Thursday, August 25, 2016

Normalizing Corruption

If there is one consolation to be had from the looming election of Hillary Clinton, it's that she'll not so much strut into the White House as she will drag herself across the White House lawn as a mortally wounded animal.

 The constant drip-drip-drip of slimy revelations in the waning weeks of Neoliberal Death Match 2016 will ensure that many, if not most, of her neoliberal and neoconservative objectives will be stymied by one Congressional star chamber after the other -- from the day she takes the oath of office.

So weakened is she as a candidate and as a leader, that her much-vaunted bipartisan cooperative skills and wonkishness will go by the wayside. Impeachment is probably a foregone conclusion. Her electoral chances are still better than they deserve to be, thanks first to the anti-Bernie Sanders machinations of the Democratic Party and now to the imploding Donald Trump. Her chances of outlasting one term? Not so much. This is regardless of whether or not she is ever formally impeached. She will be more punching bag than president. Palace intrigues both large and small will rule the news cycles.

Just as Bill Clinton's mission to privatize Social Security was thwarted by the Monica Lewinsky affair (thanks, Monica!) so too will the financial skullduggery of the Clintons' family foundation prove to be the undoing of their political dynasty. Luckily for us, Hillary Clinton simply does not possess the preternatural ability of Barack Obama to put the screws to the public as he still fools at least half the people into believing he has their best interests at heart.

This would all be so depressing were it not for the entertainment value of watching the liberal media twist themselves into pretzels trying to defend the indefensible. They are as much as admitting that since political corruption is the new normal and Washington could not exist but for its incestuous muck, it is patently unfair to single out the Clintons for their own serial chicanery.

Shooting the messenger is their defensive weapon of choice. Rather than pay attention to the content of the leaked emails showing there is virtually no line between the State Department and the Clintons' money-laundering "global initiative," her defenders are attacking the Associated Press, Julian Assange, the conservative legal eagles of Judicial Watch, Clinton donor Donald Trump, and Vladimir Putin. 

Ruth Marcus, centrist columnist of the Washington Post, takes great umbrage at reports that Hillary's many meetings with many donors to her private charity during her stint as Secretary of State constitute the appearance of criminal influence-peddling. "Obliging a donor is not necessarily criminal," the headline sniffs.

In the first paragraph, Marcus falsely implies that were it not for Donald Trump taking great umbrage at Clintonian wheeling and dealing, nobody else would actually be giving a crap about Hillary's normal, healthy activities:
Doug Band, the Bill Clinton aide and then-foundation official, asked Hillary Clinton’s State Department aides for occasional help on behalf of folks who had written checks to the foundation or associated entities: a meeting with a crown prince here (“good friend of ours,” Band noted), a favor for a Lebanese Nigerian businessman there (“key guy . . . to us,” Band observed).
But for the most part, the Band missives produced . . . nothing. The crown prince of Bahrain got his meeting, but there’s every reason to think that would have happened anyway.
A couple of billionaires are reduced to "just plain folks" whose friendship with the Clintons has absolutely nothing to do with their bank accounts. The crown prince of Bahrain would have gotten a weapons deal from Hillary whether he bribed her or not, whether he tear-gasses his own citizens or he doesn't.

 Marcus pretends to assume that for corruption to actually occur, a bag full of money must change hands, an actual favor must be proven to occur immediately following a meeting. The way corruption really works is that donors buy access to the official, who over time gives out the favors in such a piecemeal or delayed fashion that nobody is ever the wiser. Especially "journalists" like Ruth Marcus, who also seem to care more about gaining access to the powerful than they do in holding them to account.

If only Hillary were a smarter politician, moans Marcus, then she would have known enough not to meet with her donors at the State Department. It's not the corruption that matters, because everyone is corrupt. It's the stupid lack of care in hiding the corruption from WikiLeaks and the Associated Press.

Meanwhile, over at the Clinton-centric Huffington Post, they're slugging the A.P. story on the meetings as a "witch-hunt" against Hillary - even though the HuffPo article, written by Michael Calderone, does not actually use such McCarthyite language. He merely notes that the A.P. sent out a "misleading Tweet" which made it appear that nearly half of all Clinton's State Department meetings were with her private donors - when, in fact, only half the private citizens with whom she met were also her private donors.

So, it's all good. Especially since the private donors were pushing nothing but noble causes.

The Clinton camp is also complaining that the A.P. didn't mention that among the private donors with whom she met were the noble Hollywood star, Ben Affleck, and the late Elie Wiesel. "Scandal!" sarcastically Tweeted communications flack Brian Fallon, who went on to misleadingly assert that Donald Trump is a Russian plant.

The Clinton camp seems to have forgotten that it was the A.P. which prematurely announced her nomination on the eve of the California state primary in June, effectively discouraging Bernie Sanders supporters from going to the polls and artificially increasing her victory margin to the double digits. 

Heads she wins, tails the voters lose.

Although widely criticized by the media for her refusal to hold formal press conferences, Hillary is nevertheless given a platform by the media whenever she snaps her fingers. She called in to CNN's Anderson Cooper Wednesday night to pull a Donald Trump, and complain about the media. Hiding behind the protection of her phone, where nobody could see her face or examine her body language, she insisted that the A.P. story was "a lot of smoke and no fire."

More likely she'd been smoking her own skunk and didn't want the viewers to see the bloodshot eyes competing with the bloodstained hands. 

It wasn't fair, Hill whined to Andy, to exclude the thousands of meetings with very serious important people that she herself chose to exclude from public view before WikiLeaks took it upon itself to share them with the public. They could at least have been more fair about holding her publicly accountable, she paradoxically groused from behind the safe screen of her phone. 

When Cooper complained about her chronic press unavailability, she snapped, "Well, Anderson, I'm talking to you right now!"

And then she went on to bitterly complain about Donald Trump's own overly-constant press availability.

Meanwhile, Julian Assange is promising to release more documents potentially embarrassing or damaging to Hillary Clinton. 

Drip, defend, complain, deflect, repeat. Take frequent selfies with the nobles of the Donor Class. Share widely on social media, and call it Democracy.

Everybody Must Get Stoned

 All governments lie, but disaster lies in wait for countries whose officials smoke the same hashish they give out -- I.F. Stone

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Smells Like Neoliberal Teen Spirit

 Hillary Clinton is so out of touch, she thinks that she can woo a lost generation of debt-crushed Bernie Sanders supporters through the glossy perfumed pages of Teen Vogue (part of the high-fashion publishing empire of her friend, Anna Wintour.)

Either she's really that clueless, or she's cynical enough to gleefully rub their noses in her elitism. She probably neither wants nor needs the Bernie vote, as evidenced by her recent marathon of buck-raking from Wall Street to Hollywood to Silicon Valley and on to the Republicans and Neocons and war profiteers of the military-industrial complex.

Joseph Stiglitz might have recently announced that global Clinton-style neoliberalism is dead in the water, but just try telling that to Hillary Clinton. Her Teen Vogue pep talk to America's youth is literally bursting at the seams with the language of neoliberalism. Everything in your life must be viewed through the lens of the Market:

"I consume and I compete, therefore I am."

Of course, you're also required to vote every four years in order to give your galloping consumption that false glow of democratic good health. Solidarity with your fellow citizens has nothing much to do with it. At the very most, you can digitally fist-bump each other on Facebook and Twitter.

Speaking of false glows, take a look at Teen Vogue's misty watercolor rendering of Hillary. She appears to be totally blissing out on one of those Bernie Sanders hallucinogens (Medicare for All, maybe?) that she used to rail against so stridently as pure uncut pie-in-the-sky.

What are those things cascading out of her head? Rainbow and unicorn-flavored happy pills from Bernie's basement? Whatever they are, they're certainly a patriotic red, white and blue. So my best guess is they're supposed to be tiny deflated balloons, the better to symbolize your lowered expectations.

Lowering your expectations and consoling yourself that you have enough "grit" and "resilience" to cancel out your misery is, after all, one of the prime selling points of Neoliberalism.

Before we're allowed to begin perusing Hillary's essay, we're warned informed in advance by Teen Vogue editors that it will be "seriously inspiring." Did you really think this was going to be a fun read, something you can swipe across your iPad screen in a digitized minute? I mean, seriously. Get real, Gal Pals!

The intro continues (neoliberal buzzwords are my bold, here and throughout):
 For September, our theme was #ForGirlsByGirls, which focused on female creatives and empowerment. For the first time in our brand's 13-year history, our magazine was photographed exclusively by women. To check out our September issue cover story, starring Tavi Gevinson and written and styled by Grace Coddington, go here. And as always, don't forget to pick up your own copy of the magazine, on newsstands August 16th. (But PS — you can subscribe here!)

I already learned something so very cool and totally Neo."Creative" has become an actual noun! I also didn't realize that you cannot be the mere subject of a Teen Vogue magazine cover piece. You are the star of one. Thankfully, though, I am not so retro that I didn't know that when you put a phrase after a hashtag, there is no need to use your space-bar. That isn't an efficient way of marketing your individual brand.

So as not to keep you panting in suspense any longer, you'll be seriously inspired to learn that Hillary begins her advice column by dishing about two empowered and inspiring young people she met recently on the campaign trail. 

The first is a girl named Britain (not to be confused with America or Estonia) who combated online bullying by simply talking to her parents, ignoring her tormentors, and then marketing her techniques to other bullying victims. "If I can conquer it, anyone can," Hillary quotes her as boasting in true entrepreneurial teen spirit.

The second youth, named Duncan, caught Hillary's attention via his convocation speech at Harvard's Graduate School of Education. Our future Madame President writes,
In a spoken-word poem, he shared his struggles in life and urged his fellow graduates to fight inequality and inspire students. “I teach in hopes of turning content into rocket ships, tribulations into telescopes,” he said. “So a child can see their potential from right where they stand.” Donovan’s message hit home, and by the end of the next day almost 3 million people had watched his speech on Facebook.
This is Neoliberalism 101. You vaguely share experiences fighting against nothing or nobody in particular, and then you fill the brains of your fellow consumers and combatants with happy deflated thought-balloons. All you need are visions of potential, and before you know it, a rocket ship will zoom you and your student debt right out into space. And then three million content-consumers will friend you on Facebook as your every click is tracked for the benefit of corporations trying to sell you crap that you can't afford and didn't even know you desperately wanted until they told you.

Hillary continues her sermonette:
 Britain and Donovan aren’t outliers. They’re part of a rising generation that’s more diverse, open, and connected than ever. If you’re reading this, it’s a safe bet that you’re part of that as well.Everywhere I go, smart, driven young people are creating new ways to communicate, starting companies that innovate, and pursuing jobs that have an impact on people’s lives. They’re standing up to some of the biggest challenges in the world today, from income inequality to gun violence to climate change.
Oh, where to even begin in this hodgepodge of neoliberal buzzwords signifying absolutely nothing. First, let's get the identitarian Democratic politics out of the way. As long as a few designated minority kids can get a leg up, then it's all liberally good for everybody in Clintonworld. And as for the privileged meritocratic few, they'll have all the time and money and family support and loan forgiveness they need to become their own tech brands. It's all right there on Hillary's website! And if they're not starting their own companies, they're certainly not sitting on their Berniebro butts waiting for a handout or government job or debt relief. They're out there competing against one another for jobs. With impact, whatever the hell that even means. It certainly sounds brutal, but Hillary doesn't offer any details.

 Rather than urge youth to expose political corruption, and take to the streets in protest, and stage sit-ins and boycotts, she vaguely urges Vogue Teens to "stand up" to the same  euphemized "challenges" that are the spawn of the neoliberal project itself.

Just as these politicians start and fight wars and terror by starting new wars and fighting new terror, so too do they fight the ravages of their own neoliberalism by simply mutating their cult of socially responsible greed into newer, ever more malignant forms.
A smart former U.S. president—who happens to be my husband—once said there is nothing wrong with America that cannot be cured by what is right with America. I couldn’t agree more. And your generation embodies everything that is most right with America. By harnessing your energy and ideas, we can solve many of the problems we face. So whether you’re already working hard to change the world or just starting out, here are three things you can do right now to make your voice heard.
Oh goody. No trendy article can ever be complete without a listicle embedded right within it. 

And it's so good to know that Hubby Bill, architect of neoliberalism that he was, admits that third term Clinton policy will entail curing the ravages of neoliberalism (NAFTA, end of cash welfare to the poor, repeal of Glass Steagall, enabling corrupt telecoms) with even more of the same. (stay tuned for TPP and a plethora of privatization schemes and even more surveillance and aggression.) 
First: Find something you care about, and fight for it. For me, that issue has always been helping kids and families. But from civil rights to gender equality to Internet freedom, young people have spurred major change when they get involved and take the lead. I can’t think of a single issue facing our country or our world that wouldn’t be better off with more of you bright and committed women and men speaking out and taking action.
For example, too many of you are starting your lives struggling right off the bat, trying to pay for college or graduating saddled with debt. It would be all too easy for politicians to turn a blind eye to this problem. But instead you’re coming forward to share your experiences and calling on elected officials to take on the skyrocketing cost of college and do something about increasingly high loan rates. You’re taking bold steps to make higher education more affordable—but there’s a lot more work to do, and we need your help.
Another prime tenet of neoliberalism is to insist that the lesser people all have "skin in the game." Just don't expect Hillary, all-powerful leader of the free world, to take the lead. You have to make/help her do it. Meanwhile, though, please do share your experiences. Vent all you want. Be aware that she herself makes no promises for immediate relief. This stuff takes years.... generations.... centuries. There's always more work to do. The work is both the means and the end. Bootstraps!
Second: Learn from those who disagree with you. I grew up in a house with lots of opinions. My father was a Republican and my mother was basically a Democrat, although she didn’t talk much about politics. Being surrounded by diverse ideas shaped my view of the world. It might not seem like it sometimes, but we can disagree without being disagreeable. In fact, we need to have difficult conversations—that’s how progress is made. So seek out others who see issues differently from you. Challenge yourself to understand their perspectives, and encourage them to understand yours. I promise you’ll learn something new from conversations like these. I do all the time.
Why are Simon and Garfunkel crooning in my head right about now? Oh, right, it's that other tenet of neoliberalism: distract the proles with some touchy-feely stuff. You'll get student debt relief by simply talking it through, like intensive therapy - assuming that your high deductible Bronze Obamacare Plan actually pays for even a minute of it. Yes we speak of things that matter, with words that must be said. Can analysis be worthwhile? Is the theater really dead?

Why do politicians always insist that legislation for the public good is impossible without dinner table discussions among people who have absolutely no power?

Clintonoid neoliberalism foists most of the responsibility on individuals by forcing "empowering" them to make choices within a narrow market framework, and achieve limited results while the government stands benignly by as a "partner," rather than as a direct agent of social change and improvement. It stresses resilience and adaptation to the forces of globalization and the ensuing job losses and wage suppression and labor union destruction that it helped to create. To speak out against this is to be like Donald Trump: a protectionist and anti-modernist, if not downright anti-American.

Neoliberals always deny that they are ideologues. Rather, they argue for "what works" and "best practices." So, please get with the program of your government leaders acting more like office managers whose prime concerns are the bottom line, the shareholders, and the customers.

Hillary boasts that she grew up in a household full of diverse opinions, even though only her reactionary bully of a father was ever allowed to talk. I wish she'd be honest and admit that her mother and all the kids were the victims of domestic emotional, if not physical, abuse. I think she is still challenging herself to come to terms with that perspective.I think that might be why she feels so compelled to reach out to neocon war criminals the way she does. They're bullies.
Third: Vote, and inspire others to vote too. Maybe you’ve heard that one before. That’s because our democracy works best when everyone has a voice. Even if you can’t yet cast a ballot, talk with your friends, family, and neighbors. Make sure they are registered by your state’s deadline and turn out to the polls when Election Day comes. It’s easy to get discouraged by the influence of special interests in our political system, but remember: Everyone gets one vote on Election Day. If you’re frustrated with the state of politics—and plenty of people are—think about what we could accomplish if everyone who was eligible to vote actually did.
If Hillary were honest, she would admit that voting every two or four years does little to nothing to ease frustration, despair, and want. If she were honest, she'd urge her youthful readers to pick up a copy of Affluence and Influence by Martin Gilens, who proved that it's usually only the wealthy political donor class that gets what it wants.  If she were honest, she'd stop accepting donations from lobbyists and billionaires in order to eventually do what they want.

Think about how much you could accomplish if you weren't simply viewed, or were taught to view yourself, as nothing but an adaptable unit of value.

Hillary doesn't actually need or want the votes of young people. But every little bit helps. She'll win, regardless, but she wants to win by a more sizeable mandate than the one she's likely to get, what with her abysmally low approval rating.
I know many of you didn’t vote for me in the primaries. But no matter who you supported—whether it was me, Senator Bernie Sanders, or another candidate—I’m going to keep working hard to earn your trust. I’m not taking anything for granted. The stakes in this election are higher than ever. We have to come together to build an America that reflects the values your generation embodies—diversity, openness, innovation—and stop those who want to take us in a very different direction. Your age group is the largest American generation living today. That gives you a lot of power and even more responsibility. I know you’re up to it. People like Britain and Donovan are proving that every day.
If Hillary really means what she says about openness and innovation, and earning trust, then she'll insist that the Green Party (Jill Stein) and Libertarian Party (Gary Johnson) candidates be included in all the presidential debates, regardless of their standing in the polls.

She's right. The stakes in this election are higher than ever. We must ensure that Joseph Stiglitz's proclamation that neoliberalism is dead comes to actual fruition.

Hillary should be able to gracefully retire in order to spend more time with her money. Chelsea and Ivanka should be able to end their fake family feud and once again pose together in the pages of Vogue and Glamour.

The Creatives: If Our Brands Can Do It, Your Brands Can Do It!

Maureen Dowd wrote another fun Trump column in the New York Times, this one about Ivanka's Dad's recent non-apology tour, listing all his minima culpas in more or less chronological order in the form of an "open letter" to voters. I'm sorry about this, that and the other, yada yada yada. Not. LOL.

How much more of this can we take? Speaking only for myself, not very much. Here's my published response: 
 An Open Letter to America from the Media-Political Complex:

- We're sorry that we keep giving the Trump monster that we ourselves created more than a billion dollars' worth of free advertising time.

- We're sorry that since the USA is now an oligarchy, and six media conglomerates own 90% of everything that you see and read, broadcasting in the public interest is as dead as a door-nail.

- We're sorry that Trump's real estate empire has now been permanently extended, rent-free, to the upper left-hand corner of the Times homepage.

- We're sorry the US government is under the control of the unfettered and unregulated capitalist predators who make the laws to ensure that tax-evading Trump and his billionaire cohort not only have a negative effective tax rate, they also get generous refunds from Uncle Sam. They're too big to fail, too important to jail.

- We're sorry that our endless coverage of Neoliberal Death Match 2016 has either upstaged or entirely pre-empted news of record floods, record heat, record fires, the Zika epidemic, record maternal death rates, record inequality and all other topics affecting regular people in their everyday lives.

- We're sorry that we keep feeding you shallow celebrity click-bait, and fake-outraged Trump columns, and war-as-entertainment, and scandals, keeping you alternately sedated, confused, mad, and terrorized.

- We're sorry excuses for journalists and pundits and broadcasters.

- And we will never change.


Thursday, August 18, 2016

It's Not Easy Being Green...

... So it was therefore somewhat miraculous that CNN broke into its regular programming of all things Trump and Terror in order to bring the viewing audience an hour and a half of Jill Stein and Ajamu Baraka, who are running at the top of the Green Party presidential ticket. In prime time, no less.

In case you missed it, here's the entire clip of Wednesday night's town hall:

It's a testament to the utter meaninglessness of Hillary Clinton's high standing in the polls that her surrogates are going after Stein with a viciousness not seen since, oh I don't know.... the Bernie Sanders uprising?

They're bringing out the same old "spoiler" canard which had Ralph Nader costing Al Gore the 2000 election, despite the fact that it was thousands of Florida Democrats voting for Bush who tipped the scales, as well as Gore losing his own home state, and a corrupt Supreme Court ultimately completing what truly was a rigged process of crony capitalism and hanging chads.

"How do you sleep at night?" demanded one Hillary plant in CNN's town hall audience.  I loved Stein's riposte about the dual nightmare of Clump (Clinton + Trump), along with Baraka's own refusal to apologize for having once called President Obama an "Uncle Tom" and enabler of white supremacy. The Sensitive Plants from Clinton's garden drooped visibly.

"I'm With Her" dwindled right down to "I'm Wither." 


So if this socialistic spectacle had another Jill (Abramson) reaching for her barf bowl in the queasy aftermath of her latest neoliberal Guardian column, I'd be neither surprised nor sympathetic. She wrote in her first sentence that the mere thought of Nader makes her ralph. This is the woman who, after being fired from the top editorial spot at the New York Times, turned to teaching aspiring journalists at Harvard and then setting quite the example for her students by abandoning reportage for a sordid gig of blatant Hillary-shilling.

Still, the nauseated and nauseating Abramson doesn't even come close to the stomach-churning literary intensity of her liberal sister-in-journalism Rebecca Schoenkopf of Wonkette. She called Jill Stein "a generally miserable cunty hag" for apparently no other reason than that she's not a cool and edgy member of the "Hillary Family" like Rebecca and her feminist Democratic friends.

With Stein's current threatening five percent standing in the national polls, it certainly isn't easy being Green.

But it certainly beats the sickly biliousness of some of the sore winners of Hillaryland.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Hillary's Hippie-Punching Neocons

There's a method to the madness of Hillary Clinton's sordid embrace of the discredited Neocons who dragged us into wars, killed/maimed thousands of American troops and millions of Middle East residents, and who now hope to drag us into new wars with Iran and Russia. And that method is the anti-left propaganda being disseminated by mainstream "liberal" media outlets.

The core message is that if you are a progressive who refuses to vote for Hillary, then you just have to be a cheerleader of Donald J. Trump, and by extension, totally in the bag for Vladimir Putin. If you dare to criticize Hillary, then you are essentially a deluded traitor to your own country.

As I've written before, Donald J. Trump is the perfect strawman-in-the-flesh foil for Hillary Clinton.

He is so polarizing that the entire media establishment has been affected to the point of abandoning its erstwhile core mission of informing the public. As Matt Taibbi observes, "we have no credible news media left. Apart from a few brave islands of resistance, virtually all the major news organizations are now fully in the tank for one side or the other."
The last month or so of Trump-Hillary coverage may have been the worst stretch of pure journo-shilling we've seen since the run-up to the Iraq war. In terms of political media, there’s basically nothing left on the air except Trump-bashing or Hillary-bashing.
Take last week's news cycle:
Red-state media obsessed over a series of emails about the Clinton Foundation obtained by Judicial Watch (a charter member of the "vast right-wing conspiracy") as part of a Freedom of Information lawsuit. The emails hinted that Foundation donors might have had special access to Hillary Clinton's State Department.
Meanwhile, the cable-news channels consumed by Democrat-leaning audiences, MSNBC and CNN, spent most of last week hammering Donald Trump's latest outrages, especially the "the Second Amendment people" comments seeming to incite violence against Hillary Clinton or her judicial appointments.
Enter the Neocons, who are unabashedly co-opting corporate "liberal" outlets by denouncing Trump and endorsing Clinton and using some pretty slimy scare/smear tactics of their own while they're at it.

Take this prime example of the new McCarthyesque journalistic genre, just published in The Daily Beast:

 "Beware the Hillary Clinton-Loathing, Donald Trump-Loving Useful Idiots of the Left" shrills reporter James Kirchick, claiming with sparse evidence that hordes of progressives are rushing to the side of Donald Trump out of the misguided notion that American adventurism abroad is a really bad thing. If we don't support Hillary Clinton then we are no better than the Weimar-era German communists who, he says, enabled Hitler. Kirchick asserts that anybody postulating that a President Trump would simply allow the "revolution" to proceed more quickly falls right into this category. He cites Bernie Sanders supporter Susan Sarandon as an example of this new breed of lefty fascist-enabler, adding:
Today in America, the stakes may not be as great as they were 80 years ago, but the political strategy is similarly irresponsible. Exultant in their moral narcissism, these lefties for Trump display no concern whatsoever for the consequences of their juvenile behavior. It shouldn’t surprise us that the vast majority of them are white and upper middle class, precisely the sort of people most insulated from the ravages of a potential Trump regime.
But it is the second group of progressive Trump fans, subtler in their sympathies, who warrant the most concern. These are the so-called anti-imperialists who harbor deep revulsion at the idea of American power being used for good in the world. America, they believe, is more often than not a source of evil and disorder—a jaundiced view of our global role that they share with the Republican nominee. Unlike the aforementioned wannabe revolutionaries, most of these progressives haven’t endorsed Trump. But they nonetheless embrace the radical departure in American foreign policy that his presidency promises.
Got that, all you disaffected Progs and hippies? If you don't support Clinton, then you are not only an immature narcissist and a snooty racist, you are an anti-American heretical disbeliever in the innate goodness of American hegemony. Shame, shame, shame on you!

Of course, author James Kirchick does not disclose that besides being a "journalist," he is also a fellow of the neoconservative think tank, Foreign Policy Initiative. He gained notoriety a few years ago when he called for the execution of whistleblower Chelsea Manning.  

Foreign Policy Initiative's founders and Board of Directors include Eric S. Edelman, former undersecretary of defense and national security aide to Dick Cheney; leading Neocon and Clinton supporter/fund raiser Robert Kagan, whose wife Victoria Nuland has been both an aide to Cheney and an undersecretary of State for Hillary Clinton; William Kristol, called by David Corn "the No. 1 cheerleader for the Iraq War"; and Dan Senor, Fox News contributor, AIPAC lobbyist, and foreign policy adviser to Mitt Romney.

According to Right Web,
FPI promotes its policy agenda in a number of ways, including producing policy briefings and issue memos, publishing op-eds in major newspapers, and teaming up with like-minded groups to co-host events with lawmakers and other government officials. For instance, in July 2014, FPI co-hosted a “public forum” with the Bipartisan Policy Center and the Foundation for Defense of Democracies to address ongoing negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program. Among the participants at the forum were several members of Congress, including Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) and Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL). Shortly after the event, FPI’s policy director Robert Zarate published an op-ed in USA Today calling for increased sanctions on Iran, claiming that "Iran retains substantial illicit nuclear infrastructure and could potentially produce explosive nuclear material for a weapon in two months."[7]
Like other neoconservative groups, FPI also appears to seek out alliances that extend across ideological lines using the mechanism of sign-on letters. Reprising a role PNAC played in the run-up to the Iraq War, for instance, FPI released a letter in August 2013 calling for the U.S. government to consider "direct military strikes" on Syria and to provide more arms for "moderate elements of Syria’s armed opposition,” with the aim of tipping the balance of Syria's civil war against the Assad regime. Alongside FPI’s Kristol, Edelman, Kagan, and Senor, signatories included prominent figures from the George W. Bush administration like Elliott Abrams, John Hannah, Douglas Feith, and Karl Rove; neoconservative writers like Eliot Cohen, James Kirchick, and Reuel Marc Gerecht; prominent Republicans like Gary Bauer, Norm Coleman, and Tim Pawlenty; and Democratic hawks like former Sen. Joe Lieberman and New Republic literary editor Leon Wieseltier.[8]
The Daily Beast, which did not see fit to inform its readers of Kirchick's primary function as a paid propagandist for a war-mongering think tank, is owned by IAC, which  describes itself as "a leading media and Internet company with more than 150 brands and products serving loyal consumer audiences." 

(Hear that, all you Hillary-hating, non-consuming disloyalists out there in Hippieville?)

IAC's chairman and chief executive is Hillary Clinton mega-donor/billionaire Barry Diller. And guess who sits on its Board of Directors?

Chelsea Clinton.

It's very hard work being both a mogul and a director, as evidenced by Barry, Chelsea and their spouses slaving away and snorkeling off the coast of Sardinia last year:

Follow the Money

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Imprisoned Refugee Moms Start Hunger Strike

Two dozen female inmates of the grotesquely named Berks County Family Residential Center in Pennsylvania have begun a hunger strike to protest their imprisonment by the Obama administration. Although the Department of Homeland Security claims that refugee families awaiting legal disposition of their cases are held in captivity for no longer than 20 days, the "Madres de Berks" state in an open letter to Director Jeh Johnson that most of them have been prisoners for as long as one full year.

To make matters even worse, the detention center had been ordered shut down months ago by the state of Pennsylvania because of its substandard conditions. The federal government responded by filing for and getting an immediate stay of the order, effectively rescinding it despite the horrific third world environment described by both the prisoners and the various human rights and legal groups trying to help them.

Human rights activists and psychologists agree that the open-ended detention of young children is hazardous to their health, regardless of the concern-trolling "national security" propaganda that the Obama administration seeks to impart to the public.

The Berks County facility, formerly a nursing home, was later re-purposed as a juvenile delinquent detention facility before finally being modified by the non-Trumpian tender-hearted Homelanders to incarcerate both children and their mothers.

According to a brief filed by Human Rights First, the mothers first filed formal written complaints to the government about the lack of proper health care for their children last December.

One mother said that her son's skin condition had worsened since Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) imprisoned them at Berks four months previously. Instead of immediately addressing her concerns, an ICE worker advised her to make another medical appointment while icily reminding her that if she didn't like the bureaucratic brush-off, “You may accept your removal order and arrangements can be made for your removal from the United States. At this time, your custody status remains unchanged." 

A mother of a five-year-old girl wrote this letter to ICE:
My daughter has been having diarrhea for about three weeks now and we went to see a doctor but they did not give us any medication, not even serum. (Pedialyte). With every passing day her behavior is getting worse and the psychologist just tells me to be patient. I need you to give me adequate medication and that you give me the opportunity to take my case out of her. I am not a criminal. You gave the opportunity to other persons who have been deported to leave, why not give it to me. It has been more than four months that I have been detained.
She and other mothers daring to complain all received the same boilerplate response: make an appointment. And if you and your kids don't like waiting for one, then just get on the bus and go back to the violence-torn Honduras, Guatemala, or El Salvador that you fled in fear for your very lives.

Stop abusing the hospitality of the Exceptional USA.

After the state of Pennsylvania futilely ordered the Bates Berks Motel for Immigrants shut down on the basis of its substandard conditions, a Federal court last month ordered the mothers and children released immediately because the government has also failed to comply with a previous ruling called Flores v. Lynch. The Department of Homeland Security chose to appeal that decision as well, once again falsely claiming that migrant families are being held for less than a month before their cases are adjudicated.

Out of desperation, two dozen of the incarcerated mothers began a hunger strike on August 8th.

Out of an abundance of cynical iciness, Homeland Security flacks are choosing to further denigrate and threaten the strikers rather than listen to their concerns. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer,
Advocates for the women say some staff at the center threatened the hunger strikers, saying if they did not resume eating they could grow so weak that their children would have to be taken from them.
A spokesman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said the 75 residents at the facility have access to meals served three times a day in the cafeteria and free snacks.
According to ICE protocol, hunger strikers are to be referred for medical supervision and evaluation only after not eating for more than 72 hours or missing nine meals.
For that reason, said the ICE official, "currently no residents at the facility are considered to be on hunger strike."
Lindsay Harris of Immigration Impact wrote about a guided tour she took of the unlicensed but still open prison for families this year:
Being detained at the Berks detention center has brought no end to the trauma these children endure. Every night, detention center staff wake the children and their parents every fifteen minutes, shining flashlights in their eyes, conducting sleep checks that they claim are mandated under state childcare regulations. Under the same state regulations, children, even toddlers, are not allowed to sleep in the same bed as their parents. One father, recently released from detention, told us that he begged the staff to allow his two-year-old to at least fall asleep in his arms, and then move him to his own bed, but “for safety reasons,” the staff refused.
 Children we interviewed expressed concern about the medical care they received at the center. Two children explained that they had untreated tooth pain and had been waiting weeks to see a dentist to have fillings replaced. This is nothing new and complaints about inadequate care in family detention centers have been filed in July and October last year.
It is the height of irony that Homeland Security even outsources its official inspections of Berks and its other migrant and federal prisons to a for-profit corporation called the Nakamoto Group, whose wealthy founder has actually received humanitarian awards for being such an immigration success story himself. Gary Nakamoto likes to sell himself as a philanthropist as he vacuums up all those lucrative government contracts for inspecting and reporting on gulags for migrants.

While the unaccountable profiteers bask in their own self-serving and self-righteous xenophobic glow, here's is the full text of the scathing letter to Jeh Johnson from Madres de Berks: 
Dear Jeh Johnson,
As the Secretary of Homeland Security, you said last week that you have helped ensure that “the average length of stay at [family detention] facilities is 20 days or less.” We are 22 mothers who have been imprisoned at the Berks County Residential Center, in Leesport, Pa., for 270 to 365 days. We have relatives and friends who would be responsible for us and who wait for us with open arms, but your Department of Homeland Security has denied our release.
The reason for this letter is to inform you that on Monday, August 8, we began a hunger strike to protest our indefinite detention, and to request that you end this practice of detaining mothers and children and allow our immediate release.
Our children, who range in age from 2 to 16, have been deprived of a normal life. We are already traumatized from our countries of origin. We risked our own lives and those of our children so we could arrive on safe ground. While here, our children have told us they sometimes consider suicide, made desperate from confinement. The teenagers say that being here, life makes no sense. One of our children said he wanted to break the window to jump out and end this nightmare.
On many occasions, our children ask us if we have the courage to escape. They grab the chords that hold their ID cards and tighten them around their necks, saying they want to die if they don’t get out. The smallest children, who are only two-years-old, cry during the night because they cannot express what they feel. For some time, our children have not eaten well, and they have lost weight.
We left our homes in Central America to escape corruption, threats, and violence. We thought this country would help us, but now we are locked up with our children in a place where we feel threatened, including by some of the medical personnel, leaving us with no one to trust.
On Monday, we decided to begin this hunger strike, hoping that our voices will be heard and that we will obtain the liberty from detention that we need so much.
We are desperate, and we have decided that we will get out of here dead or alive.

Mother with 12-year-old son with 365 days in detention.
Mother with 12 and 16-year-old daughters with 365 days in detention.
Mother with 6-year-old daughter with 365 days in detention.
Mother with 6-year-old son with 365 days in detention.
Mother with 7-year-old son with 340 days in detention.
Mother with 6-year-old son with 335 days in detention.
Mother with 15-year-old son with 305 days in detention.
Mother with 4-year-old daughter with 304 days in detention.
Mother with 9-year-old son with 300 days in detention.
Mother with 2-year-old son with 300 days in detention.
Mother with 4-year-old daughter with 277 days in detention.
Mother with 14-year-old daughter with 276 days in detention.
Mother with 7-year-old son with 276 days in detention.
Mother with 7-year-old daughter with 271 days in detention.
Mother with 2, 8 and 9-year-old children with 270 days in detention.

Mother with 3-year-old son with 270 days in detention.
Mother with 6-year-old son with 269 days in detention.
Mother with 4-year-old son with 240 days in detention.
Mother with 9-year-old daughter with 180 days in detention.
Mother with 7-year-old daughter with 120 days in detention.
Mother with 14-year-old daughter with 80 days in detention.
Mother with 7-year-old son with 60 days in detention.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Goldwater Girl Redux

Now that Hillary has gotten her jingoistic corporate convention out of the way, and Trump is sinking in the polls, and Bernie Sanders is admonishing the Bros that the Clinton Restoration is as revolutionary as Wonder Bread, we're just about at that point where we can finally take the waiting right out of the Empress-in-Waiting moniker.

Why wait until she's formally elected to ditch progressives and show her true conservative, war-hawkish colors? In the space of just a few weeks, she's sought and gained the support of such odious Republican billionaires as Michael Bloomberg and Alice Walton, along with a whole Who's Who of Deep State war criminals. Although she's still angling for Henry Kissinger, and Dick Cheney is playing hard to get, and George Bush is waffling on the prom invite, there are plenty of sloppy Neocon seconds lined up, fetid bouquets and résumés in their slimy grasping hands.

"Why is Clinton using Trump to promote Republicans?" hypothetically muses Carl Beijer:
 Donald Trump is, by far, one of the weakest nominees for president in modern history. His unfavorable rating is now hovering around 63%, well above that of even the most unpopular nominees over the last several decades. Clinton is presently unlikely to lose any state that Obama won in 2012, and is in a position to add several more - including Arizona, Georgia, and North Carolina. At present, her lead over Trump doubles the largest lead Obama ever built over Mitt Romney four years ago.

Strategically, this advantage should create an extraordinary opportunity for the American liberal-left. As the standard-bearer for the Democratic party, Clinton is in a position to press this advantage against her political opposition and make them pay as high a price as possible for nominating such an unpopular candidate. Broadly, this would mean, among other things, winning as many legislative seats as possible in order to advance the Democratic agenda.

Instead, we are seeing the exact opposite. From the recent email leaks, DNC Communications Director Luis Miranda:
[T]he Clinton rapid response operation we deal with...[doesn't] want us to tie Trump to other Republicans...That's a problem....we can't give down ballot Republicans such an easy out. We can force them to own Trump and damage them more by pointing out that they're just as bad on specific policies...We would basically have to throw out our entire frame that the GOP made Trump through years of divisive and ugly politics. We would have to say that Republicans are reasonable and that the good ones will shun Trump...It might be a good strategy ONLY for Clinton...
 The strategy that Miranda is criticizing here is precisely the strategy that we have seen play out over the past few weeks, as the Clinton campaign hypes statement after statement from "reasonable" Republicans who have become embarrassed by Trump. Liberals and Clinton media surrogates have fallen in line accordingly, and are now openly praising Republicans who everyone understood yesterday to be some of the most radical reactionaries on the planet.
Miranda, one of the DNC operatives forced to resign after the email leaks, also questioned Clinton's hording/hiding of campaign cash in a veritable pay-to-pay slush fund -- a sordid truth which was first exposed in April by Margot Kidder in CounterPunch.

As Maureen Dowd writes in her latest column, the money and the influence-peddling among reactionaries effectively make Hillary "The Perfect G.O.P. Nominee":
Hillary is a reliable creature of Wall Street. Her tax return showed the Clintons made $10.6 million last year, and like other superrich families, they incorporated with the Clinton Executive Services Corporation (which was billed for the infamous server). Trump has started holding up goofy charts at rallies showing Hillary has gotten $48,500,000 in contributions from hedge funders, compared to his $19,000.
Unlike Trump, she hasn’t been trashing leading Republicans. You know that her pals John McCain and Lindsey Graham are secretly rooting for her. There is a cascade of prominent Republicans endorsing Hillary, donating to Hillary, appearing in Hillary ads, talking up Hillary’s charms.
Robert Kagan, a former Reagan State Department aide, adviser to the McCain and Mitt Romney campaigns and Iraq war booster, headlined a Hillary fund-raiser this summer. Another neocon, James Kirchick, keened in The Daily Beast, “Hillary Clinton is the one person standing between America and the abyss.”
All so sadly, or as Donnie might say, "bigly" true. My published Times comment:
 HRC couldn't have asked for a better opponent if she'd constructed him out of a six-foot pile of mildewed straw. By running against Trump, the whole Trump and nothing but the Trump, and openly courting neocon war criminals and "establishment" Republicans, she's outrageously giving CPR to what should have been a rotting corpse of a political party by now.

By giving new life to the pathocrats who made Trump possible, Clinton is only making her own party weaker and more right-wing, only making it easier for down-ticket Republicans to slither their way back into power.... the better to triangulate with during the Clinton restoration. Grand Bargain, here we come. TPP, (just waiting for that fig leaf of meager aid for displaced American workers) here we come. Bombs away.

With three months to go before this grotesque circus ends, Trump is giving every indication that he wants out, getting more reckless by the day. And that's a good thing, because with her rise in the polls, Hillary will now have to do more on the stump than inform us she is not Trump. She'll have to ditch the fear factor. She'll have to start sending emails and Tweets with something other than "OMG! Did you hear what Trump just said?!?" on them to convince voters.

She'll have to stop hoarding her campaign cash and share it with the down-ticket Democrats running against the same well-heeled GOPers she is now courting with such naked abandon.

The Empress needs some new clothes to hide that inner Goldwater Girl.
Under ordinary circumstances, pre-Citizens United, Democrats probably wouldn't countenance such a right-wing nominee. But the party of the working stiff is now officially the party of the plutocracy. If liberals are uncomfortable about this state of affairs, they're putting on the stiff upper lip during the Donald Blitz. The Democratic Establishment is bound and determined to ignore the trials and tribulations of the worsening every-day lives of their erstwhile base, but they are least inviting you to visit their big tent. While you can't exactly rub elbows with the generals and the godzillionaires, you can gain parity with them in your mutual hatred and fear of Donald Trump. As Hillary's mantra goes, we're all Better Together.

Clinton is banking on the primordial tribalism which has always been an essential part of being human, surpassing even the Golden Rule when times get hard and fraught. Where would humanity be without someone to hate and fight against and demonize?

Bertrand Russell could have been talking about the American electoral process, based as it is mainly upon hatred and fear and insecurity, in a lecture broadcast over the BBC some 70 years ago. Even war-mongering Hillary can easily and hypocritically proclaim that "Love Trumps Hate" because
We are taught to believe in worldwide cooperation, but the old instincts that have come down to us from our tribal ancestors rise up in indignation, feeling that life would lose its savor if there were no one to hate, that anyone who loved such a scoundrel as So-and-So would be a worm, that struggle is the law of life, and that in a world where we all love each other, there would be nothing to live for.
Liberals who have no qualms about a Democratic administration's drone assassination policy and undeclared wars and legalized bribery and the cruel imprisonment/deportations of mothers and children fleeing the Central American violence birthed by CIA-led coups can pour out all their outrage at moldy old Donald Trump and his stupid Wall.  Loyalty to party trumps everything.

It may be the economy, stupid, but tribalism helps you to temporarily forget your misery. Even tainted food tastes good and fills you right up as long as it's loaded with just the right amount of propaganda sugar.