Tuesday, December 28, 2021

You Are Expendable

 Of course, you already knew that. But now that the political apparatchik ostensibly in charge of national "disease control" has admitted that the running of the "economy" is more important than controlling diseases, all the platitudes in the world aren't going to do the overlord class a damned bit of good any more.

Just weeks after President Biden warned of a winter of pain and death from the COVID-19 pandemic, his administration has not just stopped at abruptly shortening by half the time that infected "asymptomatic" or exposed people must isolate. They can now return to work without the benefit of testing to determine whether they are sick and/or pose a risk to others. A winter of pain and death, no matter how annoying or scary it may sound, must never stand in the way of capitalism, or what the officials are euphemizing  as "everyday life."

Their convoluted logic is that since the Omicron variant of the disease itself is spreading so quickly, then people have to get over it even more quickly. You're in a race against your own bodily functions and response to viruses! You are, after all, an entrepreneur of your own health. Vax early, vax often. Be sure to hate and fear the unvaxxed and unboosted as you go responsibly about your own assigned task of wellness. 

These affected workers, the politicians and paid-for health experts tacitly acknowledge, do not come from the ranks of the Clerisy, or from the Professional-Managerial Class, who may continue to work safely and remotely from their homes if that is their preference. Those being precipitously forced back to work are from the service economy: the flight attendants, the teachers, the nurses, the cleaners, the food servers, the retail staffers - just about anybody, really, that the upper classes deem to be essential to their own comfort and well-being.

A flight is a terrible thing to cancel. Children, too, must continue to learn to compete in improperly ventilated buildings, even though more of them are getting hospitalized from the Omicron variant, and the under-fives are not even yet eligible for the vaccine.

The new recommendations “balance what we know about the spread of the virus and the protection provided by vaccination and booster doses,” inanely remarked Dr. Rochelle Walensky, head of the Centers for Disease Control. “These updates ensure people can safely continue their daily lives.”

Walensky did not offer one shred of evidence that halving the isolation time without follow-up testing ensures that people can be safe. She didn't mention that vaccinated people can still infect others if they have a breakthrough case. She didn't mention that the airline industry put pressure on the CDC to ease restrictions affecting their bottom line. So much for all the virtue-signaling talk from enlightened liberals about following The Science . She is unabashedly engaging in magical thinking at best, or cynically flouting her brand-new credentials from the Dr. Oz School of Charlatanry at worst.

As for Biden, he seems to have just given up, pivoting from waging a war on COVID to pleading that COVID is not really his problem. Here he is, via the New York Times, taking a page straight out of the Republican playbook of bashing centralized federal solutions to problems and crises, and championing states' rights instead:

In a conference call with governors on Monday, President Biden spoke of cooperation at various levels of government. Asa Hutchinson, the Republican governor of Arkansas, praised the president’s plan to give away 500 million rapid at-home tests, but said that federal efforts to stanch the infections must yield to state remedies.

 “Look, there is no federal solution,” Mr. Biden replied. “This gets solved at the state level.”

"Ultimately it gets down to where the rubber meets the road, and that’s where the patient is in need of help or preventing the need for help,” he added.

The best translation I can come up with for that glob of gibberish is that Biden is throwing tens of millions of Americans right under the neoliberal wheels of the bus that go round and round. And it will be up to the roadkill patients themselves to get help. Or, if they are irresponsibly unvaxxed or unboosted, they are not to expect any help at all from the government. And that includes scoring those free at-home tests that Biden may or may not provide.

Medical ethicists may be aghast and appalled at the ignorance and cruelty on full display at the very highest levels of the Bipartisan Party (h/t Gary Shteyngart), but CEOs and corporate boards and investors are ecstatic about the recent Expendability Directive, especially if they themselves have the luxury of working remotely and not having to risk being infected by the forced labor pool. 

As one Ivy League health expert cherry-picked by the Times put it about the lack of testing at the end of the new truncated isolation periods: "Given the tests are not widely available it's a reasonable approach."

He may as well have said that given the lack of food, allowing people to starve to death is also a reasonable approach. It's all about the enlightened laws of Cause and Effect. 

And just as "everyday life" is their code for working till you drop, the constant litany of Follow the Science  turns out to be nothing but plutocratic code for their true and everlasting mantra: Follow the Money.

Friday, December 24, 2021

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

War On Earth, Bad Vibes To Humans

 For one brief shining moment this past weekend, the New York Times broke out of its role as establishment mouthpiece and publicist for the powerful, and practiced some real journalism. 

"Hidden Pentagon Records Reveal Patterns of Failure In Deadly Airstrikes" was the banner headline of the two-part blockbuster written by Azmat Khan.  Of course, euphemizing the US government's decade-long campaign of drone terror and mass murder of civilians in the middle East as a tactical "failure" is the very essence of Timesianism.

Still, it's the body of the two-part piece, based upon a five-year-long investigation by the Times - including successful Freedom of Information lawsuits for Pentagon records, visits by reporters to the cratered, ruined physical sites of the atrocities, and interviews with survivors - that should be horrifying all who read it, and more than enough to call Congress back into session to start a full investigation and a full public airing of the smoking gun evidence of some of the worst war crimes in all of recorded history.

Khan writes, 

The trove of documents — the military’s own confidential assessments of more than 1,300 reports of civilian casualties, obtained by The New York Times — lays bare how the air war has been marked by deeply flawed intelligence, rushed and often imprecise targeting, and the deaths of thousands of civilians, many of them children, a sharp contrast to the American government’s image of war waged by all-seeing drones and precision bombs.

The documents show, too, that despite the Pentagon’s highly codified system for examining civilian casualties, pledges of transparency and accountability have given way to opacity and impunity. In only a handful of cases were the assessments made public. Not a single record provided includes a finding of wrongdoing or disciplinary action. Fewer than a dozen condolence payments were made, even though many survivors were left with disabilities requiring expensive medical care. Documented efforts to identify root causes or lessons learned are rare.

The air campaign represents a fundamental transformation of warfare that took shape in the final years of the Obama administration, amid the deepening unpopularity of the forever wars that had claimed more than 6,000 American service members. The United States traded many of its boots on the ground for an arsenal of aircraft directed by controllers sitting at computers, often thousands of miles away. President Barack Obama called it “the most precise air campaign in history.”

This was the promise: America’s “extraordinary technology” would allow the military to kill the right people while taking the greatest possible care not to harm the wrong ones.

Sadly, though, the timing of the Times in finally choosing to report what outlets like the Bureau of Investigative Journalism were writing about a decade ago was way, way off. Within 24 hours of publication, the war crimes blockbuster was knocked off the top of the digital front page by the utterly shocking news that Joe Manchin was finally done playing with the dead mouse known as the Build Back Better bill. It must be a bit of a relief that the elite movers and shakers and opinion-makers can ignore the mass drone slaughter so smoothly bragged about by Barack Obama, and instead direct all their news-cycle ire against the Democratic Party's latest designated Bad Cop. Manchin had the nerve not only to totally blindside the hapless and lackadaisical and totally complicit Biden, but to go on Fox News, of all places, to make the Big Reveal!

So Biden (who, to his credit, has reportedly greatly decreased the drone murders of innocents abroad) will react by seeming to reverse course and promising to deliver rapid Covid tests to every American household, without people having to go through a predatory insurance middleman after all! Not only that, he has also scored himself a brand new adorable  puppy named Commander.  Heartwarming story upon heartwarming story will make people forget all about their evictions, the resumption of their student loan payments and their lost paychecks due to the increasing number of ad hoc business closures resulting from the Fourth Wave of the pandemic.

Speaking of waves, unindicted war criminal Barack Obama was spotted cavorting in them, just as the big Times story broke, on his annual holiday vacation in Hawaii.

As the Times series on the drone slaughters and their coverups establishes - in case after case after gruesome case -  there has never been any accountability. Any accountability is reserved for the exposers of war crimes, like Julian Assange and Daniel Hale, the former drone operator who was sentenced last June to 45 months in prison for the crime of leaking documents on war crimes to the press - the same kind of documents that the Times now finally sees fit to print, to little or no reaction from either the political class or from the rest of the corporate media. I guess everybody's too busy tweeting about their "mild" Omicron test results while gaslighting the unvaxxed.

Here, meanwhile, is my published response to the Times war crimes story:

As Smedley Butler observed, war is a racket. And as long as members of Congress are among the racketeers, keeping their jobs by providing their districts with military bases, weapons and bomb-manufacturing plants and jobs, and all the countless other perks associated with global, institutionalized terrorism and death, these politicians will never hold their uniformed, hideously be-medaled partners in crime accountable for the atrocities.

What this country needs is another antiwar movement. Easier said than done, of course, given the end of the military draft and the transformation of fighting forces into flying predator and Reaper drones.

At the very least, we should be able to extend our newfound anti-racist "wokeness" to the essential racism that is inherent in all of this slaughter. As Judith Butler has observed, these casualties of war - demeaned as collateral damage and "mistakes that were made" by the generals - amount to deaths that are not deemed to be grievable. No surprise that the US has refused to become a party to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, which is designed to bring justice to war criminals. In fact, Congress even passed a law that any US official arrested overseas on war crimes charges must be rescued by any means necessary. They don't even try to cloak the consciousness of their own guilt.

Revelations as published here should at least put pressure on the Biden administration to drop the charges against Julian Assange.

Well, since I wrote that comment a few days ago, Biden has announced that he is sending everybody in America a free nasal swab, calling out the troops to administer more shots, and showing off his new puppy. So let us all hold our collective breaths while we still have the breath to hold.

Thursday, December 9, 2021

The Rewards of Rapacity

"For decades, Michael Steinhardt displayed a rapacious appetite for plundered artifacts without concern for the legality of his actions, the legitimacy of the pieces he bought and sold, the grievous cultural damage he wrought across the globe," thundered Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. this week.

Michael Steinhardt

Whereupon the outgoing Democratic prosecutor promptly forgave the billionaire raptor, dropping a four-year criminal investigation in exchange for the octogenarian promising to stay out of the criminal antiquities racket for the rest of his life. He didn't even have to pay the usual sweetheart tax deduction of a fine that criminal oligarchs commonly use to buy their way out of accountability on the relatively rare occasions that they do get charged. 

Steinhardt is doubly protected, though, always having had the protection racket known as the Duoply on his side. What the corporate media are not reporting about this sordid case is that it was largely Steinhardt's hedge fund money that forged the Democratic Party's hard right turn in the late 1980s with the founding of the Democratic Leadership Council. A major financier of Bill Clinton's campaign for the presidency. Steinhardt naturally was named the very first chairman of the DLC, as well as heading its inaptly named think tank, the Progressive Policy Institute.

Oh, and he also was one of the chief architects of Clinton's notorious pardon of fugitive financier Marc Rich.

So, like any oligarchic raptor worth his salt, Steinhardt is not only proclaiming his innocence, he is playing the victim card this week. The New York Times (which dutifully ignored Steinhardt's arguably worse crime of transforming the Democratic Party into the rapacious corporate entity that it is today) reported:

In a statement on Monday, his lawyer, Andrew J. Levander, said: “Mr. Steinhardt is pleased that the District Attorney’s yearslong investigation has concluded without any charges, and that items wrongfully taken by others will be returned to their native countries. Many of the dealers from whom Mr. Steinhardt bought these items made specific representations as to the dealers’ lawful title to the items, and to their alleged provenance. To the extent these representations were false, Mr. Steinhardt has reserved his rights to seek recompense from the dealers involved.”

Good luck suing af least a few of the mobsters he trafficked with, because they are not as lucky as Steinhardt and unlike him, were convicted on the thefts and are sitting in Italian jails.

Vance, who had once declined to prosecute Harvey Weinstein even after a police sting operation captured his predatory behavior on tape, and who gave the Trump children a pass for allegedly defrauding investors after they donated to his campaign, made a valiant effort to explain why he is now protecting Steinhardt from accountability:

In explaining the agreement not to prosecute so long as Mr. Steinhardt abides by all its terms, Mr. Vance said the arrangement would allow for the items to be “returned expeditiously to their rightful owners” rather than being held as evidence. It would also help his office to “shield the identity of the many witnesses here and abroad whose names would be released at any trial.”

Translation: any criminal trial would open up a whole can of writhing plutocratic worms complicit in Steinhardt's antiquities-trafficking racket. It's the same logic now being used in the Ghislaine Maxwell sex trafficking trial, where prosecutors have abruptly announced that they will be resting their case at the end of the week -  before, apparently, the names of any VIP enablers/clients/blackmail targets can get dragged through the mud. It's called going through the motions in a futile attempt to prove that Lady Justice is blind.

Steinhardt himself must know what a travesty his own case is. He actually railed against the Obama administration's own kid glove treatment of Wall Street predators after the meltdown of 2008. As Reuters reported at the time, 

 “What we really needed a long time ago was a recognition that there were villains apace. The evils of the financial system should have been recognized long before this,” said Steinhardt, who no longer manages billions of dollars but whose counsel is sought on Wall Street and among select politicians.

Steinhardt seems to have been practicing the fine art of projecting his own venality onto others. Even while preaching deficit-hawk austerity for the masses for upwards of three decades, he had been a known trafficker in stolen relics. This activity was not just pursued for the years that Vance acknowledged in his press conference, but during the entire time frame this Wall Street "luminary" was advising, donating to, and influencing politicians from both factions of the Uniparty.

 As the Times reported in its article on the agreement with Vance's office, way back 1995 a stolen golden bowl dating from 450 B.C. was seized from his home and returned to Italy, with similar confiscations and protestations of innocence and ignorance on Steinhardt's part sporadically continuing ever since.

And there was never any accountability. Only one year before the golden bowl incident, Steinhardt was then-President Bill Clinton's honored guest at a gala DLC Christmas holiday dinner. From the official transcript of Clinton's remarks:

Hillary and I are delighted to be here. I was so glad when Michael Steinhardt and Al From and Will Marshall came up on the stage. I thought we were occupying the right wing all by ourselves here tonight. [Laughter] I want to—it'll get funnier as you think about it.

 The bellies of the assorted plutocrats in attendance must have been shaking like a million golden bowls full of jelly. They were stuffing themselves with the stewed viscera of the working class and poor that the DLC (now known as New Democrats or "moderate" Centrists) have been preparing for the ultra-rich gourmands ever since, right along with their fellow chefs from the GOP.

Reward of Cruelty (William Hogarth)

In that speech, Clinton made no secret of his party's new right wing bona fides, and he also made no secret that the mass punishment of struggling people was rooted in the cult of elite rapacity. Neoliberal capitalism was, and is, an ideology. The looting, accompanied as it was by cynical calls for diversity and tolerance, was what they thought they could they could get away with. It was always about pitting "hard-working" folks against hordes of alleged loafers. The fostering of resentment kept the citizenry in line by redirecting their ire against each other and at one or another of the permitted two parties, or what Upton Sinclair described as the two right wings of one bird of prey. 

With Steinhardt no doubt beaming in approval on the stage back in 1994, Clinton delivered exactly the kind of divide and conquer stemwinder of a speech that his owners paid him to deliver. He co-opted race as a flimsy means to differentiate the two parties, using buzzwords to disguise the fact that his own reactionary policies - like welfare destruction  - were both racist and sexist to their very cores.

Well, we did a lot of things that they didn't like very much, especially after it got explained to them, as we say at home. I think I was right when I opposed discrimination and intolerance, but a lot of folks thought I was just more concerned about minorities than the problems for the majority.


We believe the promise of America is equal opportunity, not equal outcomes. The Democratic Party's fundamental mission is to expand opportunity, not Government. America must remain energetically engaged in the world, not retreat from it. The United States must maintain a strong and capable defense. The right way to rebuild America's economic security is to invest in our people and to expand trade, not to restrict it. We believe in preventing crime and punishing criminals, not explaining away their behavior. The purpose of social welfare is to bring the poor into the economic mainstream, not to maintain them in dependence. Government should respect individual liberty and stay out of our private lives and personal decisions. We believe in the moral and cultural values most Americans share, individual responsibility, tolerance, work, faith, and family. We believe American citizenship entails responsibilities as well as rights. And we mean to ask our citizens to give something back to their communities and their country.

Fast forward nearly thirty years, and Joe Biden - himself one of the original founding members of the DLC - is hosting an eerily similar "democratic" global leadership conference. The main difference is that this one is directed by a predatory superpower at the rest of the world

This is the same Clintonesque administration which insists that "we" cannot afford to send cheap Covid testing kits to every household in America, but which will willingly spend a trillion dollars a year on weapons and hardware to surveil, harm, and kill people all over the globe.  It is this endless violence that enables predators like Michael Steinhardt to reap the rewards of the systemic, institutionalized rapacity that calls itself the United States of America.

Underground "tomb raiders" are not so underground anymore. They are operating right out in the open for all to see, if only we still had eyes. They're counting on everybody either fighting one another in the divide and conquer culture wars manufactured at the very top, or simply donning our Melania Trump couture and trying to ignore the depravity of the ruling class, as we struggle to survive for yet another day.

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

The Science of Omnicrap

 "When I was elected," Joe Biden schmoozed to the nation on Monday in an ass-covering attempt to be seen as addressing the variant of the Covid virus being dubbed Omicron, "I said I would always be honest with you. So today, I want to take a few moments to talk about the new Covid variant first identified last week in Southern Africa. It's called the Omnicron."

Since Omni is the Latin root word for all, and Cron is derived from Chron, or time, this wasn't just an ordinary Joe-gaffe.  Biden was simply and honestly signaling that he would continue the grand old presidential tradition of All Bullshit, All the Time. And boy oh boy, did he ever sling it with abandon from behind his Christmas joy-festooned podium on Monday morning.

Let the merry manure-raking begin:

"It is –- and to their credit, the scientific community in South Africa quickly notified the world of the emergence of this new variant.  This kind of transparency is to be encouraged and applauded because it increases our ability to respond quickly to any new threats.  And that’s exactly what we did." 

In the grand old tradition of punishing whistleblowers who embarrass the One Exceptional Nation, while at the same time feigning admiration for whistleblowers who go through proper channels, Biden quickly punished South Africa and adjacent nations on the continent by initiating a travel ban. Said travel ban being delayed by several days and not applying to American citizens vacationing or doing business in southern Africa, both the punitive factor and the bullshit factor are immediately apparent to everybody. But since the objective of the travel ban is pure political theatre - a face-saving gesture to appease the xenophobic right wing of the Duopoly - Biden is largely getting a pass on his stunt in the corporate media. He certainly did not see fit to mention that South Africa is ahead of the vaunted USA in studying the genomic sequencing of the Covid virus - despite the fact that its own population is not as vaccinated against the virus as it should be. This is largely because US-based pharmaceutical giants don't want to give up their patents and profits and distribute their product freely to the rest of the world.

And Biden also neglected to mention that the world's 20 richest countries have received 90 percent of the vaccines, and that six times more booster shots are being given every day in rich countries than first doses are being administered in poor countries. The World Health Organization has aptly called this blatant inequality a scandal, and its leader has called for a moratorium on boosters until the rest of the world has adeguate supplies of the vaccine.  

As reported in The New Republic, the Covid-19 vaccines developed using at least $18 billion of public funds are expected to bring in $100 billion to private companies this year. "And the United States has been jealously guarding the doses it purchased to the point where 15 million vaccine doses were simply thrown out over the last six months." 

Thus the necessity for Biden to openly and honestly wallow in his own omnicrap at Monday's presser:

"It (the  feeble travel ban gesture) gives us time.  It gives us time to take more (propagandistic)  actions, to move quicker (to get our spokespeople on cable and calm the investor class and the Market), to make sure people understand (to gaslight and blame powerless people) you have to get your vaccine. You have to get the shot.  You have to get the — get the booster if you’re -–

"And we’ll fight this variant with scientific and knowledgeable actions, and speed — not chaos and confusion.  And we have more tools today to fight the variant than we’ve ever had before — from vaccines to boosters, to vaccines for children five years and older, and much more."

We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets and in the hills. But it will be a cold day in hell before we ever fight to get you the guaranteed single payer health care system you deserve as a basic human right. That is not a tool that the oligarchs who run the place would ever stock in their palatial workshops.

Biden made it abundantly clear on Monday that our neoliberal capitalistic form of government will continue to make the whole world safe from the threat of democracy:

"We do not yet believe that additional measures will be needed.  But so that we are prepared if needed, my team is already working with officials at Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson to develop contingency plans for vaccines or boosters if needed.

We’re throwing everything we can at this virus, tracking it from every angle.  And that’s what we have to keep doing.  That’s how we reopened our country.  That’s how we reopened our businesses.  That’s how we reopened our schools.  That’s how, even with a pandemic, we’ve generated a record job creation, a record economic growth in this country." 

Translation: it will be up to the pharmaceutical billionaire oligarchs making their windfall profits to dictate policy in the interests of themselves and their stockholders. Our elected congress-critters, so cheaply bribed into inaction, are not in the loop. Chemical panaceas that may or may not work will substitute for even short-lived lockdowns, and school and business closings. People don't need more stimulus checks, eviction moratoriums, hospital beds and social services. The oligarchy needs them to keep working at all those newly created jobs and to contribute relentlessly to the record growth of capitalism and profits for the few. Omnicron does not translate into Omnicare.

And forget about the rest of the world. Biden is Trumpily America-First to his very core. He wears his invisible MAGA hat proudly on his pate.

It was no surprise that Biden received no pushback on his priorities from the assembled corporate press corps in the room. A typical question from one reporter:

 "Mr. President, is this the new normal that Americans should expect: anticipating future potential variants?  Should we expect intermittent travel restrictions and potential drops in the stock market going forward?  Do you have any words of reassurance that this won’t become the new normal?"

In other words, the priorities are well-off people getting on airplanes and protecting their stock market investments - not whether ordinary people will needlessly die because they cannot afford to see a doctor when they get sick. Can Biden, for the millionth time, please reassure the nervous rich that nothing in their lives will fundamentally change just because of this pesky old virus? Why, of course he can!

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, to answer your first question first, the answer is: I expect this not to be the new normal. I expect the new normal to be everyone ends up getting vaccinated and the booster shot so we reduce the number of people who aren’t protected to such a low degree that we’re not seeing the spread of these viruses. 

The Same Old Abnormal will go on. The boosters themselves will be free, but universal health care will never be free, because we insist that everyday people should want nothing more than the freedom to shop and pay for whatever basic human right can be commodified for the enrichment of someone else.

 There will be no more lockdowns, because if people who have been shut out of the health care marketplace for years because of lack of money would only get their shots and their boosters, our convoluted logic goes, then there wouldn't be a need for lockdowns and stimulus checks. They must be the entrepreneurs of their own lives. Pandemic or no pandemic, there is no way that neoliberal capitalism is ever again going to pay people to stay home for their own protection. The magic shot is a fair shot at a good shake. It gives your arm the strength to climb up all those Ladders of Opportunity we have so thoughtfully erected for you. And if you were really the responsible entrepreneur of your own life that you should be, you'd even get extra booster shots in both arms to show your economic patriotism!

"We believe the vaccines will continue to provide a degree of protection against severe disease," Biden soothed in the meantime.

Nobody in the press corps asked him if there is a cure for the severe disease known as capitalism. Maybe the refreshing, increasing number of labor strikes in this country and around the world will give the oligarchy the shot in its bloated flabby arm it so sorely needs in order to stop the spread of its gross disease by-products to the rest of us. We need a little Christmas immunity from them, right this very minute! 

Friday, November 19, 2021

When Elitivists Attack

Elitivism, def: A cross between social justice activism and plutocratic self-interest; in other words, an oxymoron for the ages.To the best of my knowledge, this neologism was first coined by Sardonicky way back in 2017 to describe the wealthy Hillary Clinton supporters who abandoned their brunches and displayed their mass "aghastitude" at the election of Donald Trump by taking to the streets in Women's Marches, wearing their pink pussy hats and outdoing themselves in outraged Tweets.

They and their supporters effectively diverted attention away from why Trump had beaten Clinton and the centrist Democratic establishment  in the first place. They eschewed self-examination and simply sold the narrative that The Donald had sprung fully formed from a fetid womb full of Deplorables. They also diverted attention from genuine movements for racial, social and economic justice, in many cases subsuming grassroots activists and agitators into their own elitist ranks. They got wall to wall media coverage of their elitivism, especially when they dutifully parroted Hillary's "we wuz robbed" Russiagate narrative, which accused Trump of being a Kremlin plant.

 Sudden concern and spontaneous protests for Muslim refugees at the airports and kids in cages at the border and support for Trump's embattled first attorney general and championship of the Trump-tortured torturing CIA, FBI and Pentagon became all the elitivistic rage. Medicare For All? Not so much, because let's face it  - their plates were piled way too high with all that rancid Trump-meat to chomp down upon before vomiting it all out, over and over and over again - before feasting upon it anew like the gourmet banquet it really was for them. 

Once 2020 finally rolled around, the trendy Pussy Hat Posse sadly was no more, largely because of group in-fighting over who would be in charge of it.  But nevertheless, the Elitivists persisted. They and their fellow travelers at the Tippy Top of liberal wealth evolved into a discreet dark money club calling itself the 1630 Fund. As just reported by Politico, which got ahold of its most recent IRS filing, it channeled nearly half a billion dollars in cash and securities into various Democratic Party front groups or fictional "pop-up" outfits for purposes of defeating Trump - while simultaneously and discreetly thwarting Bernie Sanders and his renegade "socialistic" policies.

The 1630 fund is controlled by Arabella Advisors, whose founder and CEO is "serial entrepreneur" Eric Kessler. Coincidentally enough, Kessler is a former Clinton White House appointee who later also controlled the finances of the Clinton Global Initiative.

According to its official IRS disclosure statement, typed out neatly and modestly in ALL CAPS, 


I placed the neoliberal buzzwords in bold, just in case you missed their delicate subtlety. Particularly noticeable is the substitution of "access to health" for single payer health care. Also, "pay equity" is not the same thing as increasing the minimum wage. 

This 1630 mission statement is a perfect echo of Joe Biden's own campaign promise to his big-money donors, many of whom no doubt donated to the 1630 Fund, that "nothing will fundamentally change." The wealthy financiers of political campaigns invariably get whatever they want. So what if the vast majority of the citizenry wants Medicare For All? The wealthy donor class does not want it. 

And it's certainly no accident that minimal paid family leave is still a survivor among the ruins of Biden's Build Back Better cardboard edifice. Why else, to give just one elitivistic example, would DNC-adjacent multimillionaire Meghan Markle, operating under her decidedly anti-democratic title of Duchess of Sussex, be so relentlessly agitating for its passage in a whirlwind media tour?

(My take: both men and women in the service economy are quitting their jobs in droves, so the relative pittance of only four weeks paid time off and subsidized nursery care being offered by the oligarchs will inspire them to keep working in the cause of profits for the few.)

Meanwhile, scrolling through the IRS form of the myriad grantees of the 1630 Fund and attempting to discern their provenance or whether they ever even existed at all would be a full time job. 

There are, however, the usual tell-tale clues. One group, "Consumers For Affordable Health Care" in Chicago, ironically received $10,000 in the "social justice" and "civil rights" categories. Remember, proles: when they insist that health care is a human right, it is limited to shopping till you drop for overpriced insurance product that covers nothing. My internet search for this alleged organization yielded no results whatsoever. There is, however, a group by the same name based in Maine. 

Speaking of Chicago,  you can rest assured that the grantee called Higher Ground Production Labs LLC does indeed exist. A subsidiary of Obama, Inc., it netted a whopping $415,530 from the 1630 Fund for its own work in "civil rights advocacy," which includes the very profitable  Pod Save America podcast.  Its Board of Directors includes corporate executives from the likes of the relentlessly needy Facebook Empire and the Wall Street Nation of megabanks.

Just the titles alone of many of these grantees tell you everything you need to know about them: Future Now Fund, Justice Forward Virginia, Leading Colorado Forward, MoveOn.org (of course), NextGen Climate Action, SWPA Moving Forward, Future Forward, Future Forward Action Fund. and the inevitable Future Now Movement. And we can't leave out those constant "progressive" adjectives. I suppose we should at least be grateful that there is no Fine Folks Fighting For the Future of Folks in this roiling, cloying, incestuous money-churning maelstrom.

It has actually reached the point that the word "progressive" has been rendered meaningless, so long ago was it co-opted by the elitivists as a smokescreen made of the desensitizing fumes of pure heroin propaganda.

"Progress," wrote Albert Camus in the 1940s,"paradoxically can be used to justify conservatism. A draft drawn on confidence in the future, it allows the master to have a clear conscience. The slave and those whose present life is miserable and who can find no consolation in the heavens are assured that at least the future belongs to them. The future is the only kind of property that the masters willingly concede to the slaves." 

This whole futurism thing is no longer the "winner" it was when Barack Obama sloganized it as a panacea to cruel austerity. The real activists, such as those rightfully deriding the recent COPs Confab in Glasgow, know full well that there will likely be no healthy future for them. Not that the elected officials of the globe care. The ink was barely dry on the latest aspirational climate "accord" before the Biden administration approved another round of oil and gas-drilling leases in the Gulf of Mexico.

Any official who can rudely cut off a dying activist's plea for Medicare For All by belligerently retorting : "I'm not for it!" while insisting that he is chock full of empathy for his plight because he, too, has suffered grief, can also ignore and advance the death of an entire planet. Biden's flattery of Ady Barkan as an "inspiration" during a campaign stunt got him everywhere, not least because Barkan's own "lesser evil" endorsement of Status Quo Joe gave cover to other, less-celebrated activists to essentially abandon the Sanders agenda as the only way to defeat Trump.

Barkan duly received a paltry $300 "capacity-building" grant from 1630 for his own PAC last year - which is mostly funded by nurses' unions and the recurring hefty donations from Megan Hull, the daughter of a finance mogul and philanthrocapitalist who lost to Barack Obama in the Illinois Senate primary in 2004. Biden, for his part, broke his promise to Barkan of a public insurance option just as fast as he was indecently able to. He rests his conscience by countering every plea for social justice by one-upping the issue and telling the story of his own family tragedies. That is apparently how he is able to sleep at night. That, and going to Mass.

 In a Times article published during the campaign, Biden was praised for showing such performative empathy to a dying man, who despite excellent insurance and the generous support of donors to his PAC, faces a real possibility of dying a bankrupt. If Ady Barkan, of all the tragic figures, can accept Biden, then shame on us if we could not and would not. Or so the attempted gaslighting went.

In the meantime, many a Democratic veal pen espousing one narrow cause or another is hitching its wagon to Barkan's star power. In New York (h/t Jay-Ottawa), there was a special online showing last week of a movie featuring Barkan, a hook to entice people to donate to their individual causes and/or join them on a bus trip to Washington to "greet" returning members of Congress  and politely ask them to fight for the last vestiges of the Build Back Better legislation. One of them is called Hand In Hand, the Domestic Employers' Network. You got that right - it's an elitivistic Democratic Party offshoot composed of women who are well-off enough to afford nannies and housekeepers. They are broadcasting the message that since they care about The Help, then so should you. Because the top 10 percent and the working poor are all in this together, of course!

Julia Solow, organizing head of the New York chapter and adherent to Barkan's Be a Hero PAC, has been a frequent guest on Radio Free Kingston, which is owned by Peter Buffett, son of billionaire Warren Buffett. Actually, the younger Buffett has effectively purchased the entire Hudson Valley city of Kingston in a burst of gentrifying  philanthrocapitalistic enthusiasm. He is now a gentleman farmer who pays his own Help very well, and attracts a lot of luxury cars to this "revitalized" community, where the eviction rate in the pre-pandemic, pre-moratorium year of 2019 rose by a full third because of drastically higher, unaffordable rents.

So you see, it's not just the 1630 Fund which has bought - actually, usurped - our country and our entire world and is remaking them in its own image under the fig leaf of community activism - and all the while combating one brand of fake news with another brand of fake news. 

The modern-day oligarchs are succeeding beyond their wildest dreams. They are succeeding unto death, both ours - and eventually, despite all the concierge health care and space colonization that their money can buy - even theirs.

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

The Wee Hive Mind of the Ruling Class

Virginia voters last week denied former Clinton operative and ex-governor Terry McAuliffe  a second non-consecutive term. He'd apparently thought that lecturing Virginia parents that they have no say in school curricula, coupled with fear-mongering about all the Trumps under the bed, would cancel out his unappealing persona and platform, which included no economic benefits for struggling people.

The meaning (takeaway) of this rather predictable electoral outcome, according to the usual cabal of centrist scolds, is that "we" need a lot more austerian Terry McAuliffes in the nation's statehouses and in the hallowed, hollow halls of Congress. This illogical conclusion reinforces an essential truth about the media-political complex. They are either knowingly or unknowingly detached from reality. They see what they are paid to see.

A second essential truth to always bear in mind is that whenever they use the pronouns "we" and "us," they are not referring to you and me and the 330 million other citizens of this country. They mean the obscenely wealthy individuals and corporations running the joint, as well as the top nine or 10 percent of earners (the Professional-Managerial Class, or the PCM, aka the Clerisy) whose main function is to give service, succor and cover to the Upper One Percent in hopes of one day reaching the lofty One Percent themselves, while they simultaneously presume to interpret "reality" and enforce "norms" for the mere schlubs they aim to control. The bottom 90 or so percent of us, whose wealth just keeps getting sucked dry by the oligarchs and the PCM, are being set up as the lazy selfish scapegoats who must pay the price for all the capitalistic sins of the world. 

For example, as an instantly-notorious unsigned New York Times editorial published last week put it, the problem with progressives who want nice things like generous family leave, guaranteed medical care, subsidized housing and other luxuries, is that they are just too "coddled." This is quite the about-face for the Paper of Record, which only a few months ago was lauding Joe Biden's then-$3+ trillion Build Back Better package as the most sweeping social program since FDR. Well, Franklin Delano Biden, always the cutout hybrid between a sheepdog and a paper tiger for purposes of his election, has been duly cast back into the stubborn embers of neoliberalism. The real deals, according to the Times, are Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, who are the actual heart and soul of the Democratic Party. That, of course, would be true if the Democratic Party actually had a heart and a soul.

Despite the fact that a vast majority of Not-We's support single payer health care, a living wage and student loan forgiveness, the Times, without one shred of evidence, claimed that most Americans hail from the center or center-right and oppose better living conditions for both themselves and their neighbors. Besides repeating the old canard that the taxes of hardworking Americans is the only way to make other (read: undeserving) people's lives better, the Grey Lady proved she was imbibing some really high-priced corporate powder when she snorted:

Mr. Biden did not win the Democratic primary because he promised a progressive revolution. There were plenty of other candidates doing that. He captured the nomination — and the presidency — because he promised an exhausted nation a return to sanity, decency and competence. “Nobody elected him to be F.D.R.,” Representative Abigail Spanberger, a moderate Democrat from Virginia, told The Times after Tuesday’s drubbing. “They elected him to be normal and stop the chaos.”

Never mind that as a former CIA operative whose agency has fomented plenty of global chaos in the 75 regime-changing, dirty tricks-playing years of its existence, Spanberger and her cohort believe that some brands of chaos are more preferable than other kinds of chaos, like the mental, physical and emotional chaos you experience by being unable to afford a visit to the doctor when you get sick.

Nothing defines just who the designated "we" are better than the aptly named COP 26  U.N. confab in Glasgow.  Although it stands for Conference of the Parties, the real function of this ostensible attempt to reverse and ameliorate global climate change and catastrophe has been to erect a preening, scolding venue for the same ruling and owning class experts, whose thousands of tonnes of carbon spewed in flying to the event in their private jets, and whose endless wars and relentless resource extractions are the prime cause of the planetary emergency in the first place. They have lectured their fellow oligarchs only if they happen to be from Russia, China and other places that "we" don't much like. They did party a lot, of course, and acted like the authoritarian "good cops" that they are by putting the onus on their victims. They are the drug pushers who blame the world's addiction to fossil fuels on the addicts that they themselves created through the magic of advertising, and whom they now try to shame to death.

Former President Barack Obama, fresh from cutting down hundreds of trees and destroying the iconic Women's Garden in Chicago's Jackson Park to make room for a $500 million monument to himself, flew in to Scotland by private jet to tell the world's young people that if they want to survive, they're just going to have to rev up their activism.  Far be it for Obama to tell the polluting corporations who funded his campaigns and who continue pay him for speaking gigs and other media ventures to cut out their criminal behavior. 

He was too busy rubbing their noses in his own B.S., insulting the Scots by calling it the Emerald Isle and and then quoting the English bard Shakespeare instead of revered national poet Robert Burns. Like many in his class, Obama has the preternatural ability to make his ignorance seem like genius.

Thank god that more and more people aren't buying into the Narrative any more. Just as general strikes forced FDR's New Deal legislation into existence during the last Great Depression, so too are general strikes going to force a change now, especially with Covid now reaching endemic status and inflation making a comeback. Both events have their roots in the beginning of neoliberalism and globalism, a melding of public and private interests (public expense for private profit) nearly 50 years ago. 

The question is what form this inevitable change will take. If the Dems have their way, it will be a return to Trumpism or something even worse. Just think of the surge in MSNBC and CNN's now-moribund ratings and Times subscriptions if they can only create that magical glow of Trump once again!

So now might be the time for the Squad to quit the Democratic Party altogether - that is, if they hope to remain relevant to the "Not-Wee" majority. Because we are the We who matter, and we are still the many. The rich are not quite as influential as they imagine themselves to be, given the careless Thought(less) Leaders that they are. They are mere mortals who do not equal the vast sum of their hoarded wealth.

Wee, sleeket, cowran, tim’rous beastie,
O, what a panic’s in thy breastie!
Thou need na start awa sae hasty,
          Wi’ bickerin brattle!
I wad be laith to rin an’ chase thee
          Wi’ murd’ring pattle!

I’m truly sorry Man’s dominion
Has broken Nature’s social union,
An’ justifies that ill opinion,
          Which makes thee startle,
At me, thy poor, earth-born companion,

          An’ fellow-mortal!

-- Robert Burns, from To A Mouse.

Tuesday, November 2, 2021

Playing Preying Munching Manchin

Joe Manchin is absolutely reveling in the marathon cat-and-mouse game he's playing with that increasingly tattered ball of fluff known as the Build Back Better Act.

Grizzled old unfixed feline though he may be, Manchin can't resist reverting to some kittenish antics in his dotage, mewling coquettishly just the other day that "I'm open to supporting a final bill that helps move our country forward. But I'm equally open to voting against a bill that hurts our country.”

He's already eviscerated the poor little rodent with his fangs and claws. But even though it is mostly dead, if not already completely dead, the game must go on. He stuffs his prey into his maw, shakes it about in a frenzy before letting go and watching it fly across the room, to land with a pathetic thud before it skids limply across the floor in a simulacrum of panicked live-action flight. Cool cat Joe then lowers himself into the pounce position, butt wiggling and tail twitching, pretending that the dead or near-dead creature is the worst mortal enemy in the whole history of responsible and respectable fat cat-dom.

 With a growl, he springs into action and mauls the corpse anew before cradling in his arms and licking it into submission.

When the political game being played in Washington is the Mickey Mouse version of Kill Bill, and like Joe Manchin, you're not only winning but you're the only player, why would you ever call a merciful end to things? After all, you've got your myriad "owners" like Joe Biden and Chuck Schumer to reward your antics with a big bowl of cream for so entertainingly torturing and killing the mouse with such insane aplomb. It certainly saved them and the rest of the Democrats the trouble of having to do it en masse by buying a mousetrap and setting the cruel, inhumane thing in full public view themselves. 

Joe Manchin is the sound of one neoliberal hand clapping... or, if you will, the spine of one nation snapping.

But I am here to tell you the Democrats do feel your pain. If you're bummed out because there will be no paid family leave, no dentures or eyeglasses for old people, no climate catastrophe reversal, please remember that it could always be worse. The brand of trap recommended by most Dems is Hav-a-Heart. 

Look at this way - the liberal class is so virtuous that they even treat the maligned Manchin humanely. Not a tail-puller or arm-twister in the bunch! As the website "Senior Cat Wellness" lays it out,

As cats are born hunters, they often kill live prey such as mice or birds. Before killing a small animal, a cat will seemingly play with it first. While this looks cruel, the cat is acting in self-preservation rather than malice.

Cats play with prey to subdue it before delivering a killing blow, which can be dangerous when hunting rodents. Mice and rats will fight to stay alive, usually by biting. This could be painful for a cat or spread disease. Playing with prey by batting or tossing it leaves small animals exhausted or injured. The cat can then safely kill and conclude a hunt.

 So you see, proles, Manchin is simply operating on a natural instinctual  level. We are deemed to be more dangerous to him than he is to us. (If only.) It's all about the self-preservation of a political party and not about nasty things like voters who are fighting to stay alive on low wages, no health care and a burning, drowning planet.

The good things in the bill may have gone the way of poor little Mousie, and prey of all species will suffer and die because of Manchin and his backup, Kyrsten Sinema.  But the bright side is that these good, rejected safety net and survival things are now finally part of the National Conversation! 

 "Paid family leave's demise this time could fuel it later," gushes a recent headline in the New York Times. Who knew? It is just like the dead mouse that the cat brings back to life by the power of its own violent imagination!

If you find that reassurance from the cat pan Liner of Record too hard to swallow, then it is your own damned fault, and the elites will be only too happy to browbeat you, gaslight you, and guilt-trip you into compliance and shame. Times scribe Jonathan Weisman outlines it thusly:

Some business groups and G.O.P. proponents of a paid leave program believe that if it had been broken out and negotiated with Republicans, the way a $1 trillion infrastructure package was at Mr. Biden’s urging, it could have survived, and some think it still could resurrected as a bipartisan initiative.

They said the problem lay with the Democrats’ decision to put paid family leave in the expansive social policy and climate bill — a multitrillion-dollar package financed by large tax increases on businesses and the wealthy — which they knew that Republicans and mainstream business groups would never support. 

It was all in the framing, stupid! Somebody could have at least belled the cat, for crying out loud. Or plugged up the mouseholes at least, to avoid all the pain and blood and gore hurting their sensitive, innocent, beneficent, elitist eyes. 

Meanwhile, if all you designated prey out there do find yourselves struggling in the clutches of a whole clowder of capitalistic fat cats, all you need to do is relax. Or as "progressive" Guardian columnist Robert Reich adjures us, we should get to work on our resilience skills. Plus, wouldn't you rather be miserable under Biden than under Trump? If there is one thing that Reich has learned in his 50 year political career, it is that human prey are way too impatient. It is unrealistic to take the promises of a better survival by politicians too seriously. If you can't wait decades or centuries to get the housing, medical care, food or climate catastrophe reversal you urgently need right now this very minute, then you're just wallowing in fatalism. "The greatest enemy of positive social change is cynicism about what can be changed," he glibly and cheerily concludes.

Yes, my friends, we are now definitely in the terminal gaslighting phase. They haven't failed us. We have failed them.

Let us therefore show our resilience and all stop cynically chanting "Let's Go Brandon," and instead rejoice that the Pope has not excommunicated Joe Biden.

Let our new pro-austerity mantra be "Man Up, and Take It On the Chin." Or conversely: "Chin Up and Take It Like a Man!"

President Joe Manchin

For as the party of the oligarchic Demos is wont to yowl: "Don't ever let the purr-fect be the enemy of the good."

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Surreal Times In the Good Old USA

Can't order find common cause with chaos? Can't sanity and insanity just please finally get along?

It's long past time to get realistic and pragmatic and centrist, people. Joe Biden's Build Back Better legislation is as good as dead in the polluted water.  So let's give three cheers for the new and improved Whittle Down Worse Wisely agenda, which is certainly a lot smarter than the reckless Shave Away to a Sad Pile of Sawdust that those nasty old Republicans are rooting for. 

American politics can be visualized as a Salvador Dali painting. As Albert Camus observed, the essence of surrealism is that it is both irrational and triumphant. "The surrealists, while simultaneously exalting human innocence, believed they could exalt murder and suicide," he wrote in The Rebel.

 The New York Times is only too happy to aid and abet the Democrats at their own hard passive-aggressive work of whittling down wisely in order to placate their murderous mutual overlords. The main tactic is to frame the narrative into an honest debate between two equal factions: the very sincere, poor people-hating deficit hawks, and the equally sincere, innocent, and very smug climate catastrophe acknowledgers.  You see,  the issue is not one of life and death. The only issue is how "we" can sustain economic growth. Everybody can irrationally agree, after all, that there can be a bright side to cancer.

Or as tax and economics reporter Jim Tankersley more decorously concern-trolls it:

It is a stealth battle over the fiscal future at a time when few lawmakers in either party have prioritized addressing debt and deficits. Each side believes its approach would put the nation’s finances on a more sustainable path by generating the strongest, most durable economic growth possible.

Get it? There are only two designated "sides" in this surreal intra-oligarchic debate. Tankersley actually recasts the Wall Street-spawned Third Way think tank as the environmentally conscious liberal good guy in the contrived narrative, while arch-conservative economist Michael Strain of the American Enterprise Institute gets to be magically transformed into a "centrist."

Strain is such a reasonable, moderate guy that his solution to poverty is to give unemployed people a bus ticket out of town so they can find a job at sub-minimum wage to help them get back on their feet without any of those horrible government handouts.

Third Way, founded by the late billionaire Pete Peterson for the sole purpose of unraveling the New Deal via deficit hysteria, desperately wants the separate infrastructure bill to pass, given that it contains so many corporate subsidies for the repair (and privatization!) of our crumbling roads and bridges. Therefore, the Times turns to Josh Freed, Third Way's vice president in charge of climate and energy, for the requisite scientific expertise. Freed says the reason to reverse climate catastrophe is not so much to save lives now as it is to avoid wasting money on the victims of future disasters, which would put a real damper on the profits of the ruling class.

Or, as Freed more decorously concern-trolls it for easy digestion by Times readers:

“Those are the table stakes for the reconciliation and infrastructure debate. It’s why we think the cost of inaction, from an economic perspective, is so enormous.”

Translation: investors have to extract and spend public money - not their own hoarded wealth, mind you - in order to make enormous private profits later. And it's all for the good of the planet. This is otherwise known as green-washing everything in sight to slap an Earth-friendly gloss over corporate greed and rapacity.

Freed, an alumnus of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, also serves on the board of the Clean Energy Leadership Council. which according to his Third Way profile, is "an organization dedicated to equipping a diverse set of emerging leaders with the skills and expertise to lead the transition to a clean energy economy."

Have you ever noticed that these philanthrocapitalist do-good fronts are never about solving problems in the here and now, but all about capitalism tooting its own horn and gauzily imparting its skills and inspiration to the youthful leaders of Tomorrow?

And sure enough, the Clean Energy Leadership Council gets the bulk of its funding from energy companies and their various representatives and lobbyists. The notorious Con Ed of New York is listed as a "foundational partner," along with the public-private New York State Energy Research and Development Association. One "kilowatt supporter" is listed as Van Ness Feldman LLP,, a law firm which boasts on its own website that it is one of the nation's top three lobbyists for the oil and gas industry. It also boasts of its "diversity and inclusion," proving once again that the Greenwashing/Wokewashing Partnership is a ubiquitous plank in corporate propaganda across multiple industries.  Pollution and greed are proud equal opportunity employers.

Another kilowatt supporter is an outfit called Adaptive Change Advisors, which modestly claims on its website that it has taught everybody from White House personnel to Google, to Microsoft, to the United Nations to the World Bank how to win friends and influence people. Based upon a Harvard University-developed system, it is essentially about elites instructing elites on how to be more elite. If there is any adapting to be done, those targets shall remain nameless. But you know who you are! I am taking a wild guess that Advanced Whittling For Dummies is part of its core curriculum. Also too, there are probably instructions on how to write a concern-trolling New York Times article which frames narratives and phony debates around rich-people interests, while hammering home the point that There Is No Alternative. So, Lessers, adapt to murder-suicide already!

Did I mention that Jim Tankersley, author of the aforementioned misleading New York Times think piece, is also a "media fellow" at Stanford University's neoliberal Institute For Economic and Policy Research? This particular think tank was founded by the late George Shultz, who held four different Cabinet positions in Republican administrations and who later headed the Board of Directors of Theranos, whose own founder, Elizabeth Holmes, is currently on trial for defrauding investors. His other claims to fame were leading the global energy company Bechtel and devising George W. Bush's policy of preemptive war.

Why else would there be no mention of the US Military being the biggest single polluter by fossil fuels on the face of the planet? Why else do you never read about the "affordability" of war in the New York Times, or in any of the five or six media conglomerates and allied tech titans that own both the discourse and the means of delivering the discourse?

There used to be a great journalistic organization called Muckety, which actually drew convoluted spider-webby diagrams explaining how virtually all the members the ruling class are interconnected.  One day, the site simply disappeared off the Internet without a trace and with no explanation.

Convoluted diagrams that resemble hairy spiders are so headache-inducing anyway. So I'll let the late great George Carlin whittle it all right down for ya: