Friday, June 28, 2019

Debate & Switch, Part Two

Mere hours after their congressional colleagues joined with Republicans to allocate $4.6 billion to hire more sadistic border patrol agents and ICE staff to arrest and cage children in concentration camps, 10 more Democrats took to the debate stage Thursday night. Almost unanimously, they vowed that if elected, they will decriminalize border crossings and provide medical insurance to undocumented migrants. It was quite a nifty way to avoid discussing that day's shameful capitulation.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had just caved to approving the so-called "humanitarian aid" package after Vice President Mike Pence promised he'd keep her in the loop on the refugee kids (whom she'd only that day described as her lion cubs in need of maternal protection) who die in ICE custody as soon as  possible after they take their last breaths.

Or, as the New York Times blandly described it, putting the best possible face on some truly gruesome bipartisan collusion:

Her retreat came after Vice President Mike Pence gave Ms. Pelosi private assurances that the administration would abide by some of the restrictions she had sought. They included a requirement to notify lawmakers within 24 hours after the death of a migrant child in government custody, and a 90-day time limit on children spending time in temporary intake facilities, according to a person familiar with the discussions.
The Democrats might have lost their Battle to send toothbrushes and soap to the traumatized imprisoned children at the border, but if they beat Trump next year they'll make damned sure that every non-criminal traumatized adult and child refugee gets a Medicaid card. Freedom might not be a basic human right any more, but health insurance will never die, especially if it's insurance that can't actually be used within the confines of cages or while hiding from a beefed-up border patrol. No place is safe, because the "border" is now defined not only as every state in America, but wherever American corporate interests and client regimes exist. In other words, the U.S.border comprises a major chunk of the planet. 

This makes it so easy for Democratic candidates, especially the senators who conveniently didn't have to vote for the latest border aid package, to cynically promise a health insurance card for every undocumented pocket. What migrant in their right mind would risk everything applying for an I.D. card, thereby making it easier for ICE agents to locate them?

This horrible truth was the main switcheroo part of Thursday night's Debate & Switch spectacle in Miami. Nobody on the NBC moderation team and none of the candidates took so much as a swipe at Nancy Pelosi and her right-wing Democratic colleagues, who are grotesquely described as "moderates" in corporate media narratives.

Luckily for Madam Speaker, the fresh hypocrisy was conveniently overshadowed by California Senator Kamala Harris's withering and well-rehearsed attack on front-runner Joe Biden's sordid racist history. Rank opportunist and jailer of black mothers of truant children though she herself may be, Harris was the perfect prosecutorial attack machine, given that she herself had been bused to school as a child in Berkeley.

As is his wont, Biden only made his bad situation worse, stammering querulously that localities like Berkeley - and not the federal government - had the right to set integration policy. This made him sound just like George Wallace and the Southern racist's guide to "state's rights" as a means of keeping the institutional racism and segregation alive. 

Although Harris prefaced her attack with the disclaimer that she doesn't think Biden himself is a racist, she couldn't have elicited his deep-seated racist mindset any better than she did. 

We'll see how this plays out in the polls, and whether Biden's lead will be affected. If it's not, then there are more silent old white Deplorables out there in the Homeland than those who profess to be in Trump's base. There also might be more conservative older black voters out there who prefer the racist they knew yesterday to the racist they know today.

If anything, Biden could actually benefit from the Trump Effect: compared to the current psychopathic Oval Office occupant, Creepy Uncle Joe doesn't look quite as bad as he otherwise might have. Trump has set the bar conveniently low for him and for all of them. Voters have been effectively desensitized to a relentless and daily regimen of Trumpian shock therapy.

And Thursday night's debate performances from the other contenders always could have been worse. Bernie, for example, could have chimed in and announced that the country is sick and tired of hearing about Joe Biden's damned racism. As it was, he was probably wise to play it safe and stick to his talking points. These talking points were certainly amplified, if not outright plagiarized, by Harris and the other opportunists on the stage.

And in piling on Biden, Harris also obliquely threw the former Deporter-in-Chief, Barack Obama, under the bus. Even Biden indirectly criticized Obama's "Safe Communities" deportation dragnet, which caught up millions of undocumented but otherwise law-abiding people and foisted upon them one-way bus tickets back to hell before the Obama administration finally abandoned the program in the face of myriad court and municipal challenges.

Perhaps more shocking than Harris's attack was "moderate" Mike Bennet of Colorado lambasting Biden, and by extension Obama, for caving to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell during 2012 budget negotiations. This was when the Bush tax cuts for the rich were made permanent, while even more austerity (the "Sequester") was imposed on government programs benefiting  ordinary people. In a classic example of political bait and switch, Biden bragged that he got the GOP to raise taxes because a small proportion of the tax cuts did in fact expire... a feat for which regular people have been punished ever since. 

Thanks to Thursday's debate, there is a slight chance that it will dawn on more people that Trump became president for a very good reason. He instinctively knows that the masses of people are feeling pain and anger, and he acknowledges that pain and anger while co-opting it in service of the extremely wealthy. The corporate Democrats who brag about "getting things done" in the interests of bipartisanship are not your friends. They're also not particularly good at pretending to be your friends.

It was almost a miracle. Obama, more skilled than most in his party at  pretending to be your friend, came out of the debates with his carefully marketed reputation suffering some collateral damage. The bloom is coming off the plastic rose. And it's about time. 

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Debate & Switch, Part One

Calling a two-night casting call of 20 presidential hopefuls a "debate" was always a bit of a stretch. But Wednesday's audition, which pitted one lone leading Democratic candidate (Elizabeth Warren) against several stand-in candidates (and even a few talentless actors who appeared to have literally stumbled from street to stage by sheer accident) made it more obvious than ever what the true purpose of this corporate charade is.

And the purpose of Decision '20 is this: dilute the message and the messengers enough to make Bernie Sanders disappear, or at least fail to stand out as sharply as he did during the the 2016 campaign. Have a bunch of pale imitators jump on his bandwagon with enough clattering and stamping feet and enough voices braying in the same progressive key that his original message is muted and rendered ultimately harmless for the moneyed interests truly running this show.

NBC could barely keep its own moneyed interests contained on Opening Night, failing even to mute the microphones of two of its multimillionaire personalities-cum-debate moderators as they chattered inanely backstage, ruining one of  Elizabeth Warren's rare chances to answer a question. Cut to commercial, because somebody's got to pay for the spectacle by selling stuff the audience at home neither wants nor needs.

Since I no longer have cable TV, Wednesday night's livestreamed show was the first time I'd ever heard some of these alleged candidates speak. Beto O'Rourke was the winner in the category of failing to live up to all the hype I've been reading about him. Despite his best efforts to mimic the cadence and timbre of Barack Obama's speechifying, and his stilted forays into speaking Spanish just to show that he can speak Spanish, the only thing this guy was a candidate for was the vaudevillian cane around the neck to drag him off the stage in the middle of his vapid spiel.

And it's too bad that there was no curtain to erase the visages of the two dudes at either end of the stage.  I'm talking about New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who crashed both the campaign and the debate stage in one of his many escapes from New York City, where he is widely despised for using his security detail for daily travel to a Brooklyn gym where he can tell homeless people to get lost while working out on his treadmill. He interrupted the other candidates as much as he interrupts his official work day back home.

 At the other end of the stage was some blowhard tycoon and ex-congress critter named John Delaney, who was given all the time he wanted to perform his peevish bald Mitt Romney routine, complaining about all the annoying people who are making his life so miserable.

This guy didn't need a hook around his neck. He needed a punch in his smirking prune face and a cut-off of his microphone. If he is allowed back for next month's Debate & Switch, it will be all the proof we need that this game is well and truly rigged. As if we needed any more proof.

Best performance by a supporting actor in the Platitudes category was, of course, New Jersey Senator Cory Booker (D-Private Equity and Big Pharma.) To hear him tell it, he still lives in the slums of Newark and has to fight against gangs every single day on his way to the Senate floor. I was only surprised that he didn't also recount that terrible time a few years ago when he took part in the Celebrity Food Stamp Challenge and discovered how shockingly hard it is to buy a tiny bottle of imported olive oil with the average weekly $30 SNAP stipend.

Not that there weren't any high points to Opening Night, mind you. Elizabeth Warren actually raised her hand in affirmation when moderator Chuck Todd asked the group if the private insurance industry should be left out entirely of Medicare for All. (So did de Blasio, but he is so desperately pandering in so many ways that he 'll do, say, or interrupt anything just to get another minute of fame.) Warren's hand-raising was important, though, because she had heretofore been rather skittish on her support for true single payer health care.

Tulsi Gabbard, despite moderator Chuck Todd's ham-handed attempt to dredge up allegations of homophobia and the corporate media's studious ignoring of her throughout the primary and in debate coverage itself, was the most "Googled" of all the candidates during the show. She fell flat, i.m.h.o., when she failed to raise her hand along with Warren and de Blasio when Todd pitched the Medicare for All question at the group.

We'll have to wait and see whether Gabbard and her anti-war message advance in the polls, and also whether Warren's current status as media darling du jour and the only thing standing between Wall Street and Bernie Sanders survives. I doubt it, and I also doubt that Warren will help them keep their contrived "Liz vs Bernie" narrative alive either. She didn't take their bait at the first Debate & Switch show, anyway.

Stayed tuned, and stay glued, and stay close to your drink of choice. It'll make you feel like you're more than just a spectator.

Monday, June 24, 2019

Bernie's Student Debt Jubilee

Bernie Sanders is announcing legislation of truly Biblical proportions: the cancellation of all $1.6 trillion of United States student debt.

The bill, with the co-sponsorship of Democratic Reps Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Pramila Jayapal of Washington, would wipe the slate clean for each of the nation's 45 million student borrowers, both rich and poor, and would be paid for with a Wall Street transaction tax. As such, it goes much further than Elizabeth Warren's plan, which would means-test student debt and forgive a smaller total amount of $640 billion. The wealthy, defined as households making more than $250,000, would stay on the hook for their education loans.

In one fell swoop, therefore, Sanders's bill destroys the argument that it's unfair for the wealthy to bear the entire burden of loan forgiveness. It also renders moot their standard demand that the less well-off must always "have skin in the game" so as to avoid the dreaded moral hazard of free ridership. If the children of the wealthy also become entitled to a free higher education, then the proverbial Playing Field might truly be leveled. No student will have a leg up or a head start just by virtue of how much money the parents have, either for tuition or for "bribing" institutions of higher learning to admit their children in the first place.

Everybody would be privileged. The much-ballyhooed meritocracy might finally develop some relation to reality. Every student will legally and morally accomplish what Donald Trump has boastfully admitted on more than one occasion: that he became successful because he is one of the few privileged owners of wealth connected enough to figure out how to manipulate debt to his own advantage.

If he rails against student debt forgiveness during the presidential campaign, he'll sound like even more of a hypocrite than he already is. 

 Why do I say that the Sanders plan is Biblical? Because the forgiveness of debt goes back to the dawn of civilization. Most famously, a prophet named Nehemiah, a Babylonian Jew and the appointed governor of his native Judea, became very testy in a very Bernie-like way when he noticed that whole generations of his people were living in permanent debt bondage because of the greed of wealthy landowners. "Then I consulted with myself, and I rebuked the nobles, and the rulers. and said unto them, 'Ye exact usury, every one his brother.' And I set a great assembly against them," he wrote in the Book of Nehemiah.

So while Sanders calls his own plan to end whole lifetimes of punitive student debt peonage a "revolutionary" one, it's really an idea that is very firmly tethered to history, especially pre-democratic history. And it is also quite modest, in an FDR-style liberally democratic sort of way, given that Nehemiah's Law of Jubilee stipulated that all debts owing from the powerless to the ruling class automatically be cancelled every seven years. It was the only way to keep civilization chugging along.

As anthropologist David Graeber chronicles in the book "Debt: the First 5,000 Years" the obliteration of debt has become the result in just about every major peasant revolt in recorded history.  

And since our current oligarchic system is one of the most extremely unequal in all of recorded history, the inherent unfairness of the feudalistic American student debt crisis has become more apparent by the day, with stories abounding of retirees in their 60s and 70s having their Social Security checks garnished to satisfy their student loans, and even dying in penury, still mired in decades' worth of crushing student debt.

Since debt is premised upon two equal parties entering into a contract, the trillion-dollar financial systems which demand the lifelong servitude of powerless student borrowers are exposed not only as unequal and immoral, but criminal. Such contracts should now rightly be viewed as fraudulent and such loans as predatory. 

As Graeber points out in his book, the Old Testament debt jubilees were ordained expressly to keep the promise of the Promised Land to formerly enslaved Jews. Wouldn't Bernie's own plan similarly keep the promise of the American Dream alive for perpetually indebted college graduates? After all, higher education is marketed as a ticket to a better life, not as a ticket straight to the hell of precarious, low-wage employment in a gig economy.

Graeber writes, "Throughout most of history, when overt political conflict between classes did appear, it took the form of pleas for debt cancellation - the freeing of those in bondage and, usually, a more just reallocation of the land."

So another consequence of Bernie's permanent Student Debt Jubilee, coupled with legislation for tuition-free courses of study at public institutions, might be that students will begin to study what they're good at and what interests them and what might make the world a better place, rather than what courses might make them the most money and enable them to pay off their student loans. In other words, art and literature, education and the social sciences might begin to vie with business and finance curricula in popularity. Institutions of higher learning might discover that it no longer behooves them to be endowed and dictated to by Wall Street, think tanks and transnational corporations. Those forgiven their debts will not, like Trump and his oligarchic cohort, have cheated the system. As co-equal beneficiaries of free higher education, they also would be less likely to then turn around and cheat their own employees and bilk their investors and pit one group of powerless people against another group of powerless people. 

Resentment and fear might go out the window, right along with the punishing debt.

A Debt Jubilee would not only be good for the country's economic health - think of the boost to the system if 45 million graduates suddenly have more money to spend on things like houses! - but our mental and moral and environmental health as well.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Why Do the Clintons Have a Podcast?

Why do they call their podcast Why Am I Telling You This?

Is it to help you form a mental picture of Bill, Hillary, and Chelsea striving mightily to suppress their exasperation at the ignorati even as they can't stop wagging their fingers at us? Or perhaps they think that since the title of their show is in the form of a question, they can avoid sounding like the scolding know-it-alls they are.  

For example, if they'd called their podcast something like "Don't Make Me Have to Tell You This Again!" or "If I've Told You Once, I've Told You a Thousand Times!" then people might get the idea that the Clintons are annoying and infantalizing, and we won't tune in.

In the first episode, about how a gourmet chef is helping the Clinton Foundation to "build back the Caribbean better!" there's an audio montage of Bill cogently explaining why, exactly, he has to tell you this:
Now why am I telling you this? Because it is your future on the line. Why am I telling you this? Why am I telling you this? We can do this. Why am I telling you this tonight? Not to take you down but to keep you looking up. Why am I telling you this?
O.K.,  now that it's all been made clear that unless we heed Clinton telling us that our lives are on the line unless we heed what Clinton is telling us, let's now listen to Chelsea telling us that "our" children are Too Small To Fail. 

To divert attention from the fact that five or six major banks have been deemed too big to fail (or jail) because Clinton-era deregulation gave them control of the entire financialized global economy, Chelsea wants to tell you her spin. Her solution to the banks foreclosing on subprime predator loans and evicting millions of families from their homes, while the .01% sucked up all the wealth, is for those families to spend more time talking to and reading to their children.

For some reason, the Clintons have for decades been laboring under the delusion that poor mothers are neglectful mothers who don't already talk to, sing to and read to their kids. As a result, they need experts like Chelsea to tell them how to be good parents. Chelsea tells you this in her podcast so as to avoid telling you about that time, back in the 90s, when her Dad "ended welfare as we know it" by ending direct cash aid to the poor and sending mainly black mothers out to low-wage jobs without the child-care subsidies that they'd originally been promised.

Since poor children don't do as well in school as better-off children because, among other hardships, their mothers often have to work two or more minimum wage jobs and aren't allowed to stay home and nurture them as much as they might like, Chelsea's solution is not to resume direct cash aid to mothers, nor for the government to build decent affordable guaranteed housing stock for them. Her solution is to stock neighborhood laundromats with books so that the mothers can be freed up to scrounge for quarters and fold clothes.

I mean, if there is no decent affordable housing in these "at-risk" neighborhoods Chelsea is so concerned about, you can't really expect the Clintons to call for a washer and dryer in every non-existent apartment, can you? That sounds too much like Herbert Hoover crazily promising a chicken in every pot during the Great Depression. Because hardly anybody had a pot.

Although study after study has established that a child's brain can be irreparably harmed if she misses even a few meals, and that a growing number of US households have been deemed chronically "food-insecure," Chelsea Clinton is also not calling for an increase in the average meager SNAP (food stamp) stipend. She is convinced that just a few donated books in a noisy laundromat will help these hungry children to thrive and maybe even grow up to cure cancer:
Hi, I’m Chelsea. Welcome to Why Am I Telling You This?
Right now we’re wasting a huge amount of potential in our country. Who knows what diseases we haven’t cured or discoveries we haven’t made because we’re not giving every child an equal chance at success in life, and so I’m so passionate about this issue because, particularly now, as a parent I know that every parent wants to do the best that we can for our kids every day of their lives. I want to do everything that I can to ensure that every parent, grandparent, caregiver, adult in the lives of young children have every possible opportunity to surround those kids both with love but also with words.
Why am I telling you this? Because we owe it to our children to solve this.
To display what a diversity champion she is, Chelsea Clinton tells you that parents don't necessarily even have to read to their kids in English. And if they happen to be illiterate themselves, they can still talk to or sing to their children, even pray with their children. She cogently tells you:
And it helps build your child’s brain, and it helps build your child’s … Ultimately, their executive function and everything that we know is critical to success just in life.
I think she might have been about to say "build a child's house with a roof on it"  before she caught herself just in time. She tells you that conversing with your offspring is not an end in itself or that it even fills a basic human emotional need in itself. You talk to your kids with their future careers and monetary earnings in mind, and you ignore the miserable here-and-now of your own life. I can just picture Chelsea envisioning "our" children as a long marching line of automatons in suits carrying identical briefcases, their foreheads literally bulging with all that brain function. Only a die-hard neoliberal can speak of a child's well-being in terms of a business-like "executive function."

The Clinton Foundation has partnered with New York University, which conducted an actual laundromat study in order to efficiently measure the Too Small To Fail initiative, because if stuff can't be measured and calibrated, then what good is it? As the project's director, Patti Miller, explains to the podcast audience:
Actually, at 30 times the amount of literacy activities took place in these laundromats compared to control laundromats that didn’t have these playful learning spaces there. Then we actually thought, “Okay. What happens if you bring a librarian into these spaces?” And found, again, a tremendous increase in child-directed literacy activities. That kids were engaging with librarians for an average of 47 minutes a time, which is a huge amount of time, particularly for a very young child.
She doesn't explain why the librarians aren't working in actual libraries. Maybe it's because there are fewer and fewer public libraries in poor neighborhoods, and that the hours of the surviving libraries and the jobs of librarians have been drastically cut because of the budget austerity measures brought about by Clinton-style policies.

And speaking of neoliberal efficiencies:
Patti Miller:
Now we’re going to be able to observe a story time with our special guest reader, Chelsea.
Chelsea Clinton:
Oh, what a busy day we’ve had my busy family, reading, talking, singing too. We love to do all three. The end.
We must read to "our" children, yes, but we must never, ever waste our words or use too many words at any one time. Stories are not just stories for fun, they are jobs to be ticked off on every responsible parent's to-do list. Could Chelsea have made it any clearer with her rushed rendering of relentless busy-ness?

And since nothing happens in America without capitalism stretching its  tentacles into every human living space and into every human brain, the possibilities for profiting from the poor are endless. An offshoot of Too Small To Fail, explains reading specialist Ralph Smith, is a program called "Respite Time." Since Homo economicus is expected to multi-task even during precious leisure time, participating parents' verbal interactions with children are creepily monitored as they listen to the radio or watch TV.... or who knows, even while they listen to the Clintons telling them why they have to tell them this.

Smith says:
Too Small To Fail, in this amazing partnership with Univision, has figured out how to take the respite time and make it productive time in terms of parenting. That, it feels to me, is something quite special and I think that the communities across the country are going to resonate with the opportunities of Too Small To Fail their self. I’m excited. I’m intrigued and excited by that.
Um... not to sound picky or anything, but why do I tell you that the poor grammar used by a literacy expert, of all people, suggests that he could use some remedial time in the laundry room hisself?

The Clinton podcasts are produced by At Will Media, which in its own turn tells you:
Founded in 2015 by CEO Will Malnati, At Will Media is a full-service media company based in Manhattan and Los Angeles. With over 50 years of combined experience, At Will Media sets the pace for the podcast industry as a partner for branded content and a hub for successful and critically acclaimed originals. From podcasts to custom Amazon Alexa Skills, At Will Media powers and produces shows for high-profile clients such as GQ, Morgan Stanley, Town & Country, WeWork, Viacom, 1 Hotels, and more.  The firm notably went on to produce the first daily audio product by L’OrĂ©al and Hearst Beauty for Amazon’s Alexa. 2019 saw AWM receive a nomination in the category of “Best Branded Podcast” at the iHeartRadio Podcast Awards for The Atlantic Magazine’s podcast The Future According to Now, Season 2.  At Will Media' executive team is headed by entrepreneur Will Malnati, Glee actress and Emmy/Tony-award winner Jenna Ushkowitz, former Twitter exec Julie Martin and Audible alum Mitch Bluestein.
With Jeff Bezos's ubiquitous spy robot Alexa at least tangentially involved in the Too Small To Fail initiative, the possibilities for profiting off the already-plundered and oppressed poor are not only endless, they're stratospherically eternal. How many words do parents speak to their children while glued to their two-way screens? How much is their data worth to these voracious companies? Why do I even have to tell you this? 

Will Malnati, the heir of a restaurant dynasty, has probably never set foot in a coin-operated laundromat. He doesn't look like the sort of chap who'd even do his own laundry in a private home.

Chelsea Clinton, to her own credit, did visit a Chicago laundromat earlier this year to read to a group of children who'd been especially bused in from a nursery for the photo-op occasion. They learned, among other things, that "H" stands for Hillary, and as such, it is one of Chelsea's favorite letters in the alphabet. The end.

Monday, June 17, 2019

Gaslighting the Gaslighter-In-Chief

One of the New York Times's unacknowledged functions is transmitting blatant or cryptic messages to, from, and from within power centers. These messages, usually in the guise of anonymously-sourced news stories, serve both as public propaganda and as a means of pressuring or damaging chosen adversaries, and of dictating both domestic and global policy.

But the article published on Saturday about the United States' deployment of cyber weapons to potentially cripple Russia's entire power grid serves a much broader purpose than the standard saber-rattling by the weaponized oligarchy. It was planted specifically to embarrass Donald Trump with its revelation that the US military had performed an end run around him by deliberately keeping him out of the planning loop for such an attack.

The well-planted article further exposes Trump's own willful ignorance and his aversion to reading the fine print, given that he had willingly signed the bill granting the military this sole authority to launch such a cyber-attack without notifying him - or, for that matter, notifying or consulting with any other future president.

Even as Trump is rightly lambasted for all manner of unseemly dynastic power grabs, serial lying, corrupt practices and gross invocations of executive privilege, he is being at least partially stripped of his authority by unelected leaders and their compliant elected operatives in Congress. It's an intra-class struggle of a big group of oligarchs against one oafish oligarch who doesn't know when to keep his big mouth shut in the interests of his own class. He is a traitor to his class, but not in the good way that FDR was a traitor to his class. Trump is protecting nobody but himself and his immediate clan and by clannish extension, Saudi Arabia and Israel. Thanks to the cosily corrupt Kushner-Netanyahu connection, for example, Trump just had an illegal Israeli settlement in the Golan Heights named after him. It's terrible public relations for a United States which has always marketed itself as a bastion and defender of democracy. 

The Times article, wittingly or not, exposes the truth that the "Trump administration" is definitely not the same thing as President Trump. It is only tangentially related to him. Deliberately or not, it proves the existence of a shadow government, if not a coup government. This unelected, anti-democratic government operates with absolute impunity, while its corporate media stenographers not only collude with it and propagandize for it, they strenuously laser-focus the public's ire against Trump the person rather than at the far more dangerous Trump "administration" - which, really, is simply the convenient name given to the Military-Industrial Complex and the ruling oligarchy as they hide their identities and their agendas behind whatever "democratically" elected individual resides in the White House at any given time.

The Times article elicited the desired reactionary tweet-storm from Trump, who accused the Paper of Record of treason for spilling the secrets of cyber-war but, tellingly, did not also accuse "his" military of treason for the leaking of these secrets. 

He also failed (in public, anyway) to connect the dots between the Times leak and his recent order to investigate the "intelligence community" and the Obama administration for starting the whole #Russiagate franchise. He didn't address the probability that these same agencies and operatives are now getting their own revenge via this past weekend's gaslighting attack against him in the Times. He continues to ignore Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer's warning, issued prior to his inauguration, that these agencies have "six ways from Sunday" of wreaking revenge on a president who doesn't acknowledge them as his superiors.

Nevertheless, the dichotomy between Trump and the permanent Security State is cynically bypassed right in the lead paragraph of the article written by the Times national security reporting team of David Sanger (who also served as the willing conduit of the "Obama administration's" leak of its Stuxnet virus deployment against Iran's nuclear program) and Nicole Perlroth:
The United States is stepping up digital incursions into Russia’s electric power grid in a warning to President Vladimir V. Putin and a demonstration of how the Trump administration is using new authorities to deploy cybertools more aggressively, current and former government officials said.
In interviews over the past three months, the officials described the previously unreported deployment of American computer code inside Russia’s grid and other targets as a classified companion to more publicly discussed action directed at Moscow’s disinformation and hacking units around the 2018 midterm elections.
So the Times acknowledges that it had known about the planning for cyber-war for quite awhile before it chose to alert the public over the weekend. "Former" government officials (not necessarily in the current administration) were among their sources. Later in the piece, they reveal that it was Barack Obama who "secretly" ordered the placement of the cyber tools within the Russian grid. So the timing of the story, right after Trump's initiation of a probe into the origins of Russiagate, is suspect. And the political motivations are obvious. The article is another neat way of keeping the Russiagate franchise alive after Robert Mueller found that no conspiracy existed between Trump and Vladimir Putin. It strives to weaken Trump, as the Democrats and their security state cohort have decided that actual impeachment should remain off the table.

And, it sends the not-so-subtle message to Putin that he should consider Trump to be a de facto lame duck president with no real power and that the US war machine will forever be in charge no matter who is president.

It is not until several paragraphs into the saber-rattling article that the New York Times finally, and almost casually. tells everybody (including the president) that he has been duped by the Deep State, largely as a result of his own ignorance and incompetence:
Mr. Trump issued new authorities to Cyber Command last summer, in a still-classified document known as National Security Presidential Memoranda 13, giving General Nakasone far more leeway to conduct offensive online operations without receiving presidential approval.
But the action inside the Russian electric grid appears to have been conducted under little-noticed new legal authorities, slipped into the military authorization bill passed by Congress last summer. The measure approved the routine conduct of “clandestine military activity” in cyberspace, to “deter, safeguard or defend against attacks or malicious cyberactivities against the United States.”
Under the law, those actions can now be authorized by the defense secretary without special presidential approval.
Sanger and Perlroth ascribe no human agency to the mysterious "slipping" of these legal authorities into the military authorization bill. But Trump cannot help but notice that Congress, while waffling on impeaching him, is nonetheless sneakily disempowering him even as it gives "his" administration nearly a trillion dollars a year to wage endless wars.
Two administration officials said they believed Mr. Trump had not been briefed in any detail about the steps to place “implants” — software code that can be used for surveillance or attack — inside the Russian grid.
Pentagon and intelligence officials described broad hesitation to go into detail with Mr. Trump about operations against Russia for concern over his reaction — and the possibility that he might countermand it or discuss it with foreign officials, as he did in 2017 when he mentioned a sensitive operation in Syria to the Russian foreign minister.
Translation: the reason, beyond party politics, to keep the Russiagate franchise alive is to maintain the legend that Trump is a Manchurian candidate. Without constant deep state gaslighting, he might be tempted to honor his campaign promises and initiate anti-nuclear proliferation talks with Putin in a misguided effort to avert World War Three and total planetary annihilation. Such an overture to peace would be a slap in the face to American Exceptionalism. So, if the public is told that Trump is so dangerous that the ever-so-benevolent war machine is keeping him out of their aggressive planning, then even his imposition of harsh economic sanctions against Russia is rendered meaningless in the minds of a carefully terrorized American public.

All they (the same folks who wanted to deport John Lennon from the United States for criticizing American aggression) are saying is, Give War a Chance.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Pelosi Says Trump Steals Attention From Her Dead Billionaire Hero

Every spring since 2010, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has been an honored guest speaker at the annual Peterson Foundation Fiscal Summit. Every year, she has put the essential liberal gloss on the inherently cruel deficit hawk propaganda underwritten by late Wall Street ultra-right billionaire Pete Peterson. Every year, she has helped to spread the mendacious message that it's not oligarchs like the Petersons who are impoverishing the population. It's selfish retirees and poor people who are gorging themselves on all those precious Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare benefits, and who are thereby ruining the lives of entire future generations.

The Democrats want to snip a bit here, slash a little there, while the boisterous Republicans want to go wild with machetes. This makes Pelosi one of the good guys. She knows how to cut deals about what to cut, and when, and make it all seem so reasonable and therapeutic.

She didn't get away with her sweetened snake oil this year, however.

This year, Pelosi's carefully scripted diverting of public attention from the actual class war to some utterly non-existent generational battle over meager health and retirement benefits was rudely hijacked by Donald Trump.

No, the president didn't storm the stage. He wasn't even a guest. But he might as well have been, given that CNN news personality Manu Raju acted as Trump's virtual conduit, repeating his recent insults to Pelosi verbatim, ("You're a nasty, vindictive, horrible person!")  and semi-successfully goading her into reacting.

Pelosi did not take at all kindly to Trump's oblique hijacking of CNN, which is usually such a reliable deficit hawk co-propagandist. In fact, she was so ticked off by Manu Raju's relentless refusal to stay on the austerity topic and to help her fear-monger about the alleged government debt crisis, at times she almost sounded like that recent notorious doctored stammering and slurring Facebook video of herself. 

But this clip of her Peterson Summit interview is no doubt authentic, given that it was directly uploaded by CNN, the most trusted name in news. She does seem to garble and skip over and truncate her words at times. You be the judge:

"I don't care what you ask me. I'm not going to talk about him any more!" she seethes to Raju, before proceeding to talk about Trump some more, before going on to blather about "the future" and immigrant Dreamers who are here through no fault of their own and who often fight rich men's wars. (thereby implying that the desperate relatives who brought them here are not also human beings deserving of safety and security.) Plus, she added, "we have to protect our democracy from The Russians."

Pelosi did not explain what The Russians have to do with dishonest centrist scare-mongering about the deficit while Congress has cruelly implemented budget austerity for regular people and corporate welfare for billionaires. But as long as the whole performance already had been hijacked anyway, why not throw The Russians in for good measure? Anything to divert the attention from Trump's diversion of the attention.

"If I had been invited here to talk about the president, I would have found better things to do at home," she fumed, to enthusiastic applause from the fiscally responsible attendees.

In case you have never heard of Pete Peterson, he was Richard Nixon's commerce secretary before going on to lead Lehman Brothers and then to make billions as co-founder, and later seller, of the Blackstone private equity group. He might be personally deceased, but his thriving dynasty ranks right up there with the Koch Brothers as one of the most powerful oligarchic influences on national policy that this country has ever seen.

Peterson used a now-debunked 2010 study by Harvard economists Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff, purporting to show that austerity stimulates economic growth, to justify his demands for cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.

As the Center for the Media and Democracy reports:
The economists both have ties to Wall Street billionaire Pete Peterson. As the Center for Media and Democracy detailed in the online report, "The Peterson Pyramid," the Blackstone billionaire turned philanthropist has spent half a billion dollars to promote this chorus of calamity.
Through the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, Peterson has funded practically every think tank and non-profit that works on deficit- and debt-related issues, including his latest 2012 astroturf supergroup, "Fix the Debt.”
Reinhart, described glowingly by the New York Times as "the most influential female economist in the world," was a Senior Fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics founded, chaired, and funded by Peterson. Reinhart is listed as participating in many Peterson Institute events, such as their 2012 fiscal summit along with Paul Ryan, Alan Simpson, and Tim Geithner, and numerous other Peterson lectures and events available on YouTube. She is married to economist and author Vincent Reinhart, who does similar work for the American Enterprise Institute, also funded by the Peterson Foundation.
Kenneth Rogoff is listed on the Advisory Board of the Peterson Institute. The Peterson Institute bankrolled and published a 2011 Rogoff-Reinhart book-length collaboration, "A Decade of Debt," where the authors apparently used the same flawed data to reach many of the same conclusions and warn ominously of a "debt burden" stretching into 2017 that "will weigh heavily on the public policy agenda of numerous advanced economies and global financial markets for some time to come."
But nonetheless, here's what Nancy Pelosi gushed at the fiscal confab this week as she compared Peterson to the dishonest and dastardly Donald Trump, implying that Trump was deliberately stomping on his grave:
 "Pete Peterson was a national hero. He was the personification of the American Dream. I loved him dearly. He cared deeply about working people. He knew that the national debt was a tax on our children. He always said to me, 'Nancy, always keep your eye on the budget!"
And boy, has she ever kept her gimlet eye on the budget! From convincing her Democratic majority to end long-term unemployment insurance in 2013 during the height of the financial crisis (just as impeaching Trump is "not worth it" now, holding up a budget deal just out of silly concern for the needs of millions of desperate people was "not worth it" then), to this year insisting on a Pay-Go rule as a means of killing Medicare For All before it ever comes out of committee, Nancy Pelosi, a multimillionaire in her own right, has always been a true servant of the Richest of the Rich. 

Naturally, the funding and terrible human costs of our trillion-dollar wars never come up for discussion, neither at Fiscal Summits nor in Congress. War is way too profitable. And the poor, the old, the sick, the precarious and the desperate are not profitable - as much as the oligarchy strives mightily to suck every last drop of sweat and blood from them. And, never once did Pelosi suggest that Trump's grotesque tax giveaway to the wealthy be reversed should Democrats regain power, massive deficit-creator that it is.

 For, as Pelosi lectured to an indebted socialist-leaning college student at a televised town hall in 2017, barely one month after Trump took office: "I have to say, we're capitalists. That's just how it is." 

And as much as she pretends to loathe Donald Trump, she also joined in the raucous bipartisan applause at this year's State of the Union speech when he vowed that socialism will never, ever come to the United States of America.

We'll just have to see about that. Pete Peterson is dead, and Nancy Pelosi has promised to retire by 2022, at the very latest. 

Still, the zombie austerians are not going down without a fight. 

Ever so coincidentally, just as the Fiscal Summit was wrapping up, the New York Times has published its latest scare-mongering piece about Social Security facing an insolvency crisis. The article is heavy on the need for retirees to tighten their belts and live on less, and totally lacking in the suggestion that the cap on FICA taxes be raised or even outright abolished. In other words, it's light on the idea that the Peterson Dynasty might have to fork over any of their excess cash to help their fellow human beings.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Biden Can Hide But He Can't Run

Status Quo Ante Uncle Joe's campaign has made the mistake of letting one pool reporter cover each of his big-dollar fundraisers in the interests of fairness and transparency.

On Monday night, Biden reportedly reassured a group of wealthy donors and lobbyists that he thinks quite well of the oligarchs whose interests they (and he) represent.
"Wall Street and significant bankers and people, they're all positive, they can be positive influences in the country. But they didn't build the country. The middle class built the country."
As for the Republican senators now so mysteriously in the thrall of Svengali Trump, Biden is cheerfully sanguine. Since he is essentially one of them, he is confident that he can jolt them out of their Trump hypnosis once he's back on the scene. Then they can relive the good old pre-Trump days of sedate racism, misogyny and generalized class war antics. All it will take, given that Biden has scrupulously avoided speaking to both the media and ordinary voters, is for the Democratic super-delegates to nominate him by acclaim at a brokered convention. Before that happens, though, the corporate media and his fellow candidates must be pressured into not attacking his debate performances as viciously as they will probably deserve to be attacked.

Meanwhile, Biden runs away from accountability, hiding behind closed doors as he dog-whistles to the Market:
"Here's the deal: we all know, and I don't think this is hyperbole, we all know in our gut this election is the most important election we've ever engaged in—and not just because I'm running," Biden said. "With Trump gone you're going to begin to see things change. Because these folks (his GOP pals) know better. They know this isn't what they're supposed to be doing."
Biden should just cut to the chase and admit that he's the candidate of the TINA (There Is No Alternative) Party. That acronym comes to us direct from the late British P.M. Margaret Thatcher, and it means that there is no alternative to cutthroat capitalism and a Hobbesian war of all against all.

That is why Biden and other "New Democrat" centrists of his ilk love to point to Trump as the only enemy that regular people should ever need to fight. It's better for the corporate wing of the party to sound the warning that Trump is the next Hitler who threatens to abolish democracy, cancel the election if he doesn't win, take over TV stations and newspapers, and send storm troopers into the streets to arrest well-heeled liberal #Resistance, Inc. freedom fighters. Oh, and threaten US standing in the world, as if increasing death rates in the US, crushing education debt, homelessness, police violence, gun violence and relentless coup attempts and bipartisan bombings abroad were not pre-existing reputation-killers enough.

We're instructed that it is up to political content-consumers ("we the people") to defeat Trump by electing a kinder, gentler, more discreet monster to regress the misery to those halcyon days of slow frog-boilings, in hopes that enough people will notice their pain less in the future than they are noticing it right now.

As long as we are still allowed to vote, then we should have nothing to complain about. Better to have dictatorship by the Market than dictatorship by a demagogue produced by the Market. 

To give you another example of how tainted Biden truly is, when I Googled "A.P. pool report" in hopes of getting a verbatim transcript of his Monday night remarks, what actually popped up on the front page were myriad reports of Biden's penchant for swimming naked in his pool in front of female Secret Service agents.

If that isn't bad enough, my search for the Biden pool report on the latest fundraiser also brought up the attempt in 2012 by his operatives to "edit" press accounts of his campaign appearances. This attempted censorship was on top of a separate controversial Obama White House directive to journalists to submit their stories for "quote approval" prior to publication. It was also on top of the the Obama administration's record war on whistleblowers and its spying on journalists.

So Trump's much-criticized verbal assault on the media as "enemy of the people" is not so much an anomaly as it is a direct extension of the no less frightening media suppression of free speech as practiced by the previous administration.

Biden is acting more like Candidate Hillary Clinton every day, hiding from the media as he sends out his various underlings to explain his unconvincing flip-flop over his Hyde Amendment support, to name just one recent controversy. You might remember that Hillary's campaign literally corralled the press behind ropes at public events in order to lessen the chances of them actually popping a non-scripted question at her. 

It is getting so desperately pathetic on the invisible Biden trail that his campaign actually tweeted out a picture of his special friendship bracelet memorializing his insipid good-buddy bond with Barack Obama. This image should make everybody just shut up and swoon, right? (Rather than, say, cackle or vomit.)

 Biden is not your normal phony candidate. He is an unabashed high-level factotum for the financialized economy, and a craven one at that. He tries to hide his naked history by ineptly draping himself with myriad spokeswomen and the first black president (who probably picked him as his running mate only to reassure conservative white voters that the first black conservative president didn't pose a threat to them.)

Biden keeps insisting that Trump is an anomaly who burst forth from the ether. He ignores the truth that the past four decades of transnational, labor-destroying, deregulated market neoliberalism - increased riches for the wealthy and increased poverty for everyone else - is the Petri dish that nourished Trump. And Biden himself provided a lot of those nutrients, what with his racist wars against drugs and welfare programs, not to mention his votes for corporate "trade" agreements like NAFTA and for the illegal Iraq War.

Trump is no anomaly, no creature from outer space.  He is a mutation. He is the birth-product of the tainted and inbred late-capitalist strain of Oligarchs Gone Wild.

And Joe Biden is among the fertility doctors whose depraved policies helped to create him.

"Doctor Moreau for President!" would make a good campaign slogan for Biden, don't you think?  

In fact, this picture of Biden posing in a flag-emblazoned laboratory setting with indicted blood-testing fraudster Elizabeth Holmes is the perfect campaign poster. It sends the message that while the anti-science Trump slashes and burns with a scowl on his face, Biden will always suck our blood with a jovial technocratic smile. The life-draining work of TINA will continue to be discreetly performed in the shadows of the gleaming laboratories of pseudo-democracy, just as Biden is conducting his fake presidential campaign right now.

Bring Back the Good Old Days of the Future!

Friday, June 7, 2019

Picking At the Trump Pimple

Depending on whether you're a fan or a critic, Donald Trump in Europe was either too sexy for his shirt or too big for his britches. Or maybe his tailor quit in the middle of the job because Trump's deposit check had bounced. This is the picture that all the fashionista pundits couldn't stop talking about this week:

The next-most earth-shattering thing they're talking about, now that Trump's insults to Meghan Markle and the mayor of London are disappearing into the ether to keep the Trump Baby Balloon company, is that Trump threatened to single-handedly destroy Britain's beloved National Health Service!  Its demise will be the offer the Brits will be unable to refuse if they have any hope of a post-Brexit trade deal with Trump's United States.

"Mar-a-Lago Comes For British Health!" is the dire warning of the New York Times's Paul Krugman.

That would be the same Paul Krugman who warned only three years ago that the nefarious Bernie Sanders was coming for Obamacare, and who continues to speciously argue that single payer health care espoused by Sanders and other progressives is next to impossible "in the current climate.

Krugman writes,
As it happens, the British and American health systems lie at opposite ends of a spectrum defined by the relative roles of the private and public sectors.
 Although the Affordable Care Act expanded health coverage and increased the role of Medicaid, most Americans still get their insurance (if they get it at all) from private companies and get treated at for-profit hospitals and clinics. In other countries, like Canada, the government pays the bills, but health providers are private. Britain, however, has true socialized medicine: The government owns the hospitals and pays the doctors.
That skirts the truth, to put it politely. As I responded to Krugman in my published comment: 
The NHS is already opened up to private US companies and it has been at least since 2006. That was when the Hospital Corporation of America partnered with British medical facilities that serve only private patients.
 Other US-based corporations have followed suit, with the stated anodyne objective along the lines of "improving efficiencies" and other neoliberal buzz-phrases to mask creeping privatization.
Optum, a division of UnitedHealth, works with the NHS in contract negotiations and medications management. Kaiser Permanente also "advises" the NHS, and IBM provides it with electronic records services.
 This has mostly been under the radar, until Donald Trump came along and did his usual oafish thing. No wonder that the discreet wing of the ruling class can't stand him. He rips the mask right off all the plunder and the greed. He bellows that he wants to destroy the social contract wherever it exists in the world, from a platform where everybody can hear him, thus endangering the whole late-capitalistic plan.
A Henry Kissinger he definitely is not. It wasn't until years after the fact that the Kissinger-Nixon plot to "make Chile's economy scream" by overthrowing the socialist government with a CIA coup became widely known. Then it was too late.
 It's not too late in Britain. And hopefully, it's not even too late in the United States
Why do we keep hearing that Medicare for All is "impossible?"
 For one reason: It'd put a dent in the profits of the voracious oligarchy.
The most radical shift in the stealthy undoing of the NHS came in 2012, with the passage of Britain's Health and Social Care Act. This law specifically enforces a restructuring of the system based upon the advice of McKinsey, the US-based global consulting firm which has come in for some well-deserved criticism lately. As the public advocacy group Patients4NHS explains:
The Act ordered the NHS to use the private sector: it made it compulsory for those services that potentially could be provided by non-NHS organisations to be put out to competitive tender. Private companies are now involved in a wide range of NHS services, from GP or out-of-hours care to diagnostic services (such as scans or blood tests), elective (or routine) surgery and ambulance services. In addition, private, multinational consultancy firms are being paid considerable amounts of taxpayers’ money for advising NHS providers, such as hospital Trusts, on managing their service.
The NHS was already on the chopping block in the Obama era's secretive trade deals, such as the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and the Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA), which not only would give private US-based corporations the right to destroy Britain's socialized medical care system, but would prevent any future governments from ever reversing the privatization!

So perhaps we should thank Donald Trump's freely oozing mouth for warning us about the systemic cancer which lurks beneath. He is putting his unwitting squeeze right on the corporate propaganda campaign which continues to vociferously deny that Britain's health care system is on the chopping block in trade extortion schemes that long preceded, and go far beyond, Donald Trump's clumsy unfiltered threats.

Ominously, the private companies already infiltrating the NHS are still permitted to use the NHS logo, thus further deliberately hiding their for-profit agenda from the British public. 

So Krugman and other critics who pile on Trump to the exclusion of critiquing the entire transnational anti-democratic corrupt system that created him in the first place are themselves doing harm by picking on just one particularly annoying unsightly zit while ignoring a whole body full of chronic deep-tissue lesions.

This is what critics who are not Trump, from both the right and the left, mean when they accuse the mainstream corporate media of purveying "fake news," both by commission and by omission. Krugman is no dummy. He knows, or should know, that the danger to the NHS preceded Trump by decades, and that the plunder of social welfare programs around the world will long outlast Trump - unless, of course, capitalism eats itself into extinction first.

Trump is simply the most glaring contemporary symbol, and symptom, of malignant terminal capitalism. Getting rid of him might feel good in the short term, but it's no cure for what deeply ails the sick and decaying body politic.

There's plenty more where he came from, within the highly weaponized Defense of Wealth industry.

Monday, June 3, 2019

The Trumps and the Royals Belong Together

What's with all the media frenzy over the Trump dynasty sullying the Windsor dynasty?

The conventional corporate wisdom is that if Donald Trump weren't such a gross oligarch, he would have cancelled his sullying of the British oligarchy -  because the invitation to sully was issued by a sullied prime minister who was forced to resign because of the Brexit mess. 

And it's not just the sullying. Trump is unfairly "meddling" in British politics by referring to various British politicians as either losers or as his personal pals. This rhetoric from a sitting US president is deemed highly abnormal and deviant.

What was considered normal and proper was former President Barack Obama, right before the Brexit vote, warning the Brits on their own soil that they would suffer dire trade consequences if they dared vote to leave the European Union.

Obama had the good taste to threaten the UK with being politely moved "in back of the queue" whereas Trump outrageously called the mayor of London a "stone cold loser." Ouch. 

 If Trump had any normality at all, he would at least have deployed one of his political operatives across the Atlantic to properly meddle in British politics. Obama himself adhered to exceptional American procedure when he graciously didn't say a word when his campaign strategist, Jim Messina, meddled by advising both Theresa May and David Cameron as they successfully vied for back-to-back Conservative Party residencies at Number Ten, Downing Street.

Of course, the very worst thing that Trump did in preparation for his visit to the U.K. was to insult Meghan Markle. When a tabloid journalist informed him that she'd called him "divisive and misogynistic" in a TV interview during the 2016 US presidential campaign, Trump used his favorite anti-woman buzzword ("nasty") when reacting to her remarks. He hastily added that he still thought that she'd be "a successful American Princess."

Cue the mass media outrage. And be sure to preface all the diatribes with such made-for-Lifetime headlines as "The Princess Vs. the Demagogue," as the New York Times's Charles Blow did in his latest biweekly #Resistance broadside.

This contrived controversy is an irresistible way for the liberal corporate media to fulfill their perpetual assignment. Their constant duty is to divert the attention of the hoi polloi from the Class War of the rich vs the rest of us. Instead we must learn to care very deeply abut the Intra-Ruling Class War of the good billionaires vs the bad billionaires. 

The Trump vs. Markle narrative is essentially a variation on the stale neoliberal romance theme of Girl Meets Billionaire, Girl Loves Billionaire, Girl Loses Billionaire, Girl Finally Marries Billionaire.

The plot of the latest potboiler is "Girl Meets and Marries Virtuous Oligarch Only To Have Her Happiness Sullied by Villainous Oligarch."  Peasants of the World are hereby urged to unite and defend the honor and serenity of Our Princess as she is assailed from without the walls of her castle by the Usurper to the American Throne. If we all just join together, and vicariously become Meghan Markle, we can momentarily forget about our poverty, our lack of health care,  our joblessness, our homelessness. Even if we're among the fortunate and the comfortable few, we too can find some relief from our crushing boredom and loneliness as we tune in to the saga.

Meghan Markle, according to Blow and other liberal pundits, is being punished for bravely going on TV and joking to Larry Wilmore that she'd stay in Canada permanently should her candidate, Hillary Clinton, lose. Blow paints her as the rare celebrity who broke from the mold and dared to criticize Trump, thereby putting her brilliant acting career at risk. It was almost as bold and as rare a move as if a Hollywood celebrity went on TV and cast doubt on the Russiagate cult. Of course, not even Meghan Markle could have cast doubt on the Russiagate cult before the Clintonites had even invented it. And nobody is casting doubt on it now. 

Just as bad as Trump are the right-wing tabloids accusing Markle of timing the birth of her baby to cynically avoid Trump during his state visit. Maternity leave is just an excuse. So let all the righteous pick a side: unite and defend royal motherhood from the Usurper, or defend the Usurper from royal motherhood. Those are your two choices.

But before we get too carried away, we must also remember that as much as we Americans fawn over royalty, and canonize Americans who marry royalty, we must first and foremost patriotically embrace our own hegemonic system of government as we fawn from afar. Charles Blow writes:
I have no royalist fetish or reverence. Indeed, I find the existence of royalty in any society problematic. But this isn’t as much about Trump’s reaction to a princess as it is about his reaction to a woman, in this case, a black woman.
It is so problematic that Blow pulls a Trump and elevates Meghan Markle from her official title of duchess to that of princess. Methinks he doth protest too much.

He glosses over both classism and racism by making the class and race war all about Trump against Meghan Markle. By celebrating her achievement-by-marriage and by calling her a princess, he simply exposes himself as a more politically correct chauvinist. By eliciting empathy for and celebrating a wealthy woman of color, he can also ignore the fact that mortality and morbidity for black mothers and babies in the United States is nothing less than shocking and shameful.  

And Flint still doesn't have clean water.

By championing Meghan Markle's right to speak her political mind, Blow and other pundits engaged in the business of selling their Moments of Trump-Hate can also ignore the fate of WikiLeaks' Julian Assange, lying gravely ill in a British prison as the Trumps and the Windsors whine and dine, and the press corps gawk and wag their fingers at Good Dynasty vs Bad Dynasty.

And the Windsors can also bask in their own slickly marketed nouveau-liberal limelight and forget their own past fascist sympathies as they welcome a biracial American bride and new grandchild to their midst.  According to the royal family's media apologists, the Windsors were just ignorant victims of scary times. Unlike Trump, they were simply engaging in a harmless prank when they posed for the camera with their Nazi salutes. It is so unfair of the right-wing press to dredge up all those harmless scary memories, you see.

If Prince Harry can forget about once attending a costume party dressed as a Nazi, in the 21st century, then so should we, as we direct all our precious ire against Hitler-Trump.

We can also forget about Trump and Prince Andrew both being pals with convicted billionaire pedophile Jeffrey Epstein. Maybe they can reminisce on the golf course.

And we can forget about the times that Prince Charles was a perfectly willing occasional guest at Trump's Mar-A-Lago palace during his forays into Palm Beach society and elite polo matches played for charity. When Trump was still just an ordinary social-climbing real estate mogul, according to an entertaining new book by Laurence Leamer, Charles even once personally called him from his private jet to grovel and ask if he could drop by. Trump was so excited that he abandoned his golf course right in the middle of his game to personally extend the welcome mat to the equally eager Prince of Wales.

Wealth and power always attract wealth and power, no matter the source. And white male supremacy is always an incestuous match made in hell. No matter how the media narrative spins it, the Trumps and the Windsors are crispy birds of a feather. Fair is foul, and foul is fair.