DEMOLITION DERBY

8 03 2020

note the position/condition of the blue vehicle….this is the first thing hat came up on a search for “demolition derby pictures”! How’s that for synchronicity?

So…here we are, watching the dust settle from “super Tuesday,” the latest episode in the Democratic Party’s demolition derby, which, to use the notorious Russian doll analogy, is nested inside the American empire’s foreign and domestic demolition derbies, which are nested inside the worldwide neoliberal economic demolition derby, which is nested inside the worldwide fossil  fuel-burning demolition derby….and, inside the Democratic Party’s demolition derby, we find the Sanders campaign’s own demolition derby, in which Bernie basically buys in to the “Russian asset” smears against him and, under pressure from corporate Democrats,  gradually retreats from the radical, innovative programs and views that have made him, it seems, the last great hope for a decent future for America. and the world.

With a great deal of support from African Americans, whom he has voted to imprison and impoverish in large numbers, Joe Biden racked up a significant number of delegates from the southern US, states he is unlikely to carry in a general election. He also scored a big win in Virginia, whose Democratic voters include a large segment of the anti-Bernie privileged class that infest the Washington, DC, area, and, mysteriously, he, not Bernie, carried the liberal crown jewels of the eastern US, Massachusetts and Minnesota. How many of these wins were due to the Democratic Party’s “It’s our primary and we’ll cheat if we want to” attitude? How many were due to actual voter choice? And how many of those voters were swayed by the “Putin wants Bernie” nonsense that was loudly unleashed shortly before the election, followed by the faint admission that “we don’t actually have any evidence of that”? It will take an investigative reporter with more resources and time than I have available to sort that out. In any case, it is much more likely now that Biden and not Sanders will be the Democratic nominee.

Biden already has three strikes against him with the voting public. The first is his record, which reveals that he has, as one wag put it, supported nearly every bad law and government policy of the last forty years–the same policies that Obama, and then Ms. Clinton ran on. In Obama’s case, they turned the electorate so sour on the Democrats that the party lost nearly a thousand political seats of various kinds to the Republicans over the course of Obama’s Presidency. In Ms. Clinton’s case, running on “more of what Obama did” was enough to cause around eight million Obama voters to switch to Trump, so that she lost what was supposed to be a shoo-in election. Do the Democrats think those voters are now disgusted enough with Trump to return to the Democratic fold in spite of there being no change? I wouldn’t bet on it.

The second factor about Biden is that he seems to be deeper into dementia as Reagan was by the time he  left office. He sometimes seems to think he is running for a Senate seat, forgets what state he’s in, and babbles nonsense. I have a feeling that a Biden-Trump debate will be a lot like a debate between a cat and a mouse, with Biden as the mouse. Then, when Biden loses the election, the Democrats will blame everybody who couldn’t muster up any enthusiasm for this mockery of a candidate, and, probably, the Russians for inspiring people to say bad things about him. The Democrats seem to have adopted the line that any criticism of their pathetic “resistance” to Trump is a defence of Trump. That is not a good sign, either for their viability as a party or for the future of free speech in this country should they get back in power.

The third factor is his tendency to lie about his record. He was drummed out of the 1988 Democratic Presidential race for demonstrably, and repeatedly, making things up, and he hasn’t gotten any more honest in the last 32 years.

And, if by some miracle Biden does beat Trump, it won’t make a significant difference in any of the ongoing demolition derbies I started out talking about. Democrats will feel even more self-righteous, Republicans will be angrier, but the destruction of our economy, our culture, our country, and our planet will proceed apace. Well, it will make a difference in our government, which will make sympathetic clucking noises about the destruction it is causing instead of saying “Nyah, nyah! You deserve it!” as the Republicans tend to do.

I have to note that a great deal of this confusion is due to America’s apparently iron-clad two party system, which makes it difficult for any party other than the two basically similar, corporate-friendly D’s and R’s to get on the ballot not to mention in the pubic eye. In a recent case in Maine, the changes made by the corporate parties to ballot access laws made it “all but impossible” for  a Green Party candidate to get on the ballot as a Green, so she is running as an “independent” instead. In The Soviet Union, there was one party, and all other options besides the Russian “state capitalism” view of communism were off the table. Here, it’s private capitalism that rules, and our “choice” is limited to choosing between a party that gives preference to white, heterosexual, Judeo-Christian male servants of the empire, and a party that is fine with people of any color, sexual preference, or sexual identity–as long as they are willing to serve the empire. Ending the empire, which is the core of the Green project, is off the Democrats’ table.

I want to spend the rest of this hour revisiting a story I covered a year and a half ago, which I think is important enough to bear repeating. I call it

TRUMP, LOOSE NUKES, THE RUSSIAN MAFIA, SEYMOUR HERSH, AND THE MYSTERY OF THE MISSING LINK





THE IMPEACHMENT SPECTACLE CONTINUES

8 12 2019

I said in last month’s show that the “tree of possibilities” stemming from the impeachment effort was more complex than I had time for in that particular program. Since then, I have found an excellent expression of it at one of my favorite news blogs, “Moon of Alabama,” and I’m going to take the liberty of quoting that blog and offering my comments on what Moon’s author has written.

Here’s some of what “Mr. Moon” wrote:

If more Democratic swing-state representatives defect from the impeachment camp, which seems likely, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will have a big problem. How can she proceed?

  • If the House votes down impeachment Donald Trump wins.
  • If the House holds no vote on the issue Donald Trump wins.
  • If the House votes for censure Donald Trump will have won on points and the issue will be over.
  • If the House votes for impeachment the case goes to the Senate for trial.

The Republican led Senate has two choices:

  • It can decide to not open an impeachment trial by simply voting against impeachment. Trump wins.
  • It can open an impeachment trial, use it to extensively hurt the Democrats and, in the end, vote against impeachment. Trump wins big time.

Should the House vote for impeachment the Senate is likely to go the second path.

During impeachment the whole Senate sits as the High Court. The House of Representatives sends ‘managers’ who act as prosecutors. The chief justice of the U.S. presides. A vote for impeachment at the end of the trial requires a two-thirds majority.

The Republican majority in the Senate could use such a trial to bring disarray into the Democrats’ primary. Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, Amy Klobuchar and Michael Bennet are all senators and Democratic primary candidates. They would probably have to stop campaigning to attend the trials. Another leading Democratic candidate would be a top witness.

The Republican senators would immediately call up a number of people for questioning. These would include Joe Biden, Hunter Biden, his business partner Devon Archer, John Kerry who was Secretary of State when Biden intervened for Burisma owner Mykola Zlochevsky and of course the CIA spy and (not-)whistleblower Erik Ciaramella. It would also be of interest to hear how deeply the former CIA director John Brennan was involved in the issue.

The Senators could use the impeachment trial to dig into all the crimes the Democrats under Obama committed in Ukraine. They would concentrate not on the Maidan coup but on the aftermath when the deals were made. There surely is a lot of dirt out there and it is not only Joe Biden’s.

Then there is Russiagate. Did the Obama administration use illegal means to spy on the Trump campaign? Sincethe issue is related to whatever Trump did there, there is good reason to include it into the trial.

The circus the Senate would open if the House votes for impeachment would play for many many months. The media would be full of this or that crime some Democrat or deep state actor supposedly committed. All this would play out during the election season.

An impeachment trial in the Senate would be a disaster for the Democrats.

I can not see why the Democrats would want to fall into such a trap. House leader Nancy Pelosi is experienced enough to not let that happen. But she will have to do some serious talking to convince the party that a vote on impeachment is not the best way to proceed.

In the week and a half since this was written, Ms. Pelosi has made the decision to go ahead with impeachment. This may turn out to be the equivalent of General Custer deciding that he had what it took to wipe out that Native American encampment on Little Big Horn Creek. Read the rest of this entry »





SIX WAYS FROM SUNDAY

10 11 2019

bigbrother

“Let me tell you, you take on the intelligence community, they have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you,”

That’s what Chuck Schumer said to Rachel Maddow shortly before Trump’s inauguration. Now, after the false dawn of the Mueller investigation, that Sunday appears to be arriving for Donald Trump.

As near as I and the plague-on-both-their houses commentators I read can figure, if Trump did what the Democrats say he did, then they’ve got him dead to rights. There is, however, some wiggle room on whether he did what the Democrats, and various “witnesses,” many of whom have axes to grind, say he did.

“Axes to grind” are definitely at work here. The “whistleblower” who reported on Trump’s conversation with Ukrainian President Vlodimir Zelensky is a CIA officer who previously worked in The White House during the Obama administration, and who is strongly opposed to Trump. Facebook and Youtube are censoring posts and videos that use his name. That’s an interesting contrast to the way other whistleblowers, who revealed things the corporate media and our security services did not want revealed, have been treated. Who, or what, will be censored next?

Moreover, there are fairly reliable reports (Note to readers: this is not the kind of website I would necessarily trust for information, but I trust the individual writing this piece, and trust the source that referred me to him.) that the CIA had a secret task force, established by John Brennan,for  the purpose of taking down Donald Trump. That’s why Schumer’s “six ways to Sunday” quote is relevant here. I am not a fan of Donald Trump, but I think that having him removed through the machinations of a secret “intelligence services” task force is even more dangerous than Trump. If they can do it to him, what’s to stop them from doing to Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren?

Beyond that, the impeachment story raises some simple questions with very interesting answers. Those questions are:

Read the rest of this entry »





A FEW WORDS ABOUT BIDENGATE

11 10 2019

Impeachable/Not ImpeachableHere’s how it looks to me: the people who are loudly crying “AHA, GOT YOU NOW!!” are the same ones who have spent the last 2-3 years claiming they had absolute proof of Trump-Russia collusion, that Trump was Putin’s puppet (to be polite), and that the Russians had heavily infiltrated US social media with “fake news” to ensure Trump’s election. None of that has proved to be true, but the Russiagate crowd hasn’t apologized, said “oops,” or in any way admitted that they were either misinformed or lying, and now they’re storming the barricades with this one, as if the only thing they learned from the Russiagate fraud was that “if you’re even more emotional, people are more likely to believe you.” I don’t trust their version of events, and I certainly don’t trust Trump’s, either. . I will continue to turn to what I consider trustworthy news sources–more dispassionate observers such as the crew at Consortiumnews.com, Aaron Mate (that’s two separate links!), Matt Taibbi, Abby Martin, Caitlin Johnstone, the World Socialist Website, the crew at The Real News Network,  and others who maintain what I would call “a third viewpoint” on the bipolar world of American politics, for more reliable information about this confrontation. I’ll probably have more to say about it next month.

I think that what this is really about is that the Democrats are attempting to forestall the Trump administration’s inquiry into the origins of the “Russian collusion” accusations against them, specifically the now thoroughly-discredited “Steele dossier” that was used to obtain FISA warrants against Trump and some of his campaign staff. Like the Jeffrey Epstein case, this inquiry threatens to unmask criminal activity by top members of the DNC, and that’s why this, rather than any of the other, more justifiable grounds for impeachment, is what kicked off the furor.

Just because a bunch of partisan liars are saying Trump is guilty as hell doesn’t mean he’s innocent, for sure, but I will not be stampeded into a stance on this question. I think Turnip is the sorriest excuse for a President we’ve ever had, in spite of the, um, stiff competition, but fairness and justice are most important when dealing with people we detest.

Bonzo Dog “No Matter Who You Vote For, The Government Always Gets In

impeach.jpg





JOE BIDEN AND ME

11 08 2019

in his own write….

I have a confession to make. While I’ve been a very faithful Green Party supporter for nearly twenty years, if by some fluke Bernie Sanders became the Democratic nominee, I would almost certainly vote for him, just in an effort to widen the scope of permissible political discourse in this country. But it looks like it’s not going to be Bernie, but Joe Biden. Sorry, Joe, the answer’s no.

“What? Not even to get Trump out of office? How could you?”

Why won’t I, under any circumstances, support Joe Biden as a Presidential candidate?  Because he has championed numerous laws and policies that have had a direct negative effect on me, my family, and my friends. Let me count the ways:

Biden supported the drug war and mandatory minimum sentencing that entrapped, imprisoned, and impoverished several of my best friends–not to mention my oldest son–for victimless crimes involving substances that are now recognized as harmless, valuable sources of healing, and are, in many cases, completely legal. And then there’s the crack-cocaine sentencing disparity, also his baby. I’m grateful nobody in my family has gotten mixed up with cocaine, and I don’t know that I know anybody who was directly affected by this law, which amounted to legislated discrimination against lower-class African-Americans, but just because I don’t know any of Joe’s victims for this one doesn’t mean I’m giving him a pass on it.

Biden was one of the leaders of the drive to switch from grants to loans for students, admitting that he was doing this to enrich the banking industry, ensnaring a huge number of young people in this country (including another of my children and my son-in-law)) in debt peonage that hobbles every aspect of their lives, from their ability to buy homes and start families to their ability to embark on projects that are exciting and creative, but not necessarily remunerative, like working for social change. Joe Biden made sure that student debt, unlike any other debt, cannot be erased by bankruptcy. That, and the high level of debt a young person must take on to get a college degree, are what I mean by debt peonage.  Yeah, I think that the unspoken motive behind what Joe did was the establishment’s desire to choke off the counterculture. In fact, he even spoke it.  Here are Biden’s exact words:

“We’ve got to make education a profit center for the banks. Our purpose is not to educate the population, it’s to create a situation where in order to get a job, in order to get a union card, they have to go into a lifetime of debt to the banks that cannot be wiped out by bankruptcy.”

Read the rest of this entry »





MILLION DOLLAR BLOCKS

28 10 2012

One of the dirty open secrets about “the land of the free” is that, here in America, we have more people in our prison system than any other country in the world.  Here’s the numbers:  as of 2010, there were 2,267,000 people behind bars in America, with 4,934,000 additional Americans on probation and parole.  Fourteen million Americans are “former felons,” who will be handicapped for the rest of their lives with difficulties in being hired or receiving government assistance such as grants or loans for schooling, not to mention the shackles on their minds that all too often  from a stint in prison.

The good ol’ USA is way out in front of the number two imprisoner of human beings–Russia.  The US incarceration rate in 2009 was 743 per hundred thousand, fifty percent ahead of the Russians and Rwandans, both of which clock in at around 560 per hundred thou.  By contrast, only 71 out of every hundred thousand Norwegians is imprisoned.  In Holland, where legal marijuana sales should , according to the DEA, have precipitated a massive crime wave, the incarceration rate is 94 per thousand…hey, maybe they’re just too stoned to bother arresting people….or too high to go out and commit crimes?  And, when Republicans say they don’t want America to be like Europe, is this what they’re talking about?  Is this really a field in which we want America to be “number one”?

Ooh, but aren’t we keeping hordes of violent criminals off the streets?

No, not really.  About eight percent of the roughly two hundred thousand people in federal prison are there for violent crimes.  That’s about sixteen thousand people.  About half the roughly 1.3 million people in state prisons are in for violent crimes–that’s about 650,000 people.  And approximately a fifth of the three-quarter million individuals in local jails are there for violent crimes–that’s about a hundred and fifty thousand people.  When you add it all up, that’s slightly over a third of all prisoners locked up for violent crimes, about 816,000 out of roughly 2.25 million, with two-thirds of those in jail, about one and a half million people, locked up for non-violent, frequently “victimless,” crimes, at a cost to taxpayers–that’s you and  me–of around thirty-six billion dollars a year.

What’s a “victimless” crime?  About half of all federal prisoners are jailed for drug convictions of one kind or another–that’s a hundred thousand people.  A fifth of state prisoners have committed drug crimes–that’s about a quarter million people.  Statistics aren’t available for local jails, but that leaves us with a third of a million of the million and a half people in state and federal penitentiaries locked up for “drugs.” Read the rest of this entry »





RIGHT IDEA, WRONG REASONS

12 05 2012

By now, everybody knows how Bigmouth Joe Biden came out of the closet on Sunday talk TV, causing Obama to grin sheepishly and admit, “Yes, we have,” followed by a double “thud” as the jaws of Michelle Obama and Jill Biden hit the floor…all those “late night meetings” in the Oval Office and that was what was really going on?

OK, that’s not really what happened, but, in what passes for the minds of millions of reactionary Americans, it might as well have been.  To these folks, endorsing same-sex marriage is just as heinous as actually being in an, er, relationship with someone whose plumbing mirrors, rather than compliments, one’s own.

This momentous announcement has raised cheers, jeers, hopes, leers, fears and expectations all across America.  In the midst of catastrophic climate change, multiple impending resource exhaustions, an out of control financial collapse, and the unprecedented  concentration of wealth and power in the hands of the few to the detriment of the many, the 2012 election is going to be a referendum on–ta da! same sex marriage.   Are we sufficiently distracted yet?

Let me make it clear: I believe that people have a right to marry who they please, regardless of their chromosome profile or their plumbing. For that matter, I believe that the benefits of marriage should be available to any number of people who have enough love, understanding, patience, equanimity, and generosity among themselves to commit that deeply to each other, although I would be the first to admit that, in my observation, the difficulties of intimacy increase exponentially, even when the number involved only increases arithmetically.  Group marriage is not for the faint-hearted!  But I digress.   we’re only talking gender, not number, at least so far.  The gender of the partners in a marriage is not the state’s business, any more than the gender of the partners in any other kind of incorporation.

Religions, on the other hand, have every right in the world to define marriage among their membership, along with the propriety of premarital sex, abortion, contraception, and whether it’s OK to put tab A anywhere other than in slot B.  It is perfectly fine for a religion to decline, or agree, to celebrate same-sex marriage.  In fact, I see it as a clergyperson’s duty to decline to marry any couple, regardless of their sexual identity, who, in the clergyperson’s view, do not have their act together enough to make a good marriage.  That’s what spiritual advisers are for!

This is what is meant by “separation of church and state.”  By the same token, I think it is entirely inappropriate for a religion to attempt to push the state to promulgate secular laws that force every citizen to follow the dictates of one particular religion.  That’s not just about marriage and abortion and other sexual matters, it’s also about, for example, our drug laws, which only make sense in the context of religious prohibition.  There’s no logical reason for them.  But, again, I digress.  I want to stay on the same-sex marriage track.

Question:    What if my religious belief is that the government should enforce my religious beliefs?

Answer:  well, you need your own territory.  Please don’t try to take over mine. OK, back to same-sex marriage in the good ol’, culturally diverse and diverging, USA:

I think the Democrats’ decision to embrace the issue is, at a certain level, extraordinarily cynical. They’re saying to their base, “Forget the fact that we’ve stiff armed you on single payer health care, forget the fact that we’ve continued to feed the massive corporate welfare scheme known as “the defence industry,” forget that we’ve relentlessly and often baselessly prosecuted for “espionage” anyone who has tried to blow the whistle on the many fraudulent schemes and capital crimes fed by “defense” spending, forget the fact that we’ve failed to indict anybody for the massive Wall Street flim-flam that impoverished so many of you while it enriched a few of our major donors. Forget the fact that we have not prosecuted any of the war criminals in the Cheney administration and have gone on and committed even more–and more heinous–war crimes ourselves.  Forget the fact that we’ve instituted increased government surveillance of citizens and decreased surveillance of government by citizens.  Forget the fact that we’ve ignored the substance, and crushed the forms, of genuine popular democracy in America–Occupy Wall Street, this means you!

Forget the fact that we scuttled the Copenhagen climate talks and have been so friendly to the oil, gas, nuclear, and coal interests that we have likely ensured that our descendants and our planet will have a hot, polluted ,miserable future. Forget the fact that we have done absolutely nothing to prepare this country and its citizens for the massive changes the planet is about to undergo.

Forget that we have not done anything to reverse the decision of the fascists on the Supreme Court who unleashed unlimited corporate money into politics (including our own pockets). Forget the fact that, after promising to make decisions based on science rather than ideology, we have only intensified the War on (some) Drugs and acquiesced in the release of corporate-designed, corporate-profiting, dangerous genetically modified organisms into the biosphere.  Forget the fact that, at every turn, we have done more to bail out the wealthy than to offer real assistance to the hard pressed. To sum it up, forget how little, besides public perception, really changed when the reins of power passed from Cheney to Obama–vote for us, because we support same-sex marriage and your right to an abortion, and the Republicans don’t.”

Get ’em by the short hairs, and their hearts and minds will follow, eh Joe and Barack?

music:  Ani DiFranco, “Amendment” (first link to lyrics, second to music)








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