Friday, July 21, 2017

A Circular Investigation Squad

In a plot reminiscent of Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None, they're killing each other off in Washington. Robert Mueller is investigating Donald Trump, and Donald Trump is investigating Robert Mueller. The president has essentially issued a dictum of no confidence in Jeff Sessions, whereupon Attorney General Sessions ominously declared that he'll stay on the job anyway, for as long as it's "appropriate."

As long as he has time to whip up a bunch of indictments against Trump, Incorporated? The soon-to-be paroled O.J. Simpson had better get moving on that multimillion-dollar TV deal of his, because there's a whole lot of competition waiting in the wings. By the time the dust settles, there might not be anybody left on the island. Sad.

With no many incestuous relationships going on in so many high investigatory and governing places, conflict of interest has long been a feature, and not a bug, among Establishment types. And Trump is not only milking this congenital chaos for all it's worth, he's adding to the churn daily with some truly malevolent glee.

He manipulates the mainstream media at the same time he is manipulated by them. Why else give a no holds barred interview to his frenemy, the "failing" New York Times? To keep everybody scrambling, and out of breath in the futile effort just to keep up with him.

The way Trump spilled his guts to the Times the other day, you even have to wonder whether he'd rather be the star of his own courtroom drama than be president of the United States. Just imagine the ratings for the United States vs. Donald Trump show. It would pre-empt regular programming and investigatory reporting even more than it's already being pre-empted. To Trump, popularity and notoriety are the exact same thing. Perhaps a stint in a minimum security Club Fed would be preferable to the prison that is the White House. He'd still have a bottomless commissary fund and all the Doritos and Fox News he can consume.

So before he tries to pardon himself and his entire clan, I hope he also remembers to sign an executive order allowing TV cameras in the courtroom. It's the least he can do. The American people deserve it. Not only would we get gavel-to-gavel coverage of the lengthy (months or even years-long) trial, the rule would also apply to the Supreme Court, which currently allows only audio transmissions of its proceedings.

 Trump being Trump, he'd probably add the caveat that the camera must be aimed at him, his family, Ivanka's couture and jewelry, and his OJ-strength team of lawyers at all times. If he can prohibit pictures of the prosecution side, and most important, of the competing celebrities in the audience, he'll probably go for it. As long as it's all about him, what does he care?

He and his family naturally will also control all the licensing of movies and shows about themselves. Even though criminals are barred from profiting from their own stories, perhaps one of the grandchildren can be put in charge of the post-conviction family business. The six-year-old is already trained to perform Mandarin on cue, after all.

Trump will always be a star, albeit a dark, decayed star. He'll always have his fans. He'll always have Paris.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Ain't Nothing But a Hypocritical Hound Dog

Although Trumpism and human rights are obviously mutually contradictory, it still came as a huge shock in official circles when Secretary of State Rex Tillerson broke precedent and coldly refused to trumpet his agency's annual report on global human rights abuses. And to add insult to injury, he's even reportedly planning to close down State's War Crimes division.

How very oily of him. 

Not that the United States has ever actually looked in the mirror and condemned its own abuses and war crimes, which include but aren't limited to capital punishment, solitary confinement and the shackling of pregnant women in domestic prisons; aggressively invading other countries; torture by the CIA in black sites; bombings of hospitals; and extrajudicial assassinations by drone.

 It's that the Trump administration refuses to abide by the norms and traditions of its virtue-signalling predecessors. The serial giant middle fingers of Trumpian contempt make our exceptional country look bad to the rest of the world. His regime deprives us of our righteous opportunities to lecture the rest of the world. 

A further indication of the domestic erosion of human rights is the fact that the State Department official who did comment to the press on the annual human rights report did so anonymously, out of fear of retaliation from the Trump administration.

The government's annual report calling attention to global crimes against humanity has ever had any legal clout, mind you. As a matter of fact, the State Department has always functioned as a major arms broker to the same vicious regimes, such as Saudi Arabia, which it presumes to occasionally criticize. Still, as PRI reported in March, Tillerson's lack of engagement and flouting of tradition sends a chilling message to rights organizations as well as a tacit message of encouragement to autocrats in places like Turkey and the Philippines. The shallow hypocritical American rhetoric which has historically waved its feeble pompoms for human rights efforts around the world is completely evaporating:
The international watchdog Human Rights Watch linked Tillerson's no-show to what it fears is a broader decision by Trump's administration to downplay America's leadership role on the issue. 
"Trump's anti-Muslim refugee policy and hinted cuts to foreign aid have heightened concerns that the US won't be a vocal player on human rights issues abroad," HRW Washington director Sarah Margon said. 
 Tillerson's absence, she added "reinforces the message to governments, rights activists and at-risk minorities that the State Department might also be silent on repression, abuse and exploitation."
To complement that episode of passive-aggressive silence, Tillerson also aims to do away with State's Office of Global Criminal Justice, whose business is vocally "deploring" or "condemning" the war crimes of others while ignoring American atrocities - and while supplying the Deplorables with billions of dollars' worth of weapons every single year. The former Exxon CEO has already reassigned Stephen Rapp and his entire war crimes staff to other duties.

From the New York Times article about Tillerson's "reorganization" plans:
The war crimes office has modest resources. It has a staff of about a dozen and an annual budget of about $3 million, and it has generally been run by an envoy appointed by the president.

Mr. Rapp came to the office with considerable experience: He served on an international tribunal on the atrocities in Rwanda and prosecuted war crimes in Sierra Leone before President Barack Obama appointed him to lead the office in 2009, making him the ambassador at large for war crimes.
Mr. Rapp also played a major role in arranging for one of Syria’s most important defectors to provide thousands of photographs to the F.B.I. of detainees who had perished in President Bashar al-Assad’s prisons.
In the two decades that it has existed, the office has played an important role in bringing perpetrators to justice. Mr. Rapp worked behind the scenes to press Kosovo to accept its new human rights tribunal. The office also pushed Senegal to try Hissène Habré, the former dictator of Chad.
The key phrase here is "behind the scenes." The United States not only refused during the Clinton administration to become part of the International Court of Justice, it aggressively worked behind the scenes to weaken it, before it eventually denounced it, during a five-week conference in Rome.

As international human rights barrister and activist Geoffrey Robertson recounts in his excellent history, Crimes Against Humanity: The Struggle For Global Justice,
Although the Clinton administration had previously advocated a world criminal court and Clinton himself called for it in his 1998 visit to Rwanda, his personal authority was eroded at the crucial time by the domestic fallout from his affair with Monica Lewinsky. After her blue dress was taken by the FBI for DNA analysis, he capitulated to the Pentagon, which had for some months been briefing the military attaches of its allies that the Court was a danger to soldiers of the Western alliance. Jesse Helms, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, announced that the Rome Treaty would be 'dead on arrival' in Congress if there was any prospect of the indictment of a single American soldier....

The US delegation rejected the principle of universal jurisdiction over war crimes and crimes against humanity (other than genocide) so vehemently that the US Defense Secretary William Cohen threatened Germany and South Korea with a US troop pull-out if they persisted in their support for the Statute.
Trump is really not much of an anomaly after all, is he?

So, rather than hound his administration for the ongoing horrendous war crime of 40,000 Iraqis crushed to death in their homes by American bombs or shot to death in the streets of Mosul by American-made guns, the media-political complex is instead hounding him for canoodling with a slimy bunch of Russian oligarchs. These are some of the same characters who were originally aided and abetted in the plunder of their nation by the "Harvard Boys" of the Clinton era.

Since these things are too horrific to report, and since such journalism would be against the best interests of the global ruling class, it behooves them to change the narrative and divert the attention. They've concluded that it's better to hound Trump for RussiaGate and for his slaughter of the English language than it is to howl in outrage about his administration's slaughter of human beings.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Saved By the Clot

(*Updated below)

Despite its best intentions, a Congress stuffed with aging millionaires does provide the occasional benefit for the downtrodden rest of us.

We should probably thank Senator John McCain and the surgery to remove a blood clot from his brain for our latest reprieve from getting our crappy health insurance coverage slashed into worse than nothing. Because of McCain's illness, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was forced to delay voting on his cruel plan to punish the strapped and the ill for the benefit of the richest of the rich. 

And especially for those of us who personally rely upon, or whose family members rely upon, Medicaid coverage: we must seize upon this gift of time to spread the word about how god-awful the GOP's bill truly is. This cruel legislation would punish and doom to a even earlier death the fully one-third of all Americans who receive Medicaid when they become underpaid, unemployed, sick, hurt, disabled, or old. In putting a cap on lifetime Medicaid benefits, the Republican legislation is a true stealth weapon of mass destruction.

The Democrats and the corporate media cannot, for the most part, be bothered to spread the word too thickly. They're too busy spreading, like unhealthy dollops of clotted cream, all the latest RussiaGate gossip and innuendo. They're too busy drumming up the paranoia, too busy softening up the American public for more war and more arms sales for them to get too mushy and soft-hearted about spreading the word that a Medicare for All plan would be both humane and cost-effective. And, incidentally, virtually repeal-proof, what with 100% of the population becoming contributing beneficiaries.

While McCain, who has a history of melanoma, is expected to stay out of Washington for at least a week, medical experts say his healing could take much longer. I would recommend just making it a whole recovery summer. If his fellow senators get too bored, they can always venture out to town halls to try and explain to their constituents that cruelty is freedom.

 Besides the irony of one legislator's personal illness getting in the way of his sadistic cohort depriving tens of millions of people from receiving care is the irony that this one particular senator never need worry about where the money will come from to pay deductibles and other out-of-pocket expenses. He very likely will never even have to look at a hospital bill. His gold-plated congressional insurance will see to that.

Meanwhile, yet another study reveals that even under the selective benefits of the Affordable Care Act, the United States still has the worst health care among the 11 rich nations studied. It is also the only country in the study which lacks true universal coverage.

Regardless of your income and insurance, you will get the worst care and the worst access to care if you happen to live in the exceptional Land of the Free. While nearly half of low-income Americans complain of restricted access to care, even a surprising 26% of the well-to-do report having difficulty paying their uncovered medical expenses.

You read that right: a wealthy American has more trouble getting and paying for care than even the poorest Brit or Aussie. Even the affluent misanthropes who stand to benefit off the backs of the sick and poor if this bill is passed don't have it as good as they think they do, despite all the concierge medical services their money can buy.

The Commonwealth Fund study, aptly titled Mirror, Mirror 2017, found that although the US spent $9,364 per person on health care last year, the United Kingdom and its single payer National Health Service came in first in the survey - despite an expenditure of only $4,094 per person. The runners-up are Australia and the Netherlands.

In each of the categories studied, the US ranked dead last or near last, with the exception of better outcomes for its hospitalized heart attack and stroke patients. The failing categories include equity of care, administrative efficiency and outcomes, primary care affordability, and financial protections against destitution for citizens who get sick or hurt. 

America also does relatively well in doctor-patient relationships, end of life care, and survival rates for such diseases as breast cancer. It does poorly on infant mortality rates, and it has the lowest life expectancy of the 11 countries for citizens who reach the age of 60. 

The richest country on earth still has the highest rate of preventable deaths. America is indeed exceptional, the unfairest of them all.

*Update, July 18: Two more senators have joined the Clot Caucus, and ding dong, the bill is dead! Or is it? The late great George Romero, whose undead franchise is more alive than ever, might have a thing or two to say to all the revelers out there. As might the late great Mark Twain, who quipped that "the rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated" after reading his own obituary in the newspaper.

To proclaim that the GOP's bill to destroy the health care of tens of millions is dead is about as premature as the late great Edgar Allan Poe's tale of the living burial. When plutocrats want something, or more aptly, when they demand everything, they don't give up. Otherwise, they wouldn't be plutocrats.

So read the fine print. The headline in today's New York Times, for example, merely notes that the two new Senatorial defections only "signal" the end of TrumpCare.

And then there were these ominous rumblings from the mythical "other side" of the Aisle of the Dead:
The Senate Democratic leader, Chuck Schumer of New York, responded to the announcement on Monday by urging his Republican colleagues to begin anew and, this time, undertake a bipartisan effort.
“This second failure of Trumpcare is proof positive that the core of this bill is unworkable,” Mr. Schumer said. “Rather than repeating the same failed, partisan process yet again, Republicans should start from scratch and work with Democrats on a bill that lowers premiums, provides long-term stability to the markets and improves our health care system.”
Whenever you hear the words "bipartisan" and "long-term stability to the markets" uttered by a politician, you should brace yourself for the fortified oligarchic shock troops assembling for yet another awesome surge. They don't call Schumer the Senator of Wall Street for nothing. The day that he utters the phrase "Medicare for All" will be the day that his campaign war chest goes bare and his commanders quickly advise a permanent R&R and a brain scan. 

Friday, July 14, 2017

Be They Ever So 'Umble

A Good Ole Pair of Bellicose Bipartisan Bros
At a folksy gala held at his Dallas shrine on Thursday, George W. Bush told Bill Clinton and a group of military, business and civic leaders that the most important quality America's chief executive can possess is humility.

Whereupon he bragged that his friendship with Clinton was "one of the most unique relationships and important relationships in US political history."

That'll sure teach Donald Trump, the obvious target of the virtue-signalling. Were it not for Bush having been so blessedly meek, the invasion of Iraq and the subsequent global refugee crisis might never even have happened. He would have been too busy stomping all over Al Gore and still bragging that he won the election six months into his administration. If he hadn't been so modestly clearing brush in Texas during the summer of 2001 rather than wallowing in Washington and insanely tweeting, he might have made the huge narcissistic mistake of heeding the written warning that America was in imminent danger of being attacked. He would thereby have allowed a huge crisis go to waste.

As it turned out, Nine Eleven was the gift that keeps on giving to the global oligarchy. If it weren't for George Bush discreetly doing his cowboy shtick when it counted the most, the lucrative War on Terror never would have been possible.

"I think it’s really important to know what you don’t know and listen to people who do know what you don’t know,” Bush modestly and incoherently burbled."The decisions you make have a monumental effect on people."

He is right, because his decisions continue to reverberate all over the globe. Even as he bonded with Bill in Dallas, 10 women and children died of dehydration in an Iraq detention camp for relatives of ISIS fighters. That, according to Iraq Body Count, brings Bush's monumental effects on the people in that country alone to a grand total of 268,000 corpses.

 Bill Clinton jovially agreed with his bro about the lingering effects which ex-presidents have. “You want to be able to say, ‘Things were better off when I quit, kids had a better future, things were coming together, You don’t want to say, ‘God, look at all the people I beat.’”

You want to be able to say, look at all the women we forced off welfare and sent to work at low-paying jobs with none of that subsidized child care we promised. Look at all the black dudes we sent to prison, beating previous incarceration records. Look at how we deregulated the banks that crashed the economy. Look at how we monumentally doubled extreme poverty in the United States. It sure beats bragging about all the crooked politicians you were able to beat!

Thursday, July 13, 2017

NYT Now Admits the RussiaGate Saga Is Harmful to Our Health

While Donald Junior's "scandal" is even eclipsing news of the crack-up of an entire continent, the supposedly moribund stealth care reform bill is thrashiing through Congress like a silent but deadly sidewinder rattlesnake.

Before millions of victims even know it, they'll have been bitten right in the ass, without recourse to the antitoxin which normally would be on standby from the first responders of the erstwhile Loyal Opposition (a/k/a the Democratic Party and their media sycophants.)

It seems that our legislators are just doing what they do best. They pick a time when people aren't paying attention, and then they ram their latest bolus of poison through our veins. What more exquisite "serious crisis" timing could there be than the smoking gun of Donald Junior's secret meet-up with a Russian femme fatale with a law degree? American oligarchs can't wait to sink their fangs into what is still left of the democratic body politic.

To his credit, New York Times columnist David Leonhardt has somewhat broken ranks and written a panicky piece entitled "Table Russia, Focus on Health Care" in today's edition. 

It seems that the Senate majority is trying a bait and switch that makes Don Junior's victimhood at the hands of a Russian lawyer promising Hillary Dirt look like he actually won the Super-Ball Lottery. That's because the so-called Cruz Amendment would allow insurance predators to sell policies as worthless as a degree from Trump University.... as long as they also pretend to balance their graft with just the tiniest bit of honesty. People aged between 50 and 65 would be forced to pay the highest prices for increasingly worthless coverage.

Leonhardt writes:
The next few days seem crucial. Senate Republicans are meeting today and plan to unveil their new bill. Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader, has vowed to vote on a motion to proceed next week.
There is a risk that the Russia news, important though it is, will keep people from paying attention to what’s going on in the Senate. Millions of Americans’ access to decent health care is at stake.
Leonhardt issues his belated warning based upon a panicky email he received from a former Obama administration official. Since nowhere in his piece does he mention the verboten phrase "Single Payer Insurance" as an antidote to the reptilian malevolence, you have to wonder if what they're mainly worried about is that establishment Democrats, rather than the GOP, will end up getting blamed at the polls. Their obsessive-compulsive devotion to RussiaGate to the exclusion of the actual public interest will come with a cost.

Since establishment Democrats are demonstrating themselves to be so weak and panic-stricken, what better seriously critical time than right now to make them an offer they can't refuse? Support Medicare for All, right now, or go down in defeat in 2018. If, as they claim, health care is a universal human right, then it should not be O.K. to let tens of millions of American remain either totally uninsured, or so underinsured that they avoid going to the doctor and can still go bankrupt if they get sick or hurt.

Unity, schmunity.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

MSM Puts the Pedal to the Meddle

*Updated below.

The corporate media is in full Russophobic overdrive again. The over-hyped meetup between Trump and Putin in Hamburg last week spurted more gallons of high octane gas into the tank of official discourse, to wit: the Kremlin Has Meddled, Does Meddle, and Will Meddle in American Democracy Forever and Ever Amen.

Elder CNN Situation Room Stentorian Wolf Blitzer, more breathless than usual on Monday afternoon, announced that Donald Trump Jr.'s gleeful response to an email claiming that Russians had dirt on Hillary is finally - finally! - exactly the proof we need...  of the possibility that the Trumps directly colluded with Putin to cost Clinton the election

This is an apparent upgrade from the improbability that Russia infiltrated the brains of the American electorate through a nefarious campaign of fake news,  making Trump a co-conspirator only by default. If a thing can now be deemed absolutely possible, then we're halfway home to reality itself. 

Former National Intelligence Director James Clapper, meanwhile, can see the future despite admitting having no official current access to intelligence. Russia is prepping the 2018 Battlefield with its meddles of mass destruction even as we speak, he told CNN. Not that there is any actual evidence of this meddle-prep, mind you. The only requirement for intelligence is Possibility's close cousin, High Confidence.

The New York Times is creamily spreading, mini-scoop by mini-scoop, a whole series of friendly leaks from anonymous sources within the government, all regarding that "smoking gun" of emails to and from Trump's son.  The big scandal today is that Junior shockingly "loved it" when told that there was dirt on offer from Russia on Hillary Clinton. Plus, (and this engendered yet another news-flash to my inbox) the Times now has a physical copy of the email itself, an upgrade from simply reporting on what was dictated to them from their anonymous sources. Junior then proactively leaked said emails to the media himself, because if there's anything the Trumps hate, it's being scooped by the fake media on stuff that turns out to be totally unfake.

 The implicit message of the JuniorGate subsidiary of the Russophobic franchise is that Junior was unpatriotic and possibly -possibly! - treasonous for even talking to reps of Russian oligarchs, not to mention having the poor taste to gloat over oppo research on Hillary. The Times and other big media outlets neglect to add that these oligarchs have been given absolutely free and legal permission for the past several decades to launder their plundered money in luxury New York City real estate. The Trumps not engaging with rich Russians would therefore make no sense.

Junior's crime, if it is in fact a crime, is that he is stupid, a liar, and failed to disclose to the proper security agencies the meeting with a Russian attorney (who, as it turned out, was mainly a bait-and-switcher with the agenda of overturning Russian sanctions and not, in fact, in possession of any Hillary "dirt").

The inclusion of the eldest Trump son in RussiaGate gives added high entertainment, high-octane value to the Political-Media Complex's heretofore weak orchestrated campaign to weaken, if not get rid of, Trump himself. The very fact that President Trump sat down with Putin at the G-20  had been characterized as near-treasonous. It's as if they met in a back alley or Trump Tower rather than at a highly-publicized conference organized and attended by the global oligarchy.

Former CIA Director John Brennan, notorious for implementing Obama's Terror Tuesday policy of thousands of extrajudicial drone killiings, went on NBC's Meet the Press on Sunday to scold Trump for saying it was "an honor" to meet Putin. “An honor to meet the individual who carried out the assault against our election?” Brennan fumed. “To me, it was a dishonorable thing to say.”

This, from the same spook who was caught hacking into Senate computers to spy on elected individuals who were reading a (still-suppressed and redacted) report of CIA torture. This, from the same spook who over a 30-year career was intimately involved in some of the 81 documented "meddlings" and attempted regime changes conducted by the United States, with varying degrees of success.

Here's Brennan's full friendly conversation with the Democratic Party-affiliated Chuck Todd:

If you think you're seeing more than the usual amount of blatant government propaganda couched in some unprecedented sensationalist tabloid language recently, you're not dreaming. Under cover of last Christmas, the outgoing President Obama quietly signed a law making government dissemination of domestic propaganda perfectly legal. Of course, it is cynically written in terms of being "anti-propaganda" in order to fool people into thinking that political campaigns such as RussiaGate are the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

The "Countering Disinformation and Propaganda Act" - bipartisanly introduced by Republican Senator Rob Portman - established a Global Information Center within the State Department whose job is to collect and collate foreign attempts to endanger national security by spreading "fake news." The law also directs that money grants be given to "non-governmental agencies" willing to help the government keep track of all those efforts to undermine said national security interests.

Could the mainstream, corporate-funded media be included in the category of a helpful non-government agency?

Given their spreading groupthink willingness to engage in counter-propaganda propaganda to the near-exclusion of actual independent investigatory journalism, I wouldn't be too surprised. As it is, CNN and MSNBC and Fox all employ "former CIA analysts," retired generals, revolving-door political hacks and officials, corporation-funded think tank "scholars," and even cross-over Times and Post reporters, to form panels and disseminate what are increasingly the same talking points, repeated ad infinitum, the better to manufacture the public consent.

Not that propagandist stenography is anything new, of course, but in this digital age, it has the added strength of traveling at the speed of light. Or should I say darkness?

For a primer on how the New York Times, in particular, has historically relied upon red-baiting and Russophobia to help enhance the interests of the ruling class, look no further than this damning piece by Edward S. Herman. The Times started hating on Russia during the 1917 Revolution, and they've never looked back.

Fake news, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. And the Times and its media cousins are looking none too gorgeous these days.

*Update 7/12

I wrote this post before the publication of Junior's email chain, which is a pretty chilling encapsulation of the casual corruption of the Trump clan in particular, and the international oligarchy in general. These people have a hands-on, clannish approach to a politics in which, as Trump as gaffed in the past, there is literally no line between the country and his company. They not only think they own the place, they do own the place, and they act with breathtaking impunity. Why not? Despite decades worth of evidence of larceny and fraud, law enforcement has never called them to account. Why should they quit just because Big Daddy is now president of the United States?

They're being called to account now because it is not in the best interests of other segments of the ruling class to be nice to Russia. Trump's interest in making friends with Putin connotes sharing of global looted wealth, especially oil, combined with a lessening of NATO sabre-rattling for fun and defense industry profit.

The mega-dot - more of an exclamation point, really - connecting all the events in question is that Daddy Don apparently knew more about the June 2016 meeting on Hillary dirt than he's let on. Coincident with this meeting was Trump's promise, at a rally, for a major reveal about Clinton corruption in the coming days. That big reveal never materialized, probably because the dirt that the Russians promised on Hillary was never forthcoming. The Trumps have been revealed to be as gullible as they are greedy.

If Trump goes down for this, others should go down too. They probably won't, but at least they might have to squirm for a while before the choking dust from the smoking gun clears, and they (think a minute about President Mike Pence) can urge us all to "look forward, not back."

Meanwhile, Trump is so desperate that he has submitted to a ritual Laying On of Hands. Although no devils were seen fleeing the Oval Office, one evangelical participant was quoted as saying, "I get goosebumps thinking what God is going to do."

It Don't Mean a Thing If You Ain't Got That Good Christian Bling

Saturday, July 8, 2017

A Paine-ful Weekend At Bernie's

"These principles had not their origin in him, but in the original establishment, many centuries back; and they were become too deeply rooted to be removed, and the augean stable of parasites and plunderers too abominably filthy to be cleansed, by anything, short of a complete and universal revolution."

Thomas Paine

Thomas Paine could have been writing about why the "resistance" to Donald Trump is so ineffectual when what's really needed is a global revolution against the whole rotten global financial system. No matter that Paine was talking about Louis XVI of France, who actually was more a weakling than a despot in the mold of his Trump-like ancestor, Louis XIV.

In this interim between the 4th of July and Bastille Day, with Hamburg burning as the G-20 oligarchs party and plunder, what better time to renew our acquaintance with that great global radical, Thomas Paine? He helped foment revolution in the American colonies, and in France and (unsuccessfully) in his native England, where he was thoroughly despised by the aristocracy. His particular nemesis was the anti-revolutionary conservative Edmund Burke. Were he alive today, I can almost guarantee that Burke would be writing scolding opinion pieces for the New York Times. It's probably no accident that the newspaper's star conservative columnist is diehard Burke fan David Brooks.

Since Trump and his fellow plunderer-parasites both here and abroad are indeed too abominably filthy to be cleansed, nothing short of a complete revolution will do, as evidenced by the brave people facing water cannons, tear gas, rubber bullets and other military police hardware in Germany.

Take the health care crisis here at home. Despite the overwhelming clamor for universal, government-run medical insurance from the vast majority of the American populace, response from the higher-ups has ranged from horrified, to dismissive, to tepid.

Bernie Sanders's prescription was just suddenly downgraded to the same piecemeal "reform" of our for-profit, market based insurance system as originally suggested by the Obama White House. So compared to what Thomas Paine demanded in The Rights of Man, it's quite the cynical travesty.

Bernie: "Everyone knows that the Affordable Care Act is far from perfect. Our job now is to improve it, not destroy it. Further, instead of throwing 22 million Americans off of health care, we must move to join the rest of the industrialized world and guarantee healthcare to all people as a right not a privilege through a Medicare-​for-​​a​ll, single​-​payer system."

Tom: "When it becomes necessary to do a thing, the whole heart and soul should go into the measure, or not attempt it."

 Just as Barack Obama did before him, Sanders - now the most popular politician in America - is wasting the moment and submitting to the vested interests before he even gets started. He's putting off introduction of his long-promised Medicare for All legislation and instead meekly suggesting a Medicare buy-in option for 55-and-overs, as well as a public "option" so as not to unduly discompose the predatory plunderers of the private insurance cartel. 

  What about the times that try the souls of the tens of millions of citizens who either totally lack health insurance coverage, or can't afford the premiums and deductibles of what covers only a portion of their medical costs? They'll still have to die or go bankrupt if they get sick under the existing Obamacare law, which Democrats see as the be-all and end-all of the current debate.

As health care advocates Margaret Flowers and Kevin Zeese point out,
 We are already spending enough on health care in the US to provide comprehensive health care to everyone. We have a bill that lays out the framework for a National Improved Medicare for All healthcare system: HR 676. A majority of Democrats in the House have signed on to it as co-sponsors.
So, why are they trying to convince us to accept a public option or a Medicare buy-in? It’s because they are corrupted by money – campaign contributions that they receive from the corporations that profit from the current system. You may say, well Bernie doesn’t take corporate money, so why would he go along with this charade? It may be because he has greater allegiance to the Democratic Party than he has to the supporters of Medicare for All, his base. He may fear losing positions on committees or his new position of leadership within the party.
 We have to be clear and uncompromising in our demand for National Improved Medicare for All NOW! We can’t put this fight off any longer because those in power will always try to knock us off course. The people and their families who are suffering under the current healthcare (non)system can’t wait any longer.
 If Bernie Sanders really believes that health care is a human right, then why does he accept that millions of people are being denied this right today, right this very minute? Until such time as he deems it safe to "compromise" with the predatory plunderers who'd just as soon see us all dead, people will continue suffering and dying prematurely. The gradual granting of health care rights which he espouses is as if Lyndon Johnson's civil rights legislation had "pragmatically" given relief to only half the country's black people or if his Great Society had "realistically" given Medicare and Medicaid insurance to half the country's elderly and poor people.

Either health care is a right, or it isn't. Whatever happened to justice delayed is justice denied?

As Thomas Paine retorted to Edmond Burke's treatise against the French Revolution: "Does Mr. Burke mean to deny that man has any rights? If he does, then he must mean that there is no such thing as rights anywhere, and that he had none himself; for who is there in the world but man?"

The mass psychic revolution for universal health care in the United States is already a done deal. Bernie Sanders can either accept this fait accompli, or he might as well join the Democratic Party's latest bumper sticker campaign of "We Suck Less."

As it stands now, Bernie is nothing if not an adherent of what Paine called the "caterpillar principle." Since all courts and courtiers are alike, they all consume similar policies and narratives which have little or nothing to do with people and nations. "While they agree to quarrel, they agree to plunder. Nothing can be more terrible to a Court or a Courtier than the Revolution.They tremble at the approach of principles, and dread the precedent that threatens their overthrow."

Far from voicing any solidarity with the anti-capitalist demonstrators in Hamburg, Bernie Sanders acted every inchworm the caterpillar courier in tweeting to Trump and his fellow oligarchs what their three top priorities should be at the G-20 summit:

1) Growing global economic inequality. The G20 has a major role to play in making sure the benefits of growth benefit all humanity.

(This is boilerplate neoliberal tripe. Talk about, but don't question whether this "growth" is healthy or cancerous. All of humanity sounds so much vaguer and grander than, say, mentioning the refugees and victims of endless wars of American and transnational corporate aggression.)
  2) North Korea. Trump should use the G20 to develop a consensus. Real leadership is bringing parties together to de-escalate tensions.
(Bernie fails to mention the forbidden word: peace. In his prescription pad, real leaders need not actually stop arms production and sales and reduce military spending to help pay for health care, but rather tamp down the "tensions" a wee tad in order to keep the defense contractors in business without obliterating the entire planet in the process. He needs those F-35s to stay in Vermont. Perhaps he didn't feel the need to chide Trump on climate change amelioration given that the president is already a world pariah in that regard.)
3) Russia’s meddling in our election. When Trump meets with Putin he must make clear interference is unacceptable & must never happen again.

(He not only swallows the Democratic Party's specious RussiaGate claims whole, he eagerly disseminates the propaganda to his followers. He is part of the lie.)

 In effect, Bernie deflects attention from our health crisis at the same time he pays mild lip service to it in the form of "fighting back against" one president and only one side of our corrupt Duopoly. Meanwhile, the more hardcore naysayers desperately try to do their own parts. They insist that a swift transformation to a single payer system is impossible, because most sane people would object to a tax increase. But their "math" doesn't bear out their paranoia. As economist Robert H. Frank lays out in (of all places) the New York Times, a Medicare for All arrangement would actually save us all a ton of money:
By analogy, suppose that your state’s government took over road maintenance from the county governments within it, in the process reducing total maintenance costs by 30 percent. Your state taxes would obviously have to go up under this arrangement.
But if roads would be as well maintained as before, would that be a reason to oppose the move? Clearly not, since the resulting cost savings would reduce your county taxes by more than your state taxes went up. Likewise, it makes no sense to oppose single-payer on the grounds that it would require additional tax revenue. In each case, the resulting gains in efficiency would leave you with greater effective purchasing power than before.
Since Single Payer covers everybody, the countries which now implement such systems have lower overall costs because most of the people covered are relatively healthy. Contrast that with the United States, where the government restricts public coverage to the most vulnerable and sickest groups: the elderly, the disabled, and veterans of our endless wars. We pay more and we get less. The have-nots are taught to resent the haves, entrenching the oligarchic plunderers even more securely in power. So if everybody enjoyed the same privileges, they'd have no reason to either resent one another or settle for lesser evil candidates.

And if everybody enjoyed the same benefits, it would become next to impossible for reactionary politicians, acting at the behest of corporations and oligarchs, to yank these benefits away from the whole population, united in solidarity to the tune of more than 320 million human bodies.

So let's all be realistic, and demand the impossible. Universal health care is not only a human right, it's plain common sense. Don't let the oligarchs get you down and keep you down. Vive le revolution!

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Anesthetizing Outrage

It was shocking enough that he accused a female colleague in the NBC infotainment family of copiously bleeding from a face-lift. But not content with that gleeful provocation, Donald Trump has finally gone over the edge in what's being ballyhooed as the ultimate faux pas of his entire presidency. Trump actually sent out a video of himself mock-pummeling a WWE star whose face was replaced with the sacred CNN logo.

How dare he terrorize the Terror Channel, whose patriotic neoliberal purpose is to sell endless bloody war and domestic paranoia on behalf of the Military-Industrial Complex? And only two days before the birthday of Our Great Nation!

Trump's CNN spoof is all the proof you apparently need that our president is inciting violence against all actual human journalists. It's the umpteenth coup de grace for this misbegotten presidency. 

Like Pavlovian dogs, Big Media stars are falling all over themselves to win the prize for outstanding performance by an actor or actress in a supporting role in the Trump broadcast franchise. Ingenue Mika appeared to be a shoo-in only yesterday. But by Sunday, it was CNN's Jim Acosta, who obligingly played straight man to Trump's comic evil genius by pointing out that the professional wrestling video is a refaked fake. He eagerly left himself wide open to Trump's riposte that CNN is fake news. It was as tightly scripted as anything ever read from a TelePrompTer.

And round and round they go, to the cheers and jeers and yawns and snickers and gasps of a TV-addicted America.

Trump, far from attempting to repress free speech and civil dissent, relies on it and thrives upon it. The more he can control the news cycle with his outlandish performances, the more that he can render coverage on issues relevant to the public both meaningless and boring. He makes the pundits targeted by his insults look ridiculous and powerless. Just witness Mika's response to Trump's face-lift insult. To avoid the stress of coming up with an original statement, she simply appended the corporate "little hands" Cheerios cereal advertisement to her counter-Tweet. That taught him, all right.

The "discourse" has devolved into a Battle of the Brands. Celebrities are lining up, jostling to get maximum saturation news coverage of their regular microbursts of anti-Trump outrage. Maybe one of their Tweets will get a personal insult from the Big Guy himself and their online profile will be boosted to Number One on the Yahoo trending list. One can only hope.

Every time Donald Trump violates taboos and political norms, eliciting knee-jerk responses on demand, the more powerful he becomes. And while he so effortlessly riles up what political theorist Bifo Berardi calls "the custodians of severity" with his systematic repertoire of antics, he is also entertaining and gratifying his base of fans.  Who knew that a president of the United States could be such a zany stand-up comic who exposes establishment hypocrisy at every turn!

Trump had apparently lifted the doctored wrestling video from a fan site, making said fans duly ecstatic that their idol is also a fan of theirs. From the New York Times:
Mr. Trump’s fans on Reddit were exuberant about what they viewed as validation from the country’s most powerful man. “I love this,” wrote a user identified as American_Crusader. “You know he saw it, chuckled, and knew he could control the media narrative for days by hitting the ‘post’ button. So he did.”
The president’s allies say that his attacks on the news media are justified, arguing that the president is merely defending himself from coverage that his supporters view as biased. Mr. Trump’s war of words with CNN is especially popular with his voter base.
Trump absolutely requires what Berardi calls "the proliferation of chatter, the irrelevance of opinion and discourse, and making thought, dissent and critique banal and ridiculous."

What's really scary is the way Trump's cruel theater of the absurd - a literal information-overloaded "siege of our attention" - enables his fellow oligarchs to conduct the real work behind the curtains. How do they blow up the planet and all the living things on it in the name of profits for the very few? Let us count the ways. Or not, because Trump just Tweeted out another insult to another very important serious person or organization.

He has the media stars who pose as journalists way too busy defending their personal brands, pleasing their corporate paymasters, taking personal umbrage, and collating daily lists of Trump's lies and spelling mistakes to pay sufficient attention to the real oligarchic agenda. Not that they ever paid much attention to the agenda before, seeing as how the oligarchic agenda-setters are the sponsors who pay them their salaries.

With the TV and Internet-addicted public so distracted by all this carefully scripted Trumpian dramedy, it's much easier for "politically correct" villains to meet behind closed doors to destroy health coverage for millions of people. It's so much easier for Congress to pass xenophobic anti-immigrant laws just slightly less inhumane that Trump's. It's so much easier for the Supreme Court to give at least a preliminary carte blanche to Trump's Muslim travel ban. It's so much easier for Democrats to priggishly protest Trump's boorishness and to fund-raise off fear and loathing than it is to introduce any progressive legislation as a counterweight.

If we find it hard to forget the carefully manufactured images of a woman's bleeding face - and a corporate media logo getting punched in the face by the president of the United States -  that leaves us with an even more severely reduced mental capacity to visualize the actual bleeding bodies of the thousands of people getting bombed and droned to death in out-of-sight, out-of-mind Yemen and Syria and Iraq.

In end-stage capitalism, nothing succeeds like excess, whether it be the Mother of All Bombs, draconian social welfare cuts, or Trump himself. Made-for-TV catalyst for mass indignation and outrage that he is, he knows full well that his words need contain neither meaning, nor truth, nor consistency in order to be effective. He owns his words and he controls his message. As he brayed in yet another speech castigating the media on Saturday night, "I'm president, and they're not."

And so far, they haven't shamed him, let alone stopped him. Not that they really want to. He is very good for business. His brand elevates their brands, and vice versa. They're mutual parasites who nibble off one other like expensive hors d'oeuvre before really gorging themselves on the main course: you, and me, and the wealth of our entire endangered planet. Capitalism can never be sated in a system where ruthless competition takes precedence over decency and competence.

So God bless Donald Trump as well as damn him. For all his alleged ignorance, he is a master at revealing the hypocrisy of political language every single time  he opens his mouth. To paraphrase Berardi, Trump has shown the whole world that the emperor has no clothes - while paradoxically wearing the emperor's clothes himself.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

The Complexities of Cruelty

Now that nearly two-thirds of Americans declare themselves in favor of true universal health care, or Medicare for All, Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts finally acknowledges that the time is ripe for the Democratic Party to follow suit. 
 President Obama tried to move us forward with health-care coverage by using a conservative model that came from one of the conservative think tanks that had been advanced by a Republican governor in Massachusetts,” she told the Wall Street Journal. “Now it’s time for the next step. And the next step is single payer.”
Tell that to the party leadership. The way a group of them showed their loathing for the now-delayed Better Call the Undertaker Act proffered by the Republicans was to literally sit down and "raucously" sulk for the cameras. 
“So John Lewis and I (Sen. Cory Booker) are going to sit down on the Capitol steps for a while to protest Senate Republican’s efforts to repeal health care and give voice to millions of Americans who believe that affordable health care is a human right,” Booker posted alongside the Facebook live stream. “Watch, share & join us.”

“By sitting in, by sitting down, you’re really standing up,” Lewis said. 

Ben Wikler, the Washington director of activist group, tweeted how he became part of the sit-in, describing the organic growth of the event as “kinda magical.”

Unlike the protesters who were cruelly yanked out of their wheelchairs last week and arrested for blocking Mitch McConnell's office, the supine and able-bodied establishment Democrats were deemed harmless enough by Capitol police to remain in place, despite blocking the entire building. It was really kinda magical. Who knew that some forms of protest are more equal and acceptable than others?

Nonetheless, Warren is gently and belatedly urging liberal lawmakers to get up off their slacktivist butts and take that next organic step and start running on single payer health care for human organisms living in the United States. She understands that Hillary Clinton's vow during her campaign that single payer "will never, ever come to pass" is probably not a winning strategy for her party. All it did was help stimulate those all-important collective passions right into the arms of Donald Trump - who, as a private citizen had himself voiced support for government-sponsored medical insurance as the sanest, most cost-effective solution.

Trump, who only a few weeks ago called the GOP reform plan "mean," put a noncommittal spin on his latest word salad:  “This will be great if we get it done. And if we don’t get it done, it’s just going to be something that we’re not going to like, and that’s O.K., and I understand that very well.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was forced to delay voting on the Better Care Reconciliation Act when a handful of GOP senators balked - either because the measure isn't sufficiently cruel, or because its draconian cruelty isn't sufficiently hidden from voters. Mainly, they were miffed that Mitch operated behind closed doors, without their own input. How can they sell a bill to their constituents when they're being kept as much in the dark as their constituents?

 The Congressional Budget Office scoring reveals that under the Bitterly Callous Retrogression Act, 22 million fewer Americans would be covered by insurance by the year 2026. It's so bad that even the arch-conservative American Medical Association, which has always lobbied heavily against any kind of government involvement in health care, calls BCRA  a clear violation of the Hippocratic Oath of "first, do no harm."

As Mitch cynically drawled to the TV cameras after temporarily yanking the bill, who could have guessed that big complicated cruelty could be so complex? Therefore, his most immediate challenge is to get enough of his cohort "comfortable" enough with the unprecedented cruelty for the oligarchic job to get done.

Senator John Tester cynically put in that all they really need is more flexibility to rescue the most vulnerable citizens from the pain of Medicaid covering all their health care needs. That way, the protesters in wheelchairs won't even have to travel to Washington and block Congressional offices. They'll be blissing out in a permanent state of health care Nirvana freedom.

These malevolent political clowns remind me of the feckless characters in Demons, Fyodor Dostoevsky's scathing 1872 novel which critiques both nihilism and supine, often complicit, liberalism. The "debate" really is just about how much sadism that today's reactionaries think they can get away with.

One of the characters in the novel argues for "a final solution of the question, the division of mankind into two unequal parts. One tenth is granted freedom of person and unlimited rights over the remaining nine tenths. These must lose their person and turn into something like a herd, and in unlimited obedience, through a series of regenerations, attain to primeval innocence, something like the primeval paradise - though, by the way, they will have to work."

To which the other, more bloodthirsty nihilist counters, "I'd take these nine-tenths of mankind, since there's really nothing to do about them, and blow them sky-high, and leave just a bunch of learned people who would start living happily in an educated way.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

What Good Is the Democratic Party?

What good, for that matter, is any political party?

In this country, we have two major oligarchic political parties, otherwise known as the Duopoly. The Republicans, at this moment led by a thuggish reality TV star posing as a populist, devolved into two separate factions early in the regime of Barack Obama. The first group are "moderate" Republicans who aim to reward the rich under as much platitudinous cover of darkness as they can get away with. The second are renegades of the astroturf variety who do the dirty deeds as flamboyantly and as enthusiastically as possible. 

The first squabbling (moderately sadistic) faction aims to rip just enough government-subsidized health care away from just enough people so as to avoid inordinately hurting the obscene profits of private insurers, drug companies and other health profiteers - not to mention their own re-election chances. The other faction, of the Koch/Libertarian persuasion, wants to rip away all the subsidized health care from patients and predators alike. This is because they don't believe that government should be involved in any level of health care at all.

 Members of the first faction exist to give away the whole public store to the rich, who then, legend has it, will create some trickle-down prosperity for those who are mainly white, and work hard, and show proper admiration for the rich. The second faction are members of the so-called Freedom Caucus. They represent the freedom of the rich to ignore the whole trickle-down B.S. altogether and instead enjoy the All Against All spectacular from the freedom of their private islands. Ultimately, the intraparty GOP squabbling is just about the intensity and methods of the sadism. Judiciously placed leather whips, or waterboarding? Quick annihilation, or deferred pain for purposes of re-electing the Good Cop torturers?

On the Democratic side, meanwhile, are the centrists and the progressives. The centrists, known alternately as conserva-dems, Republican-lites and neoliberal New Democrats, also exist to serve the plutocracy while pretending to care more about the Commons than do their reasonable GOP friends across the aisle.  

Slightly less intense and dogmatic than their moderate Republican colleagues, the centrist Dems began forming their own faction way back in the 70s, just as the New Deal and the Great Society first began coming under attack from the extreme right wing.

To avoid the leaching off of their voters to Richard Nixon's racist "Southern Strategy," they tried to out-Republican the Republicans by also bleating out the  message that government is the problem, not the solution. The problem, of course, is that the poor are too selfish.

The centrist Democrats and the "moderate" Republicans have enjoyed varying degrees of success in their cooperative shreddings of the social safety net and their poor people punishings over the decades. While Bill "The Era of Big Government Is Over" Clinton was able to kick millions of poor women off the welfare rolls and send a record number of their mainly Black mates to prison with the help of a then-more reasonable GOP Congress, Barack Obama's own efforts at a similar "Grand Bargain" went down in defeat. The newly-ascendant Freedom Caucus, which gained power in large part because of Democratic coddling of Wall Street, deemed Obama's proffered cuts to Medicare and Social Security not sufficiently cruel.

Now, with the country fallen into a dystopian spiral in the aftermath of the neoliberal austerity reforms which rewarded the rich and punished the poor, it's now the progressive wing of the Democratic Party that's in the "ascendant," battling the We're Not Trump centrists with demands for universal health coverage, a living wage, free higher education, and enhanced Social Security, among other goals.

Notwithstanding the recent "unity tour" conducted by the leadership of these two Democratic factions (Tom Perez and the corporate DNC on one side and Bernie Sanders' Our Revolution on the other) the crack widened into a chasm this past week with the defeat in Georgia of Jon Ossoff, a centrist funded by the DNC establishment to the tune of more than $50 million.

Rahm "Mayor One Percent" Emanuel, who once out-Trumped Trump when as Obama's chief of staff he called the party's progressive base "fucking retarded" for daring to criticize the neoliberal Obama administration, is now belatedly urging his party to generate voter enthusiasm by voicing some concern for the downtrodden as well as for the upper middle class voters whose main source of anxiety is being personally offended by Trump's personality.

But look what happens when they try to ram milquetoast candidates like Ossoff down our throats. The Democratic establishment's buffed and carefully manicured scolding centrist finger has been rendered into an ossified vestige. It's turning into a parody of Rahm.

And that brings me back to my original question: What good is the Democratic Party? (Since it is a truth, almost universally acknowledged, that the Republican Party's own, more wickedly honest purpose is the total destruction of everybody except the oligarchy it represents, we needn't ask the same question of them.)

"The only legitimate reason for preserving anything is its goodness," wrote the late socialist philosopher Simone Weil. "The evils of political parties are all too evident; therefore, the problem that should be examined is this: do they contain enough good to compensate for their evils and make their preservation desirable?"

Let's examine the current agenda of the Democrats. Although the Sanders faction did eventually force the inclusion of some of the most progressive goals in party history into its latest official platform, there is no Democratic leader calling for an end to wars and American imperialism. If endless war and the slaughter and displacement of millions of innocent people are not pure evil, I don't know what is.

So, should the championing of bathroom rights, and limited, subsidized, market-based, and profit-intensive health care for about 20 million out of 50 million uninsured people outweigh or mitigate the evils of pollution-based climate change, joblessness, poverty, mass incarceration, deportations and chronic hunger? Precisely how much death and human collateral damage can a political party orchestrate, fund, or be complicit with, and yet still call itself a force for good rather than a criminal gang?

Since, as Simone Weil notes, one of the main functions of a political party is to generate collective passions, Democrats in the Age of Trump are stuck between a rock and a hard place. How do they counter and surpass Trump's method of transforming collective anxiety about surviving in a cold neoliberal world into a collective hatred of The Other? Since the centrist Democrats' pressure campaign of Russophobia doesn't seem to be working - neither winning them any new elections nor ginning up public enthusiasm for another war or two - they're stuck between the rock of pleasing their struggling voting base and the hard place of placating the wealthy donors who don't want to help the struggling voting base beyond the artificial and stingy parameters of voluntary philanthrocapitalism.

Besides generating collective passions and exerting pressure on voters about what these collective priorities and passions should actually be, the ultimate function of any political party is its own growth, without limit.

It's fairly obvious that it's not only the Democrats' centrist finger of neoliberal fate which is atrophying to the point of getting chopped off. It's their whole body of consultants and other experts for whom more Democrats winning more seats outweighs whatever agenda it is that they're trying to sell. It's worth quoting Simone Weil some more in this regard: 
"In principle, a party is an instrument to serve a certain conception of the public interest. This is true even for parties which represent the interests of one particular social group, for there is always a conception of the public interest according to which the public interest and these particular interests should coincide. Yet this conception is extremely vague.... No man, even if he had conducted advanced research in political studies, would ever be able to provide a clear and precise description of the doctrine of any party, including (should he himself belong to one) his own.... A doctrine cannot be a collective product."
Weil observes that even victorious parties exist in a permanent state of impotence, always claiming that they have insufficient power. Just witness the first two years of the Obama administration. Here was a president swept into office on an overwhelming mandate to effect change for the greater public good, punish the thieves of Wall Street, and end the ill-advised Bush wars of imperialistic aggression. Despite having a majority in both houses of Congress for his first two years, he continued Bush's policies, including international aggression, domestic surveillance on citizens, tax breaks for the rich and the coddling of Wall Street.

 And then the Democratic Party and its media flacks had the chutzpah to inform us that it wasn't Obama who failed us. It was we who failed Obama.

They ignore the fact that when progressives did dare challenge Obama's right-wing policies, they were dismissed by a short middle-fingered vulgarian in language that eerily and chillingly presaged Donald Trump's own Tweets.

As Simone Weil so scathingly writes,
 "Political parties are organizations that are publicly and officially designed for the purpose of killing in all souls the sense of truth and of justice. Collective pressure is exerted upon a wide public by the means of propaganda. The avowed purpose of propaganda is not to impart light, but to persuade. Hitler saw very clearly that the aim of propaganda must always be to enslave minds. All political parties make propaganda. A party that would not do so would disappear, since all its competitors practice it... Political parties do profess, it is true, to educate those who come to them: supporters, young people, new members. But this is a lie: it is not an education, it is a conditioning, a preparation for the far more rigorous ideological control imposed by the party upon its members."
It's no wonder, therefore, that politicians like Jeremy Corbyn and Bernie Sanders are so despised by party establishments and declared "unelectable" despite their overwhelming popularity. In Bernie's case, the standard criticism is how dare he criticize the Democrats, when he himself is not even a member of the party? Thus do they unwittingly confess, as Weil points out, that "when one joins a political party, one gives up the idea of serving nothing but the public interest and justice."

We need to stop looking for the right political savior in the less offensive political party to save us. We need to all join together and save ourselves. Just as trickle-down prosperity is a cruel myth, so is trickle-down politics.

The water protectors of Standing Rock know this. So do the activists of the Black Lives Matter movement. So do the global climate marchers. So do the people demanding safe public housing. So do the people who were sadistically yanked out of their wheelchairs by police and dragged away for daring to protest the sadism fermenting in the Capitol Dome of Doom.

If we can't shame politicians and their parties into doing the right thing, we can instill fear into them. We can interrupt their town halls, we can inundate them with our phone calls, we can mock them with our satire, we can withhold our votes and our campaign contributions, we can resign our party memberships and disown Groupthink, we can even boycott their rigged elections with our independent campaigns and write-in candidates. Why settle for trickle-down, when there's a whole geyser of human strength and resolve ready, willing and able to explode right back at them?

There's plenty of goodness to go around. You just won't find it in the Uniparty, or what Christopher Hitchens aptly described as "two cosily fused buttocks of the same giant derriere."