Wednesday, November 27, 2019

A Very Sardonicky Thanksgiving

The Internet is rife with advice about how to cope with your Trump-supporting relatives around the holiday dinner table. It is not so rife with advice for leftists about how to cope with your MSNBC and Rachel Maddow-loving relatives. If they're on the mailing list of the DCCC, family members even threaten to arrive with a complete cartoonified menu of Russiagate and Ukrainegate talking points along with the side dishes and the pies.

  For those not in the acronymic know, DCCC stands for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the aggressive fund-raising, email-bombing arm of the party. Like Nixon's Committee To Re-Elect the President (CREEP), if the acronym fits, then one should absolutely wear it with unquestioning pride. Even though lacking the necessary vowel, DCCC can easily be pronounced as "Dick" which is certainly more muscular-sounding than "Duck," especially on Thanksgiving.  So as you serve the turkey on Thursday, please be aware of any DCCC-heads lurking too close to the carving knife.

But let us be thankful. Because with impeachment sucking up all the oxygen, at least the Internet scolds have largely abandoned lecturing us about the true meaning of Thanksgiving getting subsumed by the annual Black Friday Greed Stampede, which now officially begins on the sacred holiday itself. For one thing, most people now do their holiday shopping online, on Cyber Monday. So gorge till you purge, shop till you drop, and click like a DCCC-head. 

The "true meaning" of Thanksgiving was never the true meaning of Thanksgiving in the first place. As David J. Silverman recounts in his new book "This Land Is Their Land: The Wampanoag Indians, Plymouth Colony, and the Troubled History of Thanksgiving," traditional puritan thanksgivings were marked by fasts, not feasts. It's a sham of a holiday whose original purpose was to put a feel-good gloss on imperialism and racism. The English passengers of the Mayflower were members of a severe religious cult whose 1620 voyage was financed by a proto-capitalist group aptly called The Adventurers. These financial backers expected a big return on their investment. And the Pilgrims got the message. Before even reaching their ultimate destination at the future Plymouth colony, the storm-tossed refugees landed at Cape Cod, where they proceeded to desecrate and rob graves, steal buried stores of corn, and burglarize the homes of the Wampanoag tribe, who had already left their shoreline abodes for their winter sojourn in the inland forest.

The pilgrims did not consider these crimes to be crimes, but rather opportunities granted to them by Divine Providence. They were the chosen ones, The Elect.  They were the true ancestors of our own modern criminal capitalist class and its Republican branch-centered unholy collaboration with religious fundamentalists, or what Chris Hedges so aptly calls the Christian fascist movement.

The original Pilgrims pretty much got everything they wanted for the first 50 years or so of their invasion. For starters, the Wampanoags had already been traumatized by a series of Euro-epidemics which had reduced their numbers by at least two-thirds by the time the pilgrims arrived in 1620 and which had left them vulnerable to assaults by the enemy Naragansetts.  They were among the hundreds of millions of human victims throughout history of what is now known as The Shock Doctrine, which as Naomi Klein explains, is how the wealthy and powerful create crises, exploit them for their own benefit, and then portray themselves as heroes for "saving" the system they helped to destroy in the first place.

Myth-making with the aim of enforcing public compliance with wars for profit, various forms of mass imprisonment and forced labor and exploitation of the poor by the rich is an integral part of any capitalist success story. We're seeing it right now as various war-mongering neoconservatives and regime-toppling spy-thugs are being lauded by the "liberal" media as patriotic knights in shining armor and anti-Trump resistance fighters. Myths don't have to be old to be effective. But it helps, especially when the white Christian supremacist myth of Thanksgiving, with the Indians portrayed as perpetually prehistoric cardboard cutouts, is rammed down the throats and implanted in the brains of whole generations of school-children, regardless of their own races, colors and creeds.

As Silverman writes, 
"Subtly, the Thanksgiving myth buttresses this fallacy by making the Mayflower passengers the dynamic initiators of contact with a Wampanoag population that seems to have been waiting passively to be discovered. In turn the portrayal of Indians as static contributes to a sinister racist double bind of long standing in American culture. It posits that the Native way of life at the time of European contact was and is the only authentic Indian culture. Nobody expects the Pilgrims' modern descendants to look and act like their seventeenth century ancestors, yet the public commonly judges that indigenous people who have changed since 1492 or 1620 have somehow relinquished their claims to be Indian."
The reality of the first Thanksgiving is that the Wampanoags viewed the English not as friends, but as potential necromancers,swindlers and slave traders, just as their previous encounters with Europeans had taught them to believe. The feast they shared one year after the landing of the Mayflower was conducted in an atmosphere of fear, mourning, desperation and suspicion. "This is the most basic element missing from the Thanksgiving myth," writes Silverman.

That the pilgrims and Wampanoag Indians co-existed more or less in peace for the next half-century is testament to both the relatively low, "pre-swarm" numbers of English settlers and the pragmatism and political savvy of the Wampanoag sachem Ousamequin, who is more commonly known in "mythistory" as Massasoit. That was his title and not his name. It's as if historians referred to Lincoln as "President" assuming that is all the identity he'll ever need.

Speaking of Honest Abe, it was he who proclaimed Thanksgiving to be the national holiday that we celebrate today, moving it beyond its regional New England roots. It was designed to promote unity after the Civil War and also as a propaganda tool to justify Western expansion and the extermination of more Indian populations. Just as they were at the original Thanksgiving, the propaganda went, the Indians were just waiting around ready to be colonized wherever in Exceptional America they lived. And if they balked, then it just went to prove to the colonizers that they were nothing but ungrateful savages.

It was only after Ousamequin's death that his son Pometcomet (anglicized as "King Philip") and the Wampanoags finally balked in the 1670s and joined forces with other tribes to fight the English, who were doing such un-Christian things as fining and imprisoning natives who killed the colonial pigs and other livestock encroaching on their own plots of land and eating up their crops. If the natives couldn't pay the fines they were levied for defending their own existences, they often were seized as slaves and transported either to Europe or Caribbean sugar plantations. The pilgrims were truly doubling down on the capitalistic greed, given that their domestic animals were already being imported to feed the enslaved Africans toiling away on the sugar plantations.

As Trumpian precursors, they even separated children from families, erected walls around their enclaves, and banished thousands of non-combative, Christianized Indians to an outdoor gulag on Deer Island, where most of them starved to death. 

King Philip's War, as it was called in order to spread the desired narrative that it was the Indians assaulting the colonists rather than the Indians reacting to vicious English aggression, was short-lived but lethal, both in terms of casualties and in the lasting animus that it spawned.

Silverman writes:
"The war spread so quickly and unexpectedly that many English concluded that the Indians were an instrument of God's judgment. The question was for what. Staunch puritans in Massachusetts blamed lax morals and passed sumptuary laws banning men from wearing long hair, women from 'following strange fashions in their apparel,' and unmarried couples from riding from town to town unchaperoned.... Plymouth leaders wondered if God smote them because of their lax treatment of Quakers.... All the English could agree about was that the war had little to do with genuine Indian grievances."
Fast forward almost 400 years, and abandoned CIA assets ("Infidels") bombed the World Trade Center and Pentagon because "they hate us for our freedoms." Hillary Clinton lost because as we all know, white women are misogynists and a Russian troll farm convinced millions of Black Americans to stay home from the polls on that fateful day.

The late Haitian historian and anthropologist Michel-Rolph Trouillot said that it is the silences of history along with its mythical narratives that are at the root of power. We become "complaisant hostages of the pasts they create."

"The production of historical narratives involves the uneven contribution of competing groups and individuals who have unusual access to the means of such production."

All facts are not created equal. To paraphrase Orwell, some facts are more equal than others.

On that note, here once again is Sardonicky's longstanding Thanksgiving tradition. Happy Turkey Day to all! 

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Debate & Switch: They Got Nothing

I'm sorry to report that I couldn't consume Wednesday's Democratic talking point telecast as voraciously as my assigned civic duty of passive spectator dictated that I should.

Since the latest edition of Perpetual Primary was hosted by MSNBC and the Jeff Bezos Gazette, and since the only way that cable-free households could watch it was by downloading the NBC app, and since the NBC app kept freezing up, losing audio or crashing completely on my cheap smartphone, I had to resort to the New York Times live blog to get their elite take on the festivities.

It was weird. because when the Times reporters were carping about Tulsi Gabbard's refreshingly blunt attack on the Democratic Party and thrilling over NBC-WaPo's orchestrated  smear of Gabbard through the willing, shrilling mouth of Kamala Harris, this exchange had not yet appeared on my tiny screen. It was a real spoiler from the Times, who never questioned the whopper that Gabbard had spent Obama's entire second term trashing him on Fox News rather than serving in Congress.  And when the exchange finally did appear on my screen a minute or two later, the Times live-blog had already moved on to inserting its own video of a Deval Patrick campaign event in order to give private equity's stalking horse equal time.

I don't know whether the Times reporters pimping for Patrick did so to avoid covering one of the few times that Bernie Sanders was allowed to speak, but it wouldn't surprise if they had. I quickly logged off the Times's Deval Patrick gush-fest and turned back to my tiny little sputtering screen.

The best part of the consumer experience for me was Amy Klobuchar's mouth moving and no sound coming out -  until the part where she actually said that when she's president, nobody is getting a free car. A free car apparently is her code for guaranteed health care. And then they went to commercial break for another annoying December to Remember Lexus commercial for those willing to work hard, play by the rules and go high when "they" go low.

And that brought back so many unpleasant memories of the earlier part of my wasted day, when I'd watched hours of impeachment hearings, or what the media outlandishly calls The Smoking Gun Episode..Gordon Sondland, ambassador to the E.U., came right out and said that US military aid to puppet state Ukraine was predicated entirely upon Ukraine's president going on live TV and announcing he was digging up dirt on the Bidens and Russiagate. No matter that Trump had already boastfully admitted to this exercise in corrupt diplomacy a couple of months ago on live TV.

For some reason, NBC streamed its impeachment coverage on YouTube, graciously allowing me to watch it on live TV without having to download their horrible app. NBC also treated me to endless loops of Donald Trump bellowing "I want nothing! I want nothing! I want nothing!" as he read directly from notes saying "I want nothing! I want nothing! I want nothing!" in those large block letters so eerily reminding me the threatening letters we used to get at my newspaper from one particular person well-known to the authorities. Those letters were also big on frenzied repetitions, such as "You will die! You will die! You will die!" 

Fast forward again to my less than satisfying NBC app of a debate consumer experience later in the day. Remember when you were a kid. and how much fun it was to turn off the TV sound and make up your own dialogue for the characters on the screen, or else put on "Nowhere Man" when Nixon was talking? Well, maybe you don't because you didn't and I was just this weird kid - okay, young adult - having another one of my oddball moments.

But last night when Mayor Pete's face froze right in the middle of a sneer, I imagined him saying "You'll get nothing. You'll get nothing. YOU'LL GET NOTHING!  because all I care about is reaching across the aisle and getting STUFF done even if it kills you!"

And when the camera panned to Rachel Maddow and the screen got so fun-house loopy that even her wonkish outsize eyeglasses couldn't sharpen her image for me, I pretty much assumed that all her questions consisted of a noun, a verb, and Russia. 

Andrea Mitchell, a/k/a Mrs. Alan "Ayn Rand" Greenspan, did not seem to get a whole lot of airtime, but I assume that there was at least one "but how you gonna pay for that?" in her repertoire.

In the spurts of actual dialogue among the ten candidates that did escape from my phone in tinny little soundbites, I heard a lot of agreement and very little argument, signalling that at least half the candidates on the stage are simply vying for vice president or cabinet positions. Absent the bullying of Tulsi Gabbard, it was an exercise in mutual back-scratching. 

Elections, like everything else in Neoliberalandia, are presented to us as pure, for-profit entertainment, at the lowest possible cost to the oligarchs and at the highest possible social cost to us, the citizen-consumers.The consolidated media-political complex controls both the information and the delivery of the information. Both the information and the delivery of the information have become so distorted and so corrupted that the "free" commercialized cheap applications they offer those who are unwilling and/or unable to pay high cable prices to access a simulacrum of democracy are an epic, abject failure. The dialogue intended to spurt straight from the belly of the corporate media beast into our living rooms in one smooth stream of projectile vomitus got stuck right in their own craws last night. They effectively choked on the distorted byproducts of their own gluttony.

They got nothing, they got nothing, they got nothing from their message of "You'll get nothing because you are nothing. So vote for me!" 

You might think that if the medium crashes, the messages of the politicians can't get out to the public, and then we all lose as a result.

But I beg to differ. I'll take a frozen grimace and a multitude of silently flapping gums over empty platitudes any time. Their techno-enhanced silences and freeze-ups on the debate stage spoke volumes of unintended truth. They have nothing, they offer nothing, and they know that we know that it's all a big nothing-burger.

It's long past time, anyway, that we mute their distorted volume-product and create our own democratic dialogue.

Monday, November 18, 2019

The Censorious Censoring Borg

Fresh on the heels of Barack Obama's much-derided warning that the progressive wing of the Democratic Party is moving #TooFarLeft, New York Times executive editor Dean Baquet has chimed in with the exact same sentiment.

Several paragraphs into an interview with The Guardian newspaper that has him fretting that Donald Trump is putting his reporters' lives at risk with his "enemies of the people" rhetoric, Baquet issued this dire warning:

“We have a new generation that grew up in a different world that have not only different demands of their news, they want a different relationship with their readers.”
He warned junior staff and readers against pushing to embrace leftwing Democratic candidates such as Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders, saying the outlet would lose its status if it openly sided with particular politicians.
“They probably want a more political New York Times than I’m willing to give them. I hope they will learn over time that a New York Times that plays it straight has much more power and much more longevity.”
As to "junior staff" siding with Warren and especially Sanders, there is little danger of that, given that at least half the journalists at the Times are the products of elite schools. Sydney Ember, for example, was assigned to cover Sanders fresh off a stint on the business-friendly Dealbook section of the paper, where she was fresh off a stint working in private equity by way of a Harvard Business School degree. She is also the daughter-in-law of the retired CEO of Bain Capital. So just by virtue of her class and pedigree, she is highly unlikely to go crazy and "embrace" Bernie's ideas. In fact, her coverage of him has been mostly of a derogatory nature, only varying in its degrees of hidden and blatant vitriol. 

You might have noticed that neither Obama nor Baquet warned people against moving too far right. When it comes to serving the wealthy and corporations, one can never move far enough to the right.

It was Baquet's censorious warning to readers not to embrace left-wing politicians that left me shaking my head -  although, to be fair to him, there is little chance of his readers ever doing such a thing if their only news sources are the Times and its defacto sister outlet, MSNBC, which also covers Bernie harshly when it bothers to cover him at all.

In denigrating the left at the same time he insists "his job is to cover the world with tremendous curiosity” while avoiding opposition to the president – despite calls from many readers and some of his own staff to take a more directly critical approach to Trump," Baquet exposes his own embrace of the extreme ideological "centrism" practiced by Obama, the corporate wing of the party, and all the wealthy donors and advertisers and corporations that the Political/Media Borg caters to.

Baquet finished off his interview with The Guardian by discounting any threat of competition from independent journalists who stray too from the ascribed center:

He said that with the exception of BuzzFeed there were few online startup news organisations that had had a substantial journalistic impact. “It’s the Guardian, it’s the New York Times, the Washington Post. It’s the papers that were supposed to be the dinosaurs that are breaking the big stories.”
Baquet has every reason to feel smug and secure. Because at about the same time he was flicking smaller news sites off his shoulders like so many pesky flakes of unsightly dandruff, the Wall Street Journal was publishing a blockbuster report exposing how Google, with the direct help of Baquet's own publication, actively censors independent news sources from its search results. For the past several years, Google has maintained a secret blacklist of sites deemed by the Information Authorities to be dangerously outside the turgid centrist mainstream.

The Journal article  - unfortunately for nonsubsribers, but good for the Elite who can afford to read it - is paywalled. But the World Socialist Website, which did its own investigation of Google two years ago, had already exposed an Orwellian mechanism called Project Owl, by which Google admitted to "burying alternative viewpoints" determined not to be "authoritative."

What's new is that the Journal has uncovered the existence of an actual blacklist compiled with the help of elite censors from the establishment media. The names of the banned sites were not released, but probably correlate with reports by such outlets as Truthout, Common Dreams, Naked Capitalism and the World Socialist Website that their traffic had decreased anywhere between 30 and 60 percent because they were no longer included in Google's search results.

I've noticed a precipitous decline in my own traffic in recent years, but don't have the technological wherewithal to do a deep analytical survey of the numbers. 

Guess who not only helps to continuously compile this blacklist, but financially benefits from it? 

Why, the New York Times itself, along with a precious few other "authoritative" censors, including the Jeff Bezos-owned Washington Post. These all-powerful media behemoths boost their own traffic and revenue at the expense of others deemed to be lacking in the necessary authority. (read: their failure to boost the interests of the wealthy and their failure to market endless wars of aggression.) 

Coincidentally, the Times earlier this year ditched its policy of allowing several hundred pre-approved readers to instantly self-publish, including yours truly. I am now facing the other extreme, with the vast majority of my comments either being buried in a dump of hundreds at a time, delayed* for up to 24 hours, or entirely rejected. This is the common experience of other "regular" commenters with whom I've been in contact. The Times has gone from celebrating the popular (and largely progressive) commenters on its articles and op-eds to, as one prolific participant named "Socrates" described it to me, banishing us to Commenting Siberia. 

Censorship comes in so many delightful forms. And the perpetrators of it all share the same responses when confronted: What censorship? You're just being paranoid. Or the secret banned keyword in your commentary must have tripped our algorithm.

Quoting from the Journal article, the World Socialist Website piece continues:

Engineers known as “maintainers” are authorized to make and approve changes to blacklists. It takes at least two people to do this; one person makes the change, while a second approves it, according to the person familiar with the matter.
The Journal reviewed a draft policy document from August 2018 that outlines how Google employees should implement an “anti-misinformation” blacklist aimed at blocking certain publishers from appearing in Google News and other search products....
In 2018, Google set up a “news initiative” to “Clean Up False News,” as the New York Times reported. Among its partners are the New York Times, theWashington Post and the Guardian, all of which circulated false statements by the Bush administration regarding so-called “weapons of mass destruction” in Iraq, among countless other lies.Google’s statements about promoting “authoritative” news outlets is code for promoting news outlets that support US foreign policy and the lies that underpin it, because, as the Journal writes, “search is a zero-sum game: A change that helps lift one result inevitably pushes down another.” 
With information and news available to the public now being so reverse-engineered, so artificially limited and consolidated, and often so distorted if not downright false, is it any surprise that the Times has sucked up a record number of new subscribers this year?

They don't even bother describing the Trump-intensive information and fear that they're selling as news. It's "product."

Subscribers aren't simply readers and seekers of knowledge. They're customers with open wallets.

 The number of paid subscriptions, digital and print, reached 4.7 million, a high. Nearly 3.8 million people pay for the publisher’s online products, with the company adding a net total of 197,000 customers for its news, crossword and cooking apps during the quarter, a sharp increase from the 109,000 subscriptions added in the same period in 2018. Of those subscribers, 131,000 came for the digital news product.Since introducing its web paywall eight years ago, The New York Times has sought to guard against industry declines in print advertising revenue by making most of its money from subscriptions, breaking from the traditional newspaper business model.
OK, everybody. Stop your complaining. Pull up your droopy pants and get off your extreme lefty Twitter. Shop for product, whether it be approved information or predatory health insurance policies.  If you demand Medicare For All and a debt-free education and a secure old age and a roof over your head, you're nothing but a bunch of whining purists. And, we the Censorious Censoring Misanthropes of the Borg, will make sure that you never forget  that your only job is to consume even as you are being consumed. We'll drown out your voices and we'll infiltrate your brains and we'll press your panic and hate buttons with the money we steal from you every single day through private equity and privatization of all public spaces. We'll just go on merrily pretending that the Market knows best, until it collapses under its own weight and we escape to our yacht cities and our billionaire colonies in a thawed-out Greenland.

Thus spake moderate extremists Barack Obama and Dean Baquet, to some very free-thinking, very healthy, very refreshing impolite jeers and derision from the world outside the Borg.


Here's my response to a column by Charles Blow about Mike Bloomberg's phony baloney apology for Stop and Frisk. I submitted it at about 7 p.m. Sunday and the Times finally posted it in a dump at about 1 p.m. Monday....

A lot is being made of the fact that Bloomberg choked while delivering his apology. It must have been so hard for him to force those words of regret from the pander center of his brain, up his throat through clenched vocal cords and out into the un-rarefied air that regular people breathe.
I suppose it could have been worse. At least he didn't excuse his ignorance of how his stop and frisk crusade traumatized a whole city full of black and brown men and boys by pleading to an inability to sweat, or that he regretted behaving in a manner unbecoming a plutocrat, or that he was only ordering racial profiling because it seemed like the honorable thing to do at the time.. At least he apologized in a church rather in a prerecorded TV studio appearance at a TV network he owns.
 But if Bloomberg is really as sorry as he claims, he wouldn't be running for president. He'd be giving a big chunk of his $50 billion fortune in reparations to the black and brown people he has so grievously harmed.
Next stop on the godzillionaire campaign trail: Bloomberg explaining to voters that Medicare for all, enhanced Social Security, affordable guaranteed housing, college debt forgiveness and wealth taxes will be fiscally irresponsible non-starters under his beneficent watch.

Friday, November 15, 2019

There's Something About Deval Patrick... and Liz Warren

If, as Cornel West once so pithily observed,"Barack Obama is Wall Street's black mascot," then Deval Patrick is Wall Street's black mascot on steroids, crack and crystal meth.

So why is the former Massachusetts governor suddenly and belatedly entering the Democratic presidential primaries?

Let us contemplate the scenario in an admittedly speculative manner.

First a little background. As Michael Hudson lays out in "The Monster," an excellent investigation into the subprime mortgage crime spree that contributed to the complete collapse of the financial system in 2008, Deval Patrick was the lead civil rights attorney in the Bill Clinton Justice Department in 1996 when he inked a $4 million sweetheart deal with Roland Arnall, whom he had threatened to sue for using his Long Beach, California mortgage shop to target black home buyers with predatory loans. 

Patrick, as Hudson recounts, lamely explained the slap on the wrist by saying: "We recognize that lenders understand the industry in ways that we (government lawyers) don't."

Patrick also didn't balk when, after allowing Arnall to redirect $1 million of the settlement toward consumer education, the culprit picked his own consumer nonprofits and thus "parlayed an embarrassment for his company into an association that helped promote his image as a straight shooting reformer."

After his meaningless promise to behave himself, Arnall then ballooned his small-time loan racket into the monstrous Ameriquest financial empire, continuing to target black, brown, white, old, young, low income, even unemployed people with home loans whose payments ballooned to near-usurious rates after a couple of years. 

To further help Arnall salvage his rightly damaged reputation after he went national with his scheme and came under renewed investigation by several state attorneys general, Deval Patrick joined the holding company of the all-white Ameriquest board of directors as a way to reassure minority borrowers, as well as government regulators and the Wall Street investors in the bait and switch loan deals, which were sliced and diced to "spread the risk" and avoid accountability, that Arnall was totally on the up and up.

He wasn't. Millions of people lost their homes to foreclosure. Wall Street crashed. But not before Deval Patrick had written a glowing letter to Congress on Arnall's behalf, to help legislators overcome their sickly inhibitions against confirming this GOP mega-donor as George W. Bush's ambassador to The Netherlands. Arnall finally got the post after he agreed to dismantle Ameriquest and pay a pittance to the customers he'd defrauded.

Deval Patrick, instead of embarking on his own quest for the highest office in the land, should have been prosecuted himself for aiding and abetting a fraud,  or at the very least shamed into an early retirement. In hopes of leading the country one day, he instead followed in the Bain Capital footsteps of Mitt Romney and won the Massachusetts governorship - although unlike Romney, the Bain gig came after the "public" service, not before.

How does Elizabeth Warren enter into this? Well, it's quite the coincidence that Patrick announced his quest only one week after Warren shockingly said she'd consider him for her cabinet if she is elected president.
"If I could talk about people who aren't politicians, I talk about my former governor, Deval Patrick, who is a pretty terrific guy. I talk about some of the people I've met who are presidents of [historically black colleges and universities], especially those who are deeply engaged in education," she told CNN.
So, with little chance that he'll make the debates or appeal much to the general public, it looks like Patrick's  main goal is to get a lot of public visibility as he angles for an administration job as attorney general, treasury secretary or maybe even the vice presidency. Patrick could also be in talks with the
mysteriously ascendant centrist Pete Buttigieg, who has had his own problems appealing to black voters.  Vanilla Pete needs all the black cover help he can get, given his failure to address police racism even in his own small city of South Bend, Indiana. And then there is the little matter of Buttigieg lying about the non-existent endorsements of some important black South Carolinians, who are making no bones about how ticked off they are for being used in such a slimy way. 

Deval Patrick already has a proven track record of giving aid and comfort to dishonest people, and getting richly rewarded for doing so. A Buttigieg-Patrick ticket would be just the ticket to smooth over all those pesky racial problems. Or so they cynically might think.

Warren's own positive statements about Deval Patrick, meanwhile, make me wonder if she really is as smart and wonkish and plan-intensive as she markets herself to be. Or even worse, smart as she undoubtedly is, her praise of him makes me suspect that she is just plain cynical. If she didn't know about Patrick's sordid past and his neoliberal mindset when she touted him on CNN, then she hasn't done even basic research. And if she did know, then she's just another con artist in populist sheepdog clothing. 

And how about the bizarre way that she recently bristled at a very anodyne question from Amy Goodman at an environmental forum about the racism inherent in two largely white states (Iowa and New Hampshire) holding the first caucus and primary election, respectively? Warren's retort that she is "just a player in this game" was not only quite telling, it's more than a little disturbing, and it points very strongly in the cynicism direction.

I've been reluctant to criticize Warren too harshly, despite her technocratic piecemeal solutions to overwhelming existential crises and her applauding Trump at the State of the Union when he vowed to keep socialism out of the United States. She talks the class war talk, and that should count for a little something even if she doesn't mean it. She at least is making the billionaires nervous. And she did, after all, fight against the Trans-Pacific Partnership, unafraid to criticize the Obama administration for its lack of transparency over the brazen corporate takeover of the world that the TPP "trade deal" actually was.

Sad to say, I'm no longer even a tepid fan. Her Deval Patrick testimonial was the ultimate deal-breaker.

Again, though, why Deval, and why now? Besides the fact that the Obama crowd have long been urging him to run, this might also be their not so subtle signal to Joe Biden that he is toast. The impeachment inquiry is dragging both him and the Party down, and it will drag them down even further if Mitch McConnell feeds his inner Machiavelli on steroids, crack and crystal meth and decides to hold a formal impeachment trial after all.

Keeping Bernie, Liz and the four other senators running for president imprisoned in Senate chambers during such a trial would put a real damper on their campaign trail activities right before, if not during, the first primaries or even beyond. If the Republicans subpoena both Joe and Hunter Biden, and maybe even Obama himself as hostile witnesses for the Trump defense, they will give Buttigieg, the tainted Deval Patrick and the extremely tainted Mike Bloomberg all that much extra rope with which to hang themselves before Trump eats them for breakfast in the general election. 

And if Warren, Sanders and the four others use their impeachment camera time to breathe even one syllable about the election, you can rest assured that the Trumpies will gleefully pounce and accuse them of violating the Hatch Act, which prohibits political campaigning in official government places and in official government capacities.

Who knows? We may finally get the Spectacle and the ratings that the corporate media are counting on.

Or maybe not, if the Powers That Be decree that nothing must ever distract the public from the continued marketing of the Cold (But Getting Dangerously Warmer) War on Russia that the Ukraine-centered impeachment inquiry is now broadcasting to such abysmal public enthusiasm.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Impeachment Show Recap

It's not even mainly about impeaching Donald Trump. It's about nostalgic career Cold Warriors selling their perpetual Cold War to a war-weary American public. It's all about drumming up support and enthusiasm for the US war against Russia, currently playing out in Ukraine.

Trump's real but unacknowledged crime is having thrown a rhetorical little cup of water over American exceptionalism. It is for that faux pas - not fraud, not violation of the Emoluments Clause, not cruel immigration policy, not the wanton corporate destruction of the environment via an orgy of deregulation -  that he must be punished. Even though his brazen attempt to importune, bribe, or extort the new president of the US's war proxy-state puppet to investigate both the Bidens and the Clintonian origins of Russiagate quickly fell flat by virtue of its own oafish brazenness, it's the thought that really counts to the Impeachers and their partners of the Permanent Security State.

Trump's attempt to use foreign policy to make a personal political killing didn't even interfere with the US Empire's perpetual mission to rob and kill with impunity. As a matter of fact, Trump ultimately approved a fortune in deadly weapons for the US proxy war, including supplying Ukraine with the Javelin anti-tank hardware that Barack Obama had balked at supplying.

Trump's failed extortion/bribery scheme did, however, momentarily make the Very Important Killers just a tad nervous and embarrassed as they envisioned Vladimir Putin chortling with glee at the expense of the career Cold Warriors.

That's the gist I got from listening to the first day of public testimony before the House Intelligence Committee by Bill Taylor, top US diplomat to Ukraine and George Kent, a top State Department official. Both men went on and on about the "regular channels" that have enabled the US to reign supreme ever since the end of World War II, and the "irregular channels" evidenced by Rudy Giuliani, Trump's latest top legal fixer and shadow diplomat in Kiev. To hear the Cold Warriors kvetch about it, this irregular diplomacy is unprecedented in the annals of the permanent ruling security state. So is a president conducting his foreign policy out of pure political self-interest.

Just off the top of my head, I seem to remember Bill Clinton's bombing of Iraq just to divert attention from the Lewinsky scandal, Congressman Charlie Wilson's illegal shadow war against Russia in Afghanistan, even Obama's cold calculated decision to kill Osama bin Laden just months before he had to run for re-election in a very tight race. 

Taylor, who got his first taste of regime change war as an infantry commander in Vietnam (see previous post) summarized the war ethos, "freedom is death and death is freedom" as succinctly as anyone who has  spent the last half-century of his life defending weaponized capitalism. As a former Energy Department adviser, Taylor would never critique America's irregular shadow diplomacy with the murderous Saudi monarchs, no matter how intense the level of corruption in that repressive totalitarian state. The petrodollar is king. And Ukraine has gas fields and pipelines that both Russia and the US want to control.

Taylor (who should get an Oscar for projecting the most deeply serious sonorous voice and best presentation of Gravitas of the show so far) told the Committee: 
"The security assistance we provide is crucial to Ukraine's defense and the protection of the soldiers I met last week... we are Ukraine's reliable defense partner. It is clearly in our national interest to deter Russian aggression."
National interest is code for the bottom lines of the multinational oil companies and Wall Street. When asked, Taylor could not document one single soldier's death or injury as the result of Trump's pathetic bribery/extortion scheme.  

Meanwhile, both establishment political parties are furiously fund-raising off the Impeachment Show. Billionaire Trump is seeking donations for his legal defense fund - although the way he's been ripping through his roster of crooked lawyers, it may come to him defending himself and, of course, paying himself to do so.

As for the Democrats, when one of their buck-raking emails is slugged "Pelosi Corruption" in a bid for your money to prove that you stand with her in "condemning" Trump, you have to wonder about her mental acumen as well. Or maybe she's just going for comic self-deprecation.  Has there ever been such a seriously hilariously irregular bunch of Looney Tunes?

That's all, folks! 

Impeachment Show Preview

I'll be covering the public impeachment inquiry hearings today via the C-Span live-stream, if only to get my own perspective rather than wading through whatever Grand Narrative and overwrought partisan commentary our corporation outlets choose to feed us. I promise to do my utmost to remain fair, mentally balanced and as humorous as this grim, grand setting allows. I even have a pair of sunglasses at the ready just in case all the blazing military medals of the various actors threaten to damage my retinas.

I'll also be doing my belated research on what The Guardian newspaper actually touts as the "marquee cast."  I read the extremely jingoistic Wikipedia entry on witness Bill Taylor, which is so effusive in its adoration that it appears to have been written either by Taylor himself or his P.R. team. Even Wikipedia says it appears to "slanted toward recent events." Among the many interesting things I learned about Taylor was that he often and enthusiastically bellowed the Cherokee war cry "Currahee!" as a 101st Airborne commander in the US war against the Vietnamese people. It gave me an instant picture of the deranged Robert Duvall in "Apocalypse Now" - or maybe it was Slim Pickens whooping his way out of his airplane on a bomb in "Dr. Strangelove." 

The use of Indian names by the US military is a racist practice stemming from the days when the US Cavalry exterminated millions of native people right here in the Homeland. 

So here it is at last, the long awaited day that the public gets its first real glimpse into the workings of the Deep State, the Military-Industrial Complex, the Corporate State Department, or whatever the weaponized oligarchy is calling itself these days.

Speaking of which, below is my published New York Times comment on Paul Krugman's latest. (Did you know that it is now chic and permissible for the farthest fringe left of the centrist punditocracy to bash billionaires? Exciting times all around when it comes to the establishment trying to gin up the class war to get people to the polls, before again pretending that the class war doesn't exist, once the elections are over.)

In response to Krugman's mild take on tycoons in their bubble and his bold statement that no, people aren't waiting for a billionaire savior in the person of Bloomberg or anyone else, I wrote about the rampant political and financial corruption that existed long before Trump and will no doubt exist long after him:
Notice they don't call themselves tycoons any more. Robber barons are out. "Thought leaders" are in.
 I'll never forget several years ago watching Scott Pelley of CBS breathlessly tell viewers (at the height of the austerity craze) that we'd be granted a "rare opportunity" to hear from then-Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein.
Blankfein's words of wisdom were to tell us that we shouldn't count on collecting Social Security or getting Medicare when we get old, because our great social insurance programs are "going broke."
 Is it any wonder, then, that the oligarchs are now in such a tizzy about Medicare For All? Bill Gates is so incensed about the prospect of people leading healthier. more secure lives that he threatens to vote for Trump if Warren is the nominee.
Gates's idea of helping the poor is to hold a contest for Hollywood types to tell stories that help the poor overcome their "reputation problems" without the help of extra taxes payable by Gates himself.
 Bloomberg once mandated that all food stamp applicants be fingerprinted.
Maybe they were decent people once. But a corrupt political system has this strange way of corrupting the oligarchs who control it.
 Perhaps if millions of people had been saved from foreclosure, and the culprits had gone to jail instead of getting bailouts and deferred prosecution agreements, the oligarchs wouldn't have such grotesque arrogance to match their obscene wealth. They make the Downton Abbey crowd look like Franciscan monks.

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Bloombergville Redux

Months before the Occupy movement sprang up in 2011 and its first major encampment made New York City's Zuccotti Park a household word, there were sidewalk sleepovers known as Bloombergvilles. The longest of these anti-austerity protests, in front of City Hall, lasted for three weeks before police broke it up and arrested 13 of the participants.

Inspired by the Depression-era Hooverville shantytowns erected by the destitute and homeless, the pre-Occupy Bloombergvilles were set up to irritate the city's multibillionaire mayor, Michael Bloomberg, under whose watch the Big Apple had become Income Disparity Capital of the Universe. The big Wall Street banks got the bailout while the rest of us got the bum's rush as well as the bill for both their reward and our punishment. As Bloomberg's own personal wealth was in the process of tripling to more than $53.4 billion, making him the eighth richest person in America, wages of workers stagnated and more jobs disappeared. Social programs were cut nationally and locally. Bloomberg even ordered that the city's food stamp applicants be fingerprinted as if they were criminals, before Gov. Andrew Cuomo finally put the kibosh on that cruelty.

Bite Me

It goes on and on. Bloomberg in 2011 had very Trumpily appointed as schools chancellor his own version of Betsy DeVos, a crony named Cathie Black, despite the fact that she had no education experience. Her liberal take on school overcrowding was to wonder out loud why poor minority women didn't use birth control. Unlike DeVos, though, Black didn't last too long on the job. Maybe it was the disclosure that Bloomberg had also had to hire a separate person to actually do Black's job for her.

 The very legitimacy of democratic institutions had become a critical issue of contention and mass outrage long before Donald Trump ever stumbled onto the scene to cast a lot of unwanted light on the corruption long endemic in our neoliberal society, in which government and corporations are for all intents and purposes the very same entity.

Then, as now, you would never have known that people were taking to the streets if you got all your news from the New York Times and other mainstream outlets. Six months before the corporate media had no choice but to acknowledge Occupy (first by ridiculing it and later by covering it as legitimate news once the police beatings began) there was a "Day of Rage" march on Wall Street by a diverse group of thousands of students, teachers, trade unionists, retirees, doctors, nurses - in other words, a cross-section of humanity forging a new solidarity which cuts across income and racial and "identity politics" lines.

Young student debt slaves are forming coalitions with the homeless, the recently unemployed or underemployed professionals of the middle class, trade unionists and others with the common experience of having suffered injustice and who are united in outrage. This building of cross-class coalitions is something relatively new. The "helping professions" have all been in the forefront because their ability to do their jobs has been so adversely affected by the budget cuts of the neoliberal project. Likewise, people who had heretofore been permanently relegated to victimhood, such as the disabled, the homeless, the mentally ill have taken on activist roles in protest movements as well. Tenant unions have sprung up as associations of eviction victims united in fighting landlords, more apt of a name than ever in these times of neo-feudalism.

The Bloombergville/Occupy movement was the beginning, in America at least, of the refugees from the middle class finding common cause with more historically oppressed groups of people. It was a slap in the face to the Divide and Conquer regimen which created enough of a norm-busting vacuum for Donald Trump to be ushered into power, courtesy of the arcane Electoral College and the dismal campaign of Hillary Clinton.

Pre-Occupy March 2011 March On Wall Street

The only media outlets bothering to cover this huge Bloomberg-era march and rally were Al Jazeera and the Amsterdam News.

So, for me anyway, nothing brings back memories of the heady, halcyon days of those civic uprisings than the possible/likely/all but certain entry of the despised Bloomberg, a virtual parody of smug class privilege, into the Democratic presidential primary race. Nothing spells irony better than Bloomberg's plaintive reason for running for the presidency in the first place: to restore the "norms" that the elites feebly claim were so suddenly and tragically lost during the reign of Donald Trump, along with the "legitimacy" of our democratic institutions.

Politics has been in legitimacy crisis mode for decades. Long before Trump, there was deep distrust of citizens for their government, a reality which Trump and other right wing "populist" leaders have co-opted brilliantly.

 Political parties are not allies of the citizens. And since the political system depends on the mass loyalty of citizens, it reacts to this negativity by clamping down, via censorship, policing, mass surveillance. As Barack Obama made plain in his annoying lecture on "wokeness" last week, deferential citizens are viewed as better citizens than critical citizens. He wanted to deflect from the scary truth that conflict is absolutely essential for the development of democratic rights.

It was Bloomberg (who was offered and turned down the World Bank presidency by Obama) himself who had directly crushed legitimate democratic protest when he spearheaded the orchestrated nationwide police crackdowns on the Occupy camps in December, 2011. (To be fair, he got a little help from the Democratic veal pen of organizers, such as MoveOn, which had attempted to co-opt the movement by starting its own get-out-the-vote "99% Spring" astroturf imitation,  which mysteriously disappeared around the time that the camps were destroyed.)

Bloomberg's threatened entry into the race is all about saving the oligarchy at the continued expense of the rest of us. His candidacy is living proof that we do indeed live under neo-feudalism,  and that our quadrennial participation in presidential politics is a privilege granted to us, and not a right. Specifically, his entry into the race is meant as a warning and a rebuke to the progressive wing of the Democratic Party and its popular candidates Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders.

His entry into the race is above all a sign of desperation by the oligarchs that there is the tiniest possibility that they may actually be parted from a smidgen of their obscene wealth sooner rather than later.

From Barack Obama last week chiding the victims of his austerity policies to tone down their indignant rhetoric, to mega-banker Jamie Dimon complaining on TV that the "success" his predatory cohort is being disrespected, to Jeffrey Epstein pal Bill Gates threatening to vote for Trump if Warren is the nominee. the Ruling Class is wallowing in a virtual orgy of overblown sensitivity. They are so corrupt that any vestigial insight into the ugly fact of their own corruption and criminality has long disappeared. whittled away by both their ill-gotten gains and the fawning coverage they get from their corporate press courtiers.

Bloomberg even owns his own media empire, a feat he had accomplished long before Jeff Bezos bought the Washington Post.

No wonder all the usual suspects are welcoming this godzillionaire ex-mayor to the party with open arms, despite there being no chance that he'll win the nomination, let alone even make it on to the debate stage. Bloomberg has all the debate stage he wants in the way of free publicity. 

One positive point: the Stop and Frisk former mayor who made extreme racial profiling by cops a core part of his agenda, makes South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who failed to rein in police misconduct and to address racism in his own little town, look like the rube he is. He's also pulling the rug right out from under fellow centrist Joe Biden, increasingly viewed as a liability by the Owning Class because of his chronic "gaffes" and obvious mental decline. 

Bloomberg's self-funding billions will buy him all the air time and space he demands with which and from which to hurl class venom at the lesser people under the guise of hurling venom at Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. He is the leader of his own party, the Oligarch Party. His MAGA motto is to Make America Gentrified, Always. His task is to promote the narrative that 1) Bernie and Liz are making our Trickle-Down Tyrants so nervous that they can't even pee their golden drops of beneficence on us without getting a nasty groin-ache; and 2) the serfs of the Heartland are so bummed and so terrified by the prospect of guaranteed health care and debt-free college that they will vote for Trump again out of a dearth of centrism.

Bloomberg has heeded the call of fellow financier Steve Rattner, who is granted regular New York Times opinion page space despite his tacit admission to robbing public pension funds in a sleazy kickback scheme. Like most members of his class, he avoided criminal indictment and prosecution by "settling" with New York and agreeing to pay a fine. Like most members of his criminal class, he no doubt later claimed the fine as an income tax deduction.

Three days before Bloomberg filed the paperwork to enter the Alabama Democratic primary, Rattner complained in the Times that even worse than Medicare For All and the threat to private insurance predators are Warren's regulatory reforms and taxes, which would greatly threaten his class's ability to rob, cheat, steal and pollute:
Many of America’s global champions, like banks and tech giants, would be dismembered. Private equity, which plays a useful role in driving business efficiency, would be effectively eliminated. Shale fracking would be banned, which would send oil and natural gas prices soaring and cost millions of Americans their jobs. And on and on.
 Oh, the humanity. Notwithstanding that Warren cringe-worthily said that among the Black leaders she'd consider for her cabinet were Bain Capital's Deval Patrick and Melody Barnes, late of the Obama administration and revolving doors to JP Morgan Chase and Booz Allen Hamilton, at least she's making them momentarily uncomfortable, albeit probably unnecessarily so if she wins the nomination. They count Bernie out at their own peril.

Since normal tycoons, meanwhile, are so not used to defending themselves in public, it will now fall to Bloomberg to seamlessly continue what Barack Obama started last week by way of gaslighting the underdog and reassuringly dog-whistling endless class supremacy to the traditional movers and shakers of The Realm who have so richly rewarded Obama since he left office.

And just to be on the safe side, the Oily Garchs will protect their bullshit narrative by ostentatiously moving Wall Street's mythical bull sculpture to a place of greater safety. Just last month, a protester doused it with fake blood. And the month before that, another ne'er-do-well violently bashed it with a toy metal banjo. This symbol of the Overlords was not only punked, it was plinked. And that is so rude, seeing as how the Overlords paid homage to women's rights -  not by passing wage parity legislation -  but by commissioning a Fearless Girl statue to face down the Charging Bull.

No word if Bull will be reunited with Girl, who also had to be fearfully removed from the site due to safety concerns.

Maybe Bloomberg and the other belly-aching, plutocrapping Thought Leaders can get together before the first terrifying Democratic primaries and strain to come up with a solution to the pressing dilemma of where they can run, where they can hide.

(graphic by Kat Garcia)

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Biden Plagiarizes Both Obama and Trump

Well, maybe plagiarism is too harsh a word to hurl at the old reprobate copycat, whose own stated goal is to keep serving the fat cats and defending their right to crush everybody else into oblivion. But his much-maligned Medium post, in which he accused Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren of "my way or the highway"elitism, absolutely was ripped right out of Barack Obama's anti-progressive playbook.

It was only last week that Obama briefly emerged from his luxe retirement to once again chide the serfs who refuse to suffer the American system of neo-feudalism gladly, who call their lords and masters nasty names on Twitter rather than reaching across the class divide to find common cause with the very people who are making their lives nasty, brutish and short. Contrary to Biden's oafish attack on Warren, however, Obama's sermonizing about the dangers of "cancel culture" was almost universally praised by the mainstream media as being a "breath of fresh air" in this divisive Age of Trump.

Headlining the Obama Foundation Summit in Chicago, where plans for his presidential center and golf course on public parkland have run into legal challenges from neighborhood activists who are crying foul because of gentrification and rising rents and the damage to the environment that his project is already causing, the former president expressed his displeasure with a gaslighting attack upon citizen activism in general:
“This idea of purity and you’re never compromised and you’re always politically ‘woke’ and all that stuff. You should get over that quickly.”
“The world is messy; there are ambiguities. People who do really good stuff have flaws. People who you are fighting may love their kids, and share certain things with you.”
As Obama had previously admonished those protesting the location of his Center, occasional appearances by Chance the Rapper should alleviate all their concerns about his refusal to sign a community benefits agreement to offset the rising rents of gentrification and the destruction of their public park. After all, if the former president could once be generous enough to call misanthropic former House Speaker, sadistic Ayn Rand fanboy and less refined victim-blamer Paul Ryan "a good man, a family man," why can't the lesser people also put away their "wokeness" and stop making so many unreasonable demands for a better, more equitable life for themselves and their communities? 

Why be an independent activist when the Obamas are touting their planned shrine as "a catalyst for activism and social change" without offering any information about how this would actually happen?

Enter Joe Biden, who is now being eclipsed by Elizabeth Warren in many polls. He's also being eclipsed by Bernie Sanders. But, thanks to the relentless media blackout of Sanders, Biden can keep on pretending with the rest of them that Bernie doesn't even exist. He therefore limits his umbrage to Warren, who has rightly accused him running in "the wrong primary" because of his opposition to Medicare For All and soaking the rich to help the less well-off.

Biden therefore summoned up his inner deflective Obama: 
But at another level these kinds of attacks are a serious problem. They reflect an angry unyielding viewpoint that has crept into our politics. If someone doesn’t agree with you — it’s not just that you disagree — that person must be a coward or corrupt or a small thinker.Some call it the “my way or the highway” approach to politics. But it’s worse than that. It’s condescending to the millions of Democrats who have a different view.It’s representative of an elitism that working and middle class people do not share: “We know best; you know nothing”. “If you were only as smart as I am you would agree with me.”
Accusing the victims of your own cruel, nasty policies of being nasty and scary is a common tactic of right-wing authoritarian leaders.

Joe Biden hurling the "elitist" epithet at Warren not only ignores his own life-long service to, and enrichment by, the Elite, it allows him to portray himself as just a regular working-class guy. Not only has he ripped a smarmy page right out of the scolding Obama playbook, he's going one step further. He is essentially plagiarizing  Donald Trump, stealing the successful fascistic technique of reversing the dichotomy between perpetrator and victim.

Just as Biden, the elitist in anti-intellectual blue collar clothing, uses Warren as proxy for the estimated 84 million uninsured and underinsured Americans and their advocates, selfish and unreasonable extremists for demanding single payer health insurance as a basic human right, Trump, the phony populist, for his own part scapegoats the victims of racism as being the direct causes of racism. When, for example, he was confronted last year by a Black reporter about his white nationalist rhetoric, he retorted: "That is such a racist question!"  

Just as Trump brags about his nonexistent high poll numbers among African-Americans, Biden brags that "millions of Democrats" are, just like him, dead-set against their fellow human beings being afforded a healthy, secure life. Both Biden and Trump deploy the ultra-right weapon of transforming groups of people who have traditionally been the targets of oppression into oppressors themselves. They play divide and conquer with a vengeance.

A series of debates between these two senile servants of the oligarchy would constitute a gruesome mind meld of epic proportions. Obama will rue the day that he ever kvetched about "cancel culture" if he ever gets to witness Trump and Biden canceling each other out on live corporate TV.

Monday, November 4, 2019

All the Protests Not Fit To Print

The New York Times has been hard at it in recent weeks, trying to drum up popular support for the "impeachment inquiry" currently being stage-managed in private by Democratic Party officials, the corporate media, and a coup crew of unelected military-intelligence bureaucrats acting as a kind of Greek chorus of jingoism.

While we regular schlubs await public testimony against Donald Trump with languid breath, whatever minimal interest we do have in the Ukrainegate Affair is being sustained by a steady drip of leaks, suppositions and personality profiles of the known cast of characters. As per usual, most of this information is on deep background as befits the "sensitivity" of the Deep State actors involved. Any day now, the Impeachers tease, we might just be lucky enough to get our very first glimpse of the heavily redacted inquiry transcripts. This is exciting news indeed, because the House Intelligence Committee leading this inquiry usually shares nothing with the public.

To make the suspense even more pleasurable, the anonymous CIA "whistleblower" who first spilled the beans on Trump's phone call to the president of Ukraine, in which he requested dirt on the rapidly failing Joe Biden, has promised (through his lawyer, due to the sensitivity of his matter) to answer or deflect in writing any questions that the GOP minority committee members might have for him.

A couple of weeks ago, I'd half-jokingly predicted that this CIA informant would ultimately get his 15 minutes of TV fame by testifying with the aid of voice-altering technology and with a protective hood over his head to give the show that extra boost of James Bond thriller atmosphere. But he will not be part of the movie, at least for now. Of course, it all depends on the ratings. If not enough people tune in to the Impeachment Follies when they finally do get underway sometime during the doldrums of this upcoming holiday season, they may decide to bring out their anonymous star after all, in a last ditch effort to save the show. Chairman Adam Schiff can only perform so many soliloquys. (Prosecutor Schiff, you may have read, had originally wanted to be a Hollywood screenwriter, but then had to resort to political drama when that career didn't pan out for him.)

But I digress. What has all this to do with public protest, which the various impeachment cheerleaders of the pundit class have been urging upon us ever since the dawn of the Impeachment Inquiry saga?

Well, it turns out that the only domestic public protests that the New York Times, for one, are interested in are the ones where people boo Trump at sporting events, and the astroturfed ones that professionally herd people into sedate groups bearing mass-produced designer impeachment signs.

 When, beginning on Halloween, about a thousand people spontaneously took to the streets of Brooklyn for three straight nights to protest police brutality and unaffordable subway fares, the Times wasn't interested. Rather than cover the ad hoc street protests, the Gray Lady devoted most of her weekend digital home page to a forensic analysis of Trump's 11,000 tweets.

If your only source of news is the New York Times, the Washington Post, or MSNBC, these citizen protests did not even happen. The total blackout of coverage is the other side of what Trump derides as "fake news." It is lying by omission.

To its own credit, impeachment-intensive CNN did briefly cover the Brooklyn unrest, as did the New York tabloids and local TV news outlets, if only to highlight the rowdiness of the crowds, the obscenity of their language, and the color of their skin. (Be very afraid of young black and brown folks acting disrespectfully to the uniformed police forces, some of whom had been unfairly caught on cameras beating up subway turnstile jumpers as well as innocent bystanders.) 

To the extent that the outpouring of outrage by oppressed human beings was covered, it was to subtly caution viewers about the dangers inherent in unauthorized, non-impeachment centered demonstrations. CNN slyly described the police brutality in the subway station as "police fighting with teens," as if they were co-equal combatants, as if the uniformed fighters did not come unfairly decked out with guns, night sticks and handcuffs.
Protesters chanted "no justice, no peace" Friday night as they marched by the Barclays Center arena, where the NBA team Brooklyn Nets play. The protests came days after a video shared widely on social media showed officers fighting with teens at a subway station in the city,according to CNN affiliate WABC.
Some protesters hurled profanities at officers, confronted them at a subway station and spray-painted police cars with slogans such as RIP Eric Garner -- the man who was choked by a New York police officer in 2014, WABC video shows.
Those taking part in the protest highlighted the recent video that shows police breaking up a fight among teens at a metro station as an example of police brutality.
In the video, an officer can be seen punching what affiliates said was a 15-year-old boy after police responded to a fight between two large groups that spilled into the Jay Street-Metro Tec subway station. Teens allegedly kept fighting and resisted arrest, and one punched an officer, WLNY reported.
The tabloid New York Post at least saw fit to mention in its own much meatier coverage that the core impetus for the protests was the recent subway fare hike,  leading to a shocking increase in turnstile-jumping by the people who can't afford the new $2.75 price of admission to the city's crumbling and neglected subway infrastructure. This mass refusal to pay, in turn, has provoked a police crackdown amounting to a terror campaign.

The Post reported:
The demonstration was in response to a planned crackdown on fare evasion by the NYPD — and two controversial police actions in Brooklyn subway stations in recent weeks.
In one of the incidents, an NYPD cop sent straphangers scrambling in terror when he pointed his pistol toward a window from the platform at the Franklin Avenue station in Brooklyn.
In another incident, an officer was caught on camera slugging a 15-year-old boy in a wild melee at the Jay Street-MetroTech station in Downtown Brooklyn.
“That was the straw that broke the camel’s back,” one protester, a 31-year-old woman who works in media said. “I mean, it’s monstrous. My f—king tax dollars are going to this? It doesn’t make sense.”
As of Monday morning, there was nothing at all on the three nights of protests from the New York Times, which is headquartered across the class divide mere miles from the scene. This is quite odd, especially since the newspaper had provided coverage of similar protests in Chile against subway fare hikes in particular and against neoliberal austerity in general. As a matter of fact, columnist Michelle Goldberg devoted an entire piece recently to the lack of protest in America, pointing specifically to Chileans as examples of the popular activism we should all emulate in this age of Trumpian authoritarianism.

But the purpose of protest in America, as defined by the ruling class, must be limited to supporting the interests of the more righteous, militarized, censorship-happy side of the Duopoly.

When it comes to screeching "Lock him up" at Donald Trump, the sky's the limit.

But when it comes to emerging from the dark underground subway system to fight back against the police surveillance state, people will simply be ignored in hopes that they will eventually give up and go away in despair.

The only elected New York official who has even bothered commenting on the financially strapped straphangers' anti-police brutality movement was Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. From the tabloid Post, again: 
“Ending mass incarceration means challenging a system that jails the poor to free the rich,” the first-term Democrat wrote on Twitter on Saturday.
“Arresting people who can’t afford a $2.75 fare makes no one safer and destabilizes our community. New Yorkers know that, they’re not having it, and they’re standing up for each other.”

A spokes-cop for the city's police union responded by calling AOC and all the other citizens who do not accept state-sanctioned brutality graciously "cuckoo."

The Washington Post's ironic motto in the Age of Trump, "Democracy Dies in Darkness" is supposed to signal that consolidated corporate journalists are doing their jobs against all odds. Either cynically or inadvertently, the Jeff Bezos Gazette speaks the truth that mainstream media itself is helping to kill what little is still left of democracy by ignoring any news that is not directly approved, manufactured, packaged and delivered by Information, Inc.