Donald Trump

Error message

Deprecated function: The each() function is deprecated. This message will be suppressed on further calls in _menu_load_objects() (line 579 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/menu.inc).

In the Wake of the Riots: The Blowback from Defeating Trump was Criminalizing Dissent

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 27/01/2021 - 6:36am in

The Capitol building riot of January 6 marked the messiest transition in the recent history of ruling class power from one chief executive of the capitalist world to the next. If that history is any guide, the change of guard neither portends better treatment of working people nor a reduction of the threat of fascism.

Trump may have been booted off the mainstage, but the next act promises to be worse. Beyond the particularities of either Mr. Trump’s or Mr. Biden’s personalities, or even the parties they represent, fundamental institutional factors have, and will likely continue, to determine the trajectory of neoliberal capitalism towards an ever more authoritarian state. Austerity for workers, and imperialism abroad.

 

Trajectory of neoliberalism

Neoliberalism is the current form of capitalism in the U.S., replacing the New Deal regime that incorporated elements of social democracy. Jimmy Carter foreshadowed the neoliberal era with his mantra of deregulation and small government. The “small” referred to the state’s role to ensure the social well-being of its constituents, but not its coercive functions, which would expand.

Next came the full-blown neoliberal Reagan revolution. When Democrat Bill Clinton became president, he did not reverse the trajectory of neoliberalism. Instead, he extended it by passing NAFTA, ending “welfare as we know it,” contributing to mass incarceration, deregulating banking, and launching wars of his own. And in those endeavors, he was assisted by then-Senator Joe Biden.

While Republicans and Democrats are not the same, no lesser an authority than then-President Obama explained that the “divide” is “not that wide” with “differences on the details” but not on “policy.” Differences between the two parties lie in their “rhetoric and the tactics versus ideological differences.”

Biden may bring some relief: he will be better about wearing COVID masks and is rejoining the voluntary Paris Climate Agreement. But as a whole, there will be more distinctions without differences as with the two parties’ response to the existential threat of global warming: one denies it; the other believes in it, but fails to combat it. Under oilman George W. Bush, U.S. oil production declined. Under his Democratic successor, production nearly doubled with Obama bragging, “we’ve added enough new oil and gas pipeline to circle the Earth and then some.”

Biden defended fracking, promised the military-industrial complex that war appropriations would be maintained, and guaranteed Wall Street “nothing would fundamentally change.” Next Secretary of State Antony Blinken assured the new administration’s imperialist policies would follow Trump’s, but will “more effectively target” official enemies such as Venezuela and will double down on Russia.

 

The devolution of Donald Trump

According to the rulebook for bourgeois democracy, the POTUS. serves the interests of the owners of capital. To legitimize this arrangement, elections are staged to give the appearance of choice, but only those who can raise billions of dollars can successfully run. The blatant buying of candidates by the rich is protected as “free speech” by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The presidential primary is an audition contest where hopefuls prove they can appeal to the voters while being vetted by funders. Donald Trump gamed that extravaganza riding on his TV reality show celebrity and personal wealth. He was lavished with billions of dollars of free TV coverage because his antics boosted ratings. Hillary Clinton and the DNC, as revealed by Wikileaks, abetted his campaign.

Against expectations, Trump became number 45. Throughout most of his presidency, his rule was garden variety neoliberalism with a veneer of racist, nativist populism. Despite hyperbole from left-liberals, Trump was no more a fascist than was Biden socialist.

Trump erratically made rhetorical feints against establishment orthodoxy “to get out of endless wars to bring our soldiers back home, not be policing agents all over the world.” He railed: “Unelected deep state operatives who defy the voters to push their own secret agendas are truly a threat to democracy itself.” Last spring and into summer such maverick utterances gave way to anti-China, anti-BLM, and anti-socialist rants. The veneer of hard-right populism became increasingly Trump’s essence as he careened towards the debacle of January 6.

 

Was January 6 a riot or a coup?

The event of January 6 was a demonstration turned riot, leaving five fatalities. But did it rise to the level of a coup?

After storming the Capitol building and taking selfies, the demonstrators simply left after a few hours. Regardless of the intentions of the inscrutable Mr. Trump, the clumsy and violent attempt to influence the electoral process by disruption did not and could not have led to the seizure of state power because all the institutions of state were aligned against him along with a nearly unanimous ruling class.

The Democrats, most of the corporate media, and much of the left reported a premeditated attempted coup, focusing on the violence, collusion by police and Republican politicians, and the racist nature of elements of the crowd. Their emphasis afterward has been on the punishment of the Trumpsters so as not to “embolden” fascism, while downplaying the need to address root causes: treating the symptoms and not the disease.

Some right-wing media claimed that Trump walked into a trap designed to discredit and isolate him. A poll taken shortly after the incident found 68% of Republicans believed Antifa incited the violence. Although such involvement is highly unlikely, the poll suggests many Trump partisans did not favor the violence and thought it was a false flag operation.

Putting the event to the cui bono test (who benefits), the outcome went badly for Donald Trump. The flight into the Democratic Party’s big tent precipitously accelerated by members of Trump’s own party, his administration officials, military brass, and security state spooks, leaving a sitting president with little more than his next of kin to comfort him. His prime creditors, the Deutsche and Signature banks, dropped him. Cutting to the quick, even the U.S. Professional Golfers’ Association canceled their scheduled tournament at one of his golf courses.

 

The preparation for fascist rule

Fascism is a form of capitalist rule where the legitimizing role of elections is done away with in favor of more authoritarian means of maintaining elite hegemony. If the façade of bourgeois democracy can be maintained, the ruling elites have no need to impose a dictatorship over themselves to preserve their class rule.

Analogies made of Trump to Hitler are misleading. While material conditions for many Americans are distressing, they are not as dire as Weimar Germany. Nor do the Proud Boys and company approximate the hundreds of thousands of trained and armed paramilitaries under Hitler’s direct command. Most importantly, the mass working-class communist and socialist parties in pre-Nazi Germany were positioned to contend for state power.

As long as such contending forces are absent, the U.S. ruling elites have little incentive to resort to a fascist dictatorship. But that does not mean that they need not prepare for the contingency of fascist rule, which is where the present danger resides.

Capitol Riots

Jill Biden surprises National Guard troops outside the Capitol with cookies, Jan. 22, 2021. Jacquelyn Martin | AP

The collateral damage of the Democrats’ offensive against Trump may turn out to be the left. Bans from social media and broad definitions of sedition have been and will be used to suppress progressive expression and action. Particularly misguided is the leftist acquiescence to the establishment’s call for yet new repressive legislation, such as Biden’s domestic anti-terrorism measures. Even existing hate crime legislation has been used to disproportionately target people of color.

Already on the books, Obama’s abrogation of habeas corpus and Biden’s incarceration state legislation facilitate fascist rule. The Democrats’ romance with the FBI, CIA, and other coercive institutions of the unelected permanent state may be harbingers of a dystopian future. That supermajorities of Democrats in Congress voted to extend the Patriot Act and for the war budget should be warnings that supporting Democrats to defeat Republicans risks falling into the pit of preemptive fascism.

Proposed cures for Trump’s purported fascism may cultivate the disease. The blowback from the victory over Trump is criminalizing resistance to the government.

 

Trump’s second impeachment

The left-liberal framing of January 6 as a violent fascist assault has some validity, though it paints the tens of thousands of demonstrators all in one color, failing to put to the forefront the underlying causes of right populism. Underplayed is the distress that has fed the movement led by Trump.

That 74 million voted for such a repugnant figure is proof that folks are hurting and looking for relief. Not all Trump voters identify with the racist, populist right veering towards fascism. Many are traditional Republicans, fiscal conservatives, and simply people – seeing the bankruptcy of liberalism – who voted for what they perceived as the lesser evil. Within that assemblage, from a progressive point of view, are those that can be won over, those to be neutralized, and those to be defeated.

The second impeachment of Trump was a gift allowing the Democrats to appear to take decisive action. This symbolic gesture did not cost their donor class, nor did it address relief from the pandemic and the economic turndown. Had timely $2000 stimulus checks been distributed, some of the wind might have been taken out of the Stop the Steal demonstration on the 6th.

With Democratic majorities in both houses, Congress refuses to vote on Medicare for All at a time when record numbers of people have lost their health insurance while being threatened by a deadly virus. The Squad demonstrated that they were more beholden to their party’s leadership than their constituents’ health but got off the hook of #ForceTheVote with the distraction of the Capitol building riot.

 

The neoliberal order’s impending crisis of legitimacy

Neoliberal capitalism is heading into a crisis of legitimacy as the system proves itself increasingly incapable of meeting the needs of its people. Class disparities during an economic recession are ever more evident.

U.S. billionaires added $4 trillion to their net worth since the onset of the pandemic. That obscene windfall was a product, not of a rising economy, but of a bi-partisan policy to benefit the class the politicians serve. Meanwhile, the politicians are still bickering over a stimulus package that will be a fraction of what was already gifted to the superrich.

Petty partisan sectarianism by both major parties is on full display. Republicans believe the Democrats stole the 2020 election; Democrats believe the Russians stole the 2016 election. Three-quarters of the U.S. population agrees the country is heading in the wrong direction. Overall, the failing institutions of bourgeois democracy are being seen as fraudulent.

Although conditions appear ripe for fundamental challenges to the capitalist system, incipient challenges have either been defeated or co-opted. The November presidential election was noteworthy, given two truly unattractive candidates. Rather than a rejection of the two corporate parties through abstention and third-party resurgence, the opposite happened with the absorption of a historically vast popular mobilization contained within the two major parties of capital.

Trump’s and Sanders’s campaigns both spoke to popular discontent, though with different messages. That these potential insurgencies could be contained within the two-party duopoly is a testament to the current strength of bourgeois institutions. Trump’s stepped out of bounds and was crushed. The other attempt was derailed by the DNC, and the campaign co-opted into supporting neoliberalism.

 

The resistance

Bernie Sanders has been unfairly criticized for not leading a progressive insurgency out of the Democratic Party. But Sanders has always been a principled epigone in the Democratic Party who would not bolt for fear of facilitating a Trump victory. Sanders is kept around for his ability to give the Democrats a false patina of progressivism.

Had the Resistance been the genuine article and not the “Assistance,” the political landscape would have been different. Instead, the progressive movement massively capitulated.

The slogan “dump Trump and then battle Biden” of the self-described “progressive thinkers” was at best ingenuine, because they surrendered their guns – their vote – before going into battle. Now, these leftists of faint heart – having passed the “we have to hold our nose and vote Democratic” phase – are in the “hopeful” phase of their perpetual four-year lesser-evil cycle. This soon will be followed by the predictable “so terribly disappointed” phase and then a brief “we’ve been sold out” phase.

The Trumpsters are more perceptive; they go directly to the “sold out” phase. Ashli Babbitt recorded a video, yelling “you guys fail to choose America over your stupid political party.” Shortly thereafter, draped in a Trump flag, she was silenced, fatally shot by Capitol Police. The system failed her and millions more, and it is at our peril to ignore their cries of anguish. She had no illusions about failed liberal pretensions, which is a clue why right-wing populism is on the rise in the U.S. and globally.

Indicative of the current state of the left is that “red states” are rightwing. Ralph Nader has been haranguing the liberal-left to get outraged for decades. No one has to make that plea to the populist right, whose outrage is manifest and dangerous. Trump may recede, but right populism will not because the conditions that foster it continue.

As the neoliberal state’s crisis of legitimacy matures, anti-terrorism laws and the institutional apparatus of fascist repression are being perfected to use against future insurgencies. Tahe left is faced with serious challenges, from (1) the neoliberal state and (2) right populism precipitated by failures of that state, and will need to develop effective means of struggle on both fronts.

Feature photo | A padlock secures a guarded access gate outside the Capitol, two days after the inauguration of President Joe Biden, Jan. 22, 2021, in Washington. Rebecca Blackwell | AP

Roger D. Harris is on the state central committee of the Peace and Freedom Party, the only ballot-qualified socialist party in California.

The post In the Wake of the Riots: The Blowback from Defeating Trump was Criminalizing Dissent appeared first on MintPress News.

The GOP at the Crossroads

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 27/01/2021 - 4:17am in

What is taking oxygen today is the war between the two factions of the Republican Party: the Trump faction and the business faction. Continue reading

The post The GOP at the Crossroads appeared first on BillMoyers.com.

Selections from The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 26/01/2021 - 6:48am in

Selections from essays published in the Dangerous Case of Donald Trump. Continue reading

The post Selections from <i>The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump</i> appeared first on BillMoyers.com.

Despite His Attempt to Tie MAGA to Anti-Semitism, Biden Will Preserve Trump’s “Israel First” Legacy 

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 26/01/2021 - 4:59am in

The cantankerous end to the turbulent Trump presidency has imbued the incoming administration with a halo of bright expectations by simple virtue of the disastrous four years that precede it. Like a stand-up feature act that follows an opener’s bombed set at a comedy club, the Biden-Harris duo takes center stage with an easy advantage that requires only the slightest effort to win over a disappointed crowd.

When it comes to Israel, Biden has his work cut out for him. On the foreign policy front, the Biden White House will be pushed to restore Obama’s Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, known more commonly as the Iran nuclear deal, among other initiatives that began while he served as vice president. Israeli human rights activist Miko Peled detailed this and many other policies scrapped by the Trump administration in an editorial for MintPress last fall, that the new president will likely be called on to reverse.

Nevertheless, any change that Biden makes to U.S. policy in Israel is unlikely to deviate from Trump’s in any meaningful respect. The controversial move of the American embassy from Tel-Aviv to Jerusalem ­– a tacit acknowledgment of Israel’s primacy in the occupied city – will remain in place, while the undoing of other anti-Palestinian actions, such as the de-funding of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), is already being challenged by Jewish leaders before the new administration commits to any change in that regard.

In addition to specific policy approaches, broader issues threaten to muzzle support for the Palestinian cause and stand in direct contradiction to any ostensible rapprochement Biden might undertake and undermining any real progress in the fight to curb Israeli state violence against Palestinians, not to mention dangerous implications for free speech around the world.

 

A definition for all seasons

The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), founded in 1998 by former Swedish Prime Minister Göran Persson to uphold the tenets of the “Stockholm Declaration,” has become the flagship organization in regards to the implementation of Goebellian restrictions on critical speech against the apartheid state. Originally described as a ‘task force,’ the intergovernmental association put forth a “working definition of Anti-Semitism” in 2016, which all 34 member nations have adopted in some official capacity.

The U.S. State Department had been using a classification of Anti-Semitism since 2010 and updated it to the IHRA’s version in 2016 as a “non-legally binding” definition. In 2019, Trump issued an executive order applying the definition to Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which requires the Department of Education to consider an “individual’s actual or perceived shared Jewish ancestry or Jewish ethnic characteristics” when reviewing violations under Title VI. The move was hailed by the ADL and former members of the Obama administration but derided by pro-Palestinian rights groups, who charged that the codification of the IHRA’s “working definition” violated free speech on college campuses and targeted the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which has built a solid opposition against Israeli policies of ethnic cleansing in the West Bank and Gaza.

Even Kenneth Stern, lead author of the “working definition,” voiced disagreement over the EO’s intention, accusing rightwing Jews of weaponizing the terminology. An example of how such laws will serve to marginalize the voice of Palestinians and any other group or individual who falls on the ‘wrong side’ of the debate manifested itself in a controversy over an N.Y.U. seminar hosted on the video platform Zoom, after a pro-Israel student group called on the private platform to take the seminar down after the group’s leader, Javier Cohen, discovered the participation of Palestinian activist, Leila Khaled, who is a member of a Palestinian group tagged as a terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department.

Any illusions that Biden will push back against the IHRA’s definition, or Trump’s EO, is belied by the Biden campaign’s clear promises to the Jewish community in which Biden ties the specter of anti-Semitism directly to the creation of a “domestic terrorism law that respects free speech and civil liberties.”

In fact, the impetus for the so-called domestic terrorism law is one of the two most significant challenges to the idea that President Biden will do anything other than continue Trump’s pro-Israel policies. Ostensibly motivated by the events of January 6, the disillusioned masses of Trump supporters are being framed as the first scapegoats in a protracted implementation of a legal framework that allows states to target American citizens, led by Obama-era neo liberals since 2017. Together with the ubiquitous Israeli lobby in Washington D.C., Biden would have to betray his own class and political sponsors to become the champion of Palestinian self-determination some in the media are portraying him to be.

 

The base and the lobby

The Trump administration’s strong ties to the settler state and its far-right leadership dovetailed with his so-called ‘alt-right’ base, which see Zionist policies as serving their own quasi-religious, patently racist goals. But, in the wake of Trump’s defeat, many of his staunchest supporters, adherents of the QAnon LARP, and disparate MAGA types, have been left reeling, posing a potentially explosive political challenge to the incoming Biden administration.

Calls to censure, deplatform, and otherwise banish Trump’s right-wing base have proliferated since the Capitol riots and made good by a number of powerful private corporations, such as Twitter and Facebook, which launched a purge of conservative accounts on their social media platforms. More troubling manifestations of these kinds of fascistic crackdowns have escaped the purely virtual realm with companies like Airbnb applying similar criteria to deny lodging reservations to individuals considered problematic and, more recently, the payment processing giant PayPal booting customers as a result of their political views or affiliations.

In Biden’s “Plan Of Friendship, Support And Action” for the Jewish community, the rhetorical ties between anti-Semitism and Trump’s base is made explicit, citing the white supremacist rally at Charlottesville in 2017 as a “resurgence of anti-Semitism” and, significantly, claiming it was the very reason that he decided to run for president.

 
The dystopian implications cannot be overstated. Moreover, officially sanctioned definitions of hate speech like the IHRA’s classification of Anti-Semitism, advances a specific legal framework to restrict any and all criticism of Israel and its persistent violations of human rights against the Palestinian people, the dispossession of their land, and outright murder of women and children by the IDF.

Given that much of Trump’s base has been overtly and tacitly linked to Anti-Semitic sentiment, it is not in Biden’s political interest to downplay these associations. In fact, it is likely that his administration will lean into such claims as a result of the declared aims of Democratic Congressmen and women to bring forth legislation to address “domestic terrorism” motivated by the MAGA-inspired “insurrection” at the Capitol.

On the foreign policy side of the spectrum, Biden is more likely to follow through on some of the expected rollbacks of Trump’s heavily pro-Israeli policies. But, these are unlikely to go beyond the most symbolic gestures, while leaving the ‘meat and potatoes’ of the long-standing Israel-U.S. relationship intact.

Biden, after all, has declared himself to be an avowed Zionist and maintains a good rapport with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and other important Israeli lobby groups in the United States. In 1986, Biden famously proclaimed that it was “about time we stop apologizing for our support for Israel,” declaring that if the apartheid state didn’t exist to protect American interests in the region, “the United States of America would have to invent [it].”

 
In a 2019 televised interview on PBS, Biden’s commitment to rhetoric over effective policy in the Middle East was made clear. Asking about the suggestion by some Democrats that the United States should consider cutting off military aid to Israel over its illegal settlements in the West Bank, Biden replied that doing so would be a “tragic mistake” despite claiming that he “opposed Israel’s settlement policy.” Other than stating that as vice president he had made his views on the matter “crystal clear to the Israelis,” he nevertheless concluded by reaffirming the idea that actually applying any pressure to bring about a change in Israeli policy was “absolutely preposterous,” and “beyond [his] comprehension [why] anyone would do that.”

The same goes for his stance on BDS, which the president characterized as “wrong” before an audience at AIPAC headquarters in 2016. A senior advisor further underscored Biden’s alignment with the powerful Israeli-American lobbying firm, confirming that the administration would “stand up forcefully against [BDS],” and would “Absolutely” defeat the movement’s efforts to denounce Israel’s violations of international law.

Regardless of the red and blue propaganda that is central to American politics, a pattern emerges when it comes to the perennial policies and the long game of the permanent American state – a feature which is most salient in terms of its relationship with Israel. Biden will continue one of the hallmarks of the Trump presidency by supporting the policy of normalization of Arab states with Israel – a policy he directly commits to in his “Plan” for the Jewish community, finishing the work started by Jared Kushner to cement a cordial bond between Saudi Arabia and Israel, exposing the duplicity of the American two-party system by coddling two of the worst human rights abusers on the planet.

Feature photo | An Israeli electronics store employee looks at a wall of televisions broadcasting Joe Biden’s inauguration ceremony in Ashkelon, Israel, Jan. 20, 2021. Tsafrir Abayov | AP

Raul Diego is a MintPress News Staff Writer, independent photojournalist, researcher, writer and documentary filmmaker.

The post Despite His Attempt to Tie MAGA to Anti-Semitism, Biden Will Preserve Trump’s “Israel First” Legacy  appeared first on MintPress News.

Can the New Cabinet Shut the Door on the Past?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 25/01/2021 - 4:09am in

The trick for business Republicans will be to see whether they can get rid of the authoritarian Trump supporters without enabling Democrats to rebuild the New Deal state the Republicans have just spent decades gutting. Continue reading

The post Can the New Cabinet Shut the Door on the Past? appeared first on BillMoyers.com.

The Plot Thickens

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 24/01/2021 - 2:07am in

In the last, desperate days of his attempt to keep his grip on the presidency, Trump plotted with a lawyer in the Department of Justice, Jeffrey Clark, to oust the acting attorney general. Continue reading

The post The Plot Thickens appeared first on BillMoyers.com.

Teachers Union Berated Trump for Reopening Schools, Now It’s Praising Biden For Doing the Same

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 23/01/2021 - 5:56am in

The same teachers’ organization that roundly condemned Donald Trump’s attempts to prematurely reopen schools are now applauding Biden’s decision to do the same, even as the coronavirus pandemic reaches new levels.

Joe Biden has made the reopening of schools, colleges, and universities a key priority. On his first full day in office, he signed an executive order “to support the safe reopening and continued operation of schools, child care providers, Head Start programs, and institutions of higher education,” hoping to achieve a near full reopening within 100 days. The order states that the 78-year-old former Delaware senator considers it his duty to “ensure that students receive a high-quality education during the coronavirus.”

The country’s largest labor union, the National Education Association (NEA) came out in strong support of the move. “President Biden’s plan provides great reason for sorely-needed optimism” said the organization’s new president, Becky Pringle. “Educators are encouraged not only by President Biden’s leadership, but also by knowing that there is finally a true partner in the White House who will prioritize students by working with educators in the decision-making process,” she added in an official statement.

The NEA has a close relationship with the Democratic Party. Over 97% of NEA political donations in the last two years went to the Democrats, the organization endorsing Joe Biden for president and calling for Trump’s immediate removal from office earlier this month while putting out official statements mourning the death of liberal icons like Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Indeed, García was reported to be among the front runners for Biden’s pick as Secretary of Education.

This is quite the U-turn from the union, which boasts a membership of nearly 2.3 million educators nationwide. In April, as President Trump was attempting to do the same thing, the NEA offered blistering opposition. “Trump’s call to reopen school buildings is dangerous for students [and] staff,” it wrote, condemning the president’s attempts to sacrifice teachers for the sake of reopening the economy.

Similarly, in September, the organization was categorically against Trump’s renewed push to reopen. No one should listen to Trump or his Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, claimed then-NEA leader Lily Eskelsen García, accusing him of “creating more panic for stressed families” and “politicizing” the reopening of schools by linking it with the November election. Yet Biden has made clear that his decision was made on the same “save the economy” logic as Trump’s. When schools are open again, “Think of all the people who can get back to work,” he said, as he signed the order, “all the mothers and single fathers that are staying home taking care of their children.”

While we may know more about the virus now than last year, it seems clear that the pandemic is actually far more out of control now than previously. In late April, the U.S. was averaging 30,248 new cases per day and 2,010 deaths, per Worldometers data. In September, those numbers were 35,934 daily cases and 757 deaths. Today, however, the country can expect to see 193,758 new cases and around 3,176 new deaths. In fact, the ten deadliest coronavirus days have all occurred in the past four weeks. A new Washington Post-ABC News poll finds that the majority of Americans consider the pandemic to be completely out of control.

Biden’s decision also comes at a time when comparable nations are quickly moving in the opposite direction. Authorities in the United Kingdom, Germany, Ireland, Austria, Denmark and the Netherlands have all announced the closure of schools, despite lower rates of contagion than the U.S. in some cases.

“The problem is not that schools are unsafe for children,” said British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who made the decision to close them for three months, despite previously being adamantly against the idea in principle. “The problem is schools may nonetheless act as vectors for transmission, causing the virus to spread between households.” European studies have shown that, although highly unlikely to be gravely affected by the virus themselves, children are as likely to contract and pass it on as adults, making schools potential superspreading potshots. British teachers are twice as likely to contract the coronavirus as the general population. COVID cases among American educators are also rising. While there are reasons to support reopening, particularly the psychological toll that isolation takes on children and the loss of valuable teaching time, other nations see the virus as a greater danger.

The union’s decision to support school reopening, even as the pandemic hits new heights, might suggest to some that leadership is putting its loyalties towards the party before its membership and giving Democrats a free pass.

Feature photo | Joe Biden speaks at the United Federation of Teachers annual Teacher Union Day, Oct. 20, 2019, in New York. Craig Ruttle | AP

Alan MacLeod is Senior Staff Writer for MintPress News. After completing his PhD in 2017 he published two books: Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting and Propaganda in the Information Age: Still Manufacturing Consent, as well as a number of academic articles. He has also contributed to FAIR.orgThe GuardianSalonThe GrayzoneJacobin Magazine, and Common Dreams.

The post Teachers Union Berated Trump for Reopening Schools, Now It’s Praising Biden For Doing the Same appeared first on MintPress News.

“Here Are the Superheroes To Come and Save Us”: Media Waste No Time Fawning Over Biden

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 23/01/2021 - 4:03am in

We rely on the media to hold the powerful to account. But in its first hours in office, the corporate press has celebrated, rather than challenged, the new Biden administration.

It began immediately during the 78-year-old Delawarean’s inauguration, with senior figures in the media barely able to contain their emotions watching what they saw. “As Lady Gaga sang the national anthem, the sky opened up and sunlight reflected off of the Capitol, illuminating the flag,” wrote Olivia Nuzzi, the New Yorker’s Washington correspondent. The New York Times was in a similarly poetic mood. “Whether or not related to the former president’s absence, a bipartisan lightness seemed to prevail across the stage at President Joe Biden’s inauguration. Snow flurries gave way to sun,” ran its subheadline.

If it were not clear enough that corporate media intends to spend the next four years propping up, rather than scrutinizing President Biden, then senior CNN figures spelled it out.

“Trump—>Biden. Lies—>truth. Ignorance—>knowledge. Amorality—>decency. Cruelty—> empathy. Corruption—>public service” wrote CNN’s White House correspondent John J. Harwood on Twitter, attributing several extremely positive (and questionable) qualities to the incoming president. Meanwhile, the company’s head of strategic communications, Matt Dornic, was in an even more bombastic mood. Sharing a picture of fireworks exploding over the Washington Monument, he remarked that, “This team truly understands optics. These images will inspire our friends and shake our foes.”

Leaving aside why some colorful pyrotechnics would terrify Russia, China or any nation, Dornic’s rhetoric worried many who felt the nation’s top journalists should see themselves as the government’s adversaries, rather than their allies. “Note how this CNN imperial stenographer fearmongers about foreign bogeymen with his “foe” rhetoric. The real foe of average working-class Americans isn’t any foreign nation; it’s the parasitic capitalist oligarchs who control everything and their lackeys in politics and the media,” replied Ben Norton of The Grayzone.

Channeling similar energy to a born again Christian preacher praising Trump, former Fox News and NBC News host Megyn Kelly announced that, “Today, I feel deep love for our country, and am praying for President Biden, Vice President Harris and for all of us as we navigate what comes next.”

Perhaps the most adulatory coverage of the inauguration came from MSNBC, however, with analyst John Heilemann depicting the senior politicians present as almost mythical ubermensch. “What was to me so striking about today was that comforting sense,” he said. “The sight of the Clintons and the Bushes and the Obamas — The Avengers, the Marvel superheroes back up there together all in one place with their friend Joe Biden.” He later went on to compare Biden’s speech to Abraham Lincoln’s second inaugural address of 1865 after the union victory in the American Civil War and claimed there was a deep sense of relief washing over the nation’s capital..

This sentiment was apparently not shared by ordinary people on the street. Even as it was praising Biden, the New York Times reported that “The few who ventured near the Capitol were mostly somber, as if they were attending a vigil.” “It feels a little postapocalyptic, to be honest,” one told them.

Comparing politicians they are, in theory, supposed to be challenging to superheroes has unfortunately become a common occurrence on corporate media. In November, PBS NewsHour White House correspondent Yamiche Alcindor said Biden and co. were like The Avengers. “It felt like we are being rescued from the craziness and now here are the superheroes to come and save us all.”

Today on MSNBC, Alcindor insisted that she and her White House press colleagues would “ask tough questions” of Biden even as she was heaping praise on his administration. Yet this has already proven not to be the case. On her first day as White House press secretary, Jen Psaki was thrown a number of softball questions by reporters, including whether Biden was planning to stick with Trump’s color scheme change on Air Force One.

 

The president’s stenographers

Trust in media has been falling since the 1970s, and particularly in the last few years. Part of that is due to ultra partisan reporting, a practice pioneered by Fox News in the 1990s. What Rupert Murdoch realized was that capturing a loyal following from a small segment of the population could actually be more profitable than trying to appeal to as broad an audience as possible. Since then, Fox’s model has been copied by other outlets, notably MSNBC, the New York Times, and the Washington Post, who have positioned themselves as anti-Trump and pro-Democrat news sources. The result has been to create an extremely polarized media ecosystem, with each side championing their leaders and not willing to listen to the other. Unsurprisingly, Fox has been highly critical of the new president, with top host Sean Hannity attacking Biden, claiming he is physically and mentally unfit for office. “The country should be asking tonight, Mr. Unity, Mr. Frail, Weak, Cognitively Struggling Joe, I know this is past your bedtime,” he opined.

This has seriously deleterious effects on the political system. An adversarial media is the cornerstone of any functioning democracy. Thomas Jefferson once remarked that “Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government … I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.” Unfortunately, if Biden’s first few days are any indicator, the press will choose to prop up rather than scrutinize the new president. Media that behaved as attack dogs against Trump for four years (unless he was carrying out aggressive actions abroad) are likely to turn into lap dogs now that there is a Democrat in the White House — something that is unlikely to be a positive thing for the country.

Feature photo | President Joe Biden speaks to the media at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, Jan. 20, 2021, after his inauguration. Joshua Roberts | Pool photo via AP

Alan MacLeod is Senior Staff Writer for MintPress News. After completing his PhD in 2017 he published two books: Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting and Propaganda in the Information Age: Still Manufacturing Consent, as well as a number of academic articles. He has also contributed to FAIR.orgThe GuardianSalonThe GrayzoneJacobin Magazine, and Common Dreams.

The post “Here Are the Superheroes To Come and Save Us”: Media Waste No Time Fawning Over Biden appeared first on MintPress News.

Here’s What Students Think Biden Needs to Do in His First 100 Days

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 22/01/2021 - 7:18am in

From reimagining the Postal Service to combating climate change to reforming OIRA, students across the country told us what they think Biden’s top priority should be. Continue reading

The post Here’s What Students Think Biden Needs to Do in His First 100 Days appeared first on BillMoyers.com.

Joy, Relief, and Healing as Biden Ends Trump’s Racist Muslim Ban in Day One Executive Order

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 22/01/2021 - 7:11am in

The lifting of the so-called Muslim ban was one of numerous executive actions taken by Biden shortly after his inauguration and fufills a campaign promise he made to end the prohibition on "day one" of his administration. Continue reading

The post Joy, Relief, and Healing as Biden Ends Trump’s Racist Muslim Ban in Day One Executive Order appeared first on BillMoyers.com.

Pages