Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Open response to Max Boot's NY Times Op-Ed "How the 'Stupid Party' Created Trump" (2 Aug. 2016)

I read with interest your insightful op-ed in today’s NY Times, “How the ’Stupid Party’ Created Trump." You make a strong case that many Republican leaders are not unintelligent, but that leaves the question of their morality.  So I must wonder how someone as informed as you are confronts certain historical facts about the Republican party.

    Did you read What’s the Matter with Kansas by Thomas Frank (2006)? How do you respond to Frank’s analysis of the GOP’s strategy of promising regressive social and cultural rewards to its rank and file in exchange for their support of tax breaks and deregulation for big corporate interests? How do you account for the morality—or immorality—of the Southern Strategy, whose author, Kevin Phillips, has denounced the Republican party and exposed its hypocrisy? After all, the Southern Strategy was merely an attempt to prolong the life of the GOP by appealing to the worst racist prejudices of white Southerners. Why should a party like this continue to exist, once this appeal goes sour, and the rampant racism in this country is exposed and denounced in respectable circles, yet cleaved to by Donald Trump? Isn't he just applying the Southern Strategy stripped of its fig-leave of gentility?

    How do you excuse the mendacious leadership of George Bush, lying us into a war (of profit), and exacerbating the economic trends that led to the Great Crash of 2008? (I don’t excuse Bill Clinton for his role in this.) How do you justify the deep hypocrisy of the voter ID laws passed by Republican state legislatures based on virtually non-existent “vote fraud,” which has been openly exposed as a ploy to reduce black and other minority votes? And the Republican hostility to putting money and political will into education, environmental protection, infrastructure, banking regulation?

    If the patrician Republicans like the Bushes, Romney, and many GOP senators have now tried to distance themselves from the vulgar, ignorant, and incompetent Trump, why isn’t this just a case of the final breakdown of the shaky alliance between the hypocrites and scoundrels on one hand (the GOP establishment) and the fools and dupes on the other (the Trump supporters)? If this means the demise of the Republican party, why is this not a good thing for America’s future, assuming you don’t buy into those ridiculous doom scenarios that were retailed at the RNC, that is, assuming you’re a rational person, historically informed?

    I’d ask the same questions of Ross Douthat. Where is the morality, the intellectual integrity on the GOP side? Granted that Romney and the Bushes are offended by Trump’s crudeness, lack of personal integrity, ignorance and incompetence. But wherein lies their moral integrity, other than their loyalty to their 1% class?

    I’m really waiting for some person of intellect to make a strong case here, but I don’t think it’s possible. Even William F. Buckley used to base most of his arguments on narrow-view hair-splitting, rather than taking a long view and heaven forbid, considering the Greatest Good for the Greatest Number, as Bentham preached. Why is the GOP not just a racist, xenophobic, science-denying party of patrician wealth and injurious to the commonweal, long overdue for the dustbin of history?

Friday, July 29, 2016

Hillary Born Again as Tax Wall Street Progressive?

     The Bernie Sanders movement, inheritor of the Occupy Movement, has done its work. Hillary Clinton had no place else to go other than to embrace their agenda and come out against the power of Wall Street, and the terrible march of inequality, accelerated since the 2008 Crash, thereby putting her at odds with some of her most important backers, and possibly the Democratic Party establishment. Is this a real rebirth? Is there really a New Hillary (remember the New Nixon?)?
    When she posed the rhetorical question last night of who will pay for free college tuition, she quickly answered that she would tax the wealthy, the corporations, making them pay "their fair share." This is Bernie's position, but she had nowhere else to go. She just couldn't avoid the issues of inequality, of corporate dominance, of the exploitation and suffering of students, agonizing under mountains of debt, their lives and productivity lashed to the voracious banksters. I wonder what these same financial interests thought they'd get for their investment in her campaign.
     But these issues have been out in the open at least since the Occupy Movement, and this is arguably their first tangible positive fruit: their embrace by a major candidate in a Presidential race. If Hillary has been calculating and opportunistic in the past, if she's felt she had to prove her military mettle, if she's relied too much for her appeal on her humanistic empathy for suffering mothers and children, then she moved towards expanding this last night in her acceptance speech. She obviously gets it; the question is, will she sustain it? Will she survive a position that disciplines her financial backers, who are so used to buying political power and corrupting it in their short-term favor?
     Given the unthinkable alternative in Trump, can she appeal to their better angels, evince their suppressed altruism, turn them into allies, as Roosevelt had allies in the banking industry, like Chase president Winthrop Aldrich (1885-1974), but who have only existed since Bill Clinton's time as the dominant partners in the alliance (see Nomi Prins's book All the President's Bankers)?
    No President or Presidential candidate has survived since Roosevelt who has taken this position, one which challenges the power of Deep State actors, the ones, in this case, who control the financial resources of the country, who until now, have been able to get the President to bail them out when their gambles went south, while stiffing the masses of mortgage holders. So Hillary runs a real risk of being violently removed from office, should she win and try to make good on these new promises.
     Yet these same Deep State actors cannot very well support Donald Trump, a breathtakingly ignorant and unprepared candidate, with a discredited financial past, whose only strength is his threatening bluster (one wonders how he's been able to enlist so many people in his support—another symptom of the failure of our education system?) Will they finally realize that the pendulum is swinging back, that their party is over? Or will some of them try to bring Hillary back into the establishment fold, where Obama still sits, funneling them money?

Democratic National Convention in Philly—

Democratic National Convention

    The fervor for Bernie was messianic in Philadelphia on the two days I was there, Sunday and Monday, July 24 and 25. The devoted crowd of supporters saw him as the savior of the corrupted US political system and the presumed “party of the people,” the Democrats, which had long gone over to the side of money. Hillary embodied this corruption in their eyes, and she had assumed diabolic proportions. Signs proposed she be indicted and sent to jail—not much different from the Republican outcries.
    On the other hand there was a giant genial walking puppet representing Bernie that seemed to offer reassurance of beatific protection as people marched in support. Along the route and in FDR park that was reserved for the protesters button and t-shirt hawkers offered an array of designs, including what had seemed to become his icon: square glasses and tousled white hair. I later discovered this on a stamped-out styrofoam slab.











 The genial puppet


 The Revolutionary Communist sign

 Corporate American Flag (published by Adbusters)


 There were many protests against rigged elections.

 The Bernie March Sunday passes in front of Philly's City Hall

 A second Bernie puppet—holding a pitchfork, a potent symbol of popular discontent in the march.

 Dead donkey logo

 Philadelphia opened fire plugs with spray heads all along the march—they were very welcoming.

 Code Pink marcher, Taos, NM, resident, artist-therapist, Josie Lenwell

 The Code Pink contingent in the march

 Lawyer and figure skating teacher, NYC resident, Marni Halasa—with wings


 Bernie as Che Guevara

 The puppet in repose in FDR Park, where the march ended up

    When Bernie graciously conceded Monday night and called for nomination by acclamation on Tuesday, many of his devotees felt betrayed and refused to give up their opposition to Hillary. His cult had taken on a life of its own.
    Now, I have been an ardent Bernie supporter since before he declared his candidacy. I too saw him as the antidote to the corruption of the Democratic party and of the political system as a whole in this country, whose consequences have been the destruction of the middle class and obscene levels of inequality, along with the shameless exploitation of students, and the diversion of universities from their traditional roles as incubators of independent thought to mere training grounds for corporate cadres. Similar critiques could be leveled at the criminal justice system and the health care and pharmaceutical industries. And despite Hillary’s strong humanitarian credentials she has too opportunistically embraced the adventurism of our military-industrial establishment, and the agenda of our financial industry. One wonders where the real Hillary was, after her decades-long quest to shore up her policy credentials in a male-dominated, even macho domain, and accepting large-scale contributions from these industries.
    Now she’s accepted the platform and policy imperatives from the Bernie camp, and hubby Bill has given his fetching account of her idealistic efforts for humanitarian causes, but are we expected to believe she’d turn against her banker supporters, that she’d break with her military allies? Will she actually rip political power away from those who’ve bought and paid for it, and return it to the People—just because it says so in the Constitution?
    Trump, meanwhile, promises single-handedly to solve all the problems of the dispossessed working class without bothering with Constitutional niceties—and the fearful, ignorant, resentful, hate-filled yeomanry believe him.
    Much is riding on Hillary’s speech accepting the nomination. How much will she confess to? Her mistakes in judgment (viz. Iraq)? Her overweening ambition? Her support from the most corrupting agents of our post-Citizens United political system? She has a lot to answer for.
    But she must win over the majority of Bernie supporters; she must make a strong case that she is returning the Democratic party to its Rooseveltian roots (was FDR an aberration?) and will change its course, from that of servant of the Deep State to that of agent of the Popular Will. Our problems have festered, growing to immense proportions, as the Republicans have paralyzed the legislation process and refused all new taxes. Can police departments really be reformed without federal money? The prison-industrial complex? Our collapsing infrastructure? The short-sighted immorality of student debt as a profit center for bond holders?
    This is a tall order: to reverse the direction of US politics and risk losing the support of corporate money for the Democratic Party—just when that money was turning away from the Republicans out of their nomination of Trump. Where will it go then? She could evoke powerful covert resistance from her erstwhile bankrollers in order to stand for the relatively powerless multitudes—although Bernie proved that they can finance an election (or at least a primary) campaign. Of course, she sees this, and appearing to do it is her only path to victory. But it will require stepping into the shoes of one who was taken for the political messiah, out of his unwavering determination to refuse to give in to those forces, never having been a creature of them in the first place.
    But Hillary is. One disadvantage she has is that she’s been around so long. In a sense, her run for the Presidency is like a comeback after the constitutionally limited two terms in office. The wisdom of that limitation, in a cynical view, is that after eight years a politician has been so compromised by corporate interests that the voters can no longer believe his promises. And the only President to have exceeded that limit was the one who “betrayed his class,” stuck it to those corporate interests, and earned their enmity to the point that their effort to reverse the New Deal has now about come to its 40-year fruition—FDR. No other President since then has tried—or has survived in office long enough to do so.
    By staying around so long, the forces opposing her—and demonizing her—have grown to immense proportions, on both the right and left. Her only path is to appear to have become a New Hillary (remember the New Nixon? it was an illusion). She must both drawn on her very real credentials as a supporter of women’s, children’s and family issues, but she must address the macro-economic tendencies that have favored wealth over democracy, education, long-term health, and even—with the mushrooming of the surveillance state—freedom itself. She must step into Bernie’s shoes and assume the mantle of the Occupy Movement.
    The very political and economic soul of America is at stake—and our future—much more than just electing the first woman, although maybe it will take a woman of Hillary’s breadth, intelligence and character to accomplish this.

MONDAY'S IMAGES
 World Can't Wait banner in front of Arch St. United Methodist Church

 Painted mask portraits of victims of drone strikes and police violence

 WCW member Samantha Goldberg hands out our anti-war flyers

 One of the panels of the painted masks

 WCW's drone model—one of three

 The evangelist barker with signs

 His confrontation with the Revolutionary Communist phalanx

 Revolutionary Communist line

 Immigrant rights marchers

 Part of the display in the Methodist Church sanctuary

 Reply to Trump

 (Queen) Hillary impersonator—note vulture on shoulder and bats coming out of hair

 Part of Revolutionary Communist line in front of City Hall


 Puerto Rican liberation partisan in front of City Hall

 Statue of former Philly mayor, the murderous Frank Rizzo (1972-80)

 The wonderful dancing fountains on the west side of City Hall



Bernie & me

FOOTNOTE:
     As if to remind us what messianic zealots look like, I witnessed a bizarre encounter Monday, while I was handing out anti-war leaflets with World Can't Wait in front of the Arch Street United Methodist Church, right across from the beautiful renaissance City Hall. Around the corner came a contingent of fundamentalist evangelists, bearing 3-part white-on-black signs strapped to their backs with a stick, shooting 10 feet into the air, quoting scriptural exhortations to repent and come to Jesus. Their spokesperson, a bearded man in his 30s, ranted his damning message through a headset-mounted mic into a bullhorn: every other religion was false and a path to hell. His favorite word was "abomination." He reserved special vitriol for the Pope ("The Pope should go back to hell where he belongs") and for our Methodist Church, who had set up both their sanctuary and a spacious side room for protesters to rest and recharge.
    But then, from the other direction (the City Hall side of the sidewalk), up marched a phalanx of Bob Avakian's followers, the Revolutionary Communists, all wearing the same orange and black flaming t-shirt, which read "Real Revolution." They lined up in front of the door to the church, as if to protect it, while their leader, speaking into a much smaller bullhorn, tried to respond to the evangelist spewing damnation, but was being drowned out. When the exchange moved to the subject of abortion, one of the Communist marchers whispered "mic check" to their leader, who then changed his tactic to the Occupy's People's Microphone. The Communist line then began chorusing "Abortion is not murder" and "a foetus is not a baby" and almost drowning out the evangelist's "abortion is murder" shouts.
     As they spoke over each other, I had a musical epiphany: this cacaphony should be formalized into a vocal fugue à la Frank Loesser's "Fugue for Tinhorns" that opens Guys and Dolls, in a yet-to-be-written musical of this convention.
     I videoed 3 minutes of it, which you can see here on YouTube.

video


Thursday, July 28, 2016

Political Parties or Election Agencies

   On his call-in show this morning on WNYC Brian Lehrer asked anti-Trump Republicans to call. One woman from Sparta, NJ, complained that she was on the verge of voting for Hillary, until Hillary embraced Debbie Wasserman-Schultz after the email scandal this past Monday forced her to resign as chair of the National Democratic Party, and then rehired her on her own campaign. So Hillary was apparently oblivious to Wasserman-Schultz's moral dereliction and the fact that many people—including Republicans who couldn't stomach Trump—were watching her, trying to convince themselves to vote for her despite her reputation of moral wobbliness and political opportunism.

    Huh? Where does Hillary get this monumental insensitivity? Indelicacy? Sense of entitlement? OK, so last night Obama said that our system isn't perfect, but isn’t that just a sop to get people to overlook what bothers them? Are the establishment politicos really listening?

    Too much complacency! If we had a parliamentary system with multiple parties that were more homogeneous on issues, and regimes had to be formed via compromises and negotiating, we’d be a lot closer to the will of the people. As it is the Dems and GOP are less parties than they are election agencies, the places to go for wealthy interests who want to influence policy with money. So the public face of these agencies becomes one of a bloated, complacent boss (cf. Tweed)—and this is what we have to choose from?

    The third parties—Libertarian and Green—are going to see a bump this election season.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

New Yort Times Truth Censor

***STRICTLY CONFIDENTIAL***

Note to all New York Times Writers:

We are the newspaper of record, so we bear a heavy responsibility to decide what is and what is not accepted as true by mainstream America, and especially by our advertisers. We acknowledge most of what actually happens and has happened, but there are some occurrences that would be too shocking for our readers and too disturbing to our advertisers if reported with complete accuracy, which is often at variance with the official US Government explanation. We must avoid giving these versions of events our imprimatur of Truth at all costs. Those reporters not conforming to these restrictions will be terminated (see Chris Hedges and Seymour Hersh).

Accordingly, in all your stories you will observe the following:

Stick closely to the official US Government accounts of the 9/11 attacks and for that matter the JFK Assassination.

Never refer to the arms industry as a motive force in our foreign policy, notably our aggressive actions abroad, including but not limited to drone strikes, attempts at regime change, targeted assassinations, the fight against ISUL. Never connect a congressperson’s position on an issue to contributions received from lobbyists.

Avoid reporting on the activities of the CIA, especially when they run counter to the stated goals of our government, e.g. supporting the Taliban or ISUL. Never mention any possibility of false flag operations, and avoid mention of Israeli attempts to influence US public opinion or foreign policy and especially any Mossad operation.

Never make any mention of illegal attempts to alter election results, including but not limited to computer hacking, computerized voting machine alteration, flipping votes, or the so-called “red shift” adjustments purportedly used by exit-polling organizations. Stick with aboveboard attempts to limit voting by voter ID requirements, closing polling places, deleting or changing registrations, eliminating early voting. We deplore such measures, which are all instituted by partisan and/or ill-conceived laws. We do not acknowledge, much less investigate the surreptitious alteration of vote totals, no matter the evidence, since this could lead to libel suits, and in the worst case, assassinations of reporters. Accordingly, never refer to Mike Connell’s death or assassination in any way. Leave Karl Rove out of all discussion, and never mention CIA efforts to influence elections abroad.

Soft pedal the racism in attacks against President Obama and the obstructionist attitude of the Republicans in Congress. Never pose the questions of how so many were elected, despite their being a minority party, or else always blame it on Democratic voter apathy and Republican excess zeal.

Focus political reporting whenever possible on the outrageousness of Trump and Cruz. Do not draw attention to Hillary Clinton’s connections to big money, whether it’s in the defense industry or Wall Street. It is permissible to repeat her detractor’s accusations of same, but do not offer any corroboration.

(This is, of course, satire—JSS)

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Open Letter to Deborah Lusignan, the Sane Progressive, on Election Integrity

 Note: Deborah Lusignan has posted an important video on Youtube on outrageous practices in the Wyoming primary, where over 600 absentee votes materialized out of nowhere in Laramie County to swing its caucus to Hillary, after Bernie was winning decisively:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LTEKSbvb57g&ebc=ANyPxKrYw8_4dAKbvwBL6GGf-DIbmof9ra3Q3AYbH3bF4K2rX4kMUoyqnXOFm2QCFYKPs8EU9woyFw8G5ECS7nAVUYEOfVT6rQ&nohtml5=False

Hi Deborah,

    I’m so glad to discover your strong voice.

    I’ve been following the issue of computerized election theft since November 2014, when I heard Jonathan Simon interviewed on WBAI/KPFA’s Guns and Butter with Bonnie Faulkner. I got his book, Code Red: Computerized Election Theft and the New American Century and organized a Left Forum panel on the subject last year. This year we’re back at the LF but with a better spot and bigger room.

    Meanwhile, I’ve been rattling the cage of one of the managing editors of The Nation (which I read regularly) to do an article on the subject, or even a whole issue devoted to election integrity. He’s demurred, and finally, I believe, brushed me off. Jonathan said, in effect, what did you expect? Mark Crispin Miller is similarly skeptical about getting the left wing press to acknowledge this huge problem. I’m also in contact with Bob Fitrakis, who, with Harvey Wasserman, wrote the book on the stealing of the 2004 election in Ohio (and he was Kerry’s confidant at some point). The Progressive Democrats of America, namely Mimi Kennedy is also on board, along with some financial angels in NY and San Francisco.
    I’ve been talking about the rolling coup d’état, viz. GOP takeovers of statehouses and the US Congress, but it’s more and more obvious that the Dems use the same techniques, though probably not on as wide a scale—yet.

    So now there seems to be a groundswell of popular protests against the rigged election system. This is fantastic. The ultimate goal is to increase the heat so much that (1) candidates like Bernie can take up the cry without sounding like a winer or a “conspiracy theorist” (a very loaded term, never to be used at face value by those of us who try to unearth the “secret history” of this country), and (2) that the left wing and magari the mainstream media will call for a serious investigation.

    Since both parties seem to be relying on these dirty techniques to keep their respective establishments in power, it will have to be a loud demand, something akin to a demand for investigating the CIA (and the last one of these resulted in the Pike Report of 1977—and was resisted by the CIA and most Republicans).

    Meanwhile, Bernie needs some toughness and fast to shed light on the very practices that you thunder against in your video. Kathleen Campbell sent me the link last night. She’s fought a valiant fight in the NW corner of North Carolina against election crooks.

    So let’s be on each other’s action lists.

    My next strategy is to arouse the international investigative press about our corrupted elections through the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, the ICIJ. I’ll let you know if I get anywhere.

    Yours in solidarity and outrage, as a fellow activist says,

    Joel Simpson

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Why the Republicans Are in a Panic Over the Rise of Trump

Republican spokesmen David Brooks & Peter Wehner, as well as mouthpieces The National Review  and Commentary have condemned Donald Trump in the strongest terms, while GOP politicians like Mitt Romney and Lindsay Graham are trying to take measures to insure that he is not the party’s nominee, but there is precious little explanation for their panic in terms of the real power structure in this country.

If we consider the relationship between Republicans and their financial support, their existential fear of Trump becomes clearer. But first, we have to acknowledge that real power in this country has increasingly become concentrated in the "deep state," the defense industry, the big corporations and the big banks and financial interests. These entities have supplied the greatest share of financing to both parties, but especially the Republicans, so that no law or reform, no matter how popular, has a chance of being implemented if it impairs the interests (read the bottom line) of these huge financial sources—think of single-payer health care and the conventional wisdom that it was “impossible” to put into effect, despite its overwhelming popularity.

This power structure has been in effect a long time—C. Wright Mills already described it in 1956—but it so overwhelming today, boosted by the Citizens United decision, that we can no longer consider the United States to be a popular democracy.

The white working class have been the biggest losers in the evolution of the US economy towards extreme inequality, runaway industries, and the financialization of essential social institutions, including education and health care. Yet the Republican party has until now been able to convince this large group that they best represent their interests by embracing the so-called “values” issues—male power (“right to life”), gun rights, anti-immigration, lower taxes for all, small government to encourage freedom and entrepreneurship—while actually advancing the interests of the “deep state,” which is the same as the superwealthy. This was always a deceptive confidence game, so it couldn’t last forever, and now Trump has exposed its fraudulence.

Trump is running supposedly without the financial support of the deep state actors, and he is attracting white working class support with his vague, throwaway promises and tough-guy trash talk against perceived threats, such as immigrants and Muslims. But Trump threatens the bond between the Republicans and their money sources: he doesn’t need them himself (so he says), and he removes popular support from Establishment Republicans, making them less useful to their heretofore patrons in the real deep state power structure.

So Trump could let the financial air out of the Republican party, exposing them as the party of the superrich, full stop, with nothing of substance for their historical base. They would then be incapable of winning elections, therefore useless to these interests.

So the Republicans see Trump as the author of the handwriting on the wall—they’ve come to the end of their power trip—and just when they’re at the apex of their governmental power, with a majority of governorships, statehouses, and both houses of Congress. They are manifesting the panic of the condemned, the drowning, those about to be left behind by “history.”

So the deep state actors, the 0.1 percent, the neo-liberals, the globalizers, privatizers, defense contractors, banksters and obscenely overpaid CEOs, would then logically transfer their support to the Democrats, a more effective conduit of popular legitimacy, and already pretty much in their pocket—certainly Hillary is! It’s the perfect time for the rise of third party, one that represents true democratic interests. Bernie is, of course, the closest thing we have to this right now—and he beats Trump by 15 percentage points to Hillary’s 10, according to today’s Times. This is the judgment of the independents, those who trust neither party.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Bernie vs. Hillary & the "Deep State"

My two wonderful daughters have had a spirited email debate over Bernie vs. Hillary. Forgive my paternal pride at reading their articulate analyses. But I felt compelled to give my root reasons why I support Bernie:

Dear Nora & Molly,

    Hillary was certainly there in the corridors of power when she was first lady. She’s gone on to acquire even more experience, and she is brilliant at it, a great communicator. And it’s also true that the special burden of her gender may have compelled her to triangulate more than a man might have had to. If Democrats have to prove how tough they are in wielding our hypertrophied Defense establishment against the threats, real and imagined, in the world, a woman has to be even more demonstrative about it. I almost forgive Hillary for voting for the Iraq war, along with all but 22 Senators (Senator Byrd’s “Honor Roll” in the movie about it).

    But also, being part of Bill Clinton’s “New” Democratic party shift to the corporate right, she ended up on the wrong side of many issues during the 90s. But the redefinition of our political parties during that time, essentially validating the Reagan “revolution”—namely the financialization of our society, the promotion of “market fundamentalism,” the erroneous idea that markets are self-regulating and that less government regulation is better (a fundamental Koch Brothers article of faith)—marked a terrible watershed in our economic and social history. She was part of this revolution, and she is deeply embedded in Establishment politics. This means that she is deeply indebted to the corporate forces that have been taking over American society, culture and the economy at increasing speed since Reagan’s presidency, forces that push for privatization (in education, infrastructure, prisons) with disastrous results, that set up the models for our humanistic institutions such as universities to emulate, with very harmful results as well.

    Bill Clinton’s move to the right was a way of getting in on the bonanza of corporate money, that was already flooding the political arena before Citizens United. So basically, the Republicans won; the “New” Democrats, led by Bill Clinton, went over to their side, but while winning the economic argument, they also lost ground politically, since they were no longer the only corporate party any more. So they had to become even more extreme in their ideas, while trying to subvert the day-to-day functioning of Congress (holding hearings and keeping the secret from Democratic members of committees—this is the 90s, as documented in The Wrecking Crew by Thomas Frank). Then they stole two elections for Bush (now well documented), got us into that horrendous, unnecessary and wasteful war—which profited Bush’s cronies in the Defense industry enormously.

    So we’re at a point now where due to the Republicans’ deliberate actions, the Congress has been rendered impotent. This is NOT the way the system is meant to function, Nora. It is designed for compromise and NOT gridlock. Gridlock is technique being used by Republicans to undermine Americans’ faith in their government in order (1) to get them to participate less and (2) to believe that private corporations should handle hitherto public functions—a recipe for disaster. This is cynical and even treasonous, certainly anti-Constitutional.

    We have, though, a situation in which the real power in this country resides primarily not with elected officials, but with the operatives of the “Deep State.” This is a loose group of defense contractors, corporate CEOs, military brass, big banks, and the Israel Lobby (AIPAC and Adelson), who determine policy by paying for it, that is, buying politicians, and who have taken over many state governments (through ALEC), and whose aim is simply to transfer money from the public purse, the Treasury, into their coffers. This is the naked function of war, of “quantitative easing” (money transfers to banks, given freely), of deregulation (no more fines for murderous pollution—see Koch brothers’ history), of the $3+billion/year support for Israel (which goes to buy US-made armaments and security systems). See The Deep State by Mike Lofgren, former Congressional aid to John Kasich, when he was a congressman from Ohio.

    And then there’s the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the one area where Obama and the Republicans are on the same side, and which is getting NO exposure in the US press. This would transfer sovereignty over matters such as wages, environmental regulation, and safety standards to global corporations, whose decisions would supersede those of our elected representatives. It’s a corporate giveaway of sovereignty; it’s scandalous; it’s frightening. Bernie talks about it. Does Hillary?

    So where are Hillary and Bernie in all this? Hillary takes laudably liberal positions on a host of issues, most of them social. Then she talks about living in the real world. To me this is code for living within the cramped ambit of power that’s left to our elected politicians by the purveyors of the Deep State. But if we do this, we’ll be bankrupt; we won’t have the resources to take care of our general needs. Unless these forces are reigned in, they’ll simply squeeze us dry with military adventures and sexy hardware, and bank giveaways. Bernie knows this, talks about it. Even if elected, he’d be up against huge odds to be able to get them under control and assert the Constitutional power of the People once again, a power which is now in serious remission. They might try to assassinate him, as they did JFK (a different configuration of Deep State, but some of the same players are involved—viz. military & CIA).

    Now I know that history doesn’t play out as neatly as our fantasies or fears would have it. If any Democrat is elected President, we’ll finally have a rational balance on the Supreme Court, which will correct the corporate tilt we’ve had to endure for several decades now. The Republicans are reaping their whirlwind—by cultivating their lunatic fringe they’ve created a monster who no longer needs them. I’m still astonised at the number of nominally rational people who are “ethnically” Republicans who still think they’re dealing with old-style Bob Dole-Nelson Rockefellar-Herald Tribune Republicans. They’re extinct. The GOP fears that if Trump is nominated the Deep State corporate moneybags may not need them any more, and then Hillary would be the ideal recipient of their largesse—and we’d still be in the situation we are now, with slightly different social-issue tuning.

    Could we survive a Hillary presidency? Probably. With her in office, other forces might be unleashed that would take on the Deep State, but they will not originate from her. She might join them belatedly.
   
    But if Bernie is elected, he’d lead the charge to return to Constitutional democracy, and this is desperately what we need.

    Love,

    Dad

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Trump Is the Greatest Gift to the Democrats

Finally—finally!—those truant chickens are coming home to roost. After years of lies, betrayals, and outright criminality in election stealing, the Republican party is waking up to a revolt of its rank-and-file, who sense with their gut that they’ve been taken for patsies. As the good blue collar jobs have been shipped abroad for the greater glory and profit of ex-patriotic American corporations, the white working class, the Reagan Democrats who stayed red, realize they’ve been manipulated with anti-gay, misogynistic, and evangelical prejudices, while their economic situation has continually deteriorated, and the banks and CEOs who got bailouts, tax breaks, and slaps on the wrist for their destructive behavior, are doing just fine, thank you very much.

Donald Trump, with all his callow bluster, insults to Republican icons, and disregard of the traditional money sources on the right, is capturing the hearts and beer bellies of the good yeomanry of the heartland. The Republicans, even unto Charles Koch, are in a tizzy, according to the NY Times today (Feb. 28). They can see the disaster approaching: Trump is nominated; the party is rent in two in the next election. Other Republican candidates are forced to choose between his buffo popularity and the bad odor of party’s orthodoxy. The Democrats keep the White House, take back the Senate and possibly the House, install a rational and public-spirited Supreme Court Justice, investigate election theft, jail Karl Rove, and the Republicans go the way of the Whigs. The smart money (even the Kochs!) goes over to the Democrats—and possibly another party gains true national status.

Is the country saved? Not necessarily. The purveyors of the Dark State are still in the saddle: the defense contractors, big banks and corporations, the Israel lobby (AIPAC & Sheldon Adelson, who simply and crassly buy support for Likud’s oppressive and racist policies). They’ll see that the Republicans can no longer deliver, and they’ll switch to the Democrats, who’ve been courting them for some time. But they will no longer have the same degree of sway they once had, and there’s a prayer of siphoning off some of their power.

I don’t know what will happen next, but we may be at a pivotal point in our political history. We thought Obama’s election would be it, but we were wrong. That was just the shift away from overt criminality in the White House, but the powers that put Bush there and hugely profited from him were still in control.

But they’ve overreached themselves now, and Trump is the symptom of that. So let’s all enjoy the circus, while he’s still in the ring. I don’t believe he can possibly win. Thirty-six percent of Republican primary voters, who may make up 30% of the electorate, is only 12%. It may be difficult for him to break 25% of the vote in the general election. When faced by a candidate such as Hillary or Bernie, his only response will be more contemptuous bluster, which will not work in a national debate. It works in the Republican debates because it’s all theater anyway—virtually none of the issues they bring up or proposals they make have much basis in reality. When he explodes with insults against Bernie or Hillary, he will reveal himself as the no-nothing bully that he is. He’s incapable of mounting actual arguments.

We still need to expose the Deep State, and the best way to do that is to fight for Bernie. Hillary, unfortunately, is just one more compliant Democrat, hopefully not as complicit as her husband with these forces that are hollowing out the US middle class. Why, if the dollar no longer remains the exchange currency world wide of oil, the only products that countries would need dollars for are armaments. Virtually everything else we consume is made in China, Bangladesh or elsewhere in Asia. And just watch the collapse if the dollar standard for oil disappears.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

The "I-can-work-with-the-opposition-to-get-things-done" myth

It seems this is one of the points that Hillary Clinton mentions that supposedly defines her as "practical" and "realistic."

But as Justice Louis Brandeis said, "An ounce of history is worth a pound of logic." Recent history has shown that Republicans have been determined to opposed the Democratic President in everything he does, not matter how conciliatory he tries to be. They simply haven't wanted to allow Obama to succeed at anything. (It's now known that at a secret right-wing pow-wow right after Obama was inaugurated, Congressional Republicans took an oath urged on them by then South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint—who had won his seat under very questionable circumstances—to oppose everything Obama did, regardless of its intrinsic value. Jane Mayer describes it in her new book Dark Money.)

Then when Obama finally caught on and started to used his executive powers to accomplish what he could (he was, after all, elected by a substantial majority), they accused him of operating an imperial presidency. Now that's chutzpah (remember: like the kid who kills both his parents then wants sympathy for being an orphan).

What no Democratic President has tried in recent times is full-throated, muscular opposition to the intransigent Republicans, calling them out on it, showing how they're hurting the country, and then going over their heads by vigorously appealing to the voters. I'll bet this motivates new minions of them to come out of the woodwork of their cynicism, to participate politically—to vote and organize—in numbers possibly sufficient to bury the Republicans once and for all, to expose them as  saboteurs of economic health, as childish authoritarians, as abject hirelings of the plutocracy, opposed to the general welfare, heedless of the common good or the future, not worthy of being a major political party any more. After all, they sold their soul long ago and have been running on the fumes of "less government," "low taxes" clichés, mantras from the phrasebook of the extreme market fundamentalist libertarians, like the Koch Brothers, Richard Mellon Scaife, (arch-polluting free-marketeer) John M. Olin and others, who have paid billions to develop think-tanks and to corrupt universities to legitimize this tripe.

Every Democratic President from Carter to Obama has cowered before these GOP bullies and has tried to negotiate with them, to reason with them, to make concessions in exchange for limited support, while the Republicans have almost always abused this deference to block the President's initiatives. Facing pressure against any hint of compromise from Tea Party extremists, they've abandoned the traditional practices of political horse-trading, and would rather bring government operations to a halt—at least that way they preserve their bona fides to rabid no-nothings. In return, Democrats in Congress often worked with President Bush.

Bernie is the first Presidential candidate who indicates that he would fight them outright, rather than trying to win them over. Where has Hillary been for the last eight years, she who coined the phrase "vast right-wing conspiracy" when Bill was its target? What can she possibly mean by "practical" and "realistic"? The opposition is neither. They can only win in general elections by vote suppression and electronic vote stealing. But the passivity of the Democratic party and the general avoidance of these issues by the mainstream media have left too many voters frustrated, cynical and resigned to a political system that has ceased to respond to them.

This is why we need Bernie. If he's elected and maintains his current stance, though, he'll have to have a tough palace guard to stay alive.


Friday, February 5, 2016

The Economy of Empathy: Why Racism Seems to Be Increasing with Inequalty

Michelle Alexander's eye-opening book, The New Jim Crow (2013) and now Eddie S. Glaude, Jr.'s Democracy Is Black: How Race Still Enslaves the American Soul reveal how deeply the nefarious tentacles of racism penetrate in American life today. Alexander's book shows, among other things, how draconian drug laws and their selective enforcement have created an incarcerated population that's analogous to an enslaved one (much as Nicolai Berdayaev [1874–1948] showed in Slavery and Freedom [1939] how Stalin's gulags recreated serfdom). Glaude's book shows how certain outward gains, such as overcoming overt racism in popular culture and electing black office holders, have led to complacency about the overall conditions of life for black Americans, leading to the "revelations" about racist attitudes and practices in law enforcement and the much greater devastation to black wealth and financial security from the Great Crash that was experienced by whites. The election of a black President only compounded that complacency in many circles.

But stepping back a bit, if one looks at not only the resistance of racism to diminish four decades after the Civil Rights Movement made its greatest gains, but also the increase in misery and poverty experienced by black people over the past 10 to 20 years, one must wonder about how this problem has been influenced by other changes happening to our economy and society.

I am always interrogating the ramifications of financialization, that people talked about in the first few years of this new century. The talk has mostly receded now, but I think that's more because the condition has been accepted as the new reality. It's shaped our attitudes and assumptions, so its immediate costs have been absorbed and transmuted into other problems that may seem unrelated.

But there is an economy to people's empathy, one which is subject to shifts in personal fortune, to the effort necessary to survive. The much-lauded generosity of spirit of most Americans, our willingness to help a needy neighbor or a "good cause," may not be as robust as it once was. Charities have more difficulty raising funds; each of us receives many more appeals for contributions than we used to, as government has become more parsimonious in its distribution of benefits. Right-wingers are even more resentful of "freeloaders" than they used to be, so it seems.

So as the economy and culture have become more financialized, that is, as financial values crowd out humanistic values in so many areas of our lives, people who are less successful financially appear to have less cultural weight. This is because, on one hand, the values have shifted, and on the other,  because more people are more desperate in their fight for survival themselves, so have less mental and spiritual energy left over for empathy or drive to correct inequality. So communities or tribes have become more closed, more insular, more self-protective, and more partitioned off from the perspectives of other groups. All of these factors disadvantage the already disadvantaged, preeminently African-Americans, but including many other groups.

In simple terms, this is how the greediness and meanness of those at the top spread throughtout society. It is one of the poisoned fruits of hypertrophied inequality. It also implies that attempts to reverse this trend with macro-economic, legislative, and legal/judicial remedies can ultimately benefit the disadvantaged by shifting or enlarging people’s spirits. We mustn’t let up on the day-to-day struggle, of course; just NOT discount someone like Bernie Sanders whose main emphasis is in redressing gross economic crimes. I hope the Black Lives Matter movement is listening.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Political Outrages Surfacing Today: Dark Money, False Flags, and Poisoned Drinking Water

On Democracy Now this morning (Jan. 20) Amy Goodman interviewed New Yorker writer Jane Mayer about her new book Dark Money about the Koch Brothers and other sources of unregulated political money. According to Mayer, these people constitute a secret third political party—oh those Supreme Court Boobs who imagined that opening the floodgates wouldn’t change much! (Or did they hope it would?!) 

But what really got me was her discovery that the Republicans had a powwow when Obama was elected, where they had to decide whether to support him on occasion as the opposition party, or to oppose systematically everything he proposed. The latter position was urged on them by then Senator Jim DeMint, a moral gnome who went on to other insidious work. And of course, they adopted it. This was really a Rubicon for those idiots, basically abandoning their oath of office of fealty to the Constitution in order to try to block everything Obama did. It really amounts to a form of soft treason, and certainly disqualifies them from holding public office.

The next program on WBAI, Guns and Butter, featured Richard Dolan talking about his book project about false flag operations. Having just finished reading Webster Tarpley’s 9/11 Synthetic Terror Made in USA, I was thoroughly primed. It’s so deeply nefarious, it’s (to borrow James W. Douglas’s word) unspeakable—the extent of the official subversion going on to turn us into an authoritarian state. Dolan described the various security agency's terms "white opps" (open, publicly announced operations), "grey opps" (where an operative poses as an independent journalist and issues a highly tendentious report), and "black opps" (where a criminal act is attributed to an enemy force but really choreographed by the agency–the false flag operation).

Dolan spoke of fascism—sugar-coated, pop-culture-coated. He didn’t mention the late Sheldon Wollin’s insightful term “inverted totalitarianism” from Wollin's book Democracy, Inc., which I find very useful—it’s the tacit agreement in the media and polite public discourse not to talk about or give credence to anything other than the official narrative about traumatic events, effectively covering up the government’s role in manipulating public opinion (from the JFK, RFK and MLK assassinations on to 9/11 with many stops in between) and discrediting any exposure of false flag operations, even as they become more commonplace, as "conspiracy theories."

And in today’s Times we have the increasingly familiar spectacle of a politician apologizing for an egregious infraction once he’s discovered having caused or ignored it for an unconscionably long time. It shows again that the distance from contempt to contrition is as short as the one from the remote to the TV. It’s Rick Snyder, of course, Michigan Gov. “Just the Figures, Please,” apologizing for the brain damage that the lead in the Flint drinking water did to its swarthy children (whose parents didn’t vote for him anyway). The decision was made by an austerity commission that he had appointed, not responsible to the people, of course, until there is press attention to the resulting brain damage. Protesters are now demanding his resignation and prosecution, and he’s talking “humbly” about bucks stopping here—now. Just like Mayor Rahm Emmanuel in Chicago, after sitting on the video of the police shooting of teenager Laquan MacDonald by officer Jason Van Dyke for more than a year.

 So it takes black martyrs, who pay with their bodies, to expose these criminals in suits and uniforms.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Bernie Lies Outside the Times' Categories

In a front page article in today's Times (Jan. 17), the headline reads "Clinton Allies Have Regrets Over Strategy." In it Hillary supporters regret that they didn't take Bernie's campaign more seriously and attack him vigorously from the beginning. Now he appears to be surging in Iowa, and Hillary seems to be in the same situation she was with Obama in 2008.

What's amusing is the Times' writer Patrick Healy's characterization of Bernie's position as his "archliberal message," indicating that the journalist's thinking is confined to the archaic linear graph that extends from radical to liberal on the left to conservative and reactionary on the right, and that it's all a matter of policy. What he can't acknowledge, either because he's unaware of it or because the Times won't allow it, is that this is no longer a democratically run country, where power is in the hands of the People, as our Constitution stipulates. We are an oligarchy, run by by the superwealthy few, who control our politics, our financial institutions, and our military and try to control our economy.

Bernie is actually threatening (promising) to reign in this oligarchy and return power to the people. Threatening the oligarchy is extremely dangerous to one's health, as JFK found out. Obama maintains a healthy respect for them, which is why he never became the transformational President that Jesse Jackson and many others said we needed when he was first elected. He would have been much too easy a mark for them, too, since the racism that he evoked in the pathological sector of the electorate would have provided an abundance of willing patsies to do the deed—and then be conveniently disposed of (as Oswald was). Hopefully, Bernie, if elected (and that's now a distinct possibility) will be savvy about his own physical security and take appropriate precautions.

Incidentally, the Times reveals its political naiveté again today (January 17) in its story of Jeb Bush's good manners ("Manners Fit Jeb Bush, If Not an Uncouth Race" by Ashley Parker, p. 25). The implication is that he's too well-bred to descend to the level of Trump and start swinging, so we can lament the passing of the age of political decorum (??) and resign ourselves to Jeb not getting the nomination, denying the Grand Old Party access to the White House for yet another four years—since there just aren't enough crazies to vote Trump or Cruz into office. Incidentally, one power broker who successfully seduced the Times management with his good breeding and collegiality was Allen Dulles, the first CIA director, who led the agency from the early Eisenhower years through the beginning of Nixon's presidency. According to David Talbot's excellent new book on Dulles (The Devil's Chessboard: Allen Dulles, the CIA, and America's Secret Government), Dulles began his career by serving the power elite, working for the Wall Street law firm of Sullivan and Cromwell, and continuing to serve them as CIA director, by subverting democratic leaders in Iran, Guatemala and the Congo, and by avoiding an honest investigation of JFK's assassination (in which he was most probably involved, if not directing). So much for decorum.

What the Times misses (again) is that the support for Trump and Cruz is the measure of the frustration with the GOP establishment who've used its resentful rank-and-file to vote in pro-corporate chumps (like W and the Republican majoritarians in Congress) who pass laws and instigate wars that siphon treasure out of the public purse and into the accounts of military suppliers, bank profits, and other giant corporations. We can complain about increasing inequality all we want, but the super-rich have already bought out those who make the rules, and who were elected by the folks now in revolt.

What these good yeomen don't realize is that a demagogue like the Donald is deeply susceptible to slavishly serving the wealthy once in office. This is the story of every fascist and extreme right-wing candidate who attains power.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Republican Candidates Caught with Their Warmongering Pants Down & other issues of the day

The swift resolution of the naval crisis with Iran yesterday (January 13), exposed Republican presidential candidates Donald Trump and Ted Cruz as the demagogues they are—in case anyone had any doubt. The US patrol boat that wandered into Iranian territorial waters and were captured by the Iranians became a cause for these two clowns to explode with threats and bluster, attacking Obama for his recent diplomatic success with the nuclear agreement with Iran, and boasting of their belligerent, provocative response if they had been President. Of course, they were simply opportunistically taking advantage of a confrontation to raise the hackles of their  mythomaniacal and rather benighted supporters. The callowness with which they seem to be capable of leading us into a war with Iran (if they had the power to do so) outdoes even Bush's cynical ignorance, but if they were in that position, they would probably be restrained by cooler military minds.

Meanwhile, today's Times (January 14) sported an op-ed by lifelong Republican Peter Wehner, who inventories the reasons he could never support the Donald as a Presidential candidate. They're the reasons all of us are thoroughly familiar with, so I suppose the Times, which harbors right-wing mouthpieces David Brooks and Ross Douthat (presumably to keep its reader-members of the financial oligarchy from deserting to the Wall Street Journal, so Bulgari & Co. will still advertise with them) considers this worthy of note. But since rational, principled folks like Kevin Phillips and Lincoln Chaffee have left the GOP, this only leaves people who endorse the defunding of Planned Parenthood, climate-change deniers, immigrant bashers, Obama diabolizers and corporate tax dodging strategists, whom we must presume Wehner to still cavort with. So it's a little like commending a rapist for not attacking women under 16 on principle. Bully!

As many commentators have pointed out, Trump merely spouts the vulgar, extreme version of what most of the rest of the candidates endorse. He attracts disaffected GOP voters who have finally realized that they've been used by the corporate and bankster moguls, who kept these voters' support by dangling various hot-button social issues ("values" issues) in front of their noses, as well as dog-whistling the tunes of their racist prejudices, but giving them nothing of substance. But these voters don't think; they just react, so they're easily cozened by a demagogue, or Donaldgogue. And the beauty part is that, while they only represent about 9% of the total electorate, if they ever do get their champion nominated, not only would he be certain to lose, but he might just bury the Republican party once and for all, sending it to join the Whigs in political hog-heaven (or hell). The Democrats are enough of a corporate party (unless Bernie turns the ship around...) leaving room for a new People's Party. The Greens? The Tax Wall Street Party? Would lifelong oligarchs actually be capable of switching parties? For example, could the Koch Brothers ever turn Democrat? Would they be willing to hire Bill Clinton at $2000/hour to tutor them? The mind reels at the possibilities.