Friday, September 24, 2021

The Horses' Asses of the Apocalypse

 It took a valiant effort, but Joe Biden managed to use practically every cliché in the book to try and explain away the horror of Haitian refugees getting whipped and prodded like cattle by the Horsemen of the Homeland Apocalypse (aka, the Border Patrol.)

 After assuring a reporter that he takes "full responsibility" for the cruel treatment of the migrants, Biden quickly cast the blame upon everyone and anyone but himself. He even seemed to blame the actual victims when he garbled: "To see people treated like they did, horses barely running them over and people being strapped. It was outrageous. I promise those people will pay.”

He is already seeing to it that one subset of "those people" will pay immediately, without so much as a court hearing on their asylum requests, by being shackled and herded onto gleaming airplanes, to be unceremoniously dumped into their ravaged native land, regardless of the fact that many have not lived in their native land for years and have no home to go back to.

Or, "those people" could mean the Homeland cowboys, who were legislated into being after 9/11 with the great enthusiasm and a very hearty thumbs-up from then-Senator Joe Biden himself. The president is now trying to pretend they are a bunch of outlaws who are not operating under the direct and explicit orders of the United States government. Biden is just sorry that they got caught doing the jobs that they were hired and trained to do, and acting like they were enjoying themselves.

Biden therefore announced that the Department of Homeland Security will be investigating itself and leveling "consequences" upon person or persons or scapegoats unknown. Some 20-year-old kids will be no doubt be perp-walked, much as the US Army grunts like Lindy England were, when all on their own under orders, they tortured Iraqi prisoners in Abu Ghraib.

Meanwhile, it seems like only last month when Biden promised "consequences" for the deaths of US troops in Afghanistan, and his  military minions promptly launched a Reaper drone attack against an innocent Afghan family, the designated "those people."  A mistake was made, but only because the US government got caught. Collateral damage happens. War is foggy, you see.

The worst thing about the atrocious treatment of the Haitian refugees for Biden, though, is that the photographic evidence of systemic US cruelty - rather than the cruelty itself - is an embarrassment to him personally. It makes him look bad, especially when the images were released just as he was belligerently touting American peace, love, democracy and freedom to the rest of the world at the United Nations' annual summit this week.

“It’s an embarrassment. It’s beyond an embarrassment. It’s dangerous, it’s wrong, it sends the wrong message around the world or sends the wrong message at home," he fumed, ending his spiel with the obligatory "It's not who we are!"

It's hard to emphasize enough just how craven and downright psychopathic this statement is. Biden is saying right out loud that he is more concerned with the optics of the situation than he is with the suffering of the potentially thousands of desperate human beings that he is deporting without so much as a court hearing. His spin doctor, Jen Psaki, had been equally callous the day before when she glibly announced that in the immediate future, Homeland cowboys will not be deployed in open spaces where they can be seen and photographed whipping people. Homeland Security has traditionally mounted their horses to go after migrants in areas with tall grass, where  crueltyis less likely to witnessed and documented. More discreet methods of detention and expulsion will be used for the Haitian asylum seekers, so as to avoid upsetting Joe Biden and his party and his donors.

Not that his erstwhile defenders and enablers were all that enchanted with Status Quo Joe before the refugees began arriving in Del Rio, Texas. The tide of elite opinion had already begun to turn against him when he ended their extremely lucrative two decade-long adventure in Afghanistan. His saber-rattling against China, meanwhile, is making the oligarchs nervous because of all the lucrative business deals and investments that they have there.

It's gotten so bad for Biden, in fact, that even the long media embargo on Hunter Biden's laptop scandal is finally beginning to be lifted. Joe Biden's own Justice Department also has implicated his national security adviser, the former Clinton campaign operative Jake Sullivan, in the criminal indictment of Clinton lawyer Michael Sussman and by extension, the entire #Russiagate franchise scam.

Perhaps worst of all for Biden, mainstream media outlets, including the Paper of Record, are even beginning to compare him to Donald Trump. 

Naturally, this orchestrated weakening of Joe Biden by the elites dovetails perfectly with their orchestrated weakening of his Build Back Better legislation, which they despise because it threatens to give people a pathetic modicum of relief from their elite-orchestrated hardships. Not for nothing has the establishment media long overpraised Biden's underdone agenda as a "sweeping" progressive undertaking, the likes of which have not been seen since the New Deal. They were hyping it with a frenzy, inspiring the desired paranoia in the wealthy pathocratic class. Now they're in the next phase, lowering our expectations and preparing the ground for the final collapse. 

To make the letdown complete, they've not forgotten to add the traditional Debt Ceiling manufactured crisis and countdown to Shutdown Armageddon to the orchestrated mix. They're reckoning that once again, people will be so abjectly grateful to their leaders for reaching a compromise at the last possible minute, ensuring that at least the woefully inadequate Social Security checks will still be going out, that they'll forget all about all the broken promises.

Meanwhile, we'll always have their clichés to tide us over. As reported by The Hill about the legislative negotiations:

A senior Democratic aide said the revenue framework will serve as a template for negotiations with moderate Democrats on the size and scope of the bill. (Nancy) Pelosi called it a "giant step forward."

Some rank and file Democrats complained they have absolutely no idea what this language even means for the "larger process." But recognizing the "mounting pressure to show movement," The Hill continues, "Biden stepped up and held meetings with moderates and progressives from both parties."

What, you expected him to step up and mount a horse and start whipping them into shape and finally doing right by the people who elected him, and them?

Notwithstanding that the phrase "moderates and progressives from both parties" is not only a disinformation embarrassment but an act of journalistic malpractice, let's remember that whips and chains are reserved only for the most desperate members of the human race. The elites have their frameworks and their templates and their arcane processes to propel them in their ever more gigantic steps forward to power and wealth at the expense of everyone else.

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Oh Say, Can You AOC?

Lots of people professed to be shocked, shocked when Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, of all the democratic socialist celebs, so jarringly appeared amongst the bright stars and broads in stripes at this week's opulent Met Gala. 

But why shouldn't she be there? The theme of this year's exclusive charity fashion event was, after all, "American Independence." And nothing says independence like wearing a white designer gown with bloody red letters spelling "Tax the Rich" all over the back of it. It would have been so tacky and off-putting to guests who'd paid $35,000 a ticket if she'd plastered the slogan like a banner on the front of the dress where they'd actually have to look at it while schmoozing with her.

The font was eerily similar to the notorious "I Don't Care, Do U?" 
message worn on the back of Melania Trump's jacket during her trip to the border to visit immigrant prisons. 


 Maybe you would have preferred that AOC show her working class bona fides by wearing her old bartending duds, just to entrap the guests into ordering her to fetch them another drink. And worse, if she'd accessorized it with an Abolish ICE insignia, they'd only complain that their drinks were too warm, and demand a refund on their tickets.

Although AOC had a masked male lackey so gallantly holding up the streaming train of her gown as she made her grand entrance past people protesting neo-feudalism behind police ramparts, she had already pre-emptively lashed out at what she called her "haters" by tweeting that she and the gown's Black immigrant designer were about to "kick open the doors of the Met." She'd only meant to be figurative, of course, even strategically quoting Marshall McLuhan for the woefully non-savvy hordes of haters out there: "The medium is the message."

But the message-bomb that was meant to burst in the rarefied air at the Met Gala turned out to be kind of a dud, once word leaked out that designer Aurora James is actually a native of Toronto, Canada and is the girlfriend of wealthy Seagrams heir Benjamin Bronfman.

AOC aims to have her cake and eat it too. She is both the user and the used. She used Met Gala founder and storied Vogue editor Anna Wintour to help elevate her brand and her progressive platform.  Wintour is a major political power player and one of the Democratic  Party's most successful bundlers and fundraising event hostesses, having raised millions of dollars for both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. But she has also faced significant criticism from even her own staff for excluding black and brown people from her publishing and fashion empire.

As a New York Times critique published a year ago told it:

As Ms. Wintour ascended, Vogue’s publication of “hurtful or intolerant” content rarely resulted in lasting negative attention for her. But Black journalists who have worked with Ms. Wintour, speaking on the condition of anonymity out of fear of retribution, said they had not gotten over their experiences at a magazine whose workplace mirrored its exclusive pages.

Under Ms. Wintour, 18 people said, Vogue welcomed a certain type of employee — someone who is thin and white, typically from a wealthy family and educated at elite schools. Of the 18, 11 people said that, in their view, Ms. Wintour should no longer be in charge of Vogue and should give up her post as Condé Nast’s editorial leader.

“Fashion is bitchy,” one former Black staff member said. “It’s hard. This is the way it’s supposed to be. But at Vogue, when we’d evaluate a shoot or a look, we’d say ‘That’s Vogue,’ or, ‘That’s not Vogue,’ and what that really meant was ‘thin, rich and white.’ How do you work in that environment?”

Fast forward to the Met Gala one year later, and AOC, who is Puerto Rican, was personally invited by Wintour herself, in an epic feat of woke-washing, to sit at the main table, helping to burnish her own neo-diversified brand. The splashy but rear-facing "Tax the Rich" message was, of course, safely hidden from the sensitive view of the very rich, very white, and very thin Anna Wintour. If AOC knows that she herself was used as a mere ass-covering accessory, as were the rest of the minority models, movie stars and designers at the event, then she didn't let on.

Meanwhile, if she doesn't challenge Majority Leader Chuck Schumer for his New York senate seat in a primary, she will be among the first in line to succeed him when he retires. And from there, she will no doubt make a run for the presidency. To achieve her goals, she is going to need Anna Wintour. AOC's attendance at the Met Gala was nothing if not one long drawn-out dog whistle to the ruling class that she is absolutely no threat to them.

We'll just have to wait and see whether she and her Squad entourage follow through on their threat to kill the Senate's bipartisan infrastructure bill currently in front of the House unless the already watered-down $3.5 trillion social welfare bill passes first with the unanimous Democratic support that it needs.

The latest offer on the negotiating table  to "centrists" is to delay Medicare dental coverage for the elderly until 2028. What, after all, are a few million more lost geriatric teeth, oral infections and associated morbidity and mortality in the grand scheme of things? It may be the American twilight's last gleaming, but at least if the rich get taxed the cajoling AOC way, we'll have some gleaming choppers or shiny dentures to look forward to - if we can only hang on for a few more years in fires, floods, heat waves and hurricanes.

 As sick as we are and as sickened as we might feel, let's be healthily skeptical of AOC and of course, of every other politician who claims to feel our pain. Despite her melodramatic kvetching about "I and my body (being) relentlessly policed from all corners,"  criticism of the powerful by the powerless is not hatred at all. It's an attempt both at self-preservation and the preservation of society as a whole. It's actually a form of love.

Meanwhile, I say let AOC pursue her transactional career in political performance art. Don't let the shallow spectacle get you down. 

Saturday, September 11, 2021

A Nine-Eleven State of Mind (lessness)

The official mantra being intoned ad infinitum throughout the world today is "Never forget."

But notwithstanding the surface appearance of soul-searching with all the maudlin remembrances by the mainstream media in the wake of the "official" end to the Afghanistan War, there's still quite a bit of selective memory at work to help keep the mythology of "we were attacked for no reason other than they hate us for our freedoms" alive. The common 20th anniversary critique still hinges mainly on the overreaction to the attack by our leaders, and not what caused the attacks in the first place: the abandonment by the CIA of its Al Qaeda creation and its valuable asset in the proxy war against the then-USSR - a disgruntled Saudi ex-royal named Osama bin Laden.

As you probably heard, the CIA has embarked on a marketing campaign to display its softer side through the magic of Woke-Washing. As long as they hire more women and ethnic groups to prove their diversity cred while not actually diverging from their core mission of relentless regime changes, dirty wars and other rogue activities, then it's all good.

The New York Times's Maureen Dowd, therefore, dutifully bashed the "toxic masculinity" and machismo of the Bush and Trump administrations as the root cause for post-9/11 insanity and war, while also owning that such female hawks as Condi Rice and Hillary Clinton were enablers of same. But Hillary was mentioned only insofar that as a senator, she had voted with the Bushies to invade Iraq. Left unmentioned by Dowd was her later outsize role, as Obama's secretary of state, in the war of aggression against Libya and its oil.

Dowd actually characterized the media-hyped nutritious sandwich filling that was Barack Obama a "respite" from GOP male supremacy.

My response to the Times:

The "respite" that was the Obama presidency is a matter of style rather than substance. Micah Zenko of the Council on Foreign Relations revealed in 2016 that his administration had dropped an average of 72 bombs a day, for a grand total of 26,171 in just that one year alone. Obama also vastly improved upon Bush's deadly record by expanding the secretive Special Ops campaigns to more than 70 percent of the entire globe, or 138 separate countries. So is it righteous to give Obama a pass for a "respite" just because he was the model of adult discretion and didn't wear his macho bellicosity on his sleeve like the oafish Bush and Trump? I think not, but telling the truth might destroy the carefully marketed mythology. Maureen Dowd does have a point about women leaders not being more peace-loving and kind than men. Who can ever forget Madeline Albright enthusing that the deaths of half a million Iraqi children during Clinton-era sanctions were "worth it?" And then there was Hillary Clinton laughingly bragging that "we came, we saw, he died" upon receiving news that Libyan president Gaddafi had just been sodomized to death with a bayonet. Libya, by the way, has become a modern slavery marketplace since Clinton played a major role in the "humanitarian intervention." The official "forever war" in Afghanistan may be over as far as US boots on the ground are concerned. Try telling that to the seven Afghan children killed by a US Reaper drone strike just the other week.

9/11/21:The Usual Suspects Perform

It could have been worse. George W. could have shown up and shared another piece of candy with Michelle while Bruce Springsteen crooned and strummed to the crowd in an act of anesthetized and sanitized remembrance.

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

The Gaslighting New York Times

At the same time that the Biden Administration and the slim congressional majority are studiously doing nothing to keep millions of people from being kicked off their unemployment benefits, kicked out of their homes, protected from predatory Covid hospital billing even as the Delta variant has created a surge in cases and deaths, the New York Times cynically assures us in a front page headline that "From Cradle to Grave, Democrats Move to Expand the Social Safety Net."

They seemingly forgot to insert the word "holes" after "safety net."

Millions of people, many with no insurance, will be forced to go back to their miserable minimum wage jobs just to barely survive. But we should take heart knowing that Bernie Sanders is out there in Iowa, fighting his lonesome heart out to expand Medicare coverage to dental, hearing and vision benefits for the lucky few. Mothers facing eviction. frantic about their unvaccinated kids returning to school and day care only to be quarantined once the inevitable virus outbreak occurs, should be grateful that at least they'll continue to get their temporary $300 tax credits to tide them over, regardless of having no safety or stability in their actual housing situations.

This mere promise of a few relative crumbs in the face of overwhelming mass misery depends, of course, upon the whims of Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia and his moll Kyrsten Sinema of New Mexico as they threaten to side with the Republicans against this looming scourge of socialistic humanism. It also hinges upon such powerful lobbies aa the American Dental Association, which will fight tooth and nail against older people keeping their teeth by way of "onerous" Medicare coverage for their mouths. Besides, with the emergency increase in SNAP (food stamp) benefits also expiring in many states, to coincide with the forced return to school and work, people simply won't have any more time to waste on chewing nutritious food. (The Biden administration's modest increase in permanent SNAP benefits, to an average of $157 per eligible person per month beginning in October, still will not offset the expiring benefits for many recipients, which were raised to maximum levels under the Families First Act of 2020.)

If you really must persist in wasting your time worrying about your next meal or getting sick as you're forced back to work, and the kids are forced back to school, here comes the Times's resident centrist economist, David Leonhardt  to tell you that your fears about Covid are not only totally overblown, they are wildly misplaced. Although there are 160,000 new cases and 15,000 deaths from Covid occurring every single day, Leonhardt looks on the bright side.  "Only" one out of every 5,000 vaccinated Americans is testing positive for breakthrough cases on any given day, based upon one sampling conducted in a whopping three whole communities. These studies, by the way, were conducted when most kids were not yet in school. And they only apply to adults.

Leonhardt blithely writes:

In Seattle on an average recent day, about one out of every one million vaccinated residents have been admitted to a hospital with Covid symptoms. That risk is so close to zero that the human mind can’t easily process it. My best attempt is to say that the Covid risks for most vaccinated people are of the same order of magnitude as risks that people unthinkingly accept every day, like riding in a vehicle....

What about children? I’ll dig into that question in a coming newsletter.

Well, meh. Collateral damage in the weak, unproductive and non-voting population can be counted once the service economy is back up and humming and neoliberal capitalism is saved.

I am certainly no epidemiologist or statistician, and the following factoid is admittedly anecdotal, but at the State University in New Paltz where I live, where students had to show proof of vaccination before they were allowed back on campus a couple of weeks ago, there are already 56 active student cases out of 1,626 individuals tested - an increase of 10 cases since last week and a positivity rate of  3.4 percent. Since Aug. 23, there have been 76 infections and 20 recoveries. Three percent of on-campus students have been exempted from vaccination for medical or religious reasons.