Republicans

Trump and Biden Trade Hit Pieces: Distinctions without a Difference

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 28/04/2020 - 12:37am in

This season’s sequel to the “Game of Thrones” features reality TV star and the current occupant of the Oval Office versus the former Senator from MBNA and two-term VP. It’s time to binge-watch dueling hit pieces from the U.S electoral duopoly going at it.

The narrower the distinctions between Democrats and Republicans, the more vociferous they get in inflating those distinctions as if a distinction were really a difference. As liberation president of Tanzania Julius Nyerere famously observed, “The United States is a one-party state but, with typical American extravagance, they have two of them.”

 

War with China – thinking through the unthinkable

Behind the blame game between the Democrats and the Republicans is a bedrock consensus, for example, on identifying China as not just a commercial rival but as a future enemy in a nuclear war. The U.S. imperial ship of state is set on a collision course with China. Democrat Obama “pivoted” to Asia; Republican Trump seamlessly followed course. The RAND Corporation, a quasi-governmental think tank created to provide intelligence to the U.S. Armed Forces, published a position paper that spells it out: War with China: Thinking Through the Unthinkable.

The corporate media echo the meme of China as the sinister enemy. The Democrat-leaning New York Times reports, “Chinese agents helped spread messages that sowed virus panic in US.” “Alarmed by fake text messages and social media posts,” the newspaper of record warns, “experts see a convergence with Russian tactics.” With no sense of shame, the Times then accuses the “pro-Trump news outlets” of promoting “conspiracy theories.”

On the Republican side, Fox commentator Tucker Carlson hyperbolically exclaims, “China did this [coronavirus pandemic] to the world and we should not pretend otherwise.”  Paranoically exhorting that “in very real ways, the Chinese government controls us,” Carlson demands, “at some point our leaders should be held accountable” for allowing China to “undermine” us.

So ditto head Biden issues a campaign video entitled, “Trump did not hold China accountable,” attacking Trump for correctly saying, “China has been working very hard to contain the coronavirus.”

This view, incidentally, is shared by the World Health Organization, which praised China for its exemplary handling of the pandemic. The corresponding Trump hit piece retorts with a video of Biden saying, “I complimented him [Trump] with dealing with China.”

Proving that the rightwing media and Trump do not have a lock on xenophobia and racism, the Democratic Party ad shows Biden screaming, “I would be on the phone with China and making it clear, we are going to need to be in your country! You have to be open!” And “Trump let in 40,000 travelers from China…left this country unprepared and unprotected” from the Asian menace.

 

Rubber stamping the bipartisan consensus

The direction of U.S. imperial policy is unquestioned as the partisan rivals compete to see, for example, who can be the bigger Sinophobe. Not mentioned is that China’s rising economic power is in part a consequence of the U.S. neoliberal consensus to export industrial production to low-wage Asia. Protecting the US working class is not what the politicians are squabbling about.

Nor do they deeply differ on Trump’s National Security Strategy, which broke with the previous characterization of the world as a “community of nations” to the present description of a great power “competitive arena.” In the drive to achieve global “full spectrum dominance,” China and Russia are identified as military targets.

Substantive unity between the Democrats and Republicans is obscured by the smoke and mirrors of partisan bickering. On some issues, the duopoly is so unanimous they do not even bother to make a show of debating.

On March 8, the U.S. House of Representatives pushed through a bipartisan resolution increasing illegal unilateral sanctions against Nicaragua, which passed on a unanimous voice vote in eight minutes, with no debate and no one speaking in opposition.

By the end of March, after only a “smidgeon of negotiating,” Congress unanimously passed the record astronomical $2 trillion CARES Act boondoggle. While workers are experiencing the highest recorded unemployment, the bipartisan act will gift 43,000 rich citizens an average “windfall” of $1.7 million each, according to Forbes.

Then while healthcare, transportation, sanitation, and other vital workers remain on the job, the Congress critters went on recess to shelter in place, demonstrating that theirs is not an essential service.

 

The decadence of the two-party system

Being on the take at the expense of the U.S. people is a bipartisan pastime and a mark of finesse for the inside-the-beltway crowd. Senators on both sides of the aisle benefited by insider trading, dumping stocks after a confidential coronavirus briefing.

Trump’s corruption needs no elaboration, but he can legitimately criticize the Dems on the same count. A Trump hit piece points out that father Biden took son Hunter on a taxpayer funded official U.S. government visit to China, where the son profited with a “billion dollar deal” with a subsidiary of the Bank of China.

The highest-ranking Democrat, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi appears in a video showing how she’s persevering through shelter-in-place, giggling in front of her $24k refrigerators stocked with expensive ice cream.  A Trump hit piece juxtaposes that image with one of the millions of unemployed in this country saying, “we’re starving.”

Joe Biden cluelessly compounds the error by tweeting, Nancy Pelosi has “great taste” in ice cream. Meanwhile, nearly 2,700 families preregistered at the Greater Cleveland Food Bank drive-up. NPR reported 10,000 cars waited hours in line for emergency food aid in San Antonio.

A couple of years ago, former Democratic Party presidential candidates John Kerry and Hillary Clinton attended a wedding hosted by the richest mogul in India for his daughter, estimated to cost $100 million by Bloomberg. While John and HRC inanely danced Bollywood-style, 170 million Indians barely subsisted on less than $2 per day.

Internet comedian Jimmy Dore observes, “The Democratic Party is so corrupt, so unbelievably corrupt and out of touch, that a guy who sits [not his exact word] on a golden toilet gets to make fun of them for being out of touch elitists. And it lands.”

We will have to wait until November to see who the Electoral College anoints in its game of thrones. Even the premier progressive pundit Noam Chomsky finds the only remotely redeeming quality in Biden is that he isn’t Trump. Biden supported Bush’s Iraq war and sided with the Republicans to defeat the student bankruptcy and prescription medicine price control bills. He voted for cutting Social Security and for confirming Antonin Scalia. With Democrats like this, you don’t need Republicans.

The problem with voting for either the Republicans or Democrats – besides that they rule – is that you need a scorecard to figure out which is the lesser evil. That problem can be avoided by helping to build a left third-party movement. As socialist and one-time presidential candidate Eugene Debs commented:

I’d rather vote for something I want and not get it, than vote for something I don’t want and get it,”

…like war with China.

Feature photo | In this combination of file photos, former Vice President Joe Biden speaks in Wilmington, Del., on March 12, 2020, left, and President Donald Trump speaks at the White House in Washington on April 5, 2020. Photo | AP – File

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 Trump and Biden Trade Hit Pieces: Distinctions without a Difference appeared first on MintPress News.

Captain Moore’s Fundraising Is an Indictment as well as an Achievement

There was praise and celebrations across the country and, indeed, some others, yesterday at the news that Captain Tom Moore had succeeded in raising £15 million for the NHS by doing laps around his garden, all at the grand old age of 99. It’s an inspiring feat, for which Captain Moore rightly deserves the all the praise he received. The army also did their bit by providing him with a guard of honour as he did his laps.

But Mike also put up a provocative piece yesterday, which while also celebrating Captain Moore, also pointedly argues that his fundraising feat is also an indictment and distraction. It’s an indictment of the way the Tories have kept the NHS underfunded. And it’s also a distraction from the Tories catastrophic mishandling of this crisis. It keeps attention away from crucial issues, such as:

The Tories were told to buy equipment, including for ventilators and PPE, after the Health Service’s preparedness for a pandemic was tested in 2016. They didn’t.

We need mass testing to combat the epidemic, but the Tories have so far only managed 35,000 a day, and that’s reluctantly.

The disease chiefly affects those at the bottom of society, which is why ethnic minorities are disproportionately likely to suffer from it.

Mike asks why no-one in the mainstream media is asking why the Tories aren’t funding the NHS properly. And he concludes that as poor people are more likely to die than the very rich, the Tories will keep on distracting us until they decide that enough of us have died.

Cpt Tom Moore hasn’t really been found fit for work – but his fundraising shows the NHS isn’t either

These are excellent points.

The fact that no one is asking why the NHS is so underfunded is a terrifying demonstration of the way 40 years of Thatcherism has normalised charity work standing in for state provision. Thatcher wanted to dismantle the welfare state completely, including privatising the NHS. She was only prevented by doing so by a massive cabinet revolt, but since then the Tories and Blue Labour – the Blairites – have been privatising the NHS by stealth. One of the reasons Thatcher wanted to abolish the welfare state, apart from the fact that she saw it as supporting idlers – a view which she also shared with the Nazis, who called such people ‘asocial’ – was because she thought it discouraged traditional charity. If the welfare state was dismantled, the poor would not suffer, or at least, the deserving poor wouldn’t, because human generosity lead people to give more to charity. Over the other side of the Pond, former Democratic president Bill Clinton expressed this in a speech in which he said there couldn’t be a government programme for every issue, and so turned instead to private charity. And where Clinton led, Blair followed, trying to transform the Labour party into a slightly more liberal version of the Tories in the same way that Clinton had taken over much of the free market, anti-welfare ideology of the Republicans in the US. He was also profoundly influenced by Thatcher, who reciprocated, calling him her greatest achievement.

Later on, however, it appears that Thatcher realised her views about private charity were wrong. It doesn’t work like that, and is no substitute for state provision. People have not become more generous. In America, it must be recognised that religious Conservatives are, on average, more generous donors to charity than secular liberals. But charity simply isn’t able to alleviate poverty and deal with issues such as lack of proper healthcare, homelessness and so on as state action in the economy and proper welfare provision. But governments have carried on as though it was.

Thus we have continued fundraising drives for hospitals and other parts of the health service. Schools are also expected to raise part of their budgets through private fundraising by teachers and parents. And a 99 year old man has had to raise money that the government should have provided anyway as a matter of course. To which you can add that now millions of people are being kept from starvation by private charity – food banks – instead of getting the money they need to live, eat, heat their homes and clothe themselves and their families from the welfare state.

A similar point was made a few years ago by one of the American left-wing news sites on YouTube. This was after it was reported that some American teachers were too poor to run cars, but were nevertheless still determined to do their best for their pupils. The media was praising their heartwarming dedication, just as the media yesterday praised Captain Moore’s heartwarming good deed. But the news site argued that such poverty wasn’t heartwarming. Quite the opposite. Dedicated teachers deserved to be paid properly, so that they could afford possessions like cars that everyone else takes for granted.

As for distracting us from the way the government’s repeated failures is killing us, Mike has got a point. During a period of revolutionary ferment, I can’t remember whether it was the 18th or the 19th century, Austria’s chief of police or minister in charge of security was asked if he didn’t think the theatres should be closed. He replied that he wanted them kept open to divert the people away from revolution. And so we have the unedifying spectacle of the press and media encouraging us to praise the great heroes of the medical, care and other workers, who are doing their level best to combat this disease. And all the while the same newspapers have vilified the NHS, junior doctors and other medical staff for resisting Tory NHS reforms and demanding higher pay. It’s particularly disgusting that so many of those, who have lost their lives are members of ethnic minorities that the Tories have done everything they can to smear and deport. One of them came back yesterday with a poem, ‘Will You Still Clap me?’, which pointedly asked whether Brits would still continue to appreciate the contribution BAME people give our society after the crisis is over. It’s clearly struck a nerve, as the head of UKIP denounced it, as has right-wing internet personality Sargon of Gasbag, I mean Akkad.

Mike and Zelo Street have written excellent pieces attacking such hypcrisy, which can be seen at:

‘You Clap For Me Now’ poem highlights hypocrisy of coronavirus response

https://zelo-street.blogspot.com/2020/04/ukip-has-been-reverse-race-card-fail.html

https://zelo-street.blogspot.com/2020/04/stuff-george-cross-pay-up.html

I am not decrying for a single moment Captain Moore’s splendid fundraising effort. He deserves all the praise he gets. But the NHS also deserves to be properly funded, its workers to be properly equipped and paid, and the British people to have a proper welfare state that gives people the right money they needed to support themselves. And they absolutely deserve a far, far better media than the one we now have, which refuses to raise these issues.

As for the Tories, all they deserve is our utter, unreserved contempt.

 

 

 

5 Things the Government Must Do Now to Avoid Collapse and/or Revolution

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 12/04/2020 - 6:49am in

London riots - Photos - The Big Picture - Boston.com          The COVID-19 medical and economic crisis remains mostly unaddressed by both the Republican and Democratic parties. They have only passed one piece of legislation that significantly helps workers: supplementing existing state unemployment benefits by $600 per week. Those additional payments expire in four months. Until then many people who are out of work will receive about $1000 a week. If the past is precedent, Congress is likely to renew the law.

            Aside from expanded unemployment checks, the government has been useless.

            Here are the essential basic things Congress and President Trump must do in order to avoid economic collapse, mass starvation, an epidemic of violent crime reminiscent of “A Clockwork Orange” and political unrest up to and including revolution.

            They must do it now.

            A Universal Basic Income is the smartest fastest way to stimulate the economy by keeping money flowing from consumers. Neither political party seems to care enough about the prospect of street riots to pass a UBI. But they need to do it yesterday to avoid catastrophe tomorrow. Flat UBI payments are unfair to people who live in expensive cities and states; the cost of living in my hometown of Dayton, Ohio is half of Manhattan. Weight UBIs according to living costs.

            COVID Care

            At bare minimum, medical treatment for COVID-19 and related ailments (bronchitis, pneumonia, etc.) should be free from a patient’s first test to their last breath in a ventilator. It should be free for everyone: insured, uninsured, homeless, prison inmate, undocumented worker for an obvious reason: if an illegal immigrant contracts the coronavirus, they can transmit it to you. It’s to everyone’s advantage that everyone have access to medical care.

            Theoretically, the new Families First Coronavirus Response Act does that. Not in reality. “Our health care system is a mess and the law does not explicitly prohibit charging you if you go to an out-of-network provider. It also doesn’t address other ‘surprise billing’ problems,” Time reports. Treatment for COVID-19 can easily run $35,000 or more—not only should Americans not have to pay, they can’t pay.

            Whether you go to your physician or urgent care or the ER, no one who suspects she has COVID-19 should be asked for their insurance card. Healthcare providers should bill the federal government.

No leading Republican or Democrat — Donald Trump, Joe Biden, Mitch McConnell, Nancy Pelosi — wants to do this. Why? Because they’re stupid, crazy or both.

            Draft the Immune

            The Centers for Disease Control are rolling out a pilot program of a testing kit that can show if you have been exposed to the novel coronavirus and thus have the antibodies to resist a repeat infection. Authorities are considering issuing “immunity cards” to citizens who have had COVID-19. The idea is that people who are cleared could return to work. So far so good.

            As much as I’d like to believe that political cartoonists and columnists are essential workers, if I have had and recovered from COVID-19 I could probably be more useful delivering food to the elderly, volunteering at a hospital, or performing some other essential task currently going undone because the person who usually does the job is either sick or home trying to avoid getting sick. Waiting tables could help save my local restaurant.

            The government should retool the Selective Service System to draft recovered COVID-19 victims to perform services needed to help people and restart the economy.

            Ramp up Distance-Learning

            Parents, school children and college students in many cities are finding online instruction to be woefully inadequate at best. The most pressing issue is unequal access to the Internet. This is a huge problem. Fortunately, it’s easily fixable.

            There are about 75 million students in the U.S. 17% don’t have home Internet access. That’s 13 million kids. A Wifi hot spot costs $50 a month. A Chromebook is $300. $4 billion, roughly the cost of occupying Iraq for a week, buys a home computer for everyone who needs one; $10 billion a year covers Wifi access. That’s the worst-case scenario; the government could get a volume discount.

            Unfortunately, neither Democratic nor Republican politicians care about our kids enough to act.

            Rent and Mortgage Holidays

            31% of apartment dwellers failed to pay April rent. Expect that number to soar in May and June. Idiotically, the only relief offered by even the most progressive mainstream politicians is a moratorium on evictions and foreclosures. Moratoriums end. Courts reopen. When they do, millions of people could be thrown out onto the streets.
            Even if you don’t care about them, think about your own property values. During the 2008-09 economic meltdown, mass foreclosures left millions of homes empty. These eyesores dragged down the values of their neighbors’ homes. We really are in this together.

            People who can’t pay their rent or mortgage shouldn’t have to. And at the end of all this, they shouldn’t bear the burden of accumulated debt, interest or late fees. Congress should declare a rent and mortgage holiday until the end of the crisis.

            To mitigate the hardship on landlords and lenders, real estate and other taxes should be waived during the same period. So should utilities like gas and electricity. Congress should consider a tax credit for property owners. Banks should receive Federal Reserve funding at zero percent.

            So far, no mainstream politician is talking about this.

            A War Holiday

            Secretary-General António Guterres of the United Nations is calling for warring parties in the world to lay down their arms for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic. “The fury of the virus illustrates the folly of war,” he said, emphasizing the fact that war makes it hard for humanitarian assistance to reach victims of coronavirus.

            War is a tremendous waste of lives, resources and money that could be better spent elsewhere, and that has never been more evident than today. Yet at this writing President Trump has ordered the U.S. Navy off the coast of Venezuela in a classic demonstration of gunboat diplomacy. His administration is continuing Barack Obama’s benighted proxy war in Yemen. American drones are slaughtering innocent people in Somalia.

            This is all monstrous BS and should stop forever but, at minimum, wars of choice can wait until the end of the coronavirus crisis. Yet here again neither party, Democrat or Republican, has endorsed the Secretary-General’s idea.

(Ted Rall (Twitter: @tedrall), the political cartoonist, columnist and graphic novelist, is the author of the biography “Bernie.” You can support Ted’s hard-hitting political cartoons and columns and see his work first by sponsoring his work on Patreon.)

Cartoon: Breathtaking negligence

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 24/03/2020 - 10:50pm in

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GOP, Republicans

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How Authoritarianism Short-Circuits the Lizard Brain

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 15/03/2020 - 8:04am in

The tendency of Republicans both to respond to and sow fear and panic has been with us for decades. Yet during the coronavirus pandemic, to anyone who bothers to look, we are seeing a new and strangely unremarked twist to their behavior, a development that gives valuable -- and chilling -- insight into Republican psychology. Continue reading

The post How Authoritarianism Short-Circuits the Lizard Brain appeared first on BillMoyers.com.

Cartoon: Pandemic partisans

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 10/03/2020 - 10:50pm in

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Losing Reality: Can We Get the Truth Back?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 04/03/2020 - 3:11pm in

In the Trump era we find ourselves engulfed in two realities. Bill Moyers and Robert Jay Lifton in conversation. Continue reading

The post Losing Reality: Can We Get the Truth Back? appeared first on BillMoyers.com.

A Neoliberal Legacy: America’s Fascism Problem Runs Much Deeper Than Trump

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 07/02/2020 - 1:39am in

After the supposedly post-racial presidency of Barack Obama, what passes for the liberal punditry discovered that racism had arisen in the homeland. They never felt so good feeling bad about racism, denouncing what they identified as its primal cause – Mr. Trump, who was sullying that “shining example” of the United States of America. Obscured were those historical antecedents of this “exceptional” republic, founded on the expropriation of indigenous land and extermination of its inhabitants and built, in part, by African slave labor.

 

Peculiar institution of US racism

Trump has been reprehensible in pandering to white racism. But the Republicans have no monopoly on this franchise. We should remember the legacy of Jim Crow and Dixiecrat Democrats in high office, including six U.S. senators and two Supreme Court justices who were members of the Ku Klux Klan. FDR, arguably the most liberal U.S. president and a Democrat, force relocated and incarcerated in concentration camps 120,000 Japanese Americans, including orphaned children and people with as little as one-sixteenth Japanese ancestry.

Unfortunately, Trump’s performance has had precedents such as Bill “the first black president” Clinton’s Stone Mountain photo op at the birthplace of the modern KKK with a group of mostly African American prisoners used as props. Clinton followed with the mass incarceration 1994 crime bill and “ending welfare as we know it.” Trump is on the same continuum as past presidents, only more vulgar, more overt, and more virulent.

Racism is institutionalized in the “land of the free;” it is not simply a personality disorder. Institutional racism pervades current politics. Trump’s Protect and Serve Act, making attacks on police a federal hate crime, placed killer cops in a protected class. The heinous act passed with a near-unanimous 382-35 vote, including three-quarters of the Black Caucus and a bipartisan f**k you to the Black Lives Matter movement. Surely racism is endemic in the DNA of the U.S. polity.

The peculiar institution of U.S. racialized politics does not stop at the border. Wherever there are flashpoints of racial or ethnic conflict, the U.S. government can be found fanning the flames to the advantage of the empire, be it Sunni versus Shia in the Middle East or indigenous versus European ancestry in Latin America. Jeanine Añez, the self-proclaimed president of Bolivia after the recent U.S.-backed coup, had announced it was time to take the indigenous out of not only the government but out of the capital city.

Institutional racism is particularly lethal because it intersects with, and is reinforced by, class. Police brutality, mass incarceration, welfare assistance, quality public education, and so forth are called “black issues,” but are of concern to all working people and not just working African Americans. White racism is used to obscure the common interests of working folks by creating the illusion that somehow a white Amazon warehouse worker has common cause with Jeff Bezos.

 

Specter of fascism

In recent years, the press reports of racist young whites attracted to far-right persuasions including flirting with fascism. Were a significant fascist movement to arise in the U.S., these dispossessed youth – called “deplorable” by Hillary Clinton – could serve as its base. But are they the cause or the consequence?

Central casting could not have done better than Donald Trump in finding a picture-perfect caricature of a blonde, bullying fascist. But tacky cosmetics and bad table manners, which Trump has in abundance, do not alone qualify him for the Aryan brotherhood. Now three years into the reign of Trump and despite dire predictions to the contrary, the republic has not yet goose-stepped into fascism.

Racism and narrow nationalism have been historically associated with fascism. Yet Trump’s Muslim ban, however odious, pales in magnitude to the perfidy of Roosevelt’s Japanese internment.

The specter of fascism entails more than white nativism. Fascism takes political form as a specific form of governance. As a form of governance, fascism “arises when, in face of working class challenge, finance capital can no longer rule in the old way,” as Greg Godels explains.

Yes, there was Trump’s Charlottesville comment about “some very fine people” regarding angry young men with shaved heads and swastika tattoos. But these marginalized, barely post-adolescents are not the ruling class. The resentful dispossessed are the byproduct of neoliberal policies and the potential recruits for a fascist movement. They are the tinder, but not the match. The danger of fascism comes from the ruling circles and not from the popular classes.

 

The downward trajectory of neoliberalism

In the 1930s, capital was initially forced by a militant trade union movement in the U.S. to include labor as a junior partner with the New Deal, which was a diluted form of social democracy. New Deal liberalism was eclipsed around the time of Jimmy Carter’s one-term presidency, when he first espoused deregulation and small government, meaning abandonment of the social welfare function of the state. The gospel of neoliberalism got legs with the Reagan revolution. Liberalism’s coffin was nailed shut with the Bill Clinton’s New Democrats as labor was demoted to a special interest group even though it constitutes a vast majority of the citizenry.

Not since Nixon’s presidency has any major liberal legislation been enacted, while the “new liberals” – that is, the neoliberals – are the orthodoxy of both parties of capital. The trajectory of neoliberalism has been ever downward as evidenced by increasing austerity for working people, a more aggressive imperialist extension of U.S. hegemony abroad, and a deepening of the national security state.

UAW Caterpillar Strike

Workers from Caterpillar strike against wage and bonus cuts at a Caterpillar plant in Mossville, Ill, April 7, 1992. Seth Perlman | AP

This downward trajectory of neoliberalism is tied to the concentration of economic power. An ever more authoritarian state serves the interests of ever more concentrated capital.

The increasingly coercive state is obscured behind the electoral charade, where spending obscene amounts of money to buy politicians is protected as free speech and corporations are given the constitutional rights of persons. While nearly half the populace does not vote, the U.S. leads the world in incarceration and military spending.

Given the death of liberalism in mainstream U.S. politics, why would the owners of capital and their bought politicians (the 2016 elections cost $6.6 billion) want to change to brand “fascism”? Brand “bourgeois democracy” has been so terrifically successful in sheep-dogging the people into accepting elite rule and believing they are enjoying real democracy.

Under bourgeois democracy, electoral candidates are allowed to compete to prove who can best serve the ruling elites. Only if the left is strong enough to challenge that agenda and to seriously contest for political power would the ruling circles consider fascism and do away with the façade of elections.

 

The Sanders Insurgency

Bernie Sanders is not a Marxist revolutionary, but a remnant New Dealer who is soft on imperialism. Sanders, in the context of today’s politics, nevertheless represents a welcome challenge to neoliberal austerity. For now, the establishment is betting that a rigged electoral process (e.g., super delegates), dirty tricks (e.g., the spat with Elizabeth Warren), and a gatekeeper corporate press – all of whom might risk four more years of Trump rather than running a putative progressive against him – will keep Sanders out of serious contention.

But if, say, the Sanders-inspired Our Revolution really became revolutionary and mounted a third-party challenge with prospects of winning, a section of the ruling elites could consider fascism. Neither side of the class barricade is there now. Because maintaining a fascist dictatorship is costly and the elites themselves have to give up some of their privileges, the option for trying to impose fascism would likely be made by a just faction of the ruling elites, rather than a unified class.

For the moment, the “f” card is held in distant reserve by those in power in case the insurgency evidenced by the Sanders phenomenon truly ignited, were able to break out of the institutional constraints of the Democratic Party apparatus, and the Resistance ceased being the assistance. Then the struggle could develop in the direction of a choice between socialism and its barbaric alternative.

 

Preparatory stages of fascism

A critical harbinger of fascism is the growing preeminence of the national security state, which is now seen by the DNC Democrats as a bulwark of democracy rather than the precursor of fascism. The Democrats helped renew the Patriot Act by a landslide, handing President Trump wartime authority to suspend constitutional civil liberties. (Ironically, around the same time, the partisan wargames known as the House impeachment hearings were raging.)

Meanwhile, the internet is being weaponized against the left. Elizabeth Warren has proposed censorship of the web overseen by the government in cooperation with big tech companies. These developments, extending the ubiquity of the surveillance state, are the “preparatory stages” of fascism.

The FBI is currently trusted “a great deal” by a 3:1 margin by Democrats compared to Republicans. The saintly visage of former FBI director Robert Mueller and not the snarly appearance of Trump may prove to the face of fascism in the U.S. But at least for now, the “f” word is still correctly understood to refer to procreation.

Feature photo | Bill Clinton stands in front of black prisoners in Stone Mountain, GA. to preach the need to get tough on crime, March 3, 1992. Greg Gibson | 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 A Neoliberal Legacy: America’s Fascism Problem Runs Much Deeper Than Trump appeared first on MintPress News.

Noam Chomsky: People Even Worse Than Jeffrey Epstein Donated to M.I.T.

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 04/02/2020 - 7:01am in

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T.) is under heavy public scrutiny for associating with and accepting large financial donations from notorious sexual predator Jeffrey Epstein, described by ABC anchor Amy Robach as “the most prolific pedophile this country has ever known.” Yet Noam Chomsky, the institution’s most famous academic, claimed that Epstein was not even the most reprehensible character his former employer took money from. In an interview with the “dunc tank” podcast released this weekend, the professor noted,

In my office at M.I.T, when I was there I looked out the window of my office and I saw the David Koch Cancer Center. David Koch is surely a candidate for one of the most extraordinary criminals in human history. He was personally responsible for shifting the Republican Party from being a minimally sane organization on global warming to being the most dangerous organization in human history, which may destroy us all…, does anybody say anything about that?”



Chomsky claimed that after Koch died last year, the university produced a laudatory obituary presenting the petrochemical billionaire as a model M.I.T. graduate, even funding the university basketball team. He noted that in 2008 the Republican Party had taken some steps towards trying to deal with climate change, with John McCain running for president promising to take measures to deal with the impending catastrophe. The Koch brothers, whose businesses would be negatively affected by any legislation, “went into high gear,” launching a “juggernaut,” bribing and intimidating senators, developing astroturf organizations, and succeeded in turning the party into a climate change denialist organization, he said. The latest Pew Research Center poll found that only 26 percent of Republican voters believed in man-made global warming.

 

“The most dangerous organization in human history”

Chomsky was adamant that, in its insistence to increase the use of fossil fuel, the Republican Party constitutes an existential threat to organized human survival. He claimed that the international negotiations on climate change in Paris were scuppered “for one reason: the Republican Party.” According to Chomsky, the U.S. is:

The only major country in the world that is refusing to take any steps to deal with this urgent crisis. The Republican Party is dedicated, openly and publicly, to trying to maximize the threat…, to have the maximum possible use of fossil fuels, to cut back even on domestic regulations that would benefit the population of the United States.”

He also condemned President Trump for recently issuing an executive order to dismantle major environmental protection legislation put in place by President Nixon to monitor and control poisonous substances in the water supply. A new report published last week found that dozens of major American cities’ water supplies are contaminated with toxic, carcinogenic chemicals.

 

“The most astonishing document in the entire history of the human species”

“Think what this means for much of the world. There are just no words to capture it.” That was the former M.I.T. professor’s reaction to the Trump Department of Transportation’s 500-page environmental impact study. It concludes that by the end of the century, temperatures will rise by around four degrees centigrade. “Anyone who follows this knows that the scientific community and the World Bank describe such a temperature rise over pre-industrial limits as cataclysmic,” he said. Despite this, the document concludes that there should be no further restrictions placed on automotive emissions. Why? Chomsky describes their reasoning as, “We’re going off the cliff anyway, so why not have a good time while the fun lasts.” The nihilism of the administration shocked even him: “If you can find [another] document like that in history I’d be interested in seeing it.”

It is for this reason primarily that he believes that it is imperative that Trump and the Republicans not maintain office after 2020. “We’re living in a world of raving lunatics with enormous power,” he said, adding that he would take the first person off the street ahead of Trump.

Epstein and Koch’s are far from the only plutocrats to patronize good causes for good publicity. The Sackler family, owners of the company that makes OxyContin, the drug primarily responsible for America’s opioid crisis, have their name plastered onto the wall of many of the world’s finest museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the British Museum in London, and the Louvre in Paris. Meanwhile, huge petroleum corporations like BP and Shell sponsor environmental seminars the world over, something Chomsky is also critical of.

Described as “arguably the most important intellectual alive” by the New York Times in 1979, Chomsky revolutionized the field of linguistics with his theory of universal grammar. Although currently at the University of Arizona, he is most associated with M.I.T., where he taught from 1955 to 2017. However, it was his vocal opposition to the Vietnam War that shot him to national prominence. Chomsky is a longtime critic of the U.S. government and its foreign policy, penning over 100 books on the subject.

Feature photo | Noam Chomsky delivers a speech at the Center for Art and Media in Karlsruhe, Germany in May 2014. Uli Deck | AP

Alan MacLeod is a 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. He has also contributed to Fairness and Accuracy in ReportingThe GuardianSalonThe GrayzoneJacobin MagazineCommon Dreams the American Herald Tribune and The Canary.

The post Noam Chomsky: People Even Worse Than Jeffrey Epstein Donated to M.I.T. appeared first on MintPress News.

Three Years into Trump’s Presidency, What’s Left of the American Left?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 25/01/2020 - 1:54am in

On January 20, Donald J. Trump completed his third year in office. I predicted in 2016, in a blog post that received considerable traction on social media, that Trump would lose his bid for America’s highest office. I was spectacularly wrong but not alone. Even the Las Vegas bookies thought Clinton was a shoo-in with her unbeatable two-punch knockout. The first punch: I’m not Trump, the second: World War III with the Russians would be peachy at least until the bombs start falling. What could possibly have gone wrong? 

More to the point, the unexpected victory of Trump was the historical reaction to the bankruptcy of the neoliberalism so prevalent in the Clinton, Bush and Obama eras. Now after three years of Mr. Trump, what’s left?

When President George W. (Dubya) Bush, who is now viewed favorably by a majority of Democrats, was in office, Democrats could wring their tied hands to the accolades of their base. My own Democrat Representative Lynn Woolsey stood up daily in the House and denounced Bush’s Iraq war. For a while, there was a resurgent peace movement against U.S. military adventures in the Middle East, which was even backed by some left-leaning liberals. 

But the moment that Obama ascended to the Oval Office, the Iraq War became Obama’s war, Bush’s secretary of war Gates was carried over to administer it, and Woolsey forgot she was for peace. No matter, Obama, the peace candidate, would fix it. Just give him a chance. For eight years, Obama was given a chance and the peace movement went quiescent. 

 

Trump takes office

Surely a Republican president, I thought, would harken a rebirth of the peace movement given the ever-inflated war budget and the proliferation of U.S. wars. The United States is officially at war with Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Libya, and Niger. Add to that list a number of other states subject to U.S. drone attacks such as Iran, Pakistan, and Mali, and some 30 countries are currently being targeted with illegal unilateral coercive measures as a form of economic warfare.

With Republicans in control of both Congress and the White House, my expectation was that Democrats would safely take a giant step to the right in accordance with their Wall Street funders, while safely keeping a baby step to the left of Republicans in order to appease their liberal-leaning base. To a certain extent, this is what happened with Trump’s tax cut for the wealthy. Democrats could, and did, claim that their hands were once again tied (wink, wink to their Wall Street handlers).

Yet on more fundamental issues, Democrats did not pay lip service to their base’s economic priorities, instead, they attacked Republicans on their weak left flank. The assault on Republicans came from the right with what The Hill called Pelosi’s “fiscally hawkish pay-as-you-go rules,” increasing the war budget and launching Russiagate instead of appealing to working people on bread and butter issues. 

While Democratic Senator Bernie Sanders did raise genuine issues regarding runaway income inequality and plutocratic politics, he was suppressed by a hostile corporate press and an antagonistic Democratic Party establishment, which arguably preferred to risk a Republican victory in 2016 than to support anyone who dare question neoliberal orthodoxy. 

Sanders’ issues got asphyxiated in the juggernaut of Russiagate. His legacy – so far – has been to help contain a progressive insurgency within the Democratic Party, the perennial graveyard of social movements. Had Mr. Sanders not come along, the Democrats – now the full-throated party of neoliberal austerity at home and imperial war abroad – would have needed to invent a leftish Pied Piper to keep their base in the fold. 

So, after three years of Trump, the mass movement against militarism that is needed now more than ever has yet to resurrect in force, notwithstanding promising demonstrations in immediate response to Trump’s assassination of Iran’s Major General Soleimani on January 3 with more demonstrations to come.

 

Imperialism and neoliberalism

Dubya proved his imperialist mettle with the second Iraq war; Obama with the destruction of Libya. But Trump has yet to start a war of his own. Though, in the case of Iran, it was not due to a lack of trying. The last U.S. president that failed to hold true to an imperialist legacy was the one-term Jimmy Carter. But Trump has 12, and possibly 60, more months to go. 

In his short time in office, Trump has packed his administration with former war industry executives, increased troops in Afghanistan, approved the sale of weapons to the post-coup government of Ukraine, made the largest weapons deal in U.S. history with Saudi Arabia, supported the Saudi war against Yemen, recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and killed more civilians in drone strikes than “Obomber.” In the empire’s own “backyard,” Trump has tightened the blockade on Cuba, intensified Obama’s sanctions on Venezuela, oversaw the devastation of Puerto Rico, and backed a bloody right-wing coup in Bolivia. The Venezuelan Embassy Protectors, a group of American peace activists, are fighting the U.S. government for a fair trial, while whistleblower Julian Assange faces extradition to the U.S. 

Now that Trump has declared the defeat of ISIS, the official U.S. National Defense Strategy has shifted to focus on “interstate strategic competition” with Russia and China. The strategy, based on the official guiding document of the US foreign policy, explicitly calls for “build[ing] a more lethal force” for world domination. Giving credit where it is due, both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama had presciently decreed a “pivot to Asia” back in 2011.

Closer to home Trump has been busy deregulating environmental protections, dismantling the National Park system, weaponizing social media, undoing net neutrality and withdrawing from the Paris Agreement on climate change. What’s not to despise? 

 

Russiagate and impeachment

Russiagate, in case you are not totally absorbed in mass media, is about a conspiracy that Russia, not the U.S. Electoral College, is responsible for Hillary Clinton not getting her rightful turn to be President of the United States. 

For the better part of the last three years under the shadow of the Trump White House, a spook emerged from the netherworld of the deep state and has toiled mightily to expose wrongdoers. This man, former head of the FBI Robert Mueller, we are told, is only one miracle short of being canonized in blue state heaven. Yet even he failed to indict a single American for colluding with Russia, though he was able to hand out indictments to Americans for other wrongdoings unrelated to Russia. 

Undeterred by this investigation to nowhere, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi initiated impeachment proceedings against the sitting president in the Democrat’s first successful step to promote Mike Pence as the next POTUS.

When an unelected and unaccountable CIA operative colluding with opposition politicians and with backing from his agency, seeks to take down a constitutionally elected president, there is cause for concern. Operating under the cloak of anonymity and with privileged access to information, national security operatives skilled in the craft of espionage have the undemocratic means to manipulate and even depose elected officials. 

What has arisen is an emboldened national security state. The CIA, lest we forget, is the clandestine agency whose mission is to use any means necessary to effect “regime change” in countries that dare to buck empire. Latin American leftists used to quip that the U.S. has never suffered a coup because there is no U.S. embassy in Washington. There may not be a U.S. embassy there, but the CIA and the rest of the security establishment are now more present than ever and pose an impending danger to democracy. 

Now, Obama’s former Director of National Intelligence and serial perjurer James Clapper holds the conflicted role of CNN pundit while still retaining top security clearance. Likewise, former CIA director, torture apologist, and fellow perjurer John Brennan holds forth on NBC News and MSNBC with his security clearance intact.

 

Class trumps partisan differences

While both Democrats and Republicans engage in mortal combat on the superficial, they remain united in their bedrock loyalty to the rule of capital and U.S. military and economic dominance. The first article of the Democrat-backed impeachment against Trump is his “abuse of power.” Yet, amidst the heat of the House impeachment hearings, Democrats helped renew the Patriot Act by an overwhelming majority, which gives the president wartime authority to shred the constitution.

Contrary to the utterances of the Democratic presidential candidates on the campaign trail about limiting U.S. military spending, the latest $738 billion National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) is $22 billion more than the last. The Democratic Progressive Caucus didn’t even bother to whip members to oppose the bill. On December 11, in an orgy of bi-partisan love, the NDAA bill passed by a landslide vote of 377-48. 

President Trump tweeted “Wow!” Democratic Party leader and House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith called the bill “the most progressive defense bill we have passed in decades.” 

The bill gifts twelve more Lockheed Martin F-35 fighter jets than Trump requested and greenlights funding of Trump’s border wall with Mexico. Stripped from the bipartisan NDAA “compromise” bill were provisions to prohibit Trump from launching a war on Iran without Congressional authorization. Similarly dropped were limits to U.S. participation in the genocidal war in Yemen. 

A new Space Force was authorized to militarize the heavens. Meanwhile, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has set the doomsday clock at 2 minutes before midnight. Unfortunately, the Democrat’s concern about Trump’s abuse of power does not extend to such existential matters as nuclear war.

Trump’s renegotiated North American Free Trade Agreement (i.e., USMCA), an acknowledged disaster, was renewed with bipartisan support and on the domestic front, Trump’s cuts to food stamps, Medicaid, and reproductive health services, barely registered audible demurs of the supine Democrats. 

 

Revolt of the dispossessed

Behind the façade of the impeachment spectacle (Ken Starr and Alan Dershowitz are now on Trump’s legal team), is a ruling class consensus that trumps partisan differences. As political economist Rob Urie perceptively observed

The American obsession with electoral politics is odd in that ‘the people’ have so little say in electoral outcomes and that the outcomes only dance around the edges of most people’s lives. It isn’t so much that the actions of elected leaders are inconsequential as that other factors— economic, historical, structural and institutional, do more to determine ‘politics.’ 

In the highly contested 2016 presidential contest, nearly half the eligible U.S. voters opted out, not finding enough difference among the contenders to leave home. 2020 may be an opportunity; an opening for an alternative to neoliberal austerity at home and imperial wars abroad lurching to an increasingly oppressive national security state. The campaigns of Bernie Sanders and Tulsi Gabbard. and before them the Occupy Wall Street movement, point to a brewing popular insurgency. Mass protests of the dispossessed are rocking France, India, Colombia, Chile, and soon, perhaps, the United States.

Feature photo | Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks at a campaign stop at the State Historical Museum of Iowa, Jan. 20, 2020, in Des Moines, Iowa. Andrew Harnik | AP

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

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