Thursday, 14 January 2021


The grounds are shifting, and an earthquake may follow. 

Ten Republicans defied their cult and accepted the prospect of having to go shopping with bodyguards for the foreseeable future to join in the vote to impeach. 

While the decision to eject Trump from office remains a minority view in the GOP, it is also unlikely that the hirsute vandals hooting around the halls of Congress represent the cultural and stylistic inclinations of the people in rural Wyoming and the Chicago suburbs who just tried to give Trump a second term. 

Nor are they indifferent to the decision to beat a uniformed police officer to death with a fire extinguisher nor, for that matter, lesser crimes like shedding armpit hairs over Nancy Pelosi’s stationery with your feet propped up on her desk. 

Mitch McConnell’s stunning signal that he’s undecided on the impeachment vote is a warning to the president that he’d better STFU and go quietly or he may find himself heading for the Arctic Circle on an ice floe.

According to a new poll (by "Avalanche Insights," no less), 44 percent of Republicans think Trump’s gang “betrayed American values,” and 29 percent think their actions were treasonous. His approval rating has dipped to its lowest point ever. 

In the coming weeks and months, we will be treated to a steady stream of arrests, indictments, and trials, all of which will repeatedly remind us in excruciating detail of the behaviors on display Jan. 6. 

Remarkably and almost sadly, the frat-boy perpetrators seem to be struck dumb by the fact that after they faithfully responded to a clarion call issued by the chief legal authority of the country, they nonetheless find themselves utterly defenseless and facing hefty prison sentences for doing so. We the citizenry are like schoolmarms confronting misbehavior at recess only to hear the familiar excuse that “Johnny dared me to do it!” “Johnny,” in this case, being the principal. 

Meanwhile, congressional Democrats must be rubbing their hands over the prospect of the reverse-Benghazi that they can and probably will play on their meathead counterparts across the aisle. Count on months of relentlessly tedious and yet explosive hearings on who undermined Capitol security, what orders were or were not given, how many sitting members colluded with the Chewbacca brigades, up to and including possible criminal acts. 

Add to that the possibility of a revealing exploration of racism within the Capitol Police itself, which left many nonwhite officers facing down an armed mob sporting Auschwitz tee shirts and Confederate flags. 

As the Fantasyland accusations fade of mass voter frauds that gave Biden millions of fake votes, the dozens of GOP members who backed Trump’s delusions are going to look increasingly seditious as well as silly.

It remains to be seen how much of this rather sudden reversal of momentum will spill over into a broader repudiation of not just Trump but Trumpism, the grotesque continuation of the decades-long upward redistribution of wealth, negligence of our grave ecological crisis, and permanent imperial war-making. 

Trumpism, after all, is less a breach with our recent past than an exaggeration of it taken to explosive new heights. Biden has made it clear that he has no interest in turning the ship of state any more than a few degrees toward sanity, but the Democrats’ control of two branches of government now cuts away convenient excuses about what they can and cannot do. 

The Trumpster fire of last week opens the door for us to catapult the political pendulum back in a humane direction at long last. Since we create our world, it’s an opportunity not to be wasted.

Friday, 8 January 2021

Blacks elect two Deep South senators; lynch mobs descend on the Capitol


Democrats politely returned to their seats. Are we due for another round of loyal bipartisanship?

The most extraordinary scene in the extraordinary episode of January 7 occurred after the dust had settled and the solons had returned to the vandalized chambers to proceed with their deliberations.


The President had just rallied with a band of violent fanatics, some armed, to demand the overturning of the election he lost by 7 million votes. Mobs then broke into the seat of the country’s legislative branch and nearly succeeded in seizing the official records of the Electoral College vote. Members fled for safety.


One person soon lay dead of a gunshot wound. Three others died later in obscure circumstances. A uniformed officer also died of his injuries the next day (Blue Lives Matter!).


No Democrat, female, nonwhite, or insufficiently Trump-toadying Republican member hated by the invading mob was attacked physically or killed. They could have been. One camo-wearing invader was photographed carrying zip ties and other military gear.


The incidents were triggered by a bogus series of objections raised to the voting procedures that had no bearing on the wishes of the nation’s citizens but were instead attempts by the losers to find technical reasons to enable the minority to cling to power.


In a sane country run by sane individuals, this blatant attempt to cheat and interrupt the peaceful transfer of power would result in the utter repudiation of the perpetrators. They would slink away in disgrace and be compelled to apologize for their seditious plotting.


Instead, Democrats returned to their seats and quietly tolerated Lindsey Graham’s further perorations on the alleged instances of voting fraud—exactly the kind of lurid, evidence-free accusations that had stimulated the assault on the Capitol.


None of those legislators who had just escaped harm at the hands of the president’s shock troops dared to shout down the continuation of the white supremacist conspiracy. None angrily left the chamber and refused to be part of the ongoing spectacle of disloyalty to the core democratic principle of majority rule.


However, it does appear that Trump has finally, finally gone too far.


After four years of pious hand-wringing followed by votes authorizing all the key funding measures demanded by the allegedly dangerous Trump, Democrat lawmakers and their leaders are changing their tune—11 days before the end of Trump’s disastrous rule.


They were personally affected. They experienced danger to their own bodies and lives.


I guess that’s what it takes sometimes to rattle sense into people. As long as it’s happening to some other people in some other neighborhoods living some other lives, it remains a “concern.”


Someone else’s 13-year-old kid getting murdered by a trigger-happy cop? Tragic, tsk tsk.


Someone else’s family compound being drone-bombed into smithereens? We should try to avoid “collateral damage” in pursuit of our laudable war goals.


Someone else’s livelihood being threatened by capitalist dysfunction? Yes, but there is no money! We can’t be raising taxes on the middle class!


But when it touched the members of Congress themselves, all hell broke loose. Someone must pay.


Who knows how long this sudden rush of outrage will last. President Biden and his team are itching to take office and announce the End of the Bad Dream. “Looking to the future, not the past” was the slogan of the incoming administration until 48 hours ago.


I can imagine that many criminal defendants would love to employ that approach to their own circumstances: “Your Honor, I ask the court to Look to the Future, not the Past!”


It is a line tailor-made to cover up the convenient crimes that Biden will inherit and exploit. Democrats did not really oppose most of the Trump program, the proof being their control of one chamber of Congress with the power to halt it.


There is too much confluence of interests among the representatives of our ruling oligarchy to expect any sustained challenge to the outgoing Trump crime family. And I have serious doubts about any of the legal issues Trump faces prospering whether or not he tries to pardon himself as rumored.


That said, the breach of the top politicians’ assumed privilege as members of the elite has come as a shock to them. There may yet be consequences. 

Monday, 7 December 2020



We urban moderns live in a polarized psychic universe peopled on the one hand by reasonable folks, folks like ourselves, plugged into the world of facts and trusting “The Science” while across a bottomless crevasse we contemplate Them, swayed by myriad loony fantasies, concoctions once flogged only by zanies on late-night cable television who, now empowered and licensed by Trump and his cult followers, no longer amuse. Scorn dies in our throats as no imaginable harvest of facts seems to penetrate the dull shields held up by half our fellows who, like Trump himself, never acknowledge error, concede a point, or stop insulting those who dare to disagree. Dialogue, instead of the mucilage holding our social order together in a misshapen lump, becomes onerous, frustrating, even daring.

This is a comforting narrative that with which to lull ourselves back to sleep. It’s also as false a Melania Christmas card. While we sneer at the cray-cray being peddled and eagerly purchased by the mook brigades, our side has its Revealed Truths, its own BlueAnon consisting of the lies that the powerful have designed not only to get rid of Trump but of us as well. Now that we have performed as required on Nov. 3, the incoming crew wants to hear nothing more from or about us until at least 2022.

Here are a few of the myths and legends comprising Liberal Pizzagate:

Russian interference. Reporters and writers routinely refer to the “Russian interference” in the 2016 election as if that has somehow, somewhere, been demonstrated. It hasn’t. The best Robert Mueller could come up with after three years and millions of research dollars with a horde of investigators was a pathetic Russia-based ad agency fishing for clicks on social media with silly, imperceptible memes and other nonsense that couldn’t have swayed a voter with a working pulse. Mueller’s platoon of lawyers found corrupt practices, sleaze, obstruction of justice, and all-round nastiness—how could they not? And they rustled up some charges here and there. But Russian state “interference”? Zip, nada. Nonetheless, BlueAnon enthusiasts obediently repeat this demonstrably false parable. It’s not true, but it relieves us of thinking about why millions of destitute Americans might opt for a reality-show charlatan instead of the usual diet of mainstream pols—sort of like blaming bad behavior on Satan or a conjunction of the wrong planets.

Then again, foreign interference isn’t always considered a bad thing, depending on which foreigners you are thinking of. Far-rightoperatives from Colombia went to work to swing Florida, successfully, into the Trump column. But we’ll never hear much about those loyal allies, nor even a reference to Colombian or perish-the-thought Israeli “interference.”  

Another form of BlueAnon fantasy fulfillment is the routine nod to Putin-sponsored poisonings dating back to the Skirpals (whatever happened to them, by the way?), or the latest incident in Tomsk involving the obscure dissident Alexander Novolny. Putin may well be responsible for bumping off his rivals and, not being a Mossad agent, is roundly criticized here for it. But the holes in the Skirpal story are large enough to fit an entire Amazon warehouse in it, not that the gazillionaire owner of the Washington Post has any interest in doing so. Evil Boris and Natasha tried to knock off Mr Skirpal and his bystander niece because they did, and because Russia and because Putin, and don’t ask us to explain the messy details, which are of no interest to anyone. We don’t need facts because we believe The Science—as interpreted and fed to us by the U.S./U.K. intelligence agencies like medicine for which we obediently open our infant mouths.

Hunter Biden: Trump and his crew are the limit of corruption and self-dealing, OMG, how has the Republic come to this? So let’s not get distracted by obvious KGB disinformation that might suggest an equivalent sleaze farm emitting its noxious ooze on our team’s side, shall we? Obviously, if a rude, crude piece of work like the Javankas are caught lining their pockets, the team set and ready to take over from them must be given the benefit of the doubt. Otherwise, where would we be? Without credible leadership of any sort, and then we might have to take action ourselves. Meanwhile, the authenticity of Hunter’s emails outlining how he cashed in on daddy’s name has never been denied—just don’t mention it in polite company, or we’ll get Neera Tanden to shove you into silence. Loyal BlueAnons already have decided that Putin drummed up that whole story, based on zero evidence and a lot of innuendo, kind of like how Fox News decided Obama was born in Kenya.

Poison gas: no, not referring to the steady stream of propaganda about “America’s place in the world” originating in the war-ready incoming team of Bidenites. We refer to real poison gas, like the kind Assad clearly-obviously-unmistakably used against civilians on numerous occasions during the civil war in Syria. Except that those conveniently timed episodes very likely were a fiction engineered by the spook agencies to further the war aims of the U.S. and its jihadist allies who, suddenly, are paragons of virtue when they carry out the empire’s wishes instead of bombing New York. BlueAnons, however, firmly know that chlorine gas and sarin and kryptonite were definitely totally dropped on Syrian civilians, which means the U.S. has to do whatever it has to do, and let’s not discuss it further.

Speaking of what’s not to discuss, absolutely do not breathe a word about the ongoing imprisonment and kangaroo court trial of a reporter who exposed U.S. war crimes and may be put away for life. We BlueAnons defend the Free Press against the horrible not-quite-but-almost-Mussolini Trump who calls reporters “enemies of the people” and would lock up his enemies given half a chance. There is completely no comparison to our disinterest in Julian Assange because he’s creepy, didn’t empty his cat litter box, and isn’t a real journalist because of some explanation or other, who cares? What’s for lunch?

It’s great that we can now get back to smart, decent people in the White House, people who will defend the public interest against the thieving banks, the polluting industries, the planet-endangering fossil fuel companies, the security state, the runaway cops armed to the teeth, and the exploiting landlords threatening to put us all out on the street. And finally, at long last, we can hear solid facts from our esteemed leaders, the ones who know to put The Science first and not peddle us a pack of flimsy lies. BlueAnon forever!

Monday, 9 November 2020

Floridians Voted for Donald Trump and a $15 Minimum Wage: Discuss

Considering our shared pride in the country’s democratic history, there was remarkably little reference during the tedious coverage of the election results last week to a glaring fact: we don’t elect the candidate with the most votes.

There were hours of back-and-forth about whether the counting process for mail-in votes was efficient, fair, clean, even-handed, and auditable. There was mockery of Trump’s evidence-free accusations of fraud and of his partisans’ extraordinary chant of “Stop the Count!”


There was endless parsing of the voting patterns in suburban Atlanta and the margin of Trump’s advantage in Appalachian Pennsylvania. There was ample speculation about what kinds of legal challenges might get a hearing before the Supreme Court now dominated by hard-line Trumpians.


But in my time before the screens of CNN, the networks, the online shows, and a dozen websites, there was not one reference to the fact that the entire election was going to be decided on a technicality, i.e., whether or not certain margins of victory in certain arbitrarily drawn border lines favored one candidate or the other.


No one ever once looked at the camera and said, “The voting citizens of the United States of America prefer, by a convincing majority, Candidate X over Candidate Y.” Not even those appealing to Trump to climb down from his baseless rants ever dared to suggest that Trump should stand aside in the spirit of respect for democracy’s most primordial and defining expression: majority rule.


Of course, the distortions of the Electoral College are long established; everyone knows them from the outset and has no choice but to play by those bizarre rules. Yet the unquestioned agreement to ignore the profoundly anti-democratic nature of these same rules is another form of collective amnesia. (And incidentally, if they consistently favored the D team rather than the R team, you can bet we would be hearing about them plenty.)


But the strange consensus that our most important election is not democratic and doesn’t need to be reflects a deeper reality: that what people want isn’t on the ballot at all. Popular will has no virtually chance of becoming policy. Herein lies not only an insight into why Trump’s 2016 victory was not a fluke but also a clear strategic path toward making sure the Biden presidency does not collapse and pave the way for the rule of Trump II, headed by someone far more adept than Trump and therefore orders of magnitude more dangerous.


Trump won the first time around because neither party had lifted any of its bipartisan fingers to take care of people’s basic needs. They had presided over 40 years of wage deterioration and job destruction, topped off by a massive housing fraud crisis that left 8 million families in foreclosure. They then hastened to let off scot-free those responsible for this debacle while Obama emitted soaring phrases about abstract principles. Trump opportunistically denounced the ruling elite’s corruption, promised to reverse it, and blamed immigrants.


It’s easy to shake one’s weary head in disbelief that anyone, much less 70 million souls, could still consider Trump presidential material four years later after his appalling record and crude racism. That said, how do we explain the comfortable majority in Florida, many of whom were stirred into action by fears of “socialism” and Castro/Chávez-style dictatorship, who voted to establish a $15 minimum wage, one of the key planks of Bernie Sanders’ campaign?


Furthermore, how do we explain the ongoing popularity—depending on how it is phrased—of Medicare for All, i.e., a healthcare system freed from the grip of for-profit insurance companies?


Even easier: how is it that Trump voters not only were unimpressed with the accusations of Russian interference in the 2016 election but also to this day show little enthusiasm for starting a new set of wars? Probably most Biden voters also have no interest in going to war with Russia or China or Iran—will we have our wishes fulfilled? In short, does our voting preference have anything at all to do with the policies that our “representatives” then adopt?


Our history is full of anti-democratic tendencies, from the institution of chattel slavery that deprived people of even autonomous personhood, followed by the systematic disenfranchisement of the Jim Crow era and its more modern forms such as voter ID laws, gerrymandering, purging of the rolls, and precinct restrictions. Women were excluded, and political office still remains largely a male preserve 100 years later. Republicans know that as a minority party representing minority positions they can only remain in control through cheating.


But there are more subtle forms of voter suppression as well, those at which Democrats excel because they involve avoiding the kinds of voter mobilization that would subject them to pressure to fulfill the few campaign promises they still feel obliged to make. AOC lambasted the party leadership this week by outlining how she offered to help her colleagues with their digital strategy, an offer taken up only by five candidates (who all won). Party bosses were more enthusiastic about the Lincoln Project, which flushed $60-some million down the commode producing TV nastygrams aimed at the elusive Trump-hostile Republicans. Meanwhile, the national party again short-changed the local state races that could have put them in a better position for the redistricting that soon will occur based on the manipulated Trump census.


Here in New York, grassroots operations in Brooklyn again swept a slew of progressive candidates into the statehouse, and the local poobahs don’t like it one bit. They prefer the old system with low turnouts and widespread voter apathy that preserved the control of party power brokers over who got to Albany and what they did there.


But the best example of what mainstream Democrats typically refuse to do and what would happen if they did is the admirable work done by Stacey Abrams in Georgia. Her voter registration campaign brought an estimated 800,000 new voters into play, reversed Republican voter suppression efforts, and clearly turned Georgia for Biden. That would never have happened with the typical reliance on mindless TV ads that enrich the permanent consultant class but don’t impress voters. Her work will take on enormous significance now that two Senate races in Georgia are still up for grabs, which will determine who controls that the upper chamber. If Democrats were a bit more committed to democracy, they would imitate her example across the country—but that would mean having to curry the favor of the energized new voters rather than the financiers and lobbyists with who form their real based.


Having elections is undoubtedly better than not having them—I’ve lived under both systems and prefer the former. But the notion that We the People express our will through our and votes and see our wishes carried out in the halls of formal power is a nice dream that bears little resemblance to how we actually live. It might even partly explain why 70 million people continue to support a guy who for four years performed like a crude nightclub act and showed the country his rosy bum at the end of every stand-up.


His voters blame “liberals” or some variation of that title, sometimes including minority populations and Honduran peasants who crept across the Texas border and supposedly have it great. Or perhaps it’s hostility and resentment about prosperous urban woke-oids who take virtuous positions on things that don’t affect them while ignoring the plight of left-behind workers destroyed by de-industrialization, wage suppression, opioids, and mortgage fraud. Maybe they resent the worshipful attitudes toward Barack Obama who had eight years to address all those things and didn’t. Maybe they have racialist attitudes as well, and being Americans that would hardly be surprising. Maybe some of them resent blacks and still voted for Obama twice before turning to a radical new version of Change.


This isn’t a defense of the Trump cult, but rather a call to action to prevent it from morphing into something much scarier than its current goofy manifestation. Florida showed Biden what he might think about doing if he wants to swing the state back into the blue column—serious action on the miserable wages American workers now “enjoy.” And why not add relief from the crushing medical debt that Obamacare barely dented, a lifebuoy for bankrupted college graduates looking for a way out of penury, and a public works program massive enough to place a permanent support under the job market?


A good way to start is with the national COVID plan: why are we shooting ourselves in the collective foot by insisting that we either have to close down economic activity to save ourselves from the pandemic or let Grandma die? Why set up two hostile camps between the public health/safety crowd and the get-us-back-to-work/we’re-going-under crowd? Instead, stop the Federal Reserve money spigots from pumping up overpriced financial assets (further enriching billionaires) and instead turn them onto the working population and the drowning small businesses for the duration of the medical emergency. Yes, this might require federal spending and facing down opposition from Mitch McConnell. So do it! Confront the saboteurs, ream them publicly on national TV night after night, denounce their obstructionism, and call them enemies of the people. You have four years of precedent behind you.


If the election just held were truly an exercise of popular sovereignty, this is exactly what would be happening in Biden’s first weeks. Absent a massive uprising to demand a people-first program, however, Biden is likely to sink into the familiar arena of favoring his rich donors, making pattycake with his old buddies in the Senate, and coasting along on autopilot. It will be called a “return to civility,” and the dissidents like AOC and Bernie will be denounced for creating “division” if they don’t go along. But the Warren Hardingesque “return to normalcy” the pundits now clamor for won’t be enough. If they get their way, they’ll be weeping in 2024 and wondering WTF happened—once again.

P.S. I was way off in my predictions of a decisive repudiation of Trumpism. I still think it will happen sooner or later. 

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Saturday, 31 October 2020

No, No, No (Step One)


We New Yorkers don’t attract any attention in the presidential sweepstakes as our 29 electoral votes are safely blue. But because we are getting pummeled by political ads for some hot congressional races—one in a Staten Island-Brooklyn district and another for a seat representing the Long Island suburbs—we get a chance to view what passes for political debate in our beleaguered nation.

It’s not an encouraging picture.

The Malliotakis-Rose slugfest on Staten Island pits a Blue Dog Democrat against a garden variety Republican. The advertising battle, which has cost some $7 million so far, is presumably aimed at some tiny slice of undecideds. The two candidates relentlessly and repetitively smack each other over who is more pro-cop, pro-military, and better able to pander to the fears of white conservatives who apparently anticipate hordes of dark-skinned gang members popping up in their back yards. Malliotakis’s ads show retired NYPD officers standing around bemoaning how much they suffer; Rose’s brags about how he fought to add a half billion dollars to the NYPD budget on top of the $6 billion a year they now get. Rose also appears in his service camos and showcases his support from veterans.

No one dares breathe a hint of criticism of the force responsible for the very public 2014 strangulation death of Eric Garner in that same district. Voters disturbed by that event are invisible.

A similar dynamic is at play in the Gordon-Gabarino race in New York’s 2nd district, which now extends beyond Nassau County into exurban Suffolk. The district was reliably blue until going heavily for Trump in 2016. But it also consistently re-elected retiring Islamaphobe and torture enthusiast Peter King to Congress for more than a decade.

A TV viewer wouldn’t know much about Republican Gabarino since until recently he didn't promote himself at all but instead spent his campaign chest on trashing Jackie Gordon, the Democrat running neck-and-neck with him for King’s seat. For her part, Gordon foregrounds her stint as an army officer and flashes photos of herself fully suited up and ready for action wherever the Empire sends her. Any voter wondering if the nation’s treasure is wisely spent maintaining hundreds of foreign bases and intervening in every conceivable corner of the world has nowhere to go for a thoughtful discussion.

Speaking of thought or discussion, little to none of either is on display in these insanely expensive artillery barrages of jangling imagery. Whichever of these four candidates eventually decamps for Washington, D.C., it is fair to assume that those who provided the millions they just spent chewing up the psychic terrain will be calling the shots. So we can expect minor tussles over how much (or little) to regulate the plutocrats, how many overseas wars we need to engage in (not whether we need an empire), how cleverly to chip away at the Medicare/Social Security/food stamp safety net, what kinds of deficit-reducing austerity is needed to rein in the GOP spending spree, how much window-dressing will be required to cover up Trump’s onslaught on the environment, what soothing phrases are needed to resassure us of our “bold commitment” to fix climate change, etc. 

That is, given the total control of the process by the holders of the moneybags, how to keep things mostly where they are today while the masses, dumbed down by this fantasy wrestling match, remain enthralled.

That said, the significance of the imminent election is perhaps less about our vision of the future than mass dissatisfaction with the present. The residents and citizens of Chile, where I lived for two decades, had a similar opportunity in 1988 when the military dictatorship staged a plebiscite on Pinochet’s continued rule. The voting options were “YES” and “NO,” and NO won in a walk. Or as a saucy opposition newspaper headlined it, “Pinochet Runs Alone and Comes in Second.”

Trump isn’t running alone, but he might as well be. Biden, so undefined as to be virtually (and for a while literally) invisible, is a stand-in for “None of the Above.” Under normal circumstances, a good half of the population would have done the traditional thing and ignored the voting business entirely. But to know what you do want, it helps to know what you don't want. 

This time, people have realized that not only is the country’s policy direction at stake but also our ability to have anything at all to say about it in the future. Scroll down for a prediction in which I boldly risk total humiliation.

Whether you agree with me or not, political discourse remains woefully debased despite this glimmer of light. So what does it mean for the rickety ship of state plowing through rapidly heating oceans? 

I’d say that at the very least it means the imbalances, strains, and festering crises that produced Trump are going to be largely intact long after his departure. Instead of the urgently needed crackdown on financier looting of the economy, we will have more bailouts of zombie enterprises and more backstopping of corporate debt bubbles by Wall Street’s ICU nurses at the Fed. 

Instead of emergency alleviation of human economic distress, we will have slavish attention to stock prices. 

Instead of Medicare for All, complex new means-tested partial repairs of the damage done to Obamacare; instead of infrastructure stimulus spending, piecemeal public-private partnerships designed to buy off this or that lobby; instead of a living minimum wage, “bipartisan” bonuses exchanged for corporate immunity from COVID lawsuits. 

Instead of the Green New Deal, the same old deals for the green.

Could anything interrupt this discouraging scenario under a President Biden? Yes: sustained, militant mobilization by large numbers of people immune to bullshit promises. There are several elements contained in that phrase.

“Sustained”: Mobilization doesn’t mean a big march, even a gigantic march. Those are easily ignored with some calming rhetoric, at which Democrats are expert.

“Militant”: The demands have to be practical, focused, and radical. The usual timid reforms should be rejected as woefully incommensurate with the gravity of the situation on all fronts.

“Large numbers”: We need people to refuse to go back to sleep just because Trump is finally not in our faces any more. This is a tough one given the desire of so many to do exactly that.

“People immune to bullshit”: Even tougher. Democrats love to convince us that they are on our side and that we should just trust them and wait. Many cautious liberals want nothing more. Success requires that we refuse on both counts and say so clearly. Results are convincing; cordial tea parties aren’t.

It is popular to say that the Democrats are craven, weak, or incompetent. This is false. They are extremely skilled at doing what they want to do: pretend to side with popular demands, neutralize them, and protect the status quo. What looks like failure is actually its exact opposite. Their role is to soothe the populace into passivity with promises of a bright future on a “someday” that never comes. Once in power, they’ll call for “coming together,” “reconciliation,” and renewed “bipartisanship” because their class interests are fully compatible with most of the Trump program, and they will only overturn it at the point of a spear. We, the abused majority, have been bullied for too long.

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P.S. My prediction for Tuesday (once all votes are in): Biden carries all the swing states, plus Texas, and amasses 413 electoral votes.

Thursday, 15 October 2020

The King is (or will be) dead; Vive le Roi!


Trump has outlived his usefulness, will be jettisoned

The plutocrats have amassed such vast wealth and such a tight grip on all the levers of power and influence that they need not jimmy the electoral college again to shoehorn Donald Trump into a second term. Had they been facing the prospect of, say, a Bernie Sanders presidency, the calculus would have been quite different. But with a lifelong defender of elites standing by promising to do essentially nothing once Trump goes, they can watch benignly while the Donald blows up his campaign and himself; they can welcome the Blues, count their fresh billions, and start the process of wiping their fingerprints off the weird Trumpian interregnum. The next period will be for consolidation.

The insanely rich must have been just as surprised as the rest of us at Trump’s bizarre march to the White House, but he offered them a chance to loot the nation’s wealth unparalleled in history and probably even in their wildest imaginations. Corruption and self-dealing are not just permitted during Trump’s pathetic reign; it is state policy. Taxes were long ago dismissed with a sneer. Environmental protections have been gutted; regulatory restraints are smashed far beyond even what Reagan and the Bush duo engineered. Financial manipulation, stock-price inflation, private equity looting, pension theft, contracting boondoggles—everything was and is there for the taking as long as you’re clever enough to make sure a Trump relative or surrogate is riding along on the gravy train. Anyone unable to salt away a sweet fortune under these conditions just doesn’t have the heart of an oligarch.

Trump’s smash-and-grab style was certainly nontraditional and probably, for some of the classier crooks and war criminals, distasteful. But it was deadly effective, and business is business (Meyer Lansky). The Democrats largely stuck to their assigned role of staged indignation and outrage calibrated to always fall short of effective resistance, except when Trump proved unenthusiastic about aggressive posturing for future wars. Much has been written about Trump’s eager packing of the federal courts with ideological hatchet men (long before the latest Supreme Court drama) though considerably less about Chuck Schumer’s complicity in facilitating it. Trump does the dirty work; the Democrats collude and avoid blame.

The incoming Democrats can spend at least one full presidential term pretending to repair the damage and wishing upon a star for the bipartisanship unicorn to reappear. A lot of anticipatory articles are couched in the language of restoration along the lines of, “Will a Biden Administration be able to repair the damage to [fill in the blank]?” This rhetorical construction assumes they actually want to, a fact not in evidence. Look no further than the campaign ads put out by our local Blue Dog Democrat, Max Rose, who urges his Staten Island neighbors to vote for him because he “supports Trump” and hates the city’s (Democrat) mayor. Rose’s campaign chest is bursting with $5.7 million, 70% of it from “large individual contributions.” Cue Nancy Pelosi telling us next January that her new majority backed by a Democrat president can’t possibly do very much because of foot-dragging by members like Rose, eagerly promoted by the corporate Democrat mainstream. 


Electoral fiddle-faddle at home and abroad

Though Biden’s accelerating lead may preclude any election night funny business, Trump is obviously capable of declaring himself the winner and setting loose a horde of lawyers to block the counting of mailed-in ballots likely to favor Democrats. There are certainly precedents. For example, back in January (yes, this year, though it feels like a century ago) try if you can to remember that there was a primary race among a slew of Democrat candidates for president. One of them had a slight lead just as the fancy new Iowa Democratic party-financed app broke down in mid-count; he declared himself the winner. Turned out that Sanders had actually won more votes, but that crucial next-day headline awarded the win to Mayor Pete Buttigieg who took advantage of the completely coincidental snafu. The Bernie-block favor surely merits Mayor B a cabinet post in a Biden Administration. 

Of course, that was just an early fight over front-runner status in a primary, but what about a contest where actual state power is at stake? We have another recent example that Trump could imitate, the intervention of the Organization of American States almost exactly one year ago to declare Bolivia’s presidential vote count suspicious and spark the coup d’état that ousted Evo Morales from the presidency and the country. The OAS, with a U.S.-friendly diplomat at the helm, jumped the gun as the pro-Morales vote trickled in from districts where he was stronger, calling it vote manipulation when it was probably simple voter dynamics. The country has been ruled by a fanatical Christian autocrat ever since who has conveniently flipped Bolivia's foreign policy positions to great satisfaction in D.C. 

What goes around, comes around. Americans shouldn’t be surprised if Trump sees how the U.S. jiggers elections overseas and decides to try the same here at home.


“America is not a democracy.”

Thanks to Utah Sen. Mike Lee for saying the nasty part out loud. Of course, people who had that illusion should get out more—what part of the electoral college, statehouse gerrymandering, voter suppression, and mass bribery in the legislative process did you not notice earlier? Not to mention slavery, Jim Crow, and the last 40 years of Republicrat cooperation to ship our industrial base to China and leave Youngstown an Amazon warehouse and a supply of oxy.

The Trump gang has done us a huge favor by ripping off the fig leaf that has lightly covered the unlovely junk of modern financier capitalism, the profoundly undemocratic system now fully installed and dominating our Second Gilded Age. As Lee tweeted, “rank” democracy can thwart what he calls our shared objectives: “liberty, peace, and prospefity [sic].” All those smelly citizens just don’t understand how lucky they are as we march steadily toward ever more prospefity, defined among Lee’s GOP mates as “more wheelbarrows full of cash for us and our friends.” The rest of you can piss off up a rope and die of starvation (or Covid). Installing the Conehead woman on the Supreme Court is of a piece: they don’t even pretend to care that she represents nothing but their narrow class interests.


Hunter Biden’s emails 

The entire liberal-ish media universe has its collective BVDs in a major knot over whether anyone should breath a word about this story of Biden fils and his shenaningans in Ukrainian fossil fuels, given their suddenly high evidentiary reporting standards. This is the same passel of Beltway ho’s who have pumped up every fact-free accusation emanating from the security apparatus from the pee tape to the bogus Novichok poisonings and the Russian bounty for killing innocent Americans wearing military uniforms in a foreign country. Whispered rumors from “intelligence officials” get blown all over the front pages, but possible dirt on the anointed candidate’s family is suddenly off limits. Then again, what possible journalistic protocol could matter to a political system that impeached Donald Trump for allegedly bribing the Ukrainian government for policy favors while ignoring Biden’s proud public statements that he did the same? The only difference is that Biden got what he wanted, and Trump didn’t. 

Thursday, 1 October 2020

The Last Days (previews)


Dictated directly from my informants in The Beyond: 

Oct. 1 Both the Biden and Trump camps declare a crushing victory in the Sept. 29 debate. Reporters find voters in Utah, North Carolina, and Texas whose preferences were swayed during the event; two of the three promptly fall back into comas.

Oct. 2 Mitch McConnell shepherds Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett through the Capitol building in an attempt to meet with Democratic senators. A poorly dressed middle-aged woman resembling Chuck Schumer is seen ducking into the pages’ locker room.

Oct. 3 HHS Secretary Alex Azar appoints new communications staff with sweeping powers over all public statements from the CDC, the FDA, the NIH, the Indian Health Service, the Agency for Toxic Substances, and the Administration for Community Living. QAnon websites go dark; searchers are redirected to <>.

Oct. 4 CDC chief Robert Redfield testifies at a House subcommittee on guidelines for the reopening of daycare centers; next door, an 8-member Supreme Court upholds a South Carolina state law prohibiting childcare by unrelated adults.

Oct. 5 A $1.2 billion no-bid COVID contract comes to light when a convoy of Chinese container ships carrying masks, gowns and plastic shields creates a bottleneck in the Cayman Islands’ territorial waters, headquarters of a logistics firm “owned” by a newsstand vendor in Latvia. Island officials row out to inform the Chinese captains that the purchasing company is actually a post office box.

Oct. 6 Georgia residents receive a mass mailing instructing them to be sure to vote on Nov. 4. Some are puzzled that the election had been changed to a Wednesday.

Oct. 7 Education Secretary Betsy de Ville Vos issues a nationwide New Common Core curriculum for all K-6 students with lessons on “lesser-known Americans,” including Andrew Mellon, Charles Ponzi, and Nathan Bedford Forrest.

Oct. 8 The Ohio legislature passes a law closing all state polling places at 2:30 p.m., except in rural counties “where the farmers need extra time.” The Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia agrees to hear arguments on a motion to halt enactment of the measure.

Oct. 9 Several members of the DC court mysteriously fail to arrive at their chambers. A Proud Bois Instagram account contains an obscure allusion to “study tours” of the Philippine legal system. Maine senator Susan Collins calls the absences “puzzling.”

Oct. 10 GOP-controlled Senate convenes a lightning session to confirm 12 Senior Fellows of the Federalist Society to fill unexpected vacancies on the DC Court of Appeals. A vote is scheduled for the afternoon.

Oct. 11 President Trump announces a breakthrough vaccine that will prevent Coronavirus infection, boost liver enzymes, and cure scabies. All Federal employees will be given the injection “unless they are Deep State saboteurs trying to undermine our brilliant scientists.” Government workers break into the embassy of Azerbaijan and request asylum.

Oct. 12 Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski asks the Federal Judicial Police to open an investigation into the disappearance of appeals court justices but says she will vote to confirm the president’s replacement nominees. “The sanctity of our judicial system must be preserved,” she says.

Oct. 13 Trump orders the Federal Judicial Police to ignore Murkowski’s request. “Some of these guys were so old they probably wandered off.” Open-carry supporters arrive en masse at Murkowski’s office in Anchorage to remind her of their Second Amendment rights.

Oct. 14 Joe Biden comments on the Appeals court disappearances. “I call on my Republican colleagues to do the right thing and help us look for these guys,” he says. “They can’t have gone far.”

Oct. 15 Absentee voters in Iowa receive ballots accidentally saran-wrapped with Trump campaign literature. Officials blame a glitch by an out-of-state vendor. Reporters find the beneficial owner to be the same newsstand vendor in Latvia who ordered 8 million face masks. Helmuts Blovanis says (through an interpreter) “I just signed for a registered letter, and then all these people started calling me. Where is High-owa?”

More urgent messages to follow!