Wednesday, January 30, 2019

The War Against Single Payer Intensifies

A recent poll conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation reveals that guaranteed single payer health coverage for every American is as popular than ever.

But much to its discredit, this respected foundation also used some pretty slimy "Harry and Louise"-style push-poll tactics in its survey in a seeming effort to tamp down the enthusiasm and give ammunition to opponents of Medicare For All.

 What if, the respondents were passive-aggressively asked, "they heard" that universal guaranteed insurance would lead to delays in diagnosis and treatment, and even to rationed care? Would they still want Medicare For All then?

 And what do you know: the enthusiasm for single payer suddenly dropped by a whopping 44 percentage points!

So, the inherent message is clear. People desirous of a nonprofit health care system enjoyed by every other civilized country in the world are not only befuddled, they are stubbornly set in their ways. It is not in the Kaiser pollsters' job description to inform their targets that alleged delays in treatment are simply right-wing talking points beneficial only to health care market privateers, and have little to no basis in fact.

The oft-repeated claims by Republicans of deadly, life-threatening waiting times in Canada, for example, are completely false. It's true that Canadians do have to wait longer than Americans for such elective surgeries as knee replacements and cataract removals. Even so, they have the option of paying out of pocket to a private provider if they so desire. Canadians in need of immediate care get immediate care. And on average, they live three years longer than Americans.

  The malign objective of the single payer naysayers in the Oligarchic States of America is to send the message, either directly or indirectly, that Medicare For All "might be" dangerous to your health. Better to stick with the reliable economy-busting, budget-crushing predatory arrangement that we already have. It sucks for sure, but at least it's better than a world full of known unknowns and unknown knowns. 

Anti-single payer pundits and politicians, meanwhile, are pouncing on Kaiser's manipulated poll results with barely contained glee. David Leonhardt of the New York Times even goes so far as to declare in his headline that Medicare For All is a "trap" for Democratic presidential contenders. They'd better be careful, or Trump might win.

It does not occur to Leonhardt to actually critique the negative push-polling inserted by Kaiser in its survey, using false information and scare tactics that are identical to those employed by such conservative, profit-driven think tanks and media outlets as the Heritage Foundation, CNBC, and the Wall Street Journal. He simply repeats the propaganda, essentially warning candidates like Kamala Harris to be careful what they promise to fickle, stupid people who simply don't understand complicated stuff: 
Some 56 percent of respondents said they favored “a national plan called Medicare for All in which all Americans would get their insurance through a single government plan.” A large majority of Democrats backed the idea. Almost a quarter of Republicans did, too.
The poll’s details, however, were a lot of less positive about Medicare for All. In fact, they showed why single-payer health care may turn out to be one of the few problematic issues for Democrats heading into 2020 — if the party isn’t careful. Harris has highlighted the tensions this week, saying on Monday night that she supported the most aggressive version of Medicare for All before moderating her position, via aides, late yesterday.
It also does not seem to occur to Leonhardt that candidates who pander to voters on Medicare For All, only to cravenly walk back their support within hours via campaign flacks, as Kamala Harris did, are more apt to lose votes based upon their own shallowness and hypocrisy rather than on sincere, consistent advocacy for programs for the greater good.

Who knew that people finally getting peace of mind, no longer having to worry about going bankrupt or losing their home or dying prematurely because they can't afford treatment when they get sick or hurt, would be so "tense" and even worse, "problematic?"

To paraphrase Cindy Adams: Only in America, kiddo. Only in America.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Smart Plutocrats, Dumb Trumpocrats

Don't you hate it when the rich and powerful can't all just get along? 

The plutes have really been blowing it lately. Their standard operating procedure of pitting the hoi polloi against each other in a never-ending orgy of divide-and-conquer, while at the same time craftily plundering the same hoi polloi of every last dollar and drop of sweat-labor they possess, is showing signs of some serious wear and tear.

 Having been carefully trained to fear and respect - if not love - the plutocrats, and to strive, as a top-secret Citigroup manifesto once put it, to become "pluto-participants" in the enterprise, the hoi polloi are getting wise to the con. The propaganda center can no longer hold. Strikes and protests and riots are breaking out all over the place: in Los Angeles, in Mexico, in France, to name just three in the last week alone.

The plutocrats, in the process of losing their propaganda war if not their actual class war on anybody with no money, appear to be losing their minds at about the same rate that the hoi polloi are losing their patience.

Unable any longer to keep their bickering and their palace intrigues behind closed gilded doors, the ruling class is desperately trying to salvage dwindling hoi polloi compliance and good will by at least letting us gawk at their sordid end-of-empire show as it plays out in real time.

Entertain yourselves from the nosebleed seats as the royal battle between the stupid, crass plutocrats (Trumpocrats) and the smart, sensitive plutocrats plays out. Root for your favorite stars. Stay tuned for the coming attractions in Horse Race 2020 if you ever find yourself unaccountably losing enthusiasm for the thrilling main event.

The lead actors now playing the Stupids for our entertainment misery are President Donald Trump and his commerce secretary, Wilbur "Mr. Burns" Ross. They've far, far exceeded all expectations in their roles as gross cartoon villains in the first exciting installment of Shutdown USA. These two human malignancies had craftily advised the hundreds of thousands of federal employees and contractors working without pay for the better part of a month to simply take out a loan - just in case those form letters the White House thoughtfully provided, begging for mercy from landlords, mortgage companies and other creditors, didn't do the trick.

Enter the lead actress, intrepid multimillionaire centrist Nancy Pelosi, to save the day for the Smart Plutocrat Team. In the latest episode's exciting climax, Madam Speaker boldly forces Trump to cave and to call a temporary truce, ending the shutdown. She is being widely praised by the fawning corporate media reviewers as a feminist bad-ass in heels. Not only does she deny Trump his Wall, but perhaps even more painful to him personally, she denies him his coveted prime time spot as star of the annual State of the Union gala.

  And she'll spend the next three weeks continuing to show the whole intimidated world what a primitive wimp he is by altruistically offering him billions of dollars for "a smart wall." This means that Democrats will push for more humane, high-tech ways to terrorize and punish migrants and refugees, while Pelosi further shows her chops by tamping down all those pesky rumblings of Medicare For All in her caucus. There are just no billions of extra dollars to spare for "smart" hoi polloi health, apparently. 

Because no way is Nancy Pelosi ever content to just clutch her pearls like the Democratic #Resistance Fighter of yore. She wears them like a studded collar, like the warrior queen and de facto first woman president that she truly is. Elevating her to such regal status allows the corporate media to ignore the fact that massive labor unrest and sick-ins at the nation's airports was a disruption that even the Trumpocrats couldn't ignore.

I know it's hard to surpass Pelosi's brilliant bravura performance, but it seems that there is another eager ruling class racketeer lurking in the wings. So getting second billing in this week's Smart Plutocrat lineup is multi-billionaire Michael Bloomberg, who is pondering his own primary run as a Democrat, based primarily upon his claim that he's a smarter CEO than Trump.

Skillfully exposing Trump as the poor negotiator and klutzy psychopath that he is, Bloomberg did him one better and showed that not only is he, Bloomberg, a smarter overlord, he is a plutocrat who can also do noblesse oblige whenever the rare need arises. Not content to merely employ the royal "we" to show that he is not amused, he also employs pop culture references and humor to show that he's down with the hoi polloi.
"The longer we have a pretend CEO who is recklessly running this country, the worse it’s going to be for our economy and for our security. This is really dangerous.... It’s like the government version of a bad horror movie, but instead of Freddy Krueger and the ‘Nightmare on Elm Street,’ we’ve got Donald Trump and the ‘Nightmare at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.'"
Trump wonders as he wanders. Bloomberg panders as he ponders. Therefore, we can forgot all about the nightmare of his three-term New York City mayoralty, highlighted by his edict that all food stamp applicants be fingerprinted as though they were criminals. And speaking of bad dreams, his "Stop and Frisk" crusade of city cops terrorizing virtually every single black and brown male existing within his domain lasted for years before a judge finally declared it to be inhumane and unconstitutional. Unlike the oafish Trump, Bloomberg is a smart, competent sadist capable of keeping his cruelty carefully hidden beneath platitudes. He's more like smarmy circumspect innkeeper Norman Bates than boastful slasher Freddy Krueger.

Meanwhile, you will be happy to know that despite all their unprecedented smartness, Bloomberg and Pelosi already face some more stiff competition. Because otherwise it wouldn't be a true democracy, would it? 

As Hillary Clinton just informed her PAC subscribers in a missive slugged "Let's not be distracted," she, Bill, Chelsea, and 500 of their closest public-private partners will burn untold tens of thousands of gallons of climate-destroying private jet fuel to convene this week in San Juan to discuss all the neoliberal ways that they can make Puerto Rico an even better and smarter de facto colony than it was before Hurricane Maria destroyed it, and Trump insulted its residents by throwing paper towels at them.

Unlike Trump, Hillary doesn't crassly throw stuff. (She also doesn't crassly announce her third presidential candidacy, preferring instead to send out sensitive feelers to gauge the reaction.) She does, as is her wont, always put her own grievances first, even placing herself above suffering Puerto Ricans in making her email pitch. Never mind island mudslides. The Clinton Foundation, she altruistically announces in the very first paragraph of her email, has been the victim of much mud-slinging from the dumb Trumpocrats:
When I ran for president, this top-rated global charity was dragged into a political mud fight. In the two years since, people with an axe to grind have continued to try to undermine its work by attacking them (sic) and making false accusations.
 So combine your outraged solidarity-pity for Hillary and your hatred of Donald Trump with concern for Puerto Ricans  and try, ironical as it might sound, to "resist the vitriol" and stop being so distracted by Trump's dumb oafish antics. Instead, give generously to the Clintons so that they, rather than US government agencies funded by raising taxes on the rich, can help the entire "greater Caribbean" to "build back better" via "practical solutions."

Although she offered few details on exactly what this practicality will entail, and no information at all about the confab's 500 attendees, Hillary Clinton does allow that one of her biggest concerns is the alleged "rising youth crime rate" in Puerto Rico. Her idea of bringing these youths to heel is "access" to mental health care and entrepreneurship training... making Puerto Rico great again and safe again, especially for tourists. 

She made no mention of raising the minimum wage in Puerto Rico, which Congress in its infinitely smart wisdom had reduced to $4.25 an hour for workers below age 24 the year before Maria hit. It was a common-sense austerity measure designed to placate the indebted commonwealth's bond holders, a very smart bunch of plutocrats indeed. Maybe some of them are even smart enough to be among the Clinton Foundation's group of 500 carbon-belching island rescuers.

Update 1/28: Just as I was finishing up this post last night, billionaire and former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz officially announced on 60 Minutes that he is seriously thinking about an independent presidential candidacy, fomenting enough buzz in the media-political complex to preclude their cravings for his overpriced caffeine beverages. 

Schultz, while posing as a smart plutocratic centrist, actually betrays his inner dumb crass authoritarian Trump when he says that he wants "America to win."

This should be interesting if it lasts. If Schultz can buy his way into the corporate-sponsored debates as an independent candidate, then it will be harder for the Duopoly to deny other third, fourth and fifth parties the same privilege. I don't think the police would dare chain Schultz to a chair in a warehouse as they did to the Green Party's Jill Stein when she showed up to debate Obama and Romney in 2012.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Robert Mueller, Father of Our Country

The name of this country is the United States of Oz, and Special Counsel Robert Mueller III has been operating the gears behind his secret curtain for going on two years now. The fate of renegade President Donald Trump, as well as the fate of the whole nation, rests in Mueller's hands, and his hands alone. Or so we are told, day in and day out, by the political-media complex.

Absent a competent president with a popular mandate who possesses traditional authoritarian qualities and the respect accruing thereto, Mueller has stepped into the breach. Unlike a traditional elected leader, Mueller exercises unaccountable, undemocratic power. He is thus so paradoxically vulnerable, by dint of his own lack of a public persona and mandate, that a weak and corrupt Congress must also craft special legislation to protect Their Man Behind the Curtain.

Mueller's very invisibility has fomented the growth of his own Authoritarian Personality Cult, composed of some of those traditional, mythical presidential qualities so sorely lacking in Donald Trump's more public personality cult.

The Russian-born French philosopher Alexandre Kojève differentiated four kinds of power-wielding pure authority: that of father over children, that of master over slaves, that of judge of civic behavior, and that of leader of state and party. An ideal president or prime minister must possess all four of these qualities, or at least be able to present a reasonable fascimile of them: paternal disciplinarian and soother-in-chief, mature and selfless pragmatist, bully pulpit moralizer, and the setter of his own party's platform or agenda.

Kojeve could have been talking about Donald Trump when he wrote how the "leader of the band" rather than "leader of the state" type of primitive authority can supersede the more "enlightened" kinds in the rise of totalitarian regimes: 
A band of kids gathers to play. One of these kids proposes to go and steal apples from the orchard next door. Immediately by doing so, he casts himself in the role of the band's leader. He became this leader because he saw further than the others, because it was he alone who thought out a project, while the others did not manage to get beyond the level of immediate facts.
Every time that Trump bellows "build the wall" or "lock her up" at one of his rallies, the band of kids in the audience roars its approval, just as the crowd roars its approval every time he counters the elite discourse of more qualified corrupt politicians with his personal insults and disdain of facts. He won the election because he "got" the anger and disgust of the electorate, while the others did not.

So there's this uncomfortable vacuum. Trump is the opposite of loving father, the opposite or moral arbiter, the antithesis of Solomon of Biblical judicial fame. And although Mueller does partially fill the acceptable authoritarian vacuum as benevolent judge, jury and executioner, the natives are getting restless. Teachers are striking, democratic socialist upstarts are getting elected to Congress and too many people are demanding universal health care and taxes on the rich.

Since supplemental physical and verbal authority is sorely needed to augment the strong silent Mueller mystique and to oppressively placate the restive and frightened public, enter the forces of the national security state (the FBI and the CIA) as adjuncts if not full partners of the "opposition" Democratic Party.  Law enforcement personnel and spies have effectively taken over the cable propaganda networks and corporate print publications in order to become the public relations "face" of the anti-Trump resistance, as we all wait with baited breath for Robert Mueller's own final word as some sort of Second Coming of Christ.

That Mueller is, in fact, a totalitarian corporate leader in his own right was made painfully clear by the media's cowed reaction to his "rare" pronouncement last Friday (albeit through an Emerald City gate-keeper) that the BuzzFeed scoop claiming that his office possessed documentary evidence proving that Trump had instructed his former fixer to lie to Congress was not accurate.

The media reaction to Mueller's terse pronouncement was swift and it was chastened. If the Man Behind the Curtain refutes something, then his must be the final word. At most, the deferential media are presuming to beg our wonderful paternalistic wizard to please, Sir, explain to us exactly what was not accurate about the Bombshell. 

Even brown-nosing "veteran journalists" are confused by the paternalistic rebuke from on high behind the curtain, finding it hard to square with BuzzFeed's own insistence (aping the "high confidence" of the Security State in it own myriad unproven RussiaGate allegations) that it has "high confidence" in the accuracy of its own reporting.

CNN's Brian "Reliable Sources" Stelter jumped to the Wizard's defense, accusing BuzzFeed of acting "shockingly casual" toward Mueller when it first asked him to comment on the latest allegations.

Meanwhile, somewhat shockingly, the Columbia Journalism Review seems to diverge from the narrative as it warns reporters to start acting like journalists instead of Mueller personality cultists:
But commentators should be careful not to treat the special counsel’s office—whose inner workings are opaque—as the infallible, benevolent voice of God. In any case, the statement neither kills the central essence of the story (it does not take a position on whether Trump did, in fact, tell Cohen to lie), nor specifies exactly what Mueller thinks BuzzFeed got wrong.
Well, maybe not so shocking after all, because the CJR's criticism of Mueller is not so much pushback against the special prosecutor's power as it is reflective of the disappointment among the media operatives of the RussiaGate franchise that one more "blockbuster that changed everything" story turned out be a dud. Because maybe it's not really a dud at all, but only a delayed explosion. Where there's relentless propaganda, there's always hope. Faces must be saved.

Mueller is a de facto dictator because not only does he elicit fawning respect from the press, his presence also serves to frighten Trump and his band of kleptocrats from doing anything too criminally outrageous and discourages incipient criminals from accepting White House job offers to further their own interests. Most important, Mueller usurps Congress's constitutional mandate of oversight - with, of course, the full permission and complicity of Congress. The legislative branch, while planning its own piecemeal investigations of the Trump administration, readily admits that it clears the probes with Mueller first, not wishing to step on his toes or interfere with his own work.

Dead silence, meanwhile, emanates from Dad's Den. The Wizard tinkers on, operating his legal gears, protected from public gaze and scrutiny. Talk of impeachment ebbs, flows, recedes and rises again in regular little wavelets. The faux-Resistance media can barely contain themselves, gnashing their teeth over their increasingly debunked RussiaGate narratives, but ravenously ready to devour the next "plant" about Trump malfeasance from anonymous sources within the national police security state -- sources who, if not among Mueller's own top-secret team of investigators, are at least operating in tandem with them.

No matter that Trump damages the world and the people in it a little (really, rather a lot) more every day. The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer, and one insidious form of totalitarianism is doing battle with another.

Why else would the Ruling Class continue using the right-wing former FBI director and Iraq War architect and the authoritarian Police Security State as their Resistance? Why would they continue accusing Trump of treason, yet unaccountably allow him to stay in office more than two years after Putin allegedly installed him in the Oval Office with cheesy Facebook ads? They will do whatever it takes to maintain their grip on their own record wealth, using the police state as their propagandists and news sources at least until the lesser evil corporate Democrats can take up the slack and further fill the authoritarian vacuum with their endless identity-intensive campaigning and debates and a record number of candidates. Who knows, perhaps one of them will defeat Trump in 2020. 

And if they don't, it won't affect the oligarchs one way or another. Trump has only ever been a symptom, the end-stage product of malevolent capitalism long disguised as representative democracy.

And whoever said irony is dead doesn't remember this bloodthirsty neoconservative 2003 exhortation from the Bush regime:

"We do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over the present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places."

--- Robert S. Mueller III, quoting Ephesians 6:12-18, to make the case for the illegal invasion of Iraq and the subsequent deaths, dismemberments and displacements of hundreds of thousands of people, both civilian and military.

Friday, January 18, 2019

Inspiration Blues

A commenter on this blog challenged me this morning to talk about something positive or learned for a change. 

I don't know about the "learned" part, but I think the New York Times comment I wrote last night on Paul Krugman's latest ode to the wonderful Democratic Party was pretty damned positive. 

Pushing his own glass half-full scenario in the midst of the government shutdown, he lavished great praise upon Gavin Newsom, the new and untested governor of California, and applauded all-blue New Jersey's strict enforcement of the Obamacare rule that everybody must buy private, for-profit health insurance, or face tax penalties. The result of this mass extortion is that the extortion is more broad-based, and premiums have come down.

 But even better, one of the bluest of all blue states (Washington) now has a public option supplement to the private insurance cartel, thus absolving the still-thriving cartel from using more of its record profits to treat the sickest of the sick, instead passing on such costs to the taxpaying public while cartel CEOs pocket the difference in stock buy-back schemes. 

And on the other liberal coast, New York City Mayor Bill di Blasio even wants to build more affordable housing in the Wealth Disparity Capital of the Universe and provide more access to medical care!

Therefore, there was no need for Krugman to even mention the Los Angeles teachers' strike, the housing crisis, and the continued and growing public demand for non-profit Medicare For All. Because Democrats sure know how to govern, unlike those nasty old Republicans.

My published response to Krugman's column: 
Why no shout-out to the striking L.A. teachers exerting such effective pressure on the new governor and other Democrats? Without the resurgent labor movement, it'd be business as usual, even in the bluest of blue locales. Forty children per classroom is a shame in such a rich state, home to many a Silicon Valley and Hollywood billionaire and mogul.
 Bill di Blasio isn't making new proposals for better health care and low-income housing just out of the goodness of his heart. It's taken citizens with the courage to confront him at his gym workouts, cell phone cameras at the ready, over the shameful conditions in the city's public housing projects as well as the homeless crisis. Although he's made strides in the construction of more "affordable" housing, NYC's homeless numbers are still at near-record highs.
The homeless also just happen to have their own Coalition.

 If Dems are moving left and finally beginning to abandon austerity, it's because the public is forcing them to.
Regarding health care: individual states implementing public options is no substitute for a federally administered single payer system. The House majority thus far is only paying lip service to Medicare For All, with the chairwoman of the relevant subcommittee, Anna Eshoo, just announcing that she might not have time to hold hearings after all. She represents Silicon Valley, home of many a tech billionaire.
 So a Women's March group plans to storm Congress on Friday to demand Single Payer.
We have miles to go before we sleep.
(I have a sneaking suspicion that the DNC has disassociated itself from the Women's March for more reasons than just the alleged anti-Semitism of one or two of its founders. Protesters are branching off from the original Democratic-centric/centrist intent of the enterprise, independently evolving far beyond simply "resisting" Trump and the Republicans. Good.)

"If True..."

*Updated below.

It's another bombshell to end all bombshells: two of those anonymous FBI sources told the sometimes-reliable BuzzFeed News that Donald Trump had personally instructed his convicted former fixer, Michael Cohen, to lie to Congress about the failed bribery attempt to build another Trump Tower in Moscow. This is despite the fact the president has readily admitted this attempt happened while he was actively running for the presidency and well-positioned to win the nomination if not the actual election.

Like any savvy businessman, Trump had to keep all his options open. It's the all-American way.

The reason that this is such a bombshell, according to BuzzFeed, is that for the very first time, Trump didn't bother to use a variant of wink-and-nod Mafia code to protect himself, via the plausible deniability route, but specifically instructed his minion to lie, lie and lie again, both vocally and in writing.  
The special counsel’s office learned about Trump’s directive for Cohen to lie to Congress through interviews with multiple witnesses from the Trump Organization and internal company emails, text messages, and a cache of other documents. Cohen then acknowledged those instructions during his interviews with that office.
This revelation is not the first evidence to suggest the president may have attempted to obstruct the FBI and special counsel investigations into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.
But Cohen's testimony marks a significant new frontier: It is the first known example of Trump explicitly telling a subordinate to lie directly about his own dealings with Russia.
And here Trump was, openly colluding with the Pentagon just the other day on a new multi-billion dollar "Star Wars" initiative. Little did he know that BuzzFeed would try to ruin the latest diversionary tactic by cadging the marketing slogan of the cheaper Star Trek franchise. Forget about space being the final frontier. Cohen's utterly reliable testimony is now the official newest frontier of the bombshell to end all bombshells Russiagate franchise.

Just when you thought the crater couldn't get any deeper, it gets deeper. It's the crater that will change everything.  

Still, absent the concurrent leakage of any actual alleged "cache of documents," members of the seamlessly joined political-media complex are also keeping their own options open, salivating over and promoting the story while being very careful to preface their glee with the standard avalanche of "if this is true" caveats.

"If this is true," discreetly said former Attorney General Eric Holder, "then Congress must start impeachment proceedings." Because not only will Trump have obstructed justice, he will have suborned perjury. Cohen is expected to testify to Congress on Feb. 7th about what he claims he knew and when he claims he knew it. House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff, meanwhile, vows he will do everything possible to find out if the BuzzFeed story is true. Good luck suborning the First Amendment to demand from the reporters the identities of their two anonymous FBI agents.

As a sidelight, Trump's nominee for attorney general, William Barr, told congressional inquisitors this week that Special Counsel Robert Mueller's own report on Russiagate may never even be made public. This suppression would presumably be done to protect other innocent guilty parties in Trumpworld and beyond.

It will also conveniently tie Congress's hands regarding an impeachment and trial. The "resistance fighters" of the opposition party have already stated that they are loath to do anything that might ham-handedly interfere with Mueller's ever-so-delicate and selective surgical probings into whether Trump's long history of sleaze actually translates into his being a treasonous witting or unwitting Putin puppet.

The same Democrats who have been relentlessly promoting the Russiagate propaganda -  our democracy is under attack by the Kremlin! - for the past two years are now professing to be alarmed that Trump wants to start a new Cold War with the Kremlin via his space weapons missile "defense" gambit. It seems like only yesterday they were professing themselves alarmed that Trump was being too chummy with Putin. Actually, they are still professing themselves to be alarmed over two mutually contradictory things. Maybe nobody will even notice, especially the talking heads of the corporate cable TV propaganda mills.

Sure sounds like collusion to me. But it's probably neither completely witting nor completely unwitting. If true, it's more like half-witting.  

*Update, 1/19. If what Mueller's office says is true, then the BuzzFeed bombshell is a complete dud. This, according to the Russiagate franchise, is mighty confusing, because the special counsel spokesman didn't specify exactly what isn't true. Is it a lie that Trump ordered Cohen to lie, or did the secret FBI sources lie to BuzzFeed, and furthermore, Mueller should just go ahead and release the cache of documents BuzzFeed breathlessly reported on without seeing them or otherwise verifying their alleged existence.

As the HuffPo is reporting, this is all too confusing. It has morphed from the bombshell to end all bombshells into a frantic roller coaster ride with a three-way fight in mid-air among BuzzFeed, Trump and Mueller.

So far, as far as I know, nobody in the Russiagate franchise has yet accused Mueller of being a Putin puppet, a closet Trumpie, or an unwitting Russian stooge.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Tattered Ears On Pussy Hats

It's getting so internally divisive in the Big Tent that the Democratic National Committee has taken the draconian step of removing its official support for this weekend's Women's March.

The movement is so riven that in New York City, there will be two competing marches 50 blocks apart. One of these "grassroots" efforts, reports the New York Times, is being led by a former Goldman Sachs executive with no prior organizing experience and who is being accused by disability advocates of refusing to accommodate them. Therefore, disabled women will hold their own rally on Saturday.

According to the HuffPo, the DNC is no longer listed among the national movement's corporate sponsors, ostensibly because some of the march's organizers have refused to distance themselves from Louis Farrakhan, the Nation of Islam founder who has long been accused of anti-Semitism. As a result, other corporate party-affiliated entities, such as EMILY's List, have also pulled their support.

But true to wishy-washy form,

A spokeswoman for the DNC declined to comment on the timing in a statement to The Daily Beast, but said women were at the "core of our Democratic Party."
"The DNC stands in solidarity with all those fighting for women's rights and holding the Trump administration and Republican lawmakers across the country accountable.... Women are on the front lines of fighting back against this administration." 
Until the Farrakhan controversy erupted, it had always been perfectly O.K. for the corporate Democrats to "fight back" against Trump-style xenophobia while keeping perfectly mum about their own. 

To wit: the original march organizers were horrified that the Watergate Hotel had allowed Russians to rent rooms there. The group's stated solidarity across gender, class,ethnic and racial lines always had its limits, even at the very beginning of #Resistance, Inc.

As Women's March leader Mariam Ehari wrote in Together We Rise, a 2017 memoir of the initial march, whose proceeds allegedly were donated to groups promoting human rights and global understanding:

I kept running into Trump supporters and many Russians in the hotel and thought, Is this real?
The Russians must have formed a caravan or something, sneaking across the border of the luxury hotel with their Cyrillic alphabets and their tupperware containers of Strogonoff. It must have been a real ethnic nightmare for the women's march leaders, who were nothing if not early pioneers of the #Russiagate propaganda franchise... in the Watergate, no less! Notice how Russians and Trump supporters magically become pretty much the same thing in that one little sentence?

As organizer Tamika Mallory - currently under fire for claiming that Jewish people bear "a collective special responsibility as exploiters of black and brown people" - lamented two years ago in Together We Rise, there was "so much hate coming at us from so many different directions. Being in the hotel with Trump supporters wasn't easy... It was almost like we were in a bubble."

Bingo. The vaunted solidarity and inclusiveness of this Democratic Party offshoot was always something of a fraud, right from the get-go. It was just another iteration of the "Us Vs Them" paranoia sold to the masses by the oligarchic ruling class in control of both establishment political parties. 

 But so long as the phobia was aimed at the right wrong people for the first couple of years of the Pussy Hat Resistance, nobody cared.

The only true solidarity among the organizers appears to be their mutual hatred of Donald Trump and sorrow over Hillary Clinton's defeat. It turns out that pure hatred and fear, absent any accompanying cohesive agenda for radical reform and social justice, is simply not sustainable.

Even after they'd hired more than 50 off-duty FBI agents to guard them against the the Deplorables and the Russkies, the original March organizers still didn't feel completely safe, according to the account in Together We Rise. If only they'd known that the FBI would soon be starting its own renegade national security investigation of Trump, they might have felt a whole lot better. 

And if you're wondering where Hillary Clinton stands amidst all this divisive angst, rest assured. She's offering you - and a friend - the very slim chance to spend some quality time with her. 

And you don't even have to march or otherwise exert yourself beyond giving her your credit card number! It sounds absolutely confabulous:

Pinch yourself, pack your favorite pantsuit and pick a friend, because you’re off to NYC to join Hillary Clinton for an evening you’ll never forget. Hillary’s inviting you to share in one of her favorite pastimes: seeing a Broadway show! And the fun won’t stop at curtain call. You’ll also join Hillary for a glass of chardonnay (or whatever you want!) for the chance to get to know her on a personal level. Maybe you’ll talk about the show, life, or your family. Maybe you’ll have a really nuanced conversation about economic policy. Maybe you’ll just use the opportunity to say, “thank you.” It’s up to you! But we hear Hillary’s an incredible listener. Flights and hotel included.

Who Needs Pink Pussy Hats or Even Pink Elephants? I Got Me a Blue Man!

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Trump Ruins Xenophobia For Everybody

That's the gist of a New York Times "news analysis" published on Saturday.

In the good old Bipartisan Days, reporter Michael Shear laments, Both Sides had no trouble agreeing that migrants and refugees entering the US had to be dealt with, and dealt with sternly. But now Donald Trump's Wall is diverting the desired official discourse away from all those other harsh methods of keeping people out and disposing of them.

Back in the good old polite days, officials knew how to keep their racism and xenophobia carefully hidden from public view as they crafted their racist, xenophobic policies.
By conjuring images of a towering stone edifice around a medieval fortress — and branding those on the outside as invaders threatening to bring crime, drugs and disease to the United States — Mr. Trump has transformed what used to be a complicated, nuanced negotiation into a take-it-or-leave-it demand, laced with xenophobia, that has shuttered nearly a quarter of the government for weeks.
Only "laced with" xenophobia? Shear must be so used to reporting the legendary nuanced collegiality among the politicians of the Uniparty that he can only complain that Trump's demands and rhetoric are a tad on the bigoted side. He dare not state the obvious: that this president is a human-shaped brick of pure cocaine, or maybe it's a boulder-sized rock of crystal meth with a chaser of heroin. Those drugs that Trump claims are "flooding" over the border are unfairly competing with him. And he won't rest until he poisons a lot more people than the current third of the population that is currently hooked on him.

But back to the good old sober days. The Uniparty racketeers would often collegially stuff their faces with pizza as they politely debated how many tens of thousands of extra border security agents should be hired to confiscate the clandestine jugs of water left by sympathetic citizens for the migrants making the deadly trek through some of the most brutal climate conditions on the planet.

It was so reasonable back then that Democrats even agreed to double the border security patrols, a good faith gesture of overkill designed to placate the more openly racist Republicans.

They were such ardent sticklers for xenophobic decency, in fact, that
Senators from both parties also agreed on money for technological improvements along the border. The bill allocated $3.2 billion for drones, infrared ground sensors and long-range thermal imaging cameras to give Border Patrol agents advance notice when migrants cross illegally, especially at night. It also included money for an electronic employment verification system for all employers and upgrades at airports to catch immigrants who overstay their visas.
And the consensus included some physical barriers — what Mr. Trump might call walls and others would call fencing. Years earlier, the Secure Fence Act of 2006 allocated money to build about 650 miles of barriers along the border. The 2013 bill, had it been signed into law, would have increased that total to almost 700 miles, mostly along the eastern half of the border with Mexico.
The polite xenophobes at least had the good taste to call their barriers "fencing" while pretending that Reaper drones are totally benign. In the good old pre-Trumpian days, the profiteers of the military-industrial complex could mask their greed and inhumanity behind all that overpriced surveillance and weaponry. And now Trump has to ruin the whole enterprise with his unrefined, retrograde, low-tech gibberish. He has brought such uncomfortable and unwanted attention to the heretofore ignored border. It used to be that Homeland Security cops firing tear gas across the border into another sovereign nation (Mexico), and the imprisonment of mothers and children in "family detention" prisons were perfectly acceptable to most American liberals. The previous Democratic administration practiced their inhumanity so discreetly, you see.

No more. Thanks a lot, Trump, for ripping the mask off the all-American cruelty.

Oh, and the word salad that keeps spinning out of that pursed little mouth! Michael Shear quotes The Donald:
In remarks to reporters after a meeting with Democrats at the White House earlier this month, Mr. Trump insisted that the only way to prevent immigrants from crossing between the 25 official ports of entry is to erect fences everywhere else.
“We can’t let gaps. Because if you have gaps, those people are going to turn their vehicles, or the gangs — they’re going to coming in through those gaps,” the president said. “And we cannot let that happen.”
Still, faithful establishment scribe that he is, Shear soon reverts back to Both Siderism, decrying the dreaded Tone that all too often gets in way of proper racketeering discourse:  
In recent days, the rhetoric between the two sides has become more strident than ever. Mr. Trump and his Republican allies have pointed out that Democrats supported fencing in the past, though they purposefully ignore the context of those votes and the difference between the fencing that Democrats supported and the all-or-nothing wall that the president has demanded.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California has called the wall “immoral,” cementing her position against it.
And she was no doubt also very steely while she was at it.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

The False Choice Between Gender Justice and Economic Justice

It's indicative of how rattled the ruling class must be feeling that they're revving up their anti-Bernie Sanders slime machine before he's even announced that he's running for president.

Suddenly outraged that female staffers often get hit on and harassed during political campaigns (of all the quiet, sober, and virtuous venues!) the forces of neoliberal corporatism are conveniently co-opting the #MeToo movement to serve their own greedy ends. 

It was only two years ago that Hillary Clinton surrogate and feminist Gloria Steinem sniffed that female Bernie supporters just wanted "to go where the boys are." It was an unsubtle way of saying they were sluts on the prowl for hookups. Their desire for social and economic justice was just a cover for their horniness. Steinem soon apologized, but the anti-progressive smear stuck, right along with the "Bernie Bro" meme.

But how the tide has turned since 2016! These very same boy-chasers have suddenly been recast in the media as virtuous maidens whose naive and misguided desire for social and economic justice came back to bite them, if not saddled them with lifelong cases of PTSD.

This is how women have been typecast throughout history: they're either viragos or virgins, man-eating predators or victims of men - and never the twain shall meet.

The subliminal message contained in the recent news exposés revealing bad behavior by some male Sanders staffers toward female staffers and volunteers is this: Be very careful what you wish for, girls! If you persist in supporting Bernie's "radical" agenda of universal health care, debt-free college and other nice things, then you will at least be an enabler of misogyny, if not its direct victim. If you are a woman who persists in demanding high taxes on the obscenely rich, you are a traitor to your own gender. And if you recklessly volunteer for Bernie Sanders during his second go-round, you're really asking for it and you will probably deserve whatever you get.

You have been warned. 

In other words, the #MeToo concern-trolling campaign against Bernie Sanders is paradoxically as right-wing, as reactionary, and as sexist as they come.

It's better and safer, the subliminal messages in the Politico and New York Times articles are, to vote for a centrist politician with good hair and no Brooklyn accent - say, hunky telegenic Beto O'Rourke -  who voices unctuous respect and concern for women while at the same time denying them single payer health insurance, a living wage, free education, subsidized maternity leave and day care, and affordable housing.

In case you still don't get it, take a gander at the photo the New York Times selected for its own concern-trolling hit piece. Bernie, his wispy white hair literally standing on end, appears to recoil in disgust from a female hand extending her emasculating microphone in his general direction.

So, ladies, the next time you feel sick and get a hankering for Medicare For All, just think of a Bernie Bro groping a woman in a bar and you'll start feeling better for standing up for gender equality - even if it's for the ultimate benefit of the oligarchy and not you, personally. Simply raise your face to the sky and imagine the golden drops of beneficence sprinkling down upon you.

The anti-Bernie concern trolls will repeat this message loudly and often. You can't - you just can't - be both a supporter of Bernie Sanders and his agenda and also be a supporter of gender rights. In supporting him and his platform, you are giving aid and comfort to rapists and gropers and maybe even asking to be directly attacked by a Bernie Bro.

Of course, this argument is complete nonsense. It's the latest variation on a tired old theme. The most glaring parallel example is centrists who regularly accuse critics of Hillary Clinton and the CIA of being Donald Trump fans and Russians - rather than waste their time and risk losing an argument by engaging critics in actual debates and discussions on  policy issues and philosophy. Even legitimate, fact-based criticism of the corporation-captured Democratic Party, they say, is a vote for the Republicans. Bury your heads in the sand before it's too late!

As Susan Sontag noted in her introduction to Victor Serge's The Case of Comrade Tulayev, leftist critics of Stalin's totalitarian regime were accused for decades by Communist Party members of being closet fascists. She wrote:
In the early twenty-first century, we have moved on to other illusions - other lies that intelligent people with good intentions and humane politics tell themselves and their supporters in order not to give aid and comfort to their enemies.
There have always been people to argue that the truth is sometimes inexpedient, counterproductive - a luxury. (This is known as thinking practically, or politically.) And, on the other side, the well-intentioned are understandably reluctant to jettison commitments, views and institutions in which much idealism has been invested.
Situations do arise in which truth and justice may seem incompatible. And there may be even more resistance to perceiving the truth than there is to acknowledging the claims of justice. It seems all too easy for people not to recognize the truth, especially when it may mean having to break with, or be rejected by, a community that supplies a valued part of their identity.
Like all propaganda, the Bernie Sanders "scandal" and ensuing manufactured outrage are couched in terms of tribalism and binary discourse largely devoid of nuance and introspection. Two camps have instantly formed: those who think that Bernie Sanders is an insensitive sexist pig by association, if not by actual deed, and those who think that he is getting unfairly smeared by the press and a few disgruntled women looking for their fifteen minutes of fame.

Why not take a more nuanced approach? I think it is possible to simultaneously be a feminist and call out the corporate media for co-opting the #MeToo movement and using it a cudgel against Sanders and the implementation of a new New Deal. I don't think, as Susan Sontag posited, that the corporate media are particularly humane or well-intentioned in their coverage of the experiences of some of Bernie's female staffers and volunteers.

At the same time, while we should be aware of the propaganda and resist being indoctrinated by the oligarchic agenda - which is the destruction of Sanders and more importantly, the destruction of his platform - we should not discount the harassment that women experienced and still do experience in the male-dominated political world. 

The Sanders campaign's women staffers now telling their stories to the over-eager media were ignored at the time. But are they being heeded now for the right reasons or for the wrong reasons? Are they being victimized all over again, only to be discarded by the ruling class propagandists once their stories no longer serve a "higher" purpose?

It's possible and desirable to simultaneously applaud Bernie's ideas and accomplishments, such as his shaming of Jeff Bezos into increasing hourly wages for his Amazon workers, and to also criticize his tepid cringe-worthy response on CNN to the sexual harassment allegations:
“I am not going to sit here and tell you that we did everything right, in terms of human resources, in terms of addressing the needs that I’m hearing from now, that women felt disrespected, that there was sexual harassment, that was not dealt with as effectively as possible” 
I hate it when powerful people subtly denigrate complainants for "feeling" that they are being disrespected or victimized, as though their problem is essentially an emotional one of their own making. This remark had echoes of neoliberal Democrats like Barack Obama, who often schmooze about the millions of jobless and evicted people who "feel like" they've been left behind or cheated. Bernie is always so upfront and righteously outraged about who the financial culprits are, so why not be just as upfront and outraged about the sexist pigs and even predators in his outfit? No organization, not even his, is immune from human pigs. Why not display that trademark Bernie anger and acknowledge that many women, even in his organization, were and still are being disrespected or victimized?

There are all kinds of social and economic and gender and racial injustice in this world. It's not one or the other that should take precedence. It's all of the above. 

Above all, it's a class war, the assault of hypercapitalism on regular people.

While a new New Deal, and a 70, 80 or 90 percent marginal tax rate on obscene wealth would do a lot toward rectifying record extreme inequality and all kinds of injustice, we should also acknowledge that this class war has had an outsize detrimental effect on women, children, the old, and black and brown people. 

Bernie Sanders believes, rightly, that democratic socialist, or social democratic economic policies will benefit all members of society. But just because the neoliberal establishment has made identity politics its be-all and end-all as a means of, and justification for, keeping everything for itself doesn't mean that one's identity and unique individual problems should be completely ignored by critics of the neoliberal agenda.

That's Bernie's Achilles heel, and the consolidated corrupt co-opting media are nipping at it and ripping at it with all the instinctive glee of a pack of inbred rat terriers.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Commentariat Central: Premature Horse Race Edition

A couple of essays I've been working on are taking longer than expected, so in the meantime I'll repost a few of my recent New York Times comments on All Presidential Horse Race, All the Time. (And tonight's xenophobic "Nuremberg in the Oval" primetime special is Donald Trump's own opening gambit in Campaign 2020 in case you had any doubts. If you watch, try to imagine the allegedly fired Steve Bannon hissing through Trump's earpiece.) 

First, there's David Leonhardt's decibel-rise of a weekend column about the clear and present Trumpian danger, which makes it very clear that the love-hate relationship is here to stay until the experts decide it's safe and economically feasible for the oligarchy to kick him out:

 Achieving this outcome won’t be easy. It will require honorable people who have served in the Trump administration to share, publicly, what they have seen and what they believe. (At this point, anonymous leaks are not sufficient.) It will require congressional Republicans to acknowledge that they let a con man take over their party and then defended that con man. It will require Democrats and progressive activists to understand that a rushed impeachment may actually help Trump remain in office.
My response:
Via the government shutdown, Trump has effectively ordered the destruction of our democratic institutions. This is the definition of a fascist leader.
True, Trump commands the loyalty of only a third of the country. But the longer that Congress doesn't act on its "checks and balances" mandate, the more powerful he will become.
The new House majority will haul in various sycophants for a scolding as they wait for Robert Mueller to wrap things up. Meanwhile, the wannabe dictator is entrenched in the White House.
 It's a further sign of democratic collapse that even liberal pundits are dismayed that the military overseers of his regime are biting the dust. When a guy named "Mad Dog" Mattis, who before being relieved of command by Obama for his hawkishness and who once opined that "sometimes, killing people is fun", is now being mourned and celebrated as one of the last Adults in the Room, I think we have a lot more to worry about than just Trump.
So the onus is on Mueller, another unelected overseer of our putative democracy. My hope is that he will soon indict the Trump offspring and order their arrests complete with a handcuffed perp walk. That should rattle Trump enough to either quit or do something so reckless that even his GOP enablers can't ignore it. I look forward to the day when Mitch McConnell leads a contingent to the White House and makes him an offer even he can't refuse - like his own subsidized cable TV network.
Oh, wait. He already owns the lot of them.
(And  wouldn't you just know it, after much fake hand-wringing all the anti-Trump networks have "reluctantly" acceded to his demand for prime air time tonight, and will carry the "Nuremberg in the Oval" special in all its spittle-inflected insanity. The TV honchos were still mulling whether to give Nancy Pelosi or another designated performer have given equal time to the sensational ballroom duo fondly known as "Chuck and Nancy," who will perform a concern-trolling sedate box step in a non-twerking rebuttal to Trump. Sorry, Rashida Tlaib fans. She has been deemed not quite ready for prime time by the party elders.


Meanwhile, while the pundits and media moguls are debating whether to dump Trump or to keep him around for the fantastic ratings, the Times's gender editor Susan Chira and her colleague Lisa Lerer took the time to wonder whether A Woman would be able to beat him amidst all this alleged emotional upheaval.

“There’s a real tension,” said Neera Tanden, the president of the Center for American Progress and a former policy adviser to Mrs. Clinton. “On one hand, women are leading the resistance and deserve representation. But on the other side, there’s a fear that if misogyny beat Clinton, it can beat other women.”
....“It is very hard, when you only have that one woman who’s tread that ground,” said Ilyse Hogue, the president of the abortion-rights organization Naral. “Everything about that individual becomes conflated with being a woman.”
The rawness of the topic was evident in the furor that broke out this week over Ms. Warren’s relatively low likability ratings. Research has found that it is much harder for female candidates to be rated as “likable” than men — and that they are disproportionately punished for traits voters accept in male politicians, including ambition and aggression. “Likability is totally framed by gender,” said Celinda Lake, a longtime Democratic pollster and expert on women’s votes.
The subtext of this concern-trolling article is that centrist neoliberal Democrats do not want Warren to win the nomination, because too many deplorable people are sexist and therefore the corporate Dems will keep repeating the deplorable sexist tropes about her - purely out of altruistic concern for party interests, of course. Hillary lost only because she is a woman and not because she was one of the most unpopular candidates, based upon her policies and platform, in recent history. In other words, they want hunky Beto O'Rourke, who votes with Republicans a large percentage of the time.

My published response:

This presidential horse race speculation presupposes that Trump will even still be president a year from now. The prospect of any of the Democratic women mentioned facing Mike Pence in a nationally televised debate - or, even more effectively, in a marathon Twitter back and forth - is probably a major factor in the current GOP leadership's continuing to stand by Trump, regardless of the awful things he does, regardless of the damage he does to their own party and their own individual reputations and prospects. They're in it for the power and the bucks, period. And everybody knows it.
 Then there's the corporate media standing in the way of justice and democracy for all. A Warren vs. Pence race would not bring in the clicks and ad revenue for the corporate sponsors that Trump continues to engender. All the more reason for him to hang on by his fingernails through another election cycle, and all the more reason for the oligarchs to let him. He is a showman, and America does love its spectacular show. And the greedy ruling class racketeers love their money.
The other slim possibility is that both Trump and Pence will be impeached/indicted and convicted, and Nancy Pelosi will become our first woman president, temporary though her reign will be.
In effect, Trump himself will have inadvertently smashed open the proverbial glass ceiling. Talk about karma!
(I'll say it again. Heads they win, tails we lose.)


Last but least, Paul Krugman, fresh from his weekend pat on the head of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez for proposing a 70% tax on the uber-wealthy, now pivots to patting Elizabeth Warren on the head. Not because he necessarily wants her to be president, mind you, but to distance himself from his fellow liberal pundits who keep harping on her looks, age, personality and genetics-testing gaffe. The main thing is that she is a serious policy wonk with impeccable academic cred. Unlike, he implies, the non-Ivy Leagued and therefore insufficiently serious or intellectual Bernie Sanders. This column appears to be Krugman's subtle concern-trolling way of diminishing Warren in the minds of much-stereotyped anti-elitist, anti-intellectual Heartlanders and Rust-Belters. He stresses her intellectual heft over her populist cred. It's like the kiss of death in distressed cities and towns which lost their jobs and livelihoods to "free trade" deals and those totally unplanned and uncontrollable pesky global headwinds and surging tides of change. 

At the same time, he makes the specious case that since Warren is a Democrat, it naturally follows that the party itself is suddenly progressive and full of wonderful, populist ideas. They'll bathe themselves with Warren bubbles while the water's warm.

Meanwhile, Democrats have experienced an intellectual renaissance. They have emerged from their 1990s cringe; they’re no longer afraid to challenge conservative pieties; and there’s a lot of serious, well-informed intraparty debate about issues from health care to climate change.
You don’t have to agree with any of the various Medicare for All plans, or proposals for a Green New Deal, to recognize that these are important ideas receiving serious discussion.
(All talk and no action - Generic Corporate Democrats in the service of the oligarchy will posture as Elizabeth Warren clones, even as they inwardly cringe at her anti-Wall Street rhetoric. They'll ride her populist coattails and share the hefty funds she raises all the way to the convention, where (after a second superdelegate-hefty ballot) they'll thank her, and probably Bernie too, for the loyal service and loyal support for Beto, Uncle Joe, Cory or Kamala.  Or so I cynically suspect and honestly fear.)

My published comment:

Elizabeth Warren has withstood marathon gaslighting attacks from both sides of the Uniparty ever since her entry into both public policy and politics.
It was Barack Obama, in one of a whole series of misguided austerian efforts to placate the Gruesome Old Patriarchy, who bypassed Warren to lead the very consumer agency she had birthed.
Later, as the corporate Dems colluded with the GOP to pass the secretive and anti-democratic Trans-Pacific Partnership, Warren was one of the few senators calling Obama out on it. She brought some much-needed public attention to the "investor state dispute tribunals" in the pact. These tribunals, in which multinational corporations act as judge, jury and executioner, have the effect of overriding sovereign laws if they dig into the profits of said corporations.
Obama, in turn, accused Warren of spreading "misinformation" to rile up the progressive base, as well as falsely denying the TPP was even a secret. To which Warren challenged him to make the whole thing public. Upon which he got very, very quiet. With the upshot being that the TPP didn't pass before he left office.
With Warren and AOC in the vanguard, radical neoliberal centrism might finally be on the way out. Of course, pundits also predicted its demise after the financial crash in 2008. Oligarchs do not give up, even with proof that hyper-capitalism is both causing and worsening our climate catastrophe.
Re Warren, no need to chant "I'm With Her."
Because "She's With Us."
And a follow-up comment to responding readers who were royally miffed about my nameless sexist Bernie-Bro-ish diss of Hillary and their false insistence that Obama's TPP was fully transparent:

Draft copies of the TPP first came to the public via Wikileaks, whose founder Julian Assange is currently under US indictment and whose plight is being all but ignored by the corporate media, the so-called champions of the First Amendment.
The TPP goes far beyond even the odious corporate tribunals superseding the laws of sovereign governments. It would force signatories to extend copyright to life plus 70 years and impose draconian penalties for what is now known as protected "Fair use" of such copyrighted materials. It also imposes top-down control of the Internet and limits the rights of individuals to shield their personal information from bad actors. (Read: Facebook.) Hollywood and Silicon Valley, big donors to the DNC, had a lot of input in the crafting of the TPP, whose full text was not even to be made public until five years after ratification. Before she was allegedly against it, Sec. of State Hillary Clinton described the TPP as "the gold standard of trade agreements." Ka-ching.


P.S. If you can't or won't watch the Nuremberg in the Oval special tonight, Boing-Boing has thoughtfully provided us with a combination preview-synopsis, at 50 percent speed so that we can't or won't miss even one precious single spittle-inflected word of it. (Sound editing credit, Rob Beschizza).