup artist — ‘Make sure you wipe this off her face after the show. We don’t make her up so some guy at a bar can look at her like this,'” Bassett also wrote.
Any woman who has even casually watched Matthews’ show recognizes this behavior. I try to avoid Matthews, but I can remember him conducting a weird voyeuristic and coercive direction of the camera on a woman one night. He kept telling the cameraman to come in closer and closer on the woman’s face. This started while the woman was talking. He finally made it into some joke, like they all do, but it was creepy, just creepy, disrespectful and juvenile.
According to Antony Leonardi and Mike Brest in the Examiner (2/2920), Matthews:
has been known to “rate female guests on a numerical scale based on appearance;
has been reprimanded for comments directed to a subordinate that led to a separation-related payment;
was caught on camera joking about a “Bill cosby pill” which was a reference to a date rape drug.
Matthews also referred to Sarah Palin and Salley Yates as “attractive.”
At this point in time, I don’t particularly care what’s gotten him off the air. I’m just grateful, but his behavior especially towards Sanders is just part of a larger network wide attempt to destroy one of the candidates for the Democratic nomination.
Also participating in this campaign have been Chuck Todd, Brian Williams, Nicolle Wallace, Joy Reid (who has been carrying this on since at least 2016) and now Rachael Maddow who participated in the general laughter of the panel when Brian Williams mocked the Sanders campaign last night. All of these people are complicit. Chris Hayes and Maddow have for the most part stayed out of the overt attacks indulged in by the likes of Joy Reid, but Maddow, as I said joined in the contempt for Sanders expressed by the panel last night and Chris Hayes has spent time repeating every negative trope about Sanders saying that this is what “people are saying.” People may be saying a lot of things but that doesn’t mean you have to repeat them on your television program.
But, I have no doubt that Chris Matthews will be at it again tomorrow night. He will perhaps apologize AGAIN, for his behavior, but I doubt they will fire him.
MSNBC has shown its true colors since Bernie Sanders demonstrated he was a viable candidate. The anchors mentioned above plus innumerable guests have slandered, mocked, distorted, ridiculed and generally propagandized in an effort to destroy Sanders’ campaign.
I am 69 years old and I have never, ever seen an entire news network participate in such an overt effort to distort the political process. If we survive as a democratic country, something I rather doubt at this point, this course of coverage engaged in by MSNBC will be studied and written about as a deplorable exercise in media interference in an election.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
“A …report by the Justice Department’s inspector general is expected to sharply criticize lower-level F.B.I. officials as well as bureau leaders involved in the early stages of the Trump-Russia investigation, but to absolve the top ranks of abusing their powers out of bias against President Trump…”
As Nick Confessori (NYT) pointed out this morning, the very investigation of FBI “spying” or wrongdoing in the investigation of the Trump campaign, is a victory for Trump.
Donald Trump made a wild accusation at a campaign rally, based on nothing, and the Justice Department devoted time and resources investigating it. So, even though they now say that there was nothing untoward in the investigation we have devoted serious attention to a wild accusation.
This is exactly what the corporate press does every day. A substantial part of “Meet The Press” on Sunday was handed over to John Kennedy to propagate Russian propaganda, arguing that the “earth is flat” and that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election in the same way as did the Russians (who have been indicted). Everyone knows that’s fiction, propaganda, so why does Chuck Todd book this liar and give him a platform?
The world is moving toward authoritarianism, and corporate media darlings like Nicolle Wallace laugh and joke and just have a wonderful time talking about the minutiae of Trump’s intentions and mind.
This is the way a country moves into authoritarianism without realizing it. If there was something serious going on, wouldn’t the news anchors be talking about it as if it were a serious matter? That’s what most people think, whether consciously or unconsciously. When they see Nicolle Wallace having a high old time and Chris Hayes turning the news into a comedy show, they are relieved that they don’t have to take what is a move to a one-party authoritarian state seriously.
The corporate media repeatedly presents “both sides” and allows the right to vomit up endless streams of propaganda, treating it as if it were a reasonable narrative.
Just as the corporate media presents “both sides” the rational and the bat- shit crazy, Mueller and now the Justice Department Inspector General create a world of legal “bothsidesism.”
“The early accounts of the (Inspector General’s) report suggest that it is likely to stoke the debate over the investigation without definitively resolving it (Sound like Mueller?), by offering both sides different conclusions they can point to as vindication for their rival worldviews.”
Yet another impeachable offense. What Trump and Giuliani (and Sondland, Perry and Volker) were organizing was a covert propaganda campaign designed to fool the American people. And, Republicans are fighting for their right to do so. This article by Asha Rangappa, a former FBI agent, explains the most important point of the Ukraine dirt for money scandal.
One of the main reasons we are in such a disastrous position politically in this country is the corporate media. The corporate media gave Trump tens of millions of dollars of free airtime in the 2016 election, did not cover (and have still not adequately covered) Trump’s extensive criminal financial background and associations, and continues to normalize his criminal behavior and that of his minions.
Tuesday night, I tuned in to watch part of Nicolle Wallace’s program and found her and her panel constructing a narrative that US Ambassador to the EU, Gordan Sondland was basically a good guy who had wanted to be an ambassador for years. As they spun the story, Sondland had worked so hard to get the job as an ambassador. Sondland was just so thrilled to have been appointed, he wanted badly to please the Trump administration. The poor inexperienced man was caught between Trump and Giuliani and was just trying to do the right thing for Ukraine. Poor soul. It was all just another example of how good people get ruined when they associate with Donald Trump.
There are so many things wrong with this narrative, I don’t know where to begin. First, there is no evidence to support this fiction. Sondland didn’t work hard to get appointed ambassador. He bought the position with a $1 million contribution to Trump’s campaign. There is no evidence in the text messages and cables that Sondland cared one whit about doing the right thing for Ukraine. He cared about assisting the “drug deal” that Trump, Guiliani and the rest of them were putting together. Sondland knew what he was doing was wrong because he tried to cover it up by asking Volker to communicate with him over the phone rather than in writing about the plot. Gordon Sondland is not a good person who got caught up in a criminal enterprise. He was chosen because he was and is just the sort of person who would happily get involved in a criminal enterprise.
But, corporate media stars like Nicolle Wallace, Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski will white-wash all the major players in this running transnational scandal. They have done so for years.
Scarborough and Brzezinski were called “supporters” by Trump himself and were celebrating at Mar-a-lago after the election. They only broke with Trump after he outed their adulterous affair. Nicolle Wallace spent months castigating all the Trump administration members who didn’t quit their jobs in the White House. She, however, worked for George W. Bush and Dick Cheney who lied us into a war that killed almost 5,000 American and God knows how many Iraqis. Wallace was on television just after Bret Kavanaugh delivered a contrived temper tantrum at the end of his confirmation hearings. Wallace felt sorry for him, fell for it hook-line-and sinker. Scarborough spent months before the Mueller report came out telling us that our “institutions continue to hold.” This morning, Brezezinski told the MSNBC audience that Sen. Kennedy (sucks being this dumb) was a “good guy” and had allowed himself to be drawn into Trump’s sleaze.
These people are not good people who have been drawn into anything. Most of them were chosen because they were the same sort of sleaze Trump is. Others went into this with their eyes open, so craven they didn’t care what they were agreeing to. They all deserve contempt, ridicule, impeachment, many of them prosecution, and shunning.
These people were immoral scum before Trump even thought about running for office and they will be immoral scum after he leaves. People like Mitch McConnell and William Barr are not “good guys.” They are dangerous men, willing to do anything, anything to maintain this shot at permanent power they have carved out around Donald Trump.
When people like Wallace and Scarborough and Brzezinski try to absolve them of guilt and weave fictional narratives explaining their behavior, they become enablers of this attempt to overthrow and crush democracy.
A discussion of politics, law, justice, and crime.