The Invisible Man: Joe Biden's Deadly Abdication

Written by Chris Floyd 22 March 2020 16567 Hits

Joe Biden's disappearance from public view during an extreme national crisis is one of the most astounding, jaw-dropping abdications of responsibility I have ever seen in a public official -- especially one who might well be the next president. The excuse his aides offer about "struggling to set up the technology" so he can communicate to the public is ludicrous, and insulting in its transparent falsehood. If he is isolating because he might have the disease, he should tell us. If he is simply overwhelmed by the crisis and doesn't know what to do – or even worse, is waiting for his rich donors to tell him what to do – then he should end his campaign now and go into a very comfortable retirement.

Sanders has put his campaigning on hold and is now using his fundraising apparatus to raise millions of dollars for coronavirus relief efforts. He has somehow managed to master the mysterious and difficult "technology" that baffles Biden, and appears in a variety of media every day, with concrete plans for dealing with the crisis and helping ordinary people, while also working flat out with Senate colleagues. You don't even have to support Sanders to see that is entirely possible to communicate directly with the public while coping with an ever-shifting catastrophe. Biden doesn't have to deal with senatorial duties during an unprecedented crisis. He's had all the time in the world to step up and offer a solid, viable alternative to Trump's raging carnage. But he has not. He's hidden from his responsibility, hidden from his calling, hidden from history.

If -- and it's still not certain -- Biden manages to make some kind of appearance on Monday as promised, it will be the first time in six days he's spoken to the nation he is seeking to lead. Six days that have completely changed the world and the country. Six days that the raving liar and lunatic Donald Trump has been allowed to hold the stage alone and spin a false, sinister, self-serving narrative that seems to be taking hold out there, as his poll numbers inexplicably rise. Meanwhile, the presumptive presidential nominee for the opposition party is missing in action, as silent as the tombs that Americans are being thrust into by Trump's corrupt and crazed dithering. These six missing days have been epoch-making in American history and politics, and Joe Biden has bungled them to a tragic and damaging degree. How could he have stayed out of sight during such a time? Why would he do it? Again, it is a staggering, unfathomable, utter dereliction of duty.

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Blowing in the Whirlwind: As Ye Sow, Joe Shall Ye Reap

Written by Chris Floyd 11 March 2020 17499 Hits

Joe Biden’s manifold and manifest vulnerabilities in a contest with the obviously addled but still media-savvy Donald Trump are often offered by supporters of Bernie Sanders as a reason to back their man as the more likely winner.  “Biden will lose,” they say; “if you really want to defeat Trump, then Sanders is the only one who can do it.”

There are strong arguments for that case – not least the fact that Sanders has consistently, since 2015, outdone every Democrat in head-to-head polls against Trump. Certainly, I would rather see Sanders as the nominee. And certainly, I have been railing against Biden in print and on line for more than 20 years, excoriating him as a corporate bagman who has played a key role in inflicting enormous suffering on ordinary Americans with his draconian bankruptcy and crime bill obsessions, not to mention the multitudes of innocent people around the world who have died from the hawkish warmongering policies he has unfailingly supported.

But while I sorely hate undercutting any argument against Biden, I do believe it is possible for old Joe to defeat Trump. Here’s how it’s likely to play out, if Biden is the nominee.

Both he and Trump will lumber around the country for months, dribbling out word salad to adoring supporters who don’t have the slightest interest in what the doddering old men at the rostrum are saying. Both will spout inane and barely coherent platitudes without offering anything remotely resembling actual policies or programs or solutions to the myriad of dire crises we face. Both will have their contentless, incoherent ramblings presented as cogent “debating points” and “policy positions” suitable for “deep analysis” by the shallow savants of the national press. There will be various gaffes, outrages, mini-scandals, along with a crazy quilt of polling numbers changing wildly by the day, even by the hour.

And none of it will matter. America’s electoral politics are so far removed from the actual reality of how power is really exercised in our society – and from the actual state of degeneration our dying society is really in – that it is nothing more than a badly rendered cartoon, a medicine show with clowns and con-men, a white noise machine howling down any genuine thought and feeling. It is, quite literally, sound and fury, signifying nothing: precisely because it no longer has any connection to the true operations of power and the reality of decay.

Trump recognized this first, but the Democrats have caught up. You don’t have to have any real policies. You don’t have to offer any real hope. You don’t even have to make any sense. Most people are so battered by the decay and tormented by the white noise that all they can do is grab hold of some emblematic figure offered to them by the system and project all their hopes and dreams and fears and desires onto them. Even if the offered figures are a pair of doddering, blubbering old men, lumbering around the country dribbling out word salad.

Sanders’ defeat in Michigan will for many signal the end, or the beginning of the end, of his nomination quest. And in the wake of that defeat, Sanders supporters will – very rightly – point out DNC rigging and interference in the campaign, the astonishing series of  “problems” with every vote count that might benefit him, the outsized role that Big Money played (exemplified by new Biden supporter Mike Bloomberg and the Wall Street tycoons that Biden is floating as possible cabinet members), and, perhaps most crucial of all, the fact that Sanders has been relentlessly, ceaselessly, mercilessly demonized and vilified by the media – and by the “liberal” media most of all.

For it’s a fact that most Americans – who get what little political news they care to imbibe from casual glances at the media – will never have heard a single report about Sanders that wasn’t negative in some respect, or in all respects. Again, this goes double for casually liberal Democrats, who get their news and views from the NYT, MSNBC, NPR, CNN, CBS, ABC, WP, etc. There, Sanders is portrayed either as the horned spawn of Chavez and Che, come to ravage your 401k and execute millionaires in Central Park – or else as a unicorn-chasing fantasist with no sense of gritty, savvy realpolitik, which dictates that we must always hew slavishly to the centrist mean. (Whatever that happens to be in any given year – although, whatever it is, it is always to the right of what it was before.)

Sanders has had to wage his campaign with the entire weight of the bipartisan power structure against him: the Democratic Party, the Republican Party, Wall Street, the Pentagon, the “security organs,” the national media across the board. The vote counts in caucuses and primaries are obviously being obfuscated or, when all else fails, simply left uncounted in large numbers, as in Texas and California.

But if and when the Sanders’ campaign is subsequently derailed down the road, I no longer think it can be laid entirely at the door of the conniving players in the power structure. The lion’s share, perhaps – but there seems to be something else in the air of Campaign 2020. (Aside from Covid-19.) I think, perhaps, that we have come to such a crisis point on so many fronts that things are simply too overwhelming for most people to process, much less deal with, in any realistic way. Some strange combination of fatalism and magical thinking seems to have taken hold of large swathes of the electorate.

There seems to be the feeling that we can’t really do anything at all about the problems that are bearing down on us like a runaway train – climate disruption and all its ever-rippling repercussions;  the rise of hyper-powerful rich elites manipulating our increasingly hollowed-out institutions for their own benefit; the economic demise of industry after industry, region after region, community after community; the endless wars, covert and overt, with their gargantuan corruption and pointless cycles of violence; the healthcare atrocities that leave millions of people literally begging on the internet to obtain even the barest minimum of medical help, and so on. In the face of all this, many people long to embrace some figure or another who promises us a return to the “status quo”: either some mythologized post-war era when America was “great,” or just back to the Obama years, when things were “normal.”  

Overwhelmed, battered, beset, anxiety-ridden, suffering, confused, many people don’t want to hear that hard work and big changes will be necessary if we are to have a chance for things to get better. They just want to latch on to something that will let them feel – if only for a moment – that the anxiety can go away, that someone up there in the circles of power will take care of it for us. 

This is not the wisest course when faced with overwhelming crises – but it is an entirely natural and understandable one. When you couple this natural reaction to extremity with the aforementioned systematic effort to undermine and thwart the Sanders’ campaign, then it’s not surprising you end up with a blank screen like Joe Biden as your candidate.

And consider this: the blank screen of Donald Trump has now had four years in power, yet still those overwhelming, battering, confusing anxieties have not gone away – indeed, they’ve only multiplied. In this situation, it’s entirely possible, perhaps even likely, that enough people will turn away from the torn screen of Trump and try a new cure for their anxiety. 

So yes, I think it’s very possible for Biden to beat Trump. Because for so many people, it doesn’t matter what Biden says or doesn’t say, how incoherent he is, how many outright lies he tells, how atrocious his record is or how diligently he is serving the domineering elites who have blighted our society to such a degree. It doesn't matter that he has made it clear that he is not going to do anything about climate change, student debt, the healthcare crisis, rampant militarism, police brutality, economic injustice, low pay, ICE, and on and on. What matters that he is a fresh screen where our most unworthy fears and unrealistic hopes can be projected, for a time; where we can forget, for a time, the massive disasters that are looming ahead and pretend that things can somehow go back to “normal.”

Of course, this can only be done by ignoring that it was the previous “normality” that brought us here in the first place – and by ignoring the fact that big changes and upheavals are coming no matter who is elected.  We can’t escape it. The only question is: do we want to try to manage these big changes for the greater common good – or will we just allow them to ravage our lives in the worst way possible while we pine for a status quo of peace and quiet that never was, and thus can never return?

I fear the answer to this, my friend, is blowing in the whirlwind: the one we are reaping after sowing the wind for so many years with so many misdeeds – and which we apparently do not have the wisdom even to mitigate, much less avoid.

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Chill Factor: Wikileaks Trial is a Trump Travesty Aimed at Killing Truth

Written by Chris Floyd 26 February 2020 18340 Hits

It doesn’t matter what you think of Julian Assange personally; his personality is not on trial. He is facing charges for one thing only: publishing incontrovertible evidence of US war crimes in Iraq. If he is extradited to the US and convicted, then every single media outlet that publishes evidence of government wrongdoing will face the same threat. That is the point of his prosecution: to put a chill of fear into every journalist and editor who receives evidence of government crimes.

The extraordinarily brutal treatment Assange is getting even as his extradition hearing goes forward this week is part of the chilling process. Here’s what any journalist who exposes state crimes has to look forward to:

"Day 2 proceedings had started with a statement from Edward Fitzgerald, Assange’s QC, that shook us rudely into life. He stated that yesterday, on the first day of trial, Julian had twice been stripped naked and searched, eleven times been handcuffed, and five times been locked up in different holding cells. On top of this, all of his court documents had been taken from him by the prison authorities, including privileged communications between his lawyers and himself, and he had been left with no ability to prepare to participate in today’s proceedings."

Throughout the hearing, Assange is locked in a glass box, forbidden any human contact. Meanwhile, the judge openly derides the defense, interfering with their presentation. Even so, their case was devastating. Using actual evidence from the US government itself, they demolished, point by point, the accusations put forward by the Trump administration. 

The Trump lawyers claim that Assange told Chelsea Manning how to break into the classified computer files that she later released. Yet the US government’s own evidence in its trial of Manning clearly showed she already had access to the files — as did thousands of other personnel — before she ever contacted Wikileaks. Wikileaks played no part at all in procuring the files, which is the heart of the Trump team’s ostensible case.

The second element of the case involves Wikileaks’ release of unredacted documents from Manning. The Trump lawyers claim that Wikileaks knew the release would put agents at risk but did it anyway. Here too the actual facts, again backed up by the US government’s own evidence, are devastating. Wikileaks only published the unreacted files after writers from the Guardian had given away the secret encryption code in a published book – despite Wikileaks’ frantic pleas for them not to do this. After the Guardian writers had published the code, Wikileaks contacted the US government to warn them of the possible dangers. US officials did nothing, leaving agents exposed to any enemy who could now, thanks to the Guardian, obtain all the thousands of files. After the government failed to act, Wikileaks then published the already obtainable files so that any agent named in them could at least know what information was out there on them.

In any case, US government prosecutors themselves clearly confirmed in the Manning trial that, in the end, no US agents or personnel had come to harm from the release of the files. They also confirmed that Wikileaks informed the US government that the encryption code – which Wikileaks had given to the Guardian when working together to release carefully redacted excerpts from the documents — had been broken. It was the Guardian writers and their publishers who actually gave any potential enemy the keys to the classified files. By the US government’s own admissions in a court of law, Wikileaks tried to stop the release of unredacted materials, then frantically sought to work with the US government to mitigate any harm, and only published them after they were already widely obtainable — and again, only in order to mitigate any harm for agents who didn’t know they’d been exposed by the Guardian writers. 

In short, the Trump lawyers have absolutely no case for Assange’s extradition. Their charges are transparently false, and are refuted by the US government’s own evidence in previous trials. But in the end, this is not going to matter. The judge who is the sole decider in the case has clearly made up her mind. In one of several of her extraordinary interventions into the case, she declared yesterday that evidence of the United States government’s own trial against Chelsea Manning could not be used as facts in the extradition hearing. Yes, you read it right. The facts established and accepted by the US government in court proceedings cannot be used as facts in a court proceeding involving the US government. The Trump prosecutors have taken the same line: “Yes, we know the US government confirmed these facts before, but we’re saying that doesn’t matter. The new facts are now the false facts we’re presenting here.”

I don’t know how anyone can call themselves a journalist — or just an ordinary concerned citizen of what are supposed to be the democracies of the United States and Great Britain — and not feel a deep chill, and hot outrage, at these proceedings. American liberals turn a blind eye because Wikileaks published emails that embarrassed Hillary Clinton and they believe Assange is an unsavoury character. But again, none of this has anything to do with Assange’s personality or with Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump or Vladimir Putin or any of that. A publisher is being prosecuted for publishing incontrovertible evidence of government crimes. He is facing demonstrably false charges by a government that is openly dismissing its own previous admissions and evidence. He is being openly abused in the prison system. If this was happening to a publisher in Russia or China or Iran, there would be endless outrage across the Western media. But the extradition hearing is getting little or no coverage at all.

If Assange is extradited and convicted of these false charges, then we will have taken another giant leap down the road of authoritarianism. If this doesn’t bother you, then please don’t bother telling us what a “resister” you are. 

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Shades of 68: How Far Will Our Elites Go to Stop Sanders?

Written by Chris Floyd 22 February 2020 17251 Hits

Because I have teenage children who sometimes look to me to give them a sense of hope for the future, I try to be as optimistic as I can whenever we talk of US politics and the possibility of positive change in the nation’s dire situation. The success so far of Bernie Sanders’ campaign is one thing they cling to in hoping that the world they inherit will not be as unrelentingly bleak as it now appears it will be. But in my deepest heart, here is what I truly believe: the bipartisan US power structure will never allow Bernie Sanders to be president, and they will use any and all means necessary to prevent this from happening.

Having been raised in a politically active family, I've followed US politics for more than half a century, and I witnessed the decisive period from April 4 to June 5 in 1968, when clear markers were laid down on what happens to those who are perceived to pose a genuine threat to the power structure. I don't hero-worship Sanders and disagree with some of his stances, particularly on foreign policy. But I do think he poses the most serious, genuine threat to the US power structure that we have seen since that period.

Of course, over the years, more sophisticated, less visceral methods have been developed for removing credible threats to the system. For example, the so-called liberal media – NYT, WP, MSNBC – now act as uncritical pipelines for whatever gaslighting propaganda the intelligence services wish to inject into the political process. This was always true of the establishment press to some extent, but any vestiges of skepticism about the proven ratfucking propensities of the "intelligence community" have long been discarded by liberals. This servile credulity, along with social media & other factors, makes it easier to kneecap a threat to the power system without resorting to the cruder methods of the past.

But Sanders' growing popularity, even in the face of relentless sandbagging and ratfucking, represents an "unknown unknown" for the power structure. Thus, while it remains likely that some combination of their sleeker, modern take-down methods will do the trick, I think we should still bear in mind the lessons of history, and recognize just how far the power structure will be prepared to go to neutralize any substantial, credible threat to its dominance. If you think they’re not capable or willing to resort to the most ultimate measures in this regard, then you are simply, wilfully ignoring the historical evidence of our own lives and times – evidence that of course goes far beyond a single three-month span in 1968.

I should note that in this, as with almost everything I've written about US politics in this godforsaken century, I sincerely hope I'm wrong in my darker view of things. But that said, it's certainly proven true that even the darkest predictions of how things will play out in our wretched era have fallen short, time and again, of the even darker realities as we spiral down further into the abyss.

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Thanks, Founding Dads! How Trump Could Lose Popular & Electoral Vote and Still Win

Written by Chris Floyd 20 February 2020 16766 Hits

Due to the American political system's in-built, fundamental, anti-democratic nature, it is entirely possibly that Donald Trump could be re-elected in 2020 even if he loses the popular vote by millions of votes AND also loses the Electoral College (the 18th-century system-rigging gimmick that gave the vote-loser his "victory" last time). And it would all be perfectly fair and square under our unfair, unsquare system, as the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics reports.

How is this possible? Simple. If neither candidate wins the required 270 Electoral College votes, then the House of Representatives must choose the president from the candidates who won electoral votes. But here's the trick: it wouldn't be a vote of all the elected representatives in the House. No; each state delegation gets only one vote. So even though the Democrats now have a strong majority in the House and (as in the Senate) actually represent many millions more people than the Republicans, the GOP controls a majority of the state delegation: 26 to 23. (The Pennsylvania delegation is evenly split between the parties.)

That balance, by state, is not expected to change in the 2020 election. Thus, the 26 GOP state delegations – which, again, are here reduced to a single vote, no matter how large or politically diverse the delegation actually is  – could vote for Trump. Therefore, even if Trump loses the popular vote by five million votes or more, and also loses in the Electoral College, he could still be the "legitimate" president of the United States.

Of course, this is still a very unlikely scenario – although it's happened once before, in 1828, when John Quincy Adams was chosen by the House despite losing the popular vote by 11% and finishing 15 votes behind in the Electoral College. But anyone who's seen the lockstep extremists of the modern GOP in action knows they would be perfectly capable of re-installing Trump even if he had (once again) been repudiated by the voters at the ballot box. (And who would pick the VP? The Senate – although in this case, all 100 individual senators could vote as they pleased.)

I defy anyone to look at such a system and declare it is the "greatest democracy on earth." It was expressly designed to put as many obstacles as possible in the way of ordinary citizens expressing their will through the electoral process. And of course, the Founding Fathers originally excluded the vast majority of the populace from voting altogether; they openly intended for wealthy elites (like George Washington, the richest man in America) to rule. A broader democracy was wrung from the elites – grudgingly, bit by bit – through generations of struggle. Now we are watching it be stripped away, bit by bit, as we sink back to the Founders' ideal of a nation controlled by white, wealthy elites.

So today, even as we fight to keep the last vestiges of that hard-won broader democracy, we should bear in mind the urgent necessity of making deep the kind of structural changes in our undemocratic electoral process that will ensure that this ludicrous and sinister situation never arises again.

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The Human Losers or the Husks in Power: Which Side Are You On?

Written by Chris Floyd 17 February 2020 17124 Hits

Dying behind bars: 33-year-old inmate’s stage 4 cancer going untreated in Alabama prison

My best friend from high school was in and out of the prison system the last two decades of his life. He was a drug addict. This was before the opioid epidemic; his poison was crack cocaine. His father had been a raging, violent alcoholic and his mother was a broken woman with chronic illnesses. My friend spent most of his adult life trying to take care of her.  

His addiction put in him in dire need of cash all the time, even as it made it impossible for him to hold a steady job. It drove him to do stupid things. He once stole my car and sold my son’s schoolbooks, which were in the back seat, to get some cash. He would bang on my door late at night, asking for some money to keep the dealers he owed from giving him a beat-down. He finally ended up stealing items from his mother’s house and pawning them. He went to jail for that, then for the next several years kept going back to jail for various probation violations: often for getting caught drinking in public somewhere. 

He eventually did a 13-month stretch in state prison, where he danced a fine line between the violent, racially polarized gangs that the prison authorities allowed to run amok. He refused to join the white racists but was regarded warily by the black gangs. He got beatings from people on both sides but was also able, sometimes, to act as a peacemaker between them.

When he got out of the pen, his life continued largely as before. He tried to set himself up as an independent contractor, doing house repairs, roofing, carpet laying, yard work. His mother died. He had long lost custody of his only son. He still struggled with crack, but dulled his psychic pain mostly with alcohol. He died at some point in his fifties, found in his cheap apartment two or three days after his death, corpse bloated in the sweltering heat of a Tennessee summer.

That’s it. That was his life. That’s all he had. He was a dope addict. He was a convicted criminal. He was a repeat offender. He was a desperate liar and a thief. He was a lost soul of no use to the society he lived in and then he died. That’s it. 

He was also — without exaggeration or nostalgic sentimentality — the kindest, most sweet-natured, open and gentle person you could ever meet. He loved music with a passion so deep it touched the core of the earth. His failings tormented him like hot coals. He couldn’t understand what had happened to him, why he couldn’t escape addiction, why his mind was so muddled, why it wouldn’t stop roaring long enough for him to ever gather himself and be real, be whole, be normal.

He was beaten and threatened all through his boyhood. Even in high school he was a nervous wreck. He used to sneak down to our house in the middle of the night after a row with his father and try to sleep in the hedgerow of our yard, or else on our back porch. Fortunately, the dogs would always alert us, and we’d find him and bring him in, make a bed for him on the couch. He loved my family with a searing love that never abated for the 50 years he knew us. 

I think of my friend whenever I hear some bullshit-bloated politician or commentator dismissing the humanity and dignity of criminals and prisoners. I thought of my friend today, when I read a story about Jonathan Faircloth, a 33-year-old prisoner in Alabama dying of colon and liver cancer that’s being left untreated by the authorities. He too was back in prison for probation violations — another drug addict who, while trying to make a normal life for his wife and children, got slam-banged by his addiction again.

I thought of my friend when I read the reply of Etowah County Sheriff Jonathon Horton after the Alabama media asked him about this human being left to die without treatment: 

"He's using his sickness as an excuse to get out of jail over and over again. In layman's terms, he just ran out of his chances. So the judge revoked [his probation] and says he has to serve his days," Horton said.

He using his sickness — his Stage 4 colon cancer which has now spread to his liver and will kill him, if left untreated, by next year if not before — as an “excuse.” An excuse. Stage 4 cancer as an excuse.

I read these words, and I think of the countless sons of bitches across the country howling for ever-more punitive degradations — the dimwitted bulls in their stupid, prissy knit uniforms like this Etowah goober, the tee-shirted assholes pounding out inhumane bullshit on Twitter, the sleek politicians in designer suits, and the millions and millions of people committing spiritual suicide by attending to the brutal, barbaric blather of these walking, rotting husks.

I think of them, and I think of my friend — a parole-violating drug-addicted repeat-offending criminal of no use to the society he lived in — and I know — by God, I know! — which side I’m on.

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Some initial notes on "The Long Dark"

Written by Chris Floyd 07 February 2020 16338 Hits

Scratched down in a notebook in a cafe during a lunch hour, in a grim week of bad news. More to come, perhaps:

We are in the Long Dark now. Both hope and despair are the enemies of our survival. We must live in the awareness that we might not see the light come back, without ceasing to work — with empathy, anger and knowledge — for its return.

We must be here, in the moment, experiencing its fullness (whatever its horrors or joys), yet be elsewhere, removed from the madness pouring in from every side, the avalanche of degradation. We must be here, now, but also in a future we can’t see or even imagine.

We must see that we are lost, with no clear way forward, no sureties or verities to cling to, no roots to anchor us, no structures within or without that will always keep their coalescence in the chaotic, surging flow.

We must live in discrete moments of illumination and connection, pearls hung on an almost invisible string winding through the darkness. Striving, always striving, but not expecting; striving without hope, without despair, without any certainty at all as to the outcome, good or bad.

These are the conditions of the Long Dark, this is what we have to work with, this is where we find ourselves in the brief time we have in this vast, indifferent, astounding universe. As I once wrote long ago, quoting the old hymn: “Work, for the night is coming.”

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Potomac Kabuki: Dems Deliberately Ignore Corruption for Doomed Impeachment Ploy

Written by Chris Floyd 05 February 2020 17003 Hits

Today the US Senate acquitted Donald Trump on impeachment charges that should have never been brought. Faced with a mountain of open corruption, the Democrats chose to bring the weakest charge imaginable, one that involved subjective interpretations of conversations (some second-hand), the temporary withholding of weapons that Barack Obama refused to give to Ukraine – and the political fortunes of a top Democrat, ensuring that the entire case would be super-charged with partisan wrangling. This was a recipe for failure from the very start — and it is very hard to believe that the House leaders didn’t know this.

There was an alternative. They could have easily impeached Trump for his rampant, daily criminal violations of the Emoluments clause of the Constitution. From the very first hour of his presidency, Trump — who brazenly refused to use even the fig leaf of a ‘blind trust’ but kept direct control of all of his financial interests — has been putting money directly into his own pocket from foreign countries, foreign companies and domestic enterprises who have business with the government. This happens at his many resorts, pleasure palaces and rental properties all over the world, but for efficiency’s sake, the case could have been focused on a single entity: the Trump International Hotel  in Washington, DC. 

To impeach Trump for the largest bribery and corruption scam in U.S. history, the only thing the House Democrats would have needed were the receipts from the DC hotel. These would have proved, irrefutably, in black and white, that Donald J. Trump had committed impeachable offences and should be removed from office. That’s it. No need for witnesses or subjective interpretations — or for trembly, ludicrous claims of fending off a Russian invasion of the United States. All the House needed to say to the Senate was this: “Here are the receipts. These bribes were paid to the president’s business interests and he accepted them. Now vote.”

Would the GOP senate — a gaggle of extremists, dimbulbs and corporate bagmen — have still voted to acquit Trump? Perhaps. But it would have been infinitely harder to muddy the waters  — and infinitely easier to raise public pressure — with a charge of straightforward, crystal clear, undeniable bribery. No “moderates” bleating on CNN: “Well, he probably shouldn’t have been so heavy handed, but hey, no harm done; Ukraine got the weapons and didn’t dig up dirt on Biden, so why be so draconian about it?” No, they would’ve had to stand up and say straight out: “Yes, this is bribery, but I’m not going to do anything about it.” Even thoroughly corrupt figures like Lamar Alexander might have blenched at having to be as blatant as that.

But the House leadership made a very deliberate, very considered decision NOT to impeach Trump for his open bribery. Indeed, they are not even investigating it: no special committees probing government corruption, no public hearings highlighting Trump’s monstrous depredations — nothing. No probes of Trump’s top advisors — his daughter and son-in-law — pocketing millions of dollars from foreign governments (such as China) with a direct interest in influencing American policy. The House leadership has made no sustained, systematic, high-profile effort to use all the powers at their command — or any of the powers at their command — to bring the unprecedented corruption of the Trump administration to justice … or even to the public’s attention. This has been one of the most monumental, tragic and destructive failures in American political history, an outrageous dereliction of duty that will have immense consequences for the nation and the world for decades to come. 

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The Hallucinated Nation: Living in a Fever Dream

Written by Chris Floyd 31 January 2020 17411 Hits

"Well, the train has pulled into the station:
It's putting out a poison steam.
The cloud is rolling across the platform;
It's like you're living in a fever dream..."


Don't Get on the Train, by the Holy Fools

One reason why it’s so hard to get a handle on American politics, to say anything sensible about it, is that it takes place almost entirely in a hallucination. The country that most Americans feel they are living in does not actually exist. 

In this, as in so many other ways, Trump’s reign has been a powerful – I would even say unprecedented – rending of the veils. Just as he has shown us the true face of the gangster capitalism that has long lurked behind the mask of law; just as he has revealed the howling, lashing race-hate and Other-fear at the root of American Exceptionalism; just as he has stripped bare our long-proclaimed, utterly hollow pieties about family, fidelity, personal morality, honesty, civility, knowledge and prudence; so has he revealed to us the genuine irreality and freakishness of American actuality. For where else but in a bizarre and brutal freak show could someone like Trump rise to the pinnacle of power — and what’s more, literally be worshipped by millions of people?

“Human kind cannot bear very much reality,” as that old Missouri tomcat, T.S. Eliot, once said. But Americans now seem unable to bear any reality at all. Witness the earnest liberals of today, those who tout their “complex” – even “dark” – view of American society. They “know” that the nation was built wholly on the hideous evils of slavery and genocide, sustained over centuries. They “know” that these foundational American systems of rapine and domination have been extended across the face of the earth. They “know” our military has committed (and enabled) sickening atrocities and mass murder throughout the whole of our history, right down to this very hour. They “know” our “intelligence community” (one of the more sick-making expressions in the American lexicon) engage in surveillance, subversion, coups, assassinations – skullduggeries of every imaginable stripe. (And no doubt some that we proles have not yet imagined.) 

They “know” our “law enforcement agencies” have become bristling, militarized occupation forces, gunning down minorities with literal impunity while demanding blind obedience and copious tribute in form of tax money. (As I write this, the Attorney General of the United States has just stated openly that police work in America is a protection racket, not a public service. If certain unspecified communities don’t start paying more respect to cops, says Bill Barr, then “they might find themselves without the police protection they need.” I’m also writing this on the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Black Panther leaders Fred Hampton and Mark Clark at the hands of Chicago police and the FBI.) These good liberals even watch Martin Scorsese movies and “know” that the criminal “underworld” is so intimately and corruptly entwined with the “overworld” of politics and business that there is no discernible borderline between these realms.

But dip into the timeline of any number of these earnest folks and you will find a touching, childlike belief in the essential goodness and rightness of the “American experiment” — however much the noble character of this bold and progressive adventure has been tragically perverted by one’s political opponents at any given time. You will find that despite “knowing” all of the above, they don’t actually live in that grim reality but in a dream world, where the CIA and FBI — known purveyors of murder, lies and gargantuan corruption — have become “heroes of the resistance,” moral champions motivated solely by selfless public service and faithful adherence to our “true” ideals. They’ll even enthusiastically push CIA agents and imperial warriors for public office.

Elsewhere, you’ll see ghastly imperial time-servers like Robert Mueller – who fervently pushed the lies that led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent people in Iraq – serenaded by “edgy” comedians on national television and beseeched by the millionaire “journalists” of MSNBC to save us. You’ll see Nancy Pelosi – the multimillionaire Speaker who, as I write, has just sneeringly dismissed her own party’s belated efforts to begin to address the climate catastrophe as “the green dream or whatever,” casually condemning generations of all those outside the cocoon of riches, power and privilege that she shares with Trump to a beastly future in a blighted landscape — treated with fandom gush as a “cool, badass woman,” fighting for the common people. 

Again, we’re speaking here of good liberals, highly educated people “in the know,” people who are “savvy,” who are proud of their complicated, critical, conflicted patriotism — so much more nuanced than the blind, cartoonish faith of the Right. Yet even they feel there exists some normative, essential goodness in the American character: in the nation’s history, society, politics – indeed, in its very teleology, which they believe actually exists and is, like the arc of the universe in the 19th-century quote made famous by Martin Luther King Jr., forever “bending toward justice.” And thus all the manifest evils that have beset the “American experiment” since the beginning – and are overwhelming it like a tsunami today – are seen as aberrations and terrible distortions of what the country really is.

How can there be a sensible way forward for a people trapped in such a fever dream?

(This is my latest column for the print version of CounterPunch.)

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Internal Exiles in a Hard-Hearted World

Written by Chris Floyd 13 December 2019 22012 Hits

The UK election is over. Now many Britons will have to learn what so many of us Americans learned long ago: you don’t live in the country you thought you lived in. The country you live in is a much colder, meaner, nastier, more bitter, unfeeling and hard-hearted place than you ever imagined. You will also have to learn what many Americans have learned, over many decades: to follow the example of the Soviet dissidents of yore, and become an “internal exile,” fighting to hold on to and, as best you can, to transmit the richer, deeper, more humane values of our common humanity, even as you live in alienation from the unfeeling power structures that surround you. It is a sad lesson to learn, a sad way to live — but in the corrupted currents of this world, it is the only honourable and decent way to conduct your life and preserve your sanity. It’s a hard road, yes, but let us bear the journey together, in solidarity, revelling in every drop of joy and meaning we can find, while we continue to fight the good fight and, in the words of the American bard, “strengthen the things that remain.”

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Manliness is a Warm Gun (Bang Bang Shoot Shoot): A colloquy with David French of the National Review

Written by Chris Floyd 06 August 2019 29915 Hits

In response to the mass slaughters this week, the "writer" and "political thinker" David French tweets: 

“Few things concentrate the mind more than the terrifying knowledge that a person might want to kill someone you love. It makes you aware of your acute vulnerability.  [Here’s] why a criminal who comes to our house will face the business end of an AR-15….

French then links to an article he wrote for National Review -- complete with a picture of AR-15s “on sale while supplies last" -- which speaks of death threats he's received. (You will forgive me if I don’t link to the story. It’s not my job to feed the gibbering, moaning shade of William Buckley with the clicks he craves to ease his suffering in the shivering precincts of Hades.)

Upon reading French's chest-pounding discharge, I then gave what I believe is a reasoned, dispassionate, yea philosophical reply (edited here to eliminate the tweet-breaks):

And what if they come IN blasting with the "business end" of an AR-15? The Dayton guy killed 9 people in 30 seconds, with cops there who had the "business end" of their guns primed to go. God, the sickening faux-toughness of you cringing, rightwing cowards.

And by the way, I grew up in the so-called "real" America -- the white rural South -- that all you wingers have wet dreams about. And we slept with our goddamned doors unlocked. Why? Because back then there weren't a million fake tough-guys running around substituting AR-15s for their manhood.

And I'll tell you something else for nothing. I've had death threats ever since I started criticizing YOUR dipshit leader Bush Jr. in print years ago. I get them now from your fellow rightwing fake tough guys. And I wouldn't have one of your penis-substitutes in my house. Why?

Because I'm not a cringing little coward who would put my own children at risk with deadly weapons in the house just so I can do John Wayne cosplay oiling the "business end" of my AR-15. The "business end" of your oiled metal dildo won't keep you or your family safe from the gun culture you rightwing dipshits have been pushing for decades. YOU and all your fellow rightwing travellers have flooded the country with guns, even as your extremism -- yes, even the "Never-Trumpers" -- have pushed violence and hatred at every turn.

You want to protect your family? Then fight against the gun culture, fight against rightwing hatred, fight against the disempowerment and despair you rightwing extremists have advanced for decades, fight against the militarization and brutalization of our whole society which both you and your fellow travellers, the "centrist," interventionist neoliberal Democrats, have imposed on our collapsing, corroded, corrupted land. 

"Business end of an AR-15." Jesus Christ, aren't you ashamed before your family to be so damned pathetic?

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