Just listened to a podcast, Skullduggery, hosted by Michael Isikoff. This episode was recorded before the coup attempt. He was talking with someone and they were saying that Trump was likely to just fade away. Why do we have journalists, not just celebrity “journalists”, people who should know better, dismissing Trump and his movement?
Can I just say that Sam Nunberg is an imbecile. He was in an important position in the Trump as a “campaign advisor” because he is an imbecile and now CNN is interviewing him as if he is this expert on anything.
Nunberg at one time faced prosecution because of his role in the Trump campaign and he is saying about Trump: “He is not a perfect man.” Nunberg, says that he has no regrets about working to get Trump elected. This fruitful line of discussion was cut off by the CNN anchor. But, Nunberg continued: “I don’t regret the Supreme Court. I don’t regret …Israel.” “He (Trump) did a service to the forgotten men and women…” “I am happy he beat Hillary Clinton…”
Tony Schwartz, who was also on the CNN panel broke in to confront Nunberg. Schwartz said it was “sad to hear somebody say I don’t take any responsibility.” “Come one Sam.” “It’s time to say the truth about this man.”
But, Nunberg, growing visibly angry, just continued to defend Trump.
While CNN cut this discussion off, it is an important one. What it demonstrates is that these people around Trump (even those who have been left out to dry in terms of prosecution by the Trump administration) have learned nothing. To the extent that Nunberg is willing to criticize Trump and those around him it is because they didn’t step in to legally protect Nunberg.
On to another topic raised by the CNN coverage this morning. Tony Schwartz said that this might be his last public statement about Trump because everything that can be said has been said.
I agree with Schwartz. I am completely disgusted with this continued cheap psychoanalysis of Trump that takes up hours and hours on corporate news. I don’t care what Trump thinks. I don’t care what is “inside Trump’s head” as CNN purported to cover this morning. I care about what Trump does and what he represents and what the complicit group of people around him are fomenting. This is a movement and make no mistake, Mitch McConnell is as much a part of it as is Donald Trump. Getting rid of Trump (if we even can) is not going to solve the problem.
This is one of the reasons why people in my intellectual territory of the Democratic Party shudder every time Biden or his cohorts starts to talk about “healing” or “unity” or (to repeat Obama’s line) “moving on.”
McConnell may have decided that he has gotten as much out of Trump as he can, and is now ready to kick him to the curb. But, moving on means McConnell and the Koch’s will find somebody else, smarter, cleaner, more devious, and more palatable to carry on the fight to establish an authoritarian one-party Christian nationalist state. That’s where they have been going for decades and where they will continue going, with Trump at the head or not.
Mitch McConnell (and McConnell’s wife), Bill Barr and others are making self-serving statements, so that they can live to fight another day. And, the corporate media is already complicit in laundering the reputations of prominent Republicans. Joe Scarborough is a prime example of someone who will happily criticize Trump (who threatened to out his adulterous affair, and who called Scarborough a murderer) and then turn around and laud Republicans who are complicit in advancing Republican goals while making superficial criticisms of Trump.
“I don’t regret the Supreme Court” should be tattooed on the foreheads of Mitch McConnell, Steve Schmidt, Joe Scarborough, Elise Jordan, Nicolle Wallace, Mitt Romney, Pat Toomey, Ben Sasse, John Bolton, George Conway, Bill Kristol, Michael Steele, Jeff Flake, Justic Amash, David Jolly?, John Kasich, Tom Cotton, Marco Rubio, Susan Collins, Richard Burr, James Lankford and many others.
Folks, these people are not our friends. They cannot be our allies. They have worked for decades to bring this situation about. They established the groundwork for this situation. They cannot plead ignorance and innocence now.
This is by far the best podcast out there. I know the corporate media is seductive, but your time would be better spent giving this a listen. Sam Seder puts together some of the most interesting and pertinent interviews available.
“Sam hosts writer and political analyst Jared Yates Sexton to discuss his new book, American Rule: How a Nation Conquered the World But Failed Its People, and why the foundational myths of American Exceptionalism have such a hold on the populace.
Sam and Jared explore the stories Americans told themselves throughout the country’s history, from how the process behind writing the Constitution to how the “Mound Builders” stories helped justify indigenous Americans’ slaughter. The two consider how these stories have shaped the populace’s thinking and why it’s essential to reject politics as a spectacle.
“Six days after President Donald Trump lost his bid for reelection, the U.S. Department of Agriculture notified food safety groups that it was proposing a regulatory change to speed up chicken factory processing lines, a change that would allow companies to sell more birds. An earlier USDA effort had broken down on concerns that it could lead to more worker injuries and make it harder to stop germs like salmonella.”
This is what Republicans stand for. There’s no reason to ask why Republicans “went along” with Trump. They didn’t go along, they happily colluded with him because he delivered policy changes that they had advocated for decades.
In the midst of an on-going coup attempt, the Washington Post is continuing to publish puff pieces about Trump staffers and family. The seemingly inexplicable nature of this has led some on Twitter to hypothesize that the puff pieces are pay back for individuals who previously provided access to Post reporters and/or who passed on information to them.
When I read this speculation from someone who is a journalist this morning, I couldn’t stop thinking about it.
I know to some people this must sound naïve, but what kind of newspaper sells positive stories for information? The Washington Post unabashedly uses “Democracy dies in darkness” as a slogan. Democracy dies in darkness, but reporters are making back room deals selling positive coverage for information?
How exactly do these deals work? Is there an explicit negotiation? Does a reporter say to Ivanka Trump, we’ll give you five 3000 word totally positive personal write-ups in exchange for a hot piece of information?
If this kind of negotiation is going on, why isn’t that considered essential to disclose to the reader. After all, the reader is consuming the story as if it is independent journalism, not a glamour piece placed by Ivanka Trump’s agent.
Why is such a practice considered ethical? Why is such a practice not a scandal, not considered as what it is, a bribe?
When our local newspaper publishes a puff piece about a doctor and his practice which looks like an article, it is at least identified as such. I don’t even think that practice is ethical, but it at least involves disclosure for those who are interested enough to look, that the piece is bought and paid for, not independent journalism.
There is no such disclosure for these little fluff pieces churned out in exchange for “access.”
That would be one kind of disclosure, letting the reader know that the piece is paid for. But, another type of disclosure is also necessary.
The assumption is that publishing a paid-for personal ad as independent journalism is worth the “access” given the reporter. Well, I would like to be able to judge that for myself. If the Washington Post is going to allow itself to be bribed into publishing particular stories, what was the going price? I as a reader have a right to know.
There are a lot of problems with the current widespread practice of “access journalism.” First of all, it’s lazy. Reporters are too lazy to go out and establish sources for a story, so they tell themselves they have to spend endless hours socializing with powerful people at parties or retreats in the country to get information. Second, journalists are supposed to be keeping the powerful honest, not spending weekends with them in their country estates. No journalist is going to keep honest the people s/he is socializing with and on whom he is dependent for information. People in power are not supposed to be a reporter’s friends. Third, how much trust can you put in information that is intentionally leaked to you by the powerful. There have been countless instances where “access” has resulted in journalists being turned into stenographers for those in power. The powerful leak the stories they want to be published.
Now, evidently, we have to add to the problems of access journalism, other stories, published by other reporters that are part of some deal for access. To portray staffers and members of Trump’s family as glamorous, hard-working innocent bystanders with a promising political future in exchange for some undisclosed piece of information is unconscionable.
While corporate media pundits spend time interviewing each other about interviews they have done ( Lemon interviewing Tapper about his interview with Biden, dogs sniffing assholes) and touting their books (Maddow and Scarborough), Trump has dangerously upped the ante in the crime spree that has been the Trump/Republican administration. They are stealing billions from the American people and neither the corporate media nor the Democratic Party is screaming bloody murder as they should be.
As just one minor example of a story that should have been hammered for days, Trump, after getting rid of a top level of Pentagon officials, has appointed stooges (Lewandowski) who will facilitate the massive grifting of the federal government.
With this top layer of sycophants in place, it is being widely reported that (the devil himself) Erik Prince has been awarded a “classified contract” to take over military operations in Africa.
This move would help facilitate a long-pursued project of Prince’s to take over military operations for the U.S. government (he proposed doing so in Afghanistan) and for the Republicans to privatize the enormous defense budget every more than it’s already been farmed out to giant defense contractors.
It was reported that Prince proposed a take-over of the Afghanistan war to the Trump administration earlier in the year. It is not clear why he was turned down. He has come back with his hand out for part of the spoils being awarded by Trump and the Republicans.
In case you don’t remember, Erik Prince is the brother of Betsy de Vos. He was the founder of a mercenary contracting group that was unleashed in Iraq and wreaked so much uncontrolled, unfettered terror among the population, they finally had to prosecute Blackwater and some of his operatives.
Erik Prince is another of the multitude of people (Paul Manafort, Donald Trump, Ivanka Trump, Donald Trump,Jr. Jared Kushner, Roger Stone, Rick Gates, Michael Flynn, etc.) who would already have been in prison in 2016 if we had a functioning Justice Department which prosecuted white collar, corporate and political crimes (See “The Chickenshit Club” by Jesse Eisinger).
Also see Jeremy Skahill’s book about Blackwater and (the Devil) Erik Prince.
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.
Trump in a news conference (or whatever that things is he does when he comes out and lies for an extended period of time) is preparing the population for a “disaster” on election day. He keeps repeating the scenario and thereby painting the picture for his supporters of total confusion. Today he said that the Republicans are appealing to the courts who he hopes will “see this clearly and stop it.” He called the sending out of ballots to citizens as “the scam of all time.”
The reporter for CNN falls for the head fake and says: Mail in voting is safe. There is no fraud and there are no missing ballots as Trump accused.
So, once again, just as in 2016, the Republicans scream rigging, the Democrats and the media yell, no rigging. The Republicans rig and the Democrats and the media are left stunned.
Election Security: Stealing the Election
Jennifer Cohn is tweeting that the DeVos family company Amway partnered with Russia’s Alfa Bank in 2014. It was Alfa Bank that was pinging both Trump Tower and Spectrum Health thousands of times in the summer of 2016. This has never been explained.
Run, don’t walk to get a copy of Jonathan Simon’s “Code Red” 2020 edition.
Trump is tweeting that the Governor of Virginia (where early voting starts today) “wants to take away your guns,” and “is in favor of executing babies after birth.”
According to Jennifer Cohn, (relying on Woodward), Russians installed malware in the voter registration systems of “at least two” Florida counties. The malware was designed to erase voters. (Twitter)
Precinct ballot scanners in Michigan, Wisconsin and Florida include wireless modems that connect scanners and county central tabulators to the internet. (Twitter, Jennifer Cohn)
Texas, Tennessee, Indiana, Minnesota, Illinois, and Rhode Island also have modems that need to be removed before the election. (Cohn, Twitter)
Information on voting of Interest:
Zetter, Kim (8/8/19) “Critical U.S. ElectionSystems…” Vice
Other Information of Interest
Podcast on 9/11 Blindspot.
102 of 140 inmates at a women’s prison in South Dakota have tested positive for Coronavirus. (AP)
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.