Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Debate & Switch, Crash & Burn

Lots of people feared that the first presidential "debate" between our two designated right-wing codgers would end up being a train wreck. But nobody could ever have expected a reenactment of the Hindenburg disaster. That Nazi airship blew up in 1937 New Jersey, whereas the more modern fascist version exploded in Ohio on Tuesday night.

If you were still naively operating under the assumption that we have even the merest vestige of a functioning democracy left, than Tuesday night's spectacle starring human dirigible Donald Trump (with a largely muted walk-on assist from Joe Biden) should have permanently disabused you of that quaint notion.

The commentary running through many an aghast head as the grisly event streamed into millions of foreclosure-prone American homes went something like this:  (h/t Herb Morrison)

"Oh, the humanity, and all the passengers screaming around here. I... I can't talk, ladies and gentlemen. Honest, it's completely a mess of smoking wreckage. And everybody can't hardly breathe. It's hard, it's crazy. Honestly, I can hardly breathe. I'm going to step inside where I cannot see it.... This is the worst thing I've ever witnessed!"

The gasbag blimp known as Donald Trump has been blowing things up for quite awhile now, both verbally and operationally. And since his wreckage will be raining down upon the earth far into the future. the phrase "Oh, the humanity" can't even begin to describe what we witnessed on Tuesday night. For as much as we thought that we were steeled by the last three and a half years of Trumpism, could anything have prepared us for an American president publicly calling on the crypto-fascist Proud Boys militia to "stand back and stand by?" He also urged his ad hoc troops to converge on the nation's polling places on Election Day to monitor balloting and, presumably, to accost voters who look or act suspiciously un-American. Presumably, these volunteer monitor-militias will also be fully armed. Presumably, the very thought of armed freelance election monitors will also keep enough people away from the polls to even affect the outcome.

It's no wonder that Trump wants all the schools to reopen in the middle of a pandemic. Without schools, young people cannot be properly indoctrinated by his proposed Patriotism re-education curriculum. Without the monitoring custodial function which classrooms provide, students might even start to wake up and realize that their leaders in both parties are making a real botch of things.

If they watched the Tuesday night debate debacle, however, they are probably already realizing it.

If anything can finally terrify Undecideds or Stay-At-Homes into voting for the detritus known as Joe Biden, it was Tuesday night's dirigible disaster. Maybe we can pick through the wreckage and salvage something. Although, with such "gaffes" as Biden's indignant insistence  that he has "nothing against" Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett because she seems like "a very fine person" Biden does sort of evoke Trump's own infamous remark that "there are very fine people on both sides" of the racist/anti-racist divide.

Biden's disavowal of the Green New Deal, and his admission that his "public option" in health care coverage would just be a means-tested renaming of Medicaid, that he is more prone to starting a war with Russia than "Putin's puppy" is, that he repeated discredited CIA propaganda about Russia putting a bounty on the American invaders and occupiers of Afghanistan, and that he said all of these "reassuring" things with his beady eyes squinting straight through the camera at the terrified viewers at home, might still make some of those annoying  "purists"  out there continue to refuse to find their sustenance in a toxic landfill.

Here's what Biden said about the bait and switch of a "public option":

 "It’s only for those people who are so poor they qualify for Medicaid they can get that free in most States, except Governors who want to deny people who are poor Medicaid. Anyone who qualifies for Medicaid would automatically be enrolled in the public option. The vast majority of the American people would still not be in that option." (my bold.)

Translation: the option is not only restrictive, it is every bit as mandatory as a law requiring people living high on the hog of the minimum wage or reduced unemployment benefits to buy a Bronze plan which they can never afford to use because of obscenely high deductibles and co-pays.

Since cutting off Trump's microphone as he lit his own poisoned gas on fire apparently was not part of the plan by the ratings and profit-hungry corporate media outlets which created Trump in the first place, they will forge right ahead in their unending game of disaster-feasting:

"And, I - I've... lost my breath several times during this exciting moment here. Will you pardon me just a moment? I'm not going to stop talking.... I'm just going to swallow several times until I can keep on."



Sunday, September 27, 2020

Amy Coney Barrett's Communistic Tendencies

Someone should alert Donald Trump that the ethos of People of Praise, the Christian group which counts his newest Supreme Court nominee as a member, bears an uncanny resemblance to the core principles of communism. Maybe then he'd think twice about constantly and ridiculously hurling the Socialist/Marxist epithet at the corporate Democrats in an effort to deflect attention from their mutual capitalistic agenda. Who knows? He could even end up withdrawing  Coney Barrett's name from nomination. People of Praise does not, for example, embrace the odious Prosperity Gospel beloved of GOP cultists, who count greed not only as a Christian virtue but as an addendum to the original Ten Commandments.

Somebody should also alert the media conglomerate about this oversight so they may start calling Trump out on it. In an alternate universe, it might even reach the point that the capitalist class accused Trump and his nominee of both heresy and hypocrisy for ignoring the fact that Coney Barrett's group solidly adheres to the original socialistic radicalism of Jesus even as she herself professes public fealty to the Pantheon of Constitutional Originalists. This dual belief system simply does not compute.

Of course, I jest. Because the Narrative chosen by the liberal press is that People of Praise is a scary, "secretive" cult that directly inspired Margaret Atwood's dystopian The Handmaid's Tale novel about forced fecundity in a misogynistic theocratic American society. That neither of these things is true doesn't seem to matter.

According to The Guardian:

Interviews with experts who have studied charismatic Christian groups such as People of Praise, and with former members of the group, plus a review of the group’s own literature, reveal an organization that appears to dominate some members’ everyday lives, in which so-called “heads” – or spiritual advisers – make big life decisions, and in which members are expected to financially support one another. Married women – such as Barrett – count their husbands as their “heads” and all members are expected to donate 5% of their income to the organization.

 The group emerged out of the Catholic charismatic movement of the late 1960s, which blended Catholicism and Protestant Pentecostalism – Catholics and Protestants are both members – and adopted practices like speaking in tongues. The group’s literature shows communal living is also encouraged, at least among unmarried members, as is the sharing of finances between households.

The People of Praise website states that "We admire the first Christians who were led by the Holy Spirit to form a community. Those early believers put their lives and their possessions in common, and there were no needy persons among them."

Now, compare that redistributionist radicalism to the old-school secular communism that once thrived right here in the Land of the Free.

 In Vivian Gornick's The Romance of American Communism, one former leader  explains how the party was organized in his poor Depression-era New York City neighborhood:

 As for the individual Communist at the branch level, four-fifths of the time he  followed Party directives, one-fifth of the time he was on his own; on his own he was supposed to respond to whatever happened in the course of a day in the neighborhood... "if there was a tenant conviction, or a sick comrade,  or if he was needed to join a picket line, or canvas during an election. Or if the neighborhood needed a traffic light, or a shopkeeper was having trouble with the Fire Department. You know, just like the neighborhood Democratic Party would have operated - only we always got there first."

The branch members' other duties consisted of contributing a week's wages to the Party once a year, selling the Daily Worker and running off weekly leaflets.

People of Praise is religious, Communism is traditionally secular. Both embrace the spirit of community and both also have operated under varying degrees of rigidity and control, as do most organizations.

Amy Coney Barrett said that she admires the life and legacy of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. I hope that at her confirmation hearing she is also asked about the life and legacy of fellow Catholic lay-person and anarchist Dorothy Day, who herself had undergone an abortion before converting to the Catholic faith and spending her life in social activism and constantly "pricking the consciences" of the Establishment regarding war, inequality, and labor rights.  I hope, that in light of the fact that Coney Barrett has previously vowed for religious reasons to recuse herself in capital punishment cases, that she will also have enough of a conscience to recuse herself in Supreme Court cases concerning contraception and Roe v Wade. 

But her history of siding with corporations and oligarchs over the needs of ordinary people is troubling, to say the least. She's like Mitt Romney, a devout Mormon, in that regard. He also tithes and generously helps members of his own insular community in tandem with getting rich, through private equity, by indebting businesses before destroying them and insisting that godless "corporations are people, my friend."

It is the fine art of holding two opposing ethical positions in one's mind at the same time, and thus being able to sleep well at night. Trump will also easily cancel out every kind of conservative hypocrisy whenever it suits him, just so long as it serves the purpose of shielding his own.

But it doesn't hurt to try to rattle their rigid, complacent, carefully compartmentalized little brains every once in a while, does it?

And we must always have faith. If you do happen to pray, then you might beseech the almighty to allow Amy Coney Barrett to follow in the footsteps of Reagan appointee Sandra Day O'Connor, who at a relatively young age resigned from the nation's highest court in order to care for her sick husband. It was the ethical thing to do.

Of course, since she was succeeded by the arch-conservative Samuel Alito in the Bush Jr. administration, we should also always be very careful about what we pray and wish for.

Friday, September 25, 2020

Pick Your Fascism

Since the pandemic is transforming the traditional Election Day into Election Season with early mail-in balloting, the Establishment's' Get Out the Vote campaign is more strident than ever.

These last few weeks of Decision 2020 feel like being swept along in a turgid stream of elite consciousness. As hard as we try to swim against the tide of the Most Consequential Election in the history of humanity, the more they try to drown us with their voter-shaming - when they're not mentally electrocuting us with their jolts of nuclear-powered gaslight.

I didn't know whether to gulp for air or melt down into an abject puddle when the Duke and Duchess of Sussex (Harry and Meghan) deigned to inform me, from the rustic grounds of their $14 million California estate, that I am allowed to "make my voice heard." 

I must use my voice to check a box to prove that I matter, Meghan nattered.

Voting will prove that I hate hatred enough to elect one of their own in order maintain "our values." And here I was, too lazy and ignorant to even realize that the magical festival of Quadrannius has finally arrived! It is that special time that comes only once every four years, when the oligarchs and celebrities go all noblesse oblige  to wake up the citizens from the cynicism and the apathy that their bitter pills have created. If we do not give them the degree of legitimacy with which to feed us even more of their bitter pills for the next four years, then they'll end up looking like the quacks they are instead of the healers they want to resemble.

To press the point home, Harry was not above playing  the guilt-tripping, gaslighting card. Give 'em hell, Harry! He reminded us with his Voice that we regular people are even more important and privileged than he is. Because as a royal personage, he has been dreadfully disenfranchised for his whole adult life!

Bertram Gross  warned 40 years ago of the "Friendly Fascism" that was taking over this country and the rest of the advanced free world. Although the parts of the book dealing with the then-bugaboos of Soviet communism and "stagflation" are dated, he was remarkably prescient about the slow, boiling-frog-death of representative democracy via an insidious corporate/oligarchic coup.

The "F" word has finally come out of the elite closet with the victory of Donald Trump. But that is only because he is an "unfriendly" fascist who rules with a sneer and a scowl instead of with the simper and the smile which has been fooling some of the people most of the time, or at least most of the people some of the time, as the frog-water simmered. Whenever the bath threatened to boil over and wake up the comatose frogs, friendly-looking presidents like Barack Obama added the requisite dose of cool charm to augment the glow of the gaslight.

Donald Trump, of course, is only adding salt to the water and gasoline to the fire. He is riling people up when they should be narcotized. He is not using what Gross called Triplespeak: the political propaganda technique comprised of "myth, jargon and confidential straight talk."

Gross wrote:

"Unlike Orwell's doublethink and newspeak, triplespeak is not part of any overall plan. It merely develops as a logical outcome of the Establishment;s maturation, an essential element of the tightening of oligarchic control."

Without myths like American exceptionalism, democracy  and the founding pioneer spirit, rulers cannot maintain order and support at the lower and middle levels of the Establishment. Jargon is required to justify the power and secrecy and violence of the military/surveillance state. Straight talk is the ploy used by elites to explain why secrecy is needed in the first place, or blather about the brutal hard truth of why social programs must be cut.

Trump, the damaged epitome of immaturity, rails against the surveillance state when it is used by his fellow elites against him. He calls vaunted military heroes "chumps and losers," while the more proper pols glorify their deaths as "the ultimate sacrifice." He directly foments violence, dispensing with all the obfuscatory jargon about human rights and morality which masks the friendly fascism his peers have striven so mightily to perfect.

And therefore, establishment media outlets are manically selling Wokeness in a valiant effort to arouse us just long enough to care about electing Joe Biden - before they put us (along with the street protests they are so eagerly covering) to sleep again, once the danger to their legitimacy passes.

Why else would celebrities and political elites be co-opting the police murder of Breonna Taylor, who lingered in obscurity until the televised murder of George Floyd made her the newest symbol of the moment? Why would the liberal establishment be able to so blithely ignore Obama's drone murders and mass deportations and police crackdowns on the Occupy movement, but now decry Trump's xenophobia and flouting of the Constitution?

It's all about the language, of course. Trump does not, as Gross's friendlier fascists do, "take over the symbols of opposition groups" and make them his own.  As the opposite of Trump's nihilistic shtick, Bertram Gross shares the secret ingredients of the friendly fascist recipe:

"Peace, equality, black power, women's rights, the Constitution, for example,are prominent in the sloganry justifying increased armament, oligarchic wealth, institutionalized white and male supremacy, and the subversion of constitutional rights."

The reason that I hope Joe Biden wins (although, with the luxury of living in a non-battleground state, I don't plan to vote for either him or Trump), is that he is often so miserably inept himself at putting a friendly face on the fascism that long preceded Trump. His campaign has had to walk back his constant stream of "gaffes" almost as often as Trump's handlers have to do damage control on his. Biden wouldn't ever be able to fool enough the people enough of the time, no matter how hard Bernie Sanders and MSNBC try to prop him, and more importantly, the Democratic Party, up.

Biden's immediate reaction, for example, to the no-bill grand jury exoneration of the Louisville SWAT team that gunned down Breonna Taylor was to warn protesters against destroying property.

And as the media very well knows, Trump can never be goaded into saying he'd accept a peaceful transition to power if he loses. Such an admission runs counter to every narcissistic fiber of his damaged being.  We'll probably be hearing Republican disclaimers of his face-saving threats from now until January and beyond, should he lose to Biden.

The first canned battle of these two snarling, smirking geriatric right-wingers will, at least, be an entertaining ratings bonanza of epic WWF proportions.

May our voices of derision finally be heard by the voter-shaming concern trolls. May our feet plod to the polls (or the mailbox) before they race right back to the streets, no matter which of these reactionary characters mounts to an ever more discredited platform of power.

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Culture War Witchery Strikes Again

So much for Bernie Sanders's prediction that a President Joe Biden would, after a 50-year conservative political career, become a raging progressive in the vein of FDR if we only give him the chance.

With the specter of a far-right Supreme Court tribunal controlling the country for at least another generation, Biden just nixed the antidote of Democrats packing the court.and ending the Senate filibuster, should he win the presidency. Even though the Republican majority has locked in the votes to confirm Donald Trump's nominee to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Biden was still appealing to them to examine their consciences and delay the vote until after the November election.

Judge Amy Coney Barrett, widely believed to be a shoo-in for the nomination, is, like Biden a devout conservative Roman Catholic, and the jurist that Democrats believe will usher in the final death-blow to Roe v Wade.

Biden could very well be delighted with this nomination, given that he already had to bow to liberal pressure and in 2019 disown his longstanding support for the Hyde Amendment, which bans federal funding for abortion. He has always opposed late-term abortions, voted against aid to organizations which promote legalizing abortion overseas, and, as vice president, he unsuccessfully fought for increased religious exemptions to birth control coverage in the Affordable Care Act.

So, in keeping with his outreach to conservative Republican voters and his dismissal of such progressive policies as Medicare For All and a Green New Deal,will Biden now openly pander to the "right to life" advocates whom he so sorely disappointed when he disowned the Hyde Amendment last year? His ongoing silence on the issue speaks volumes.

Meanwhile, the increasing liberal angst surrounding a newly revived and very serendipitous (for the duopolistic oligarchy, that is) wedge issue of abortion is all of a piece with the much more contrived angst over Donald Trump's trolling revival of the eugenics movement.

Much is being made of how his praise of the "good (Nordic) genes" of Minnesotans and "racehorse theory" is inspired by the rhetoric of Nazi Germany. But none of these current critics add that Adolf Hitler was himself directly inspired by the American eugenics movement that held sway in the interwar years of the 20th century. The Nuremberg Laws barring Jews from full status as German citizens contain numerous glowing references to America's racist Jim Crow laws.

 The designated targets of xenophobic exclusion from the US in the early decades of the century were Southern and Eastern Europeans, mainly Italians and Jews. The latter group was later denied refugee status and barred by draconian US immigration laws from entering the country to escape Nazi oppression. Tens of thousands of Jews are believed to have been killed when they were forced to return to Nazi-controlled territories.

Trump's allusion to racehorse theory actually stems from an American book called "The Passing of the Great Race" published by Charles Scribner & Sons in 1916 and heavily promoted and praised by politicians, intellectuals and such media mainstays as Good Housekeeping, The Saturday Evening Post and the New York Times. Its author, Madison Grant, was once widely lauded as one of the leading thinkers and environmental activists of the Progressive Era.

It's no surprise that forced sterilization, along with xenophobia as government policy, is also making a comeback. Anybody who is shocked, shocked that imprisoned migrant women are reportedly undergoing forced hysterectomies in a  Georgia ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) prison shouldn't be. Laws upholding sterilizations of the "unfit" were on the books in many states until fairly recently. The irony that these procedures are now allegedly being performed under a Republican administration which purports to be anti-birth control should not be lost on us. The purported religious principles of the "right to life" crowd is simply a fig leaf serving to mask their real agenda, which is the empowerment and enrichment of the ruling classes though the debasement of women, minorities  and let's face it, just about anybody who has no power and no money.

Trump may be a throwback to an era when racism and xenophobia were openly celebrated and championed by the most respectable elements of American society. But he is certainly no anomaly in the big historical picture.

And speaking of the Supreme Court: it has never expressly overturned its ignominious Buck v Bell decision, an oversight which theoretically makes the reported ICE sterilizations perfectly legal. In the 1927 opinion against Carrie Bell, a woman wrongfully committed to a Virginia asylum for the "feebleminded" after her rape by the son of her wealthy foster parents who'd used her as their personal maid, Chief Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote (relying upon the fake "science" which claimed that deviance and imbecility are passed down from generation to generation):

We have seen more than once that the public welfare may call upon the best citizens for their lives. It would be strange if it could not call upon those who already sap the strength of the State for these lesser sacrifices, often not felt to be such by those concerned, in order to prevent our being swamped with incompetence. It is better for all the world if, instead of waiting to execute degenerate offspring for crime or to let them starve for their imbecility, society can prevent those who are manifestly unfit from continuing their kind. The principle that sustains compulsory vaccination is broad enough to cover cutting the Fallopian tubes. Jacobson v. Massachusetts, 197 U. S. 11. Three generations of imbeciles are enough.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, not Ruth Bader Ginsburg, was actually the first liberal rock star of the Supreme Court, thanks in large part to the mainstream media marketing and fawning by his elite peers. Lionel Barrymore even played him in a hagiographic movie.

And speaking of irony - First Amendment champion Holmes also wrote the opinion which upheld Woodrow Wilson's reactionary Espionage Act, the law under which Wikileaks founder Julian Assange was indicted. Confined to a Dickensian British prison while his extradition trial proceeds, Assange is essentially being punished for exposing American war crimes and political corruption. The First Amendment itself is effectively on trial, while mainstream corporate media remains largely silent.

And that leads me to my final question. Why the hell do we even have a Supreme Court? It has become more than ever the equivalent of the archaic and unelected class of priests which have always existed in authoritarian regimes. The highest court is neither the check nor the balance that our own overly-honored Pantheon of Founders envisioned.

Nathaniel Hawthorne, that great 19th century literary critic of American pathology, reminds us that neither right wing authoritarianism nor liberal hypocrisy nor personality cults nor culture wars are anything new under the Trumpian sun. From his novel The House of the Seven Gables about the execution of Matthew Maule, an accused witch:

"He was one of the martyrs to that terrible delusion which should teach us, among its other morals, that the influential classes, and those who take upon themselves to be leaders of the people, are fully liable to all the passionate error that has ever characterized the maddest mob. Clergymen, judges, statesmen - the wisest, calmest, holiest persons of their day - stood in their inner circle round about the gallows, loudest to applaud the work of blood, latest to confess themselves miserably deceived."

Saturday, September 19, 2020

RIP-Roaring RBG Coverage

I'll leave the "live updates" on Ruth Bader Ginsburg's death to the New York Times. Ditto for the overwrought canonization of a judicial bureaucrat marketed for the past decade or so as a "living icon" and a "rock star." Because if anybody was a beneficiary of liberal identity politics and the mass marketing of image, it was certainly "The Notorious RBG."
Therefore, in this Age of Marketed Wokeness, any mention of Ginsburg's Supreme Court decisions siding with the police over ordinary citizens likely will be buried right along with her. Admittedly, some bold obituary writers are ever so delicately tip-toeng around her whimsical friendship with the late rabid reactionary Justice Antonin Scalia. This is being breezily dismissed as comity among colleagues in an exclusive venue. It's similar to Bernie Sanders calling Joe Biden "a good friend of mine" despite their policy differences. You see, our rulers co-exist in an exalted realm. We mere mortals, on the other hand, are viciously and unreasonably divided against one another. Or so we are told by the ruling class's media propagandists, who rely upon fomenting divisions among the citizenry so that they may go about their exalted business of screwing the citizenry and redirecting the wealth of the citizenry to the oligarchs.

I suppose we should at least be grateful that unlike her Supreme Court colleague Elena Kagan, Ruth didn't also go on violent animal-hunting junkets with "Nino."

So before the accolades fade into the ether and before the warm body is even decently buried, the Narrative is of course all about RBG's replacement. Will Donald Trump be able to force through a nominee before the election or in a theoretical lame duck session?
If Trump does get his way, but then Joe Biden wins the presidency by virtue of being the designated negatively charged force to neutralize Trump, will he and a Democratic majority then proceed to pack the court by finally ending the filibuster? After all, his good friend Bernie did predict that the right-wing Biden will magically transform himself into FDR if  only we hold our noses and give the man who created the Prison-Industrial Complex one more chance. 

I'm not holding my breath. Both parties love the filibuster when they're in the majority, and pretend to hate it when they're in the minority. So, as Biden himself likes to say, "Nothing will fundamentally change."
You might remember that back in 2011, when the Dems still held the Senate majority, Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell were every bit as palsy-walsy as RBG and Nino were, even almost as tight as Bernie and Joe. They made a "gentleman's agreement" that neither one of them would ever abuse their filibuster privileges. And we all know how that worked out in the Republicans' favor, with the full wink-wink complicity of the feckless Dems.
 Reid, gentleman punk that he was, did the same thing a year later, but only after sternly threatening a few minor tweaks to prevent the GOP from flouting democracy in too impolite a manner. Of course, now that both he and Barack Obama are out of office, they're both falling all over themselves demanding that the filibuster be forever and permanently buried right along with Ruth Bader Ginsburg, whose own dying wish was not to be replaced by the current president. 

The most that Reid eventually accomplished was the imposition of the really scary-sounding "nuclear option" the following year, in order to prevent the filibustering of judicial nominees, allowing a simple up or down vote rather than the "super-majority" still required for the prevention of most legislation even remotely benefiting ordinary citizens. This feat by Harry Reid is what has allowed
for the confirmation of almost all Donald Trump's federal court nominees.  It was all part of the plan which allows Democrats to flail helplessly in public as they act out their designated role as the good cops and fundraise like mad for the #Resistance.

Filibustering, once glorified as the lone bravery of the principled Senator played by James Stewart in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, actually has a more sinister original meaning. When it comes to Republican filibusters, they really do adhere to the original definition of the term: "irregular soldiers who act without authority from their own government, and are generally motivated by financial gain, political ideology, or the thrill of adventure".The etymology is as tortuous as the Senate itself: from the Spanish "filibustero" to the Dutch "vrijbuiter" to the English "freebooter."
So why stop at abolishing the filibuster? Maybe it's time to abolish the whole senate, or at least pack it to the gills with representatives based upon the population of any given state. That way, low-density states won't have the undemocratic, outsized power over us that they do now. That way, the iron claw of the oligarchy might even start to lose its grip and we can finally wrest the wealth of a nation right out of their cold dead hands.

 Now, wouldn't that be a nuclear option of a change that we can all believe in! 

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

When Journalism Becomes Corrupt Boosterism

Forget about Joe Biden's promise to restore The Soul of America - whatever the heck that even is. How about restoring the heart, soul and purpose of journalism, a/k/a The Fourth Estate?

Granted, "afflicting the comfortable and comforting the afflicted" was always more or less the aspirational motto of American journalism.  As Edward Bernays noted nearly a century ago in his seminal Propaganda, at least one quarter of all the front page articles in the New York Times were unabashed corporate or government propaganda. Still, the line between the news pages and opinion pages was almost always taken seriously, If you wanted to sneak a point of view into a straight news story, then you had to go about it stealthily, through the discreet use of innuendo, or the occasional omission of a salient fact.

Not so in the Age of Trump, when reporters double as #Resistance Fighters in the interests of careerist justice. And with only eight weeks to go in this sad, scary and ridiculously close presidential contest between a carnival barker of a mob boss and a mediocre career politician teetering on the edge of dementia, the line between reporting and punditry has been erased right off the journalistic ethics map.

It is no longer enough to dispassionately expose Trump's serial crime spree. It is incumbent upon the increasingly consolidated corporate media to also become the unabashed boosters of the #resistant Democratic Party, which itself might be better described as a coalition of corporate and military/security state interests whose sole agenda is the return to the same neoliberal status quo which produced Trump in the first place.

Fox News, which for decades had been the de facto propaganda arm of the Republican Party, now finds itself in the uncomfortable position of criticizing its erstwhile biggest fan, Donald Trump, himself now reduced to manically re-tweeting various right-wing websites and dark web conspiracy groups.

The turn of the "liberal" media to outright party boosterism took off like a shot last week with the obviously orchestrated Atlantic scoop that Trump had been overheard, a couple of years ago, disrespecting the military by calling dead soldiers "losers" and "suckers". The only shocking thing about this belated reportage is the amount of time it took for four anonymous sources to become shocked and appalled enough to spill the beans to The Atlantic, or alternatively, for the magazine itself to become shocked and appalled enough to finally publish them. It's as though they were hoarding the Big Reveal, that Trump is a clear and present danger to national security, for the sole purpose of winning an election. 

The owner of The Atlantic just happens to be billionaire Democratic mega-donor Laurene Powell Jobs, whose Emerson Collective think tank is headed by former Obama Education Secretary and school privateer Arne Duncan. Her editor and the author of the Trump story is neoconservative pundit Jeffrey Goldberg, who proved his own boosterism bona fides years ago by cheerleading George W.Bush's invasion of Iraq. If you point out these facts, or if you notice that within hours of the article's publication, the Democratic Party was already running slick TV ads expressing shock and outrage about Trump's remarks, or that Joe Biden already had a major speech written on the subject, complete with the inevitable comparison between Trump's spurious bone spurs and the noble military service of the late Beau Biden, then you are in danger of being exposed either as a Russian operative or loony conspiracy theorist.

 You are not, however, in any danger of being exposed as a closet Republican. That is because the Democratic Party has embraced with open arms such "moderate" Republicans as unindicted former Michigan governor and Flint water-poisoner Rick Snyder while relegating Bernie Sanders supporters ("purists") to the dust with a whole chorus line of high-kicking designer jackboots.

You are hereby on strict notice. With only eight weeks to go in The Race, ask not what Joe Biden can do for you. Ask instead what you can do for the Biden-Soul of Your Country.

That's a tall order for sure, especially if you've lost your job and your health insurance and you might be kicked out of your rented digs once all those eviction moratoriums conveniently expire right after the election.

So why not forget about your own fear and trepidation as you are being pressured to declare publicly that yes, you will hold your nose and vote for Joe Biden. Wallow instead in the high-minded fear and trepidation that your financial and intellectual superiors are also wallowing in. They are, deep within their credentialed souls of America, veddy veddy afraid. They're just like you!

"Our Democracy Is Deeply Imperiled," is the top news story in Wednesday's Guardian, and it is tailor-made to get you gripping your nose in a frenzy of highly motivated fear, relying as it does on the "ominous forebodings" of five "leading figures in the non-partisan (my bold) world of democracy reform and civil rights."

Notwithstanding that with the exception of the head of the NAACP, which does not endorse candidates, The Guardian's "non-partisan" sources all have close or even direct  ties to the Democratic Party. Vanita Gupta, CEO of the Leadership Council on Civil and Human Rights, is a former Obama administration official. Michael Waldman of the Brennan Center for Justice is a former Bill Clinton speechwriter. K. Sabeel Rahman, currently CEO of the Demos think tank, hails from the oligarch-funded New America Foundation, which is led by former Clinton State Department official Anne- Marie Slaughter.

And then there's Deirdre Schifeling, the founder and director of "Democracy For All 2021."

"A few years ago," credulously writes Guardian chief US correspondent Ed Pilkington, "she came to the realization that there was a growing disconnect between the will of the American people and their political representation in federal and state governments."

Would it be indelicate or even treasonous of me to surmise that Schifeling arrived at her Eureka moment as miraculously late as The Atlantic came to its own shocked realization that Trump doesn't care about dead soldiers - because her paycheck depends upon her not realizing that this reality existed even when Joe Biden was vice president?

Democracy For All is a project of the dark money SuperPAC called the Sixteen Thirty Fund, which also paid the PR firm of Anita Dunn, Biden's deputy campaign director, the whopping sum of $3,2 million for its own "consulting work" in 2018.

This is chump change next to the $140 million furnished by Sixteen Thirty's anonymous donors to other "left-leaning" organizations and political campaigns in that mid-term election year, which ushered in a hyped-up "Blue Wave" of centrist Dems, many of whom hail from the military and the CIA.

As Politico reported about Sixteen Thirty last November:

The spending was fueled by massive anonymous donations, including one gift totaling $51.7 million. That single donation was more than the group had ever raised before in an entire year before President Donald Trump was elected. Most of the group's funders are likely to remain a mystery because federal law does not require "social welfare"-focused nonprofits to reveal their donors.
The group's 2018 fundraising surpassed any amount ever raised by a left-leaning political nonprofit, according to experts, who pointed to the Koch network and the Crossroads network as rare right-leaning groups that posted bigger yearly fundraising totals at the height of their powers.
This is the kind of operation that The Guardian's Ed Pilkington actually casts as being in "the world of democracy reform and civil rights." It kind of makes you think that their definition of democracy reform is simply getting rid of it, and that civil rights are plutocratic rights, and plutocratic rights are civil rights.

Not for nothing, moreover, are the Democrats moaning about "fake news" and Russian interference in said democracy. As the Center for Responsive Politics reported recently, Sixteen Thirty also funds numerous party-aligned news sites which dishonestly pose as local independent journalism outlets.

Democracy For All 2021, which depends entirely upon dark oligarchic money for its very existence, nonetheless brags on its website, without a hint of irony, that it wants to "ensure transparency for all political spending."

It's no surprise that Democracy For All's idea of an anti-Trump health care platform is restricted to reproductive rights. Forget about polls showing that the majority of Americans support Medicare For All. Because 70 percent of Americans also support the be-all and end-all of Roe v Wade! 

If you demand both, then you're apparently asking for way too much. You have to pragmatically pick the battles that are so carefully selected for you by the credentialed Knowledge Class.

Pilkington explains:
Yet Schifeling found herself spending more and more of her time defending Planned Parenthood against the aggressive attacks of a small minority of extremist anti-abortion politicians. Despite the settled nature of the law, and the clear progressive bent of public opinion, women were finding it increasingly difficult in practice to secure their reproductive rights.
 She reached a reluctant and unhappy conclusion: “Our government is not able to represent the will of the people.”
Since then, Schifeling and her peers have been looking at the causes of this dysfunction and searching for solutions.
Schifeling has not yet come to the reluctant realization that affording guaranteed single payer health care to all citizens in the middle of a pandemic is among the obvious solutions for this dysfunction. We wouldn't want Democracy For All (Wealthy Socially Liberal People) to explode, or for their lifestyles to fundamentally change, would we?

It's their constant searching that really counts, right along the complicity of the churnalists operating right out there in the open as oligarchy-boosters. 

They don't call it the Media-Political Complex for nothing.

Thursday, September 3, 2020

Salongate Threatens To Overshadow Russiagate

You know what really blew my mind about Nancy Pelosi's illegal blowout? The surveillance video proves beyond any shadow of a doubt that she does indeed have her own hair. And here I'd been laboring under the petty impression that she wears a wig. She is, after all, 80 years old, and only half of all women still have a full head of hair by the time they reach 65. 

So instead of using her outdoor San Francisco press conference to bitch about being "set up" to break the law, she should have bragged about having the tresses of a woman half her age. She could also have mentioned that the combover of her frenemy and legislative dance partner Donald Trump hides such an unsightly bald spot that it's exposed with every gust of wind. She certainly took full advantage of the strong Pacific breezes blowing out her own blowout for that natural tousled look. The sad upshot was, she didn't look half as bad as she sounded. Blaming others for one's own bad behavior is something that Trump does. Maybe it was Salongate coming the same day that the Kennedy she'd endorsed for the Senate was so badly beaten. 

 She should probably just stick to the expert finger-wagging, laconic speech-ripping and grimacing Kente cloth-kneeling that she is so good at from now on, or at least until that magical day when she is beaten in a primary, and/or quits Congress forever to spend more time with her designer ice cream stash.

Trump, of course, will never keep his mouth shut or quit the presidency, even if Joe Biden squeaks through. I don't think, as others do, that he'll refuse to physically leave the premises on Inauguration Day. I think they'll still be counting the votes and litigating the results well into 2021. The interregnum between Trump I and Trump II, or worse, between Trump I and Biden I, will be toxic no matter how you slice it.

But back to the important stuff. Pelosi also could have claimed that the grainy footage of the black-robed woman with the slicked-back  hair was either Judge Judy Sheindlin or Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, both of whom have forsworn the high maintenance carefree blowout for the more severe kind of 'do that doesn't require constant attention from the concierge glam squad that's usually at Pelosi's beck and call whenever one of her servants picks up the phone to order a session.

The Speaker Sneaks (Pelosi)
Justice Ginsburg

Judge Judy

Naturally, the New York Times and Washington Post are barely covering the frippery of Salongate - not when there's the outright flummery of the continuing Russiagate saga with which to send chills and thrills down the spines of the American electorate.

The latest episode has our old indicted (Mueller Theatre charges since dismissed) friend, the Internet Research Agency, allegedly setting up a website with which to attack Joe Biden from the left. Using such well-known and trustworthy sources as "The Authorities" and "Officials"  the establishment media are again gaslighting the public and sowing doubt about all the information that we do not read in the Times and the Post, or watch on CNN and MSNBC.

Unless I'd had the Times to fill me in, I never would have known that an obscure site called even existed, and that it not only "tricked" real American independent journalists into writing for them, it actually paid them for writing for them. This practice of paying real money for freelance content is actually becoming quite rare in the Land of the Free.

Intrepid Times reporter Sheera Frenkel tracked down one of these American writers, who admitted by email that the editor of Peacedata not only is not a Real American, but that he also (suspiciously) wasn't as obsessively interested in criticism of Trump as more trustworthy media outlets must be in order to rake in millions of new subscribers. This freelancer further said that he's turned down payments of between $75 and $200 per article, claiming that he preferred to provide copy for free. And that kind of leads me to believe that the Times source may himself not be a Real Struggling Freelancer at all. The doubt is being sown so hard that I can almost feel the furrows deepening in my brain.

Oh well, I'm probably just jealous that Peacedata never noticed Sardonicky, or solicited any of my articles in its terrifying Internet search for lefty dupes who'll stoop to writing for money.

 So I think I'll just call it a day and go wash my hair with my cheap Suave shampoo and then it let it air-dry into silky flatness the way I always do.