Monday, June 29, 2020

Distractions From Diversions From Deflections

The global pandemic death toll has officially passed half a million,  with a quarter of the fatalities occurring in the United States. Meanwhile, the population of the United States is waking up from its long, two and a half-century nap and suddenly realizing that our exceptional country got rich off the enslavement and extermination of dark-skinned human beings. More and more US citizens believe, rightly, that neoliberalism is harmful to our health, that it props up racialized capitalism, and that socialism is looking more attractive by the day.

To that end, the movers and shakers are trying to co-opt public angst by moving it in a misdirection more favorable to their continued bottom line. Fear not the virus, looming evictions and foreclosures, job losses, and hunger. Fear instead the news that Vladimir Putin has allegedly put a bounty on the heads of the American killing forces which have occupied Afghanistan for the last two decades. Be enraged that Donald Trump is in total denial and has done absolutely squat about it.

You have to give the Permanent War State credit for chutzpah. The New York Times, designated mouthpiece for the latest #Russiagate propaganda, reports with as much as a straight rhetorical face as it can muster, that U.S. "spies and commandos" operating within Afghanistan complained in vain that Putin was bribing the Taliban to kill them. These would be the same commandos whose job description includes performing terroristic night raids on sleeping Afghan families. These would be the spies whose job description has historically included the torture of Afghan prisoners at the Bagram Air field and other secret locales around the world.

Now we are asked to believe that these occupying troops with their assault rifles and their grenade launchers and their torture devices are poor little snowflakes who are shocked, shocked that their own lives are in such danger decades after they invaded and occupied a foreign country.

I have no idea whether Putin ordered this alleged bounty, or whether Trump knew of it. I do know that before its own long immersion in what is known as the Graveyard of Empires, the United States waged its own long proxy war against the former Soviet Union, literally creating Al Qaeda to bring that former rival power to its knees and destroy it. I do know that Osama bin Laden was a CIA asset, if not outright operative, who waged US-backed jihad against the Russians. If that isn't the US putting a bounty on the heads of those invading Russians, then I don't know what is.

Meanwhile, The Guardian today actually places the carefully-planted story of the bounty and Trump's totally unpatriotic reaction to it above the terrible news that Covid-19 is now out of control. So as not to  appear the helpless and cynical actors for the oligarchic government that they are, with their failure to give relief to constituents, the hysterical headline is that "Congress is to be briefed on the bounties plot."  The newspaper then disapprovingly reports that for his own part, Trump is trying to distract attention from the latest deep state diversion by re-tweeting a photo of a wealthy St. Louis couple aiming their weapons at anti-racism protesters from a balcony of their mansion.

It's a battle of the inflammatory reports. It's the imposition from above of yet another newly-defined reality. The permanent war/security state wants to ensure that a pesky old pandemic will not deflect either attention or trillion-dollar funding from the true purpose of the corporate-captured US government: which is to wield power for the sake of power and to gobble up profit for the sake of profit.

The Bounty story seems to have a multi-faceted purpose. The permanent ruling class first needs to enlist the electorate in its latest campaign to discredit Trump so thoroughly and so finally that once the Joe Biden administration (the neoliberal Bush/Clinton/Obama restoration) takes office, the public's appetite will be thoroughly whetted for war on Russia - virus or no virus, depression or no depression. With no intention of ever de-militarizing their domestic police forces, they will try to shame us intosympathizing with the beleaguered  "commandos" who will fill all those police jobs when they return home from Afghanistan and other occupation zones. (As for the beleaguered spies, they can run for Congress as "moderates.")

The constant creation of what "Bush's Brain" (Karl Rove) once dubbed "new realities" is how our leaders will attempt to keep us in line. "We're an empire now," Rove reportedly told journalist Ron Suskind. "And when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality - judiciously, as you will - we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors."

But as historian Greg Grandin notes in "Kissinger's Shadow," it is that still-living, almost centenarian who got the propaganda ball really rolling during the US war on Vietnam.

"There are two kinds of realists," he quotes Kissinger as saying in the 60s. "Those who manipulate facts and those who create them. The West requires nothing so much as men able to create their own reality."

What we are therefore faced with at this point in the Decline and Fall of the American Empire is "deep state" manufactured reality confronting Trump's serial lying. If only they would just cancel each other out!

Meanwhile, we can at least try and expose their reality-bending subterfuge. The latest Times article trying to sell us both on war with Russia and voting against Trump in November is actually a case study in shoddy gaslighting. From its reliance on unnamed sources to its evidence-free innuendos to its smarmy use of the passive voice, it's relatively easy to deconstruct it right down to its rotten core.

For example, there's this paragraph typical of the classic genre:

The crucial information that led the spies and commandos to focus on the bounties included the recovery of a large amount of American cash from a raid on a Taliban outpost that prompted suspicions. Interrogations of captured militants and criminals played a central role in making the intelligence community confident in its assessment that the Russians had offered and paid bounties in 2019, another official has said.
You'd think that there never had been piles upon piles of dirty cash, whole planeloads of it, ever arriving in Afghanistan, or that local leaders and CIA-installed puppets had never been paid off, or that the heroin trade had never been lucrative part and parcel of the two decade-long occupation.

The Times has also reverted to its description of the torture of indigenous populations ("captured militants and criminals") within US colonies and occupation zones as "interrogations." These prisoners presumably told CIA operatives or their outsourced hired guns exactly what they wanted to hear.

Tellingly, the alleged Russian bounty killings stopped in February, once Trump verbalized his desire to withdraw all troops from Afghanistan. According to the planted Times narrative, this fact amounts to evidence that there had, indeed, been a "Russian plot."

The article then quickly descends into outright farce, with Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois approvingly quoted as tweeting that "Trump needs to expose and handle this and stop Russia's shadow war."

Shadow wars are apparently so much more vile than actual righteous American wars, where bombs are dropped, children blown up and whole families slaughtered in their homes. What really seems to bother Kinzinger is the possibility that the so-profitable Afghanistan War could be actually ending.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, temporarily let off the hook for her dismal response to the pandemic, was even more unintentionally hilarious during in her ABC-Disney TV appearance on Sunday:
“Russia has never gotten over the humiliation they suffered in Afghanistan, and now they are taking it out on us, our troops,” she said of the Soviet Union’s bloody war there in the 1980s. “This is totally outrageous. You would think that the minute the president heard of it, he would want to know more instead of denying that he knew anything.”
Notwithstanding that it's impossible to prove a negative, and that if the Bounty story is indeed rank, CIA-planted fiction, then Pelosi's accusation is nothing less than a variation of "when did you stop beating your wife?"

The oligarchic stenographers on ABC-Disney of course never asked Pelosi about the outrageous proven fact that she had been thoroughly briefed on the Bush administration's monstrous torture program and never said a word about it publicly as it was occurring. You'd think she'd want to inform people instead of pretending ignorance. Her excuse was she was only following orders on secrecy rules and thus absolved herself of any complicity.

The only question remaining is: what comes after the farce?

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

We Have Met the Enemy....

What will kill us first - Covid-19, or the cancer on crack known as capitalism?

Judging from how the increasingly unpopular Donald Trump is so feverishly lumbering from virus hotspot to virus hotspot to hold his campaign rallies, you'd almost think that his main goal is not so much to win another term, but to be recognized as the bold Manspreader-in-Chief. He's a victor because he's a vector. Therefore, there is no need for masks - the ionized atmospheres in their dream palaces of worship and the fomentation of bilious hatred of The Other shall immunize them.

So, apparently, will threatening the nation's public health officials with actual bodily harm for trying to protect the country with testing and sound medical advice. And just to make sure that the pandemic sickens and kills as many more millions of disposable people as inhumanly possible, the White House also plans to officially transform the Centers For Disease Control in Atlanta into the Centers Fighting Disease Control.

Forget about purging the virus. As reported by Politico, Trump wants to purge the CDC of its career scientists and replace them with political appointees. The first step will be to "study" the agency's missteps - failings caused at least partially by his own cuts to its funding.
Politically, Trump aides have also been looking for a person or entity outside China to blame for the coronavirus response and have grown furious with the CDC, including its public health guidance and actions on testing, making it a prime target. But some wonder whether the wonky-sounding CDC, which the administration directly oversees, could be an effective fall guy on top of Trump’s efforts to blame the World Health Organization.
The CDC's  early missteps, including actual laboratory contamination of faulty test kits, causing lethal delays in tracking and control, have given the Trump administration ammunition for further demonizing the scientists and - by trickle-down extension - the state and local public health officials who have been forced to compete in the private market for everything from swabs to masks to ventilators.

 Not a few of them have begun taking early retirements when they haven't been fired outright. Not a few them report receiving credible threats from citizens, many of them emboldened by Trumpian rhetoric.

The world's sole remaining Superpower, the One Indispensable Nation, has become so "exceptional" that the European Union is initiating a ban on American travel to their continent because not only have we failed to contain the virus, the power elites are actively trying to spread it and make it worse through a too-hasty "reopening of the Economy" with the insane bipartisan demand that we all get back to work and consumption.

In just the past week alone, reported cases in the US have risen by nearly a third, with an "official" total of more than two million new cases. The cases have risen most precipitously in states in the South and West which have prematurely lifted their controls. Meanwhile, the Spreader-in-Chief bragged to reporters this week that he wasn't kidding when he said he had ordered testing to be cut back in order to artificially decrease the official caseload. What we aren't permitted to know will hurt us, but it will help him. Or so he thinks, given that he is tanking in the historically unreliable polls.

The US, despite its vast size and its vast wealth, is actually a pretty provincial place. It's as provincial as the small 19th century Norwegian town that is the setting of Henrik Ibsen's play "An Enemy of the People."

This "dramedy" is a miniature mirror of America's unhealthy "shoot the messenger" reaction to bad public health news.

Ibsen's protagonist, Dr. Thomas Stockmann, has just discovered that the water to be pumped to the town's new public baths has been contaminated by bacteria. As happened in Flint, Michigan, officials installed faulty pipes from a polluted source in their haste to turn a profit and boost the economy. Stockmann naively thinks that he will be lauded as an enlightened hero for warning the public of the danger just in the nick of time.. The local newspaper editor is at first fully on board with disseminating the truth, until the paper's printing press owner and the mayor (Stockmann's own brother) make him an offer he cannot refuse. 

The mayor threatens the doctor with dismissal from his public health post if he does not refrain from his whistle-blowing plan. He gaslights the editor, claiming that if the truth about the contamination is revealed, it will be the public and not the bath's owners who will forced to pay for repairs and bear the brunt of business losses and economic pain.

Not guilt-tripped, and in a last ditch effort to get the news out, Dr. Stockmann rents a hall. But his speech is delayed by officials, who admonish the crowd that the good doctor is a bit of a loon and a fraud and subversive and not adhering to the pragmatic virtue of "moderation" that the public should value even more than they value their own physical health.

They claim that Stockmann has public opinion against him - not least because they themselves are manufacturing both the public opinion and the public's consent to being eventually poisoned, both physically and cognitively.

The doctor tells the crowd that it wasn't just the poisoned water he had discovered, but the "discovery that all the sources of our moral life are poisoned and that the whole fabric of our civic community is founded on the pestiferous soil of falsehood."

"The whole place is a pesthouse. The whole Bath establishment is a whited, poisoned sepulchre," he rages.

The crowd, duly insulted, boos. They form a mob and smash the windows of his house, after their leaders have graciously granted them their democratic right to vote and to officially declare  Stockmann "an enemy of the people."

He is summarily evicted and fired from his medical post. But he quixotically chooses to stay in town to start a school.

Anthony Fauci, the country's chief epidemiologist, is no Dr. Thomas Stockmann. He has not chosen to utter the scathing words against Trump that Stockkmann aimed against the whole political-media-ownership class: "I cherish the comforting conviction that these parasites - all these venerable relics of a dying school of thought - are most admirably paving the way for their own extinction; they need no doctor's help to hasten their end."

Fauci, who had achieved mystical anti-Trump Father of Our Country status in corporate media accounts, admitted recently that he had initially lied to the public about the efficacy of face masks  against the virus - so as to avoid a panicky run on scarce face masks as the catastrophe unfolded.

Millions of people have contracted this virus because government at all levels and from both oligarch-controlled political parties have failed abysmally. Now it's a feverish race to the bottom of the grave. 

The bright spot is that not everybody is zombified. They are out in the streets protesting state-sanctioned violence  and upending myriad monuments honoring slave-holders, warmongers and exterminators of indigent populations. People are refusing to drink either the poisoned water or the political kool-aid.

The great reckoning has finally arrived. We can only hope that it's not the kind of flash-before-your-eyes reckoning that people in books and movies get only when they're on their death-beds.

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Set Your Alarms For the Woke Liberal Rich

When they've lived in their comatose bubbles for so long, dreamily esconced in the belief that if only they gave money to the Democrats and partied with the Obamas, even occasionally getting arrested for chaining themselves to the White House fence to protest Trumpism and climate change and world hunger, we can perhaps understand the tone-deaf grogginess with which they have addressed the Great Uprising of the Unwashed. For too long, the rich and famous have been the centers of public attention and the designated actors of Resistance, Inc. whose main theme had been the horrendous Russian Attack On Our Democracy.

It's bad enough that the public has reacted with such derision to their self-pitying quarantine live-streams from their luxury estates and their staged Kente cloth fashion photo sessions. 

Media heartthrob Chris Cuomo, for example, is so over. From his nightly CNN shows chronicling his own well-insured, concierge medicine battle with Covid-19 and his brotherly antics with similarly exhibitionist Governor Andrew of nipple ring fame, he has now been reduced to flashing. His discreetly shaded naked ass cavorting in his Hamptons backyard was "accidentally" filmed by his wife during a yoga class live-stream. But the stunt barely registered, thanks to media coverage being diverted to so many lesser mortals getting killed and tear-gassed and beaten by cops on the streets of America.

If you can't beat the beaten, then you might as well join them. But you can't really join them, because you're quarantined at your country estates or on your yachts. So the next best thing is to "stand with" them in theatrical cross-class solidarity.

Instead of joining calls to dismantle and defund America's militarized police, you donate a very, very tiny portion of your untaxed fortunes to a very few carefully select and temporarily prominent victims of state-sanctioned violence.

Barbra Streisand, who is still living in California despite her anguished vow to leave the country when Donald Trump was elected in 2016, ostentatiously rewarded the six-year-old orphaned daughter of George Floyd with some pricey Disney stock. It certainly beat Streisand demanding that her vast fortune be taxed at Eisenhower levels to guarantee that class sizes in newly built public schools are small enough so that children like Gianna can actually learn.
Thank You @barbrastreisand for my package, I am now a Disney Stockholder thanks to you,” Gianna wrote.
Representatives for Streisand confirmed to the Guardian that she had sent Floyd the shares, as well as videos of two television specials, 1965’s My Name is Barbra and Color Me Barbra (1966).
“I sent Gianna videos where I played a little girl in my first television special,” said Streisand, “singing kid songs, and my second special – a sequence with lots of baby animals.” 
If you or a relative becomes the unfortunate collateral damage of weaponized capitalism and you are very, very lucky, then the system might even reward and co-opt you. The sociopathic politician who has been the main force behind the national brutal police and prison state for the last half-century will even graciously use you as a prop to advance his own stale campaign for the US presidency.

 If you are very extremely lucky, you might even  get invited to appear at this summer's Democratic nominating convention as a poster child of Biden's new, improved, reformed Community Policing initiative. Maybe the armored tanks he furnished to small-town departments can now come equipped with Teddy Bears and cartons of milk bearing pictures of missing and exploited children - both to drink and to wash away the pepper spray-induced tears.

It is currently unknown whether any woke celebrity or politician has yet stood up, stood with, genuflected to or leaned in to give cash or stock shares to the seven-year-old Seattle boy who was maced by a cop during a street protest a few days ago.

It is also unknown whether any plutocrat has gotten off his or her well-photographed knees long enough to send stock portfolios to the man arrested for posting the video. The cameraman apparently matched the description of a suspect who had allegedly pointed a laser (not a taser) in a different police officer's eye, The ocular pain this caused apparently vied in intensity with the pain suffered by the little maced boy, whose assailant had yet not been arrested pending an internal investigation by his peers and complicit bosses.

The rich, meanwhile, will always find a way to cash in on the pain of the poor. Otherwise they couldn't stay rich for very long.

The New York Times, which in its own newfound wokeness finally got rid of the centrist op-ed chief who commissioned and then posted a white supremacist screed by Senator Tom Cotton without even reading it, still strives mightily to frame the narrative to plutocratic ends, regarding both the pandemic and the protests.

Fashion editor Vanessa Friedman approvingly writes of the "respectable" Black fashionistas at the protests and the importance of demonstrators decking themselves out in their Sunday best as a symbol of resistance and to remind the rowdier elements that their first duty is to vote for Democrats like Joe Biden. While acknowledging that the Democrats' Kente cloth debacle fell flat, Friedman still insists that "the impulse (of the stunt) was clearly genuine."

OK, then.

The wealthy Democratic women wearing white suits of solidarity in defiance of Donald Trump were much more fashionably effective, ranking right up there with the  Sans Culottes and the Yellow Vests of France, she actually claims.

Friedman's point, if indeed she has one, is that you are less likely to be accused of Antifa or socialistic tendencies if you dress in expensively tailored designer couture while protesting against inequality and oppression. Sadly, it appears that the half-life of her class-enhanced Ambien is seriously interfering with her wokeness.

On a similar note, the Times celebrates consumerism as an antidote to the pandemic. Retail sales were up 17 percent in May and "Wall Street" jumped for joy as though it were a real person and not a corrupt gambling casino kept artificially alive with Federal Reserve blood transfusions while the poor and uninsured and black and brown people are still dying of the plague in disproportionate numbers.

From the Times article:
Driving some of the sales gains was warm weather, a sense of relief after weeks cooped up at home and optimism from some that the worst of the pandemic could be over. But they were also lifted by stimulus money — totaling $1,200 per recipient, plus $500 per child — that will run out in the coming months, with no indications that Congress intends to pass another round of assistance.
It looks as though the Times is still not quite as woke as it pretends to be. It is only after dutifully and uncritically reporting that "some" think that the pandemic is history (it is only just beginning) and that people are just so relieved that the warm weather has finally set them free to buy more stuff, that the piece mentions there is also the fear in high concerned places that those bounteous $1,200 stimulus checks will start running out in the coming months.

 Um - the vast majority of recipients spent their checks on overdue rent, utilities and milk for the kids the minute they arrived in their bank accounts. Many people never have received the money at all. People in the bottom 90 or so percent are neither saving the money nor blowing it on retail bling.

 Most especially, they are not spending it on acceptable protest fashion.

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

The Democrats Are Parodies of Themselves

House Minority Whip Jim Clyburn has actually had the chutzpah to complain that his party's attempted co-optation of one of the biggest public uprisings of all time is being "hijacked" by the protesters themselves.

How dare these people who are getting killed and beaten up and terrorized by out-of-control police forces presume to demand that their oppressors be stripped of their money and their power out of some misguided wish to live in peace?

Demands for divesting even small towns of their military hardware are a "distraction," added Rep Karen Bass of California.

Plus, if the Dems recklessly do right by the citizens, what will the Republicans say and do? (What will the neighbors think?) The opinion of the bad neighbors on the other side of the shared fence is a top priority if the Dems have any hope of redecorating their chambers with new "moderate" seats this fall.

So Congressional Democrats did the only thing they know how to do whenever they're confronted with some actual democracy. First, they blamed Trump and their  Republican colleagues. Then they staged one those perennial stunts which substitutes for policy in the public interest. They donned traditional Kente cloths  and took a knee for precisely 8 minutes and 46 seconds, the same amount of time that it took for their hired police state knee to suffocate the life out of George Floyd. The sound of hundreds of creaking joints and the even creakier neoliberal rhetoric of "reform" as a cure for corruption reverberated throughout the media echo chamber.

It was a reminder that there will be no true reform of state-sanctioned brutality on their watch. They may have thought they were showing solidarity with George Floyd and other victims of the police state. But their arthritic knees only served to remind us who is controlling the knees, fists, grenade launchers, tear gas and bullets of the police.  They may also have thought they were displaying their pro-science cred during Covid-19 by social-distancing and wearing masks. But they were only flaunting how distanced they truly are from the masses of people, most of whom don't even have a couple of hundred bucks saved up for a household emergency. Their masked faces only reminded us that they are bandits and marauders who steal from the poor and give, give, and give to their oligarchic donors.

The sight of Chuck Schumer (D-Wall Street) grimacing in pain as though he were struggling to get off a toilet also reminds us how mentally constipated the whole lot of them are. 

They yack on and on about the need for "big structural change," as though centuries of institutional racism and class oppression sprang up all by themselves. They are loath to admit that they are the chief architects and developers and designers and agents and enablers of the Structure.

Donald Trump, the convenient villain of the theatrics, played his own part to perfection, accusing the corporate tools in the Democratic Party of radical leftism and thus giving them cover for their aggrieved stunt. The trouble is,  hardly anybody believes their reality show is even tenuously tethered to reality.

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, however, is not playing his own assigned role with the glib finesse of a Barack Obama. As much as he panders to the "movement," he just cannot lie and disown the police state this late in his misbegotten career. He will continue throwing unaccountable billions at Cop World if he is re-elected. There will be no dismantling of police forces under his watch. He and Trump are on the same ideological page regarding state-sanctioned brutality, much as Obama admitted that he was the same page as Mitt Romney in 2012, regarding austerity and the "need" to cut Social Security and other public programs at the behest of Wall Street.

Because the worldwide protest movement is multiracial and multi-generational, the governing class's clinging to identity politics as a substitute for justice is more easily seen for what it is - a con. Leaders of both establishment parties can no longer fall back on the "divide and conquer" techniques traditionally used to keep us in line. Trump can't engender fears of a "race war," because we're all in this together. Liberal CEOs and corporations can no longer proclaim "solidarity" with the victims of the uniformed weaponized oppression that they've always relied upon to protect themselves and their own looted property and their gated mansions. Amazon's Jeff Bezos cannot get away with standing with black people, not after he just fired the black organizer of a walkout at his Staten Island facility, where underpaid workers were denied paid sick or family leave for Covid-19.

What really terrifies them is the prospect of a general labor strike in tandem with the anti-police demonstrations.

A new poll commissioned by Just Capital reveals that only 25 percent of Americans think that capitalism is good for society. Few people are anxious to return to work in the midst of a deadly pandemic. Most people are angry at the billionaires and corporations who haven't done right by their workers in the middle of this social, economic and health crisis.

Only one out of nine publicly traded corporations temporarily increased worker salaries during the crisis, while seven out of every ten CEOs maintained their obscene salaries, which on average are about 300 times that of the average American worker. The 10 percent of workers whose pay was raised during the first months of the pandemic have largely seen their salaries return to pre- Covid levels.

And the Stock Market continues to climb.

As the New York Times put it: "Investors shrugged."

 Michael Bloomberg, the godzillionaire former mayor who thus far this campaign season has shoveled at least $18 million to the copacetic Democratic Party, spoke for the entire oligarchic police state when he bragged while obliterating the Occupy movement in 2011: "I have my own army in the NYPD, which is the seventh biggest army in the world."

Meanwhile, Democrats in costume performing clumsy dance moves have introduced the usual"sweeping legislation" to reform the domestic occupying forces. This means that they will strive mightily to sweep the abuses right under the rug via the Bidenesque solution of "community policing" as code for continued militarization. We'll have to wait and see how the irate citizenry reacts to his own particular bragging about how he let law enforcement write his 1994 Crime Bill, much as the predatory health insurance industry was allowed to write the Affordable Care Act.

To avoid the defunding of corrupt and violent departments, the legislation calls for databases of police misconduct, the better to track it with.

 But without defining "last resort," it would also allow cops to use deadly force only as a last resort. Therefore, if a reckless officer thinks that somebody is looking at him funny and then shoots him, the codified Doctrine of the Last Resort will become the go-to defense in the unlikely event he or she faces criminal prosecution.

The national uptick in frightening "no-knock" SWAT raids, increasingly with the aid of dangerous flash grenades, tear gas and  battering rams affixed to tanks would be tamped down a smidgen by only banning such assaults at the federal level. States would somehow be "incentivized" to do the same.

One nifty proposal, put forth by Nancy Pelosi, is to redirect money to school policing and mental health, as though the two concepts were joined at the hip.

The legislative package also includes a federal ban on lynching. How much bolder and more sweeping could it possibly get?

People will be so impressed, they'll be rioting in the streets with joy after they tell their bosses to take their expired hazard pay and shove it.

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

With God On Their Side

Has anything ever encapsulated US history better than the sight of Donald Trump fomenting violence while holding an upside-down Bible against a backdrop of flash grenades and assault troops?

The Bible, which had been carefully nestled within Ivanka Trump's $1500 designer handbag for the fascistic fashion parade from the Rose Garden to St. John's Episcopal Church on Monday night, amazingly did not erupt into flames once it became weaponized in Trump's hammy fist.

Nor did Washington's Pius XII shrine spontaneously combust in outrage when Trump desecrated that site the following day in an oafish appeal to the Opus Dei Catholic side of his reactionary base. Perhaps it's because, as just-released Vatican documents disclose, the pope was both aware of and complicit in Hitler's extermination of the Jews. The pope learned of the Holocaust fully three years before the rest of the world, but kept silent.

Not to be outdone by Trump in the great American tradition of complicity and the co-optation of religion to hide the Seven Deadly Sins that define our brutal and oligarchic form of government, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wielded her own Bible in response to the president's serial heresies, lamely chiding him to start acting out the traditional presidential role of Healer in Chief.

Seeming to channel children's author and fellow San Franciscan Lemony Snicket, Pelosi bemoaned the series of unfortunate events which, for her, culminated in the atrocity of Trump holding a Bible. She advised him to tone down the divisive rhetoric. But she herself was as silent as a Pope in World War Two about the ongoing protests and police brutality in the streets of America. She would not be cowed into finally advocating Medicare for All and a universal basic income as a way of quelling the near-universal public anger against the establishment of which she is an all-powerful part.

She noted, quoting Ecclesiastes, that there is a time to love and a time to heal. You could almost hear the refrains of Turn, Turn, Turn wafting in the air. But combined with her utter lack of response to the economic and social pain of the protesters themselves, it was just more of the same Turn of the Screw.

Not to be outdone in the religious co-optation department, presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden followed up his own churchy advice that rioting, stressed-out cops should aim to shoot those hordes of mythical knife-branding criminals in the legs rather than the hearts. He virtuously suggested that next time, Trump should actually open the Bible and learn something. He did not suggest that US police departments open up the Bill of Rights for their own refresher courses in law and morality.

That's because Joe Biden, author of the 1994 Crime Bill, has always been totally copacetic with cops. Barack Obama himself gushed on more than one occasion that Cop-dom has never had a better or truer friend than Joe Biden. It was Biden who restored billions of dollars of funding to the federal COPS (Community Oriented Policing Services) program as part of the 2009 stimulus package - at the very same time that the administration was helping Wall Street to throw five million citizens out of their homes. It was Biden who spearheaded the 2012 policy requiring that grants must be used by police departments to hire military veterans - to give them a chance to continue "serving our country" - rather than, say, to protect the citizenry - once they're done fighting "over there."

The COPS legislation, written by Biden in tandem with the crime bill, began funneling billions of dollars to police departments to hire more cops under the rubric of "community policing" and "proactive community engagement."  But as Radley Balko writes in Rise of the Warrior Cop:

"The problem was that there was no universal definition of community policing.... Street sweeps, occupation-like control of neighborhoods, SWAT raids and aggressive anti-gang policies. These police activities are aggressive, often violent, and usually a net loss for civil liberties, but they are proactive.
When (President) Clinton, Biden and other politicians touted the COPs program, they did so with language that evoked the Peace Corps (though both Clinton and Biden supported policies that promoted militarization.) Although Clinton described the goal of COPS as '(building) bonds of trust and understanding, it wasn't clear if he or any other politician really believed this. The majority of the COPS grants was given to simply hire more  police officers. The program said little about how those officers would be used, or what sort of attitude they should bring to the job....
"And so as the COPS program threw billions at police departments under the pretense of hiring whistling, baton-twirling Officer Friendlies to walk neighborhood beats, rescue kittens, and maybe guest-umpire the occasional Little League game, many police agencies were actually using the money to militarize."
The difference between Democrats and Republicans is largely one of style over substance, The George W. Bush administration drastically cut funding to the COPS program, because its language wasn't as tough and brutal as they liked. When Obama came into office, the funding was duly restored. When Trump came into the office, the funding was duly slashed once again. If Biden comes into office in 2021, watch for the language of touchy-feely community to gloss over more cop killings of minorities, more deadly no-knock raids, more hiring of PTSD-riddled veterans of our endless wars. He'll sell it as a vast improvement over Trump's calling out the troops before they even get a chance to jump seamlessly from the Army, Air Force, Navy and Marines to trade their fatigues for a blue uniform and a badge.

As a senator, Biden was actually to the right of the Bush administration, never resting from his one-man crusade for COPS. From a 2007 press release from his Senate office:

My colleagues on the Judiciary Committee have unanimously approved this bill. Recently, the Brookings Institution strongly advocated for a reauthorization of the COPS program, calling it one of the most cost-effective options available for fighting crime. They can see what is plainly obvious crime is like cutting grass and if you stop mowing the lawn, one day you'll look outside and see a jungle. We're seeing very tall grass in our communities now, and we need to move this bill to the full Senate quickly, so can get local police agencies the help they so desperately need.
Biden effectively compared poor minority communities to wild overgrown jungles needing a severe mow-down. It is a prime example of the racist dog-whistle.

Not to be outdone, his Democratic primary challenger at the time, Barack Obama, traveled to New Orleans to advocate for his own "Katrina COPS" program to "empower" poor black residents of that destroyed city to install more police to occupy their neighborhoods. Not for nothing did he eventually choose Biden to be his vice president, a dog-whistle of reassurance to paranoid white voters in its own right. Like any other liberal God-sider worth his salt, Obama preached from within the sanctuary of a church for the hiring more cops to "restore the bonds of trust" between an occupying force and its targets.

More blatantly militant language and practice did eventually find their way into the COPS program, particularly the 2012 directive mandating that departments use the grant money to hire military veterans over even graduates with criminal justice degrees from four year universities. 

By the time Donald Trump assumed control of the government, one out of every five American cops was a true warrior, a veteran of Iraq, Afghanistan and any number of other battlefields and occupation zones both acknowledged and secret.

So even as a "bipartisan" Congress is currently going through the motions of taking away some of the tanks and grenade launchers and other surplus military hardware from the nations's police departments, they are not addressing the proliferation of trained killers in these departments.

A 2017 investigation by the Marshall Project revealed that veterans who work as police officers are more vulnerable to self-destructive behavior, including using alcohol and drugs, and attempting suicide.

Nearly all of the 33 police departments contacted by The Marshall Project declined to provide a list of officers who had served in the military, citing laws protecting personnel records, or saying the information was not stored in any central place. The Justice Department office that dispenses grants to hire cops and study policing said it has no interest in funding research into how military experience might influence police behavior.
 “I reject the notion that a returning veteran, who has seen combat, should cause concern for a police chief,” said Ronald L. Davis, who headed that office in the Obama administration. “I would even hire more if I could.”
Take a look out on the streets of America. It's a Hieronymus Bosch mural of a uniformed, untreated culture of PTSD sufferers with clubs on steroids in military Humvees.

And all our esteemed alleged leaders can do is praise the lord and pass the ammunition and place trillions of public dollars into the collection baskets of their oligarchic friends and donors.

Trump is far from the only miscreant who, wrapped in the flag and thumping a Bible, is bringing fascism to America. That process started a long time ago.