Friday, March 3, 2017

Predatory Bipartisan Follies

Just when you thought that things couldn't get any zanier, the Reasonable Elites are going Donald Trump one better.

The media-political complex folks are almost literally beside themselves. Still reeling from their shock and awe that a president whose acting skills have been honed by decades of real estate hucksterism and reality TV can actually act presidential right on cue, they themselves are going totally totally bonkers.

First, the New York Times broke yet another anonymously-sourced Russian scare story. This one is about how, in the waning days of the Obama administration, officials (who were, of course, not Obama himself) spread alleged dirt about Trump and the Russians to each of the clans of the Intelligence Community.  This was to ensure that the leaks would flow freely from more sources than any one Trump official could possibly contain once he took office.
 At the Obama White House, Mr. Trump’s statements stoked fears among some that intelligence could be covered up or destroyed — or its sources exposed — once power changed hands. What followed was a push to preserve the intelligence that underscored the deep anxiety with which the White House and American intelligence agencies had come to view the threat from Moscow.
It also reflected the suspicion among many in the Obama White House that the Trump campaign might have colluded with Russia on election email hacks — a suspicion that American officials say has not been confirmed. Former senior Obama administration officials said that none of the efforts were directed by Mr. Obama.
  Translation: Obama, either directly or through his publicists, claims that not only is he not Obama, he was as out of control and as out of the loop as he now accuses Trump of being. Pretty weird.

Thus does the apparent lunacy of Obama signing a last-minute executive order mandating that the NSA share all its warrantless data with the other 16 unaccountable "intelligence" agencies suddenly make a lot of crazy sense. Obama's bequest of even more excessive authoritarian power to Trump, coupled with his smarmy urging that people give the new president a chance to succeed, was a total head-fake all along. Obama was, and is, out to get Trump. And the mainstream media are all too willing and eager to help Obama succeed in the quest to protect his own legacy.

Next in craziness, the Washington Post broke the news that Attorney General Jeff Sessions spoke to the chief Russian diplomat on two separate occasions while acting as a Trump campaign surrogate. The worst part is that he sort of lied about it during his Senate confirmation hearing. In other words, he carefully parsed his responses in that lawyerly fashion so beloved of slimy politicians throughout history. Although he eventually recused himself from investigating himself, Sessions has yet to fire himself.

Democrats, for their part, are acting more shocked about Sessions talking to the Russian diplomat than they are shocked about his racism, which he has now bureaucratized at the Department of Justice. In less than a month, Sessions has already reversed the Obama administration's (conveniently belated) order to phase out private, for-profit prisons, withdrawn a legal challenge to Texas's racist voter ID law, and reversed (also belated) guidelines for the protection of transgender students.

The Democrats don't seem too perturbed that Obama's last-minute, too cute by half executive order enhancing the Surveillance State will make Trump's xenophobic crackdowns all that more dangerously effective. Trump has ordered the Department of Homeland Security, now privy to everybody's emails and phone records, to start a new agency called VOICE: Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement. While at least one critic describes this program as pre-genocidal, most such criticism has been muted at best, in light of the frenzied Russophobic propaganda emanating from the corporate media.

 Democratic bigwigs like Charles Schumer and Nancy Pelosi are demanding that Sessions resign not for his vicious assaults on basic civil rights, but for allegedly speaking to Russian diplomat Sergei Kislyak -- whose alleged dual espionage function has long been an open secret. If he was such a danger to democracy and to our free and fair elections, why didn't Obama expel him when he was seen openly canoodling with politicians at the Republican National Convention over the summer?

(Wild guess: along with 99% of the rest of the world, he thought that Hillary Clinton would win. Powerful countries spy on and hack each other, after all, and predatory elites don't much care unless the rich  (say, Sony execs) are victimized, or it suddenly becomes politically expedient to care.)

The bipartisan nature of the fight against Trump by the entrenched media-political establishment was made all the more blatant and bizarre this week with the glitzy comeback of George W. Bush.

Despite expanding upon such Bush policies as indefinite detention, the drone terror campaign against Muslims, the mass deportations of undocumented immigrants, the outsourcing of torture, unconstitutional surveillance, and the continued enrichment, at public expense, of war profiteers and banksters and the Forbes 400, Obama carefully kept his distance. Except for such unavoidable formal events as memorial services and library dedications, the two men rarely interacted in public. Likewise, Bush was very careful to retreat into anonymity and to refrain from all criticism of the Obama administration. Why not? He had much to be grateful to Obama for, not least of which was Obama's vow to protect him and his cabinet against the war crime prosecutions mandated by the Geneva conventions.

That has now changed. Thanks to the simultaneous scourge and distraction that is Donald J. Trump, George is now considered rehabilitated enough to become a sought-after elder statesman and sparkling media personality. All of a sudden, even liberals are just loving him to death. You know you're cool when Ellen DeGeneres has you on her show. You know you've been forgiven when you're remembered for saying "Islam is Peace" and forgotten for having started a war on false pretenses and killing, maiming and expelling millions of Muslims in the process. You know you're going to cash in big-time when the liberal ladies of The View offer to purchase one of your kitschy paintings as the perfect way to #ResistRump.

And you are definitely in the all-clear when you can go on the Today show, plug your latest ghostwritten book, and defend the corporate media against attacks by Donald Trump.

It was Michelle Obama who began subtly paving the way for Bush Jr.'s lucrative comeback years ago, with the two of them photographed cracking jokes at the solemn Selma anniversary, bizarrely swaying in time to The Battle Hymn of the Republic at the service for five slain Texas police officers, and finally reveling in one of those branded Mom-in-Chief hugs, staged for purposes of repairing Bush's damaged global image. He has finally become a living portrait of unassailable shiny goodness, thanks to what Henry Giroux calls The Violence of Organized Forgetting:
 America has become amnesiac - a country in which forms of historical, political, and moral forgetting are not only willfully practiced but celebrated. The United States has degenerated into a social order that is awash in public stupidity and views critical thought as both a liability and a threat. Not only is this obvious in the presence of a celebrity culture that embraces the banal and idiotic, but also in the prevailing discourses and policies of a range of politicians and anti-public intellectuals who believe that the legacy of the Enlightenment needs to be reversed. 

Idiotically Joking at the Bloody Sunday Selma Memorial

Banally Snickering at the Texas Police Massacre Funeral

Blissfully Misremembering War Crimes at the Smithsonian

Like Trump after him, the truth does occasionally pop out of George's mouth. As he told Ellen about his warm relationship with Michelle Obama, "That surprised everybody. That’s what is so weird about society today, that people on opposite sides of the political spectrum could actually like each other.”

He speaks the truth that when it comes to class and wealth, there is no such thing as a partisan divide. And it's not really weird at all. That the wealthy usually have each other's backs and feed from the same rent-seeking trough is not talked about much by powerful people with a vested interest in pretending that there is such a thing as democracy.

 "There is only one party in the United States, the Property Party … and it has two right wings: Republican and Democrat." -- Gore Vidal.

 "The two political parties are but opposite cheeks of the same ass." -- Christopher Hitchens.

"The  political parties are two wings of the same bird of prey." -- Upton Sinclair.

There's Something So Weird About Society Today


Pearl said...

I am waiting for someone in an official capacity to ask the president publicly if he personally ever spoke to the Russian Embassador (spy?) and discussed election plans in detail. And if this is legal.

Elizabeth -- Marysville said...

It seems so obvious, especially when it is spelled out like you have just done, Karen. I do think we need to step outside the parties altogether and have a whole new paradigm. I cannot pucker up for either side of the asshole, and the ass has seen to it that nothing else can fit in the pants.

Here is some AWESOME news for today!!!

There are monthly drone protests at an air base a few miles behind my house (at night it is common to see 4 drones buzzing around aimlessly). Several protestors were arrested this last time around. I am hopeful more brave people will pursue these protests.

Erik Roth said...

The Russian connections and manipulations should be investigated by a Special Prosecutor.

Whatever though, Attorney General Sessions must be removed from office and prosecuted for perjury in his testimony to Congress.
As with so many political dirty deals, it's not the crime itself, but the cover-up that is deemed unacceptable.
An enlightened society would discipline both, but at least Congress must insist that lying under oath cannot be tolerated.

Pearl said...

Goodbye Spin, Hello Raw Dishonesty by Paul Krugman, today's NYTimes

I never thought I would find a Krugman article worthwhile

Zee said...

The entire “Russian affair” is nothing more than a very small tempest in an equally small teapot, a purely political diversion on the part of the Dems in a futile attempt to show that they still have any relevance to anything at all.

Had the DNC’s e-mails been hacked by a 30-year-old hacker living in his/her mother’s basement in, say, Sump-Pump, New Jersey, who then released the “product” to WikiLeaks, this would have been nothing more than a political “dirty trick.”

But as the Russians were involved, well, this now becomes a matter of “National Security!” in the eyes of the Democrats. National security? Pure crap.

After all, what was revealed in the DNC’s e-mails? Nothing of import to “national security;” only the truth, that Bernie Sanders was being sabotaged at every turn by the DNC in favor of its pre-chosen candidate, Hillary Clinton.

And has anyone produced any concrete evidence that this “hack” changed anyones’ minds at the polls? The only “investigation” that I have seen thus far was done by Nate Silver of “538,” who concluded that it could not be determined whether or not publication of the DNC’s e-mails had any effect on the election:

“Of course, one thing didn’t sink Clinton. The evidence suggests Wikileaks is among the factors that might have contributed to her loss, but we really can’t say much more than that.” (My bold emphasis.)

As for demanding that Jeff Sessions be prosecuted for perjury under oath, IMHO, what nonsense.

I once sued someone for failing to disclose certain defects in a high retaining wall surrounding part of the house that I purchased in 2002, defects that eventually jointly cost me and my new neighbor $16,000 to repair.

Despite the fact that my new neighbor had two certified, “return-receipt-requested” letters to the deadbeats who sold us our house, notifying them that the wall was falling down, a so-called judge—yes, there are “so-called judges”—ruled in favor of the deadbeats when they claimed that they simply “forgot” that they had been notified of the defective wall.

Fortunately, my new neighbors were more than happy to split the cost of the new wall, and relieved to learn that they had new, honorable neighbors.

But ever since that time, I’ve come to strongly believe in the “ I-forgot defense.” What was good for the deadbeat seller of my new house is, IMHO, good enough for Jeff Sessions, in this silly, diversionary “Russian affair.”

Patrice Ayme' said...

Excellent essay! The Plutos rule. Maybe they told their servants, the Dems to go after the Russians, a ridiculous, hopeless endehavor, because suddenly they want to give Donald a chance...