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Showing posts with label Joshua Frank. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Joshua Frank. Show all posts

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Good One From Joshua Frank

Couple of days late on this, thought you might enjoy it:

 

 ~ From Counterpunch:

 

Fools Rush In: Trump, Pardons and The Tyrant's Cult 

 

"There is little doubt among readers of this online magazine that Donald Trump, like all U.S. presidents before him, is a criminal. His grotesqueness and belligerence, however, has elevated Trump to Nixonian heights. With Bugsy Siegel’s mob swagger and the ponzi-salesmanship of Bernie Madoff, Trump, the petty grifter, is unlike almost any official we’ve witnessed in public life.

In his 1979 book, the Culture of Narcissism: American Life in an Age of Diminishing Expectations, social critic and historian Christopher Lasch all but predicted the dawn of Trumpian politics, writing:

“…the prevailing obsession with celebrity and a determination to achieve it even at the cost of rational self-interest and personal safety. The narcissist divides society into two groups: the rich, great, and famous on the one hand, and the common herd on the other … The narcissist admires and identifies himself with ‘winners’ out of his fear of being labeled a loser. … his admiration often turns to hatred if the object of his attachment does something to remind him of his own insignificance.”

The only point that Lasch perhaps missed in his pioneering work is the cultish atmosphere a specimen like Donald Trump is able to cultivate and exploit for his own personal and political gains. It’s this innate narcissism, emboldened by a coterie of abiding fools circling round him, that led to the invasion of the Capitol. His racist minions, not too unlike the conditioned and dutiful helter-skeltering Manson Girls, were more than willing to sacrifice their personal safety for what they believed was the greater good — in this case, a battle against the “injustice” Trump had faced at the hands of some mysterious electoral fraud. The sinister enemies were everywhere. The media. Mitch McConnell. Nancy Pelosi. The Georgia Secretary of State and even that smarmy Mike Pence. The lone truth-teller was Trump, the great defender of the supremacy of white America, and to his energetic fans, the only man able to save our fragile and dying Republic from the brink of collapse.

Understanding Trump as a cult leader is the only way to truly appreciate the power he wields and the idiocy he manifests. Few others could call upon their legions to rush government buildings with the dashing hope their efforts would make a difference, overturning what they falsely believed was a rigged election. No longer did police lives matter to these twisted Patriots. No longer did America’s legal system matter, which shot down one election lawsuit after another. No longer did common sense matter, if the Capitol stormers had any to begin with. Only their President mattered. Only fulfilling his delusional fantasies mattered, and this was worth risking imprisonment and even death for. While the refrain may have been “Make America Great Again”, the real mantra echoing through Washington last Wednesday was “Keep Trump President.” He had not, after all, lost, according to them. The multiple logics here were murky at best, but the essence of their rhetoric was not.

As an ice-cold Trump stood at his podium, cold air blowing against his puffy, orange cheeks, he bellowed nonsense to the assemblage below, which was largely made up of white men and women clasping red Trump flags and banners. Like so many of his election trail spectacles, his speech was long-winded, meandering, and bellicose. The crowd screamed “Fight for Trump! Fight for Trump! Fight for Trump!” At the end, he called on the riled-up crowd to parade with him to the Capitol building where Congress was meeting to certify Biden’s electoral victory. They would finally be heard. There would finally be justice.

“…we fight like hell, and if you don’t fight like hell you’re not going to have a country anymore … So we are going to–we are going to walk down Pennsylvania Avenue, I love Pennsylvania Avenue, and we are going to the Capitol, and we are going to try and give–the Democrats are hopeless, they are never voting for anything, not even one vote but we are going to try–give our Republicans, the weak ones because the strong ones don’t need any of our help, we’re try–going to try and give them the kind of pride and boldness that they need to take back our country. So let’s walk down Pennsylvania Avenue.”

We all know what transpired next. The broken windows. The stolen podium. The “QAnon Shaman” with his horns and fur hat. A self-proclaimed white nationalist kicking back at Pelosi’s desk. The woman, shot and killed by police as her fellow rioters violently attempted to break down a barricaded door. One cop was killed. It was chaos as numerous fascist groups converged for action. Trump, of course, did not march with his cult down Pennsylvania Avenue that afternoon. He never intended to. Prior to his speech, Trump stoically watched his feverish crowd build on television screens safely under a white tent as Laura Branigan’s “Gloria” blared in the background. Everyone was packed in, smiling. Dancing. Celebrating. Maskless. Drunk on Trump madness, imploring him to “fight”.

Had the rioters had black or brown skin, armed or not, they would surely have been shot on the spot as they climbed walls and ransacked the congressional building. Instead, a few of Trump’s intruders were greeted by gleeful officers while hordes of off-duty cops hung out in the crowd. The breach was easy for the mob, as security forces holding the line futilely fired pepper spray. Their efforts failed miserably. They were outnumbered and ill-prepared. Why weren’t they ready for what so many knew was coming? Because these were wholesome white goons and not black rights activists? During last summer’s BLM protests in DC, there were far more stormtroopers present, an overwhelming show of force. The lack of police presence on January 6 appeared intentional.

As more photos are corroborated and verified, it’s becoming evident that a group of these fascist thugs, some with military backgrounds, had something even more sinister planned than smearing their feces on the walls of power. They planted pipe bombs and had a truck full of weapons at the ready. One instigator, as Ronan Farrow reported for The New Yorker, decked in full military garb and a handful of zip ties, was Air Force Academy graduate and retired Lt. Colonel. Ret. Larry Brock, a decorated combat veteran from Texas. He and his fellow Confederate flag-waving terrorists were out for blood. As the raid transpired, Trump, the pseudo-conductor, gleefully responded that he “loved” them and that they were “very special” but they could go home now. The National Guard, after Trump initially resisted, was finally called in. As of this writing, only 82 have been arrested for breaking into the Capitol. By comparison, DC cops arrested five times that number during last summer’s BLM protests.

There is little doubt, legal or otherwise, that Trump fomented this haphazard insurrection. While some of the planning was orchestrated in the darker corners of the web, Trump’s Twitter account acted as ground zero for the disorder. After months of claiming, falsely and without evidence, that the election was stolen, he tweeted on December 19, “Big protest in D.C. on January 6th.” This was one of several tweets he blasted out supporting the action. “Be there, will be wild!”

His cult, from the Proud Boys to QAnon, latched on quickly, and Pro-Trump forums across the web were exuberant about their “daddy’s” call (yes, some called him “daddy”) for an uprising against Congress. It was all out in the open. They were planning to be armed. They were planning to “arrest” members of Congress. They said Trump’s Tweet was a “marching order” and prepared themselves to shoot counter-protestors.

While the FBI ignored the threats, Twitter and other social media giants took note. Following the three-hour takeover, Facebook and Instagram blocked Trump. Twitter placed his account in jail for 12 hours, only to later ban him altogether. By the weekend, Twitter began to scrub those they deemed QAnon or promoters and supporters of Trump’s call for insurrection. The Electronic Frontier Foundation, an advocacy group that works to defend civil liberties in the digital world, was swift to respond:

“The decisions by Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and others to suspend and/or block President Trump’s communications via their platforms is a simple exercise of their rights, under the First Amendment and Section 230, to curate their sites. We support those rights. Nevertheless, we are always concerned when platforms take on the role of censors, which is why we continue to call on them to apply a human rights framework to those decisions.”

This social media blockade is the first real punishment Trump has faced for his actions since the failed impeachment attempt of last year. Could he receive more? The 25th Amendment is not going to be invoked and impeachment proceedings are facing hurdles. Once Trump vacates the White House he may be facing numerous charges in New York for financial crimes and even election finance fraud for his various payments to Stormy Daniels. But will he ever be brought to justice for inciting this ugly white nationalist riot? It’s possible. The New York Times reports the DOJ is open to pursuing charges. Others believe the charges could stick. “Based on everything I saw my 30 years as a federal prosecutor, it sure looks like there’s enough to charge him with inciting a riot,” says former Assistant U.S. Attorney Glenn Kirschner.

Of course, any criminal case against Trump would not transpire until he leaves office on January 20. But what of a self-pardon? There’s plenty of talk of Trump not only pardoning those around him who have yet to be accused of a crime (Ivanka, Rudy, Jared, etc.) but of pardoning himself as well. Such a pardon, however, may or may not hold up in court. In a 1974 opinion by the Dept. of Justice, written in response to Nixon’s dealings with Watergate and the potential for his own self-pardon, the DOJ responded that, “Under the fundamental rule that no one may be a judge in his own case, the President cannot pardon himself.”

For such a self-pardon to be litigated, Trump would first have to be charged. Such an indictment is no guarantee but still possible. On Friday, a DC City official, who was not authorized to speak on the matter, told me the City was discussing a charge against Trump for the mob disorder. On Sunday it was confirmed by Washington DC District Attorney, Michael R. Sherwin, who said he will be going after all those involved, including any elected officials. However, any prosecution in DC falls under federal jurisdiction. So any pardon challenge would go into effect and likely make its way to the Supreme Court, where Trump-leaning appointees now stack the bench.

Though it may be only a matter of days, we have a long road to traverse before we reach the end of this four-year-long dumpster fire. Already, scores of Trump’s acolytes are planning a violent confrontation on Inauguration Day and these fascists are more armed and crazier than ever. As Trump, the pathological narcissist that he is, finally loses grip on power, his significance will wane and breed further resentment in this sick and sinister faction of white America, energized by their vile settler mentality that has existed since these lands were first stolen from indigenous nations. It may take years before this latest chapter of our country’s history finally comes to a close, if it ever shuts completely. In the interim, there will be more sporadic madness and more bloodshed, until the day the Trump cult, outnumbered and on the ropes, has nothing tangible to fight for, no leader, no mythical wrong that can be righted. Hopefully, Trump’s white nationalist goons will be left with only a faint memory of their childish insurgency, shining dully like the fool’s gold they’ve been sold.

*An earlier version of this essay stated that Trump watched the scene unfold under the white tent as his supporters stormed the Capitol, but the video was recorded prior to Trump’s speech.

JOSHUA FRANK is managing editor of CounterPunch. His most recent book, co-authored with Jeffrey St. Clair, is Big Heat: Earth on the Brink. He can be reached at joshua@counterpunch.org. You can troll him on Twitter @joshua__frank

 

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Plus, he's a surfer...pretty cool.

Stay Safe Y'all.

Monday, November 7, 2016

The Doomsday Election - UPDATE 11/08: LOOKS LIKE TRUMP HAS WON

As we already know, Hillary Clinton will most likely win the election tomorrow. Mexicans have said to me, "Americans are so stupid," and they are correct.  Here is the link we'll be watching for the election returns:






Democracy Now !


Democracy Now 2016 Election Coverage 



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UPDATE/edit 11/08 @ 10:20PM :


The latest:

The New York Times

Live Presidential Forecast


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For the Hillary and Donald Trump Voters



In San Diego today at several stores and then out to eat we must have talked to at least thirty people, mostly workers and mostly minorities who condemned  Donald Trump's racism and also Hillary Clinton's corrupt and militaristic agenda and the fact that she simply could not be trusted,one woman called her "evil". These were not the conversations you encounter on internet websites where everyone assumes they are an intellectual.  These were conversations with working class folks young and older who are the backbone of the United States, who feel betrayed and lost in the vanishing American dream. They literally loathed both candidates.


Still the ride home was not pleasant, at that point we both thought Hillary Clinton would win the election. ...and then Mike said, you will not be able to fight her.  We've been watching the Democracy Now ! coverage for a few hours, with the best round table discussions of the experts who were not talking down to you, and I wondered if the folks we spoke with hours before were watching too.


A few thoughts on what we are up against now:

1.  The Drug War: Hillary most likely would have extended the Merida Initiative without limits, but so will Donald Trump who has denounced the drugs which are "flowing across the border" as though this were all of Mexico's fault without ever (and this includes Hillary too) discussing the need for treatment centers, education, the rebuilding of America's inner cities and the legalization of drugs.  This drug war is not going to end under Donald Trump, it is going to become more vicious.


2. Immigration:  Most of us realized that Hillary Clinton has never had the best intentions towards immigrants.  From Truthdig's report, "Robert Scheer and Lizbeth Mateo Explore the Contradictions of U.S, Immigration Policy" :


"Scheer: So this is a situation that a lot of people fall into. That something has gone array in their papers either because they were really great citizens, like you, activists to try to make the country better or they had some technical difficulty.

Speaking as a lawyer, what can be done now, not just in your case, where do we stand on the immigration issue? I know the Democrats are saying they are great on it and they are getting a lot of votes based on that. They weren’t always great and the Republicans are being led by an out and out neo-fascist, Donald Trump, who wants to just blame, when he is not blaming Muslims, he wants to blame immigrants, undocumented immigrants, for all of our problems. Of course, they have nothing to do with it. We are in a weird place where the good people haven’t always been so good.


Mateo: Yes, and that is a problem. Especially during this election that has been very negative, where immigrants have been described with some of the most horrible words but I think, at least for me, not so much from the stand point of a law graduate or a future lawyer, but more from the stand point of an immigrant and an organizer, I think that we need to be ready regardless of who becomes President. Even if it is Hilary Clinton. She is saying some great things about immigrants now but she hasn’t always been on our side. She was the first one to call for the deportation of minors, refugee children from Central America. She has agreed with the policies of President Obama to deport almost three million people at this point, 2.5 million people, including many of those refugee children, many of who are still in jails across the country at this point.


To me, that is just unacceptable that in this country we put kids in jails, in prisons. I think whoever becomes President, we have to be ready to keep organizing like we have so far and that is part of the reason why I am speaking out on my case and why the government wants to deny me a benefit that, one, I qualify for and two, that I think I have worked very hard for and have, in many ways, earned through my activism, through my work in my personal life and that is the kind of message that I am trying to send to the community at this point."


A note that Lizbeth forgot to add that Hillary was a supporter and voted for the extended "wall".


~~~~~~~~


If we accept the notion that Trump is a neo-fascist , I am hard pressed to believe that race relations between Latinos/Mexicans and white Americans will improve.  For that matter, I am having a difficult time believing that race relationships between black Americans and white Americans will improve, if  anything, I think they will deteriorate.  We've already seen the discrimination methods used against black voters throughout the Untied States during this last election, as if returning to the old South pre-civil rights era.  It is difficult to imagine what will happen on the border, will the U.S. vigilantes be let loose like a pack of wild dogs ?


3.  Fracking:  Do not fool yourselves, Donald Trump is a huge supporter of fracking just as Hillary Clinton and Obama were.  In fact, Trump has business ties to powerful entities involved in the current Dakota Access Pipeline.  Not only that, we all know that he thinks "Global Warming"  does not exist, it is a myth according to him made up by the Chinese. Do not expect any re-negotiation of NAFTA as far as environmental concerns, same as under Obama. And if you thought Hillary was going to re-negotiate those terms, you are naive.


4.  The Middle East:  Donald Trump, despite knowing full well that it was under Hillary Clinton's tenure Isis/Isil was created, thousands killed and the firestorm which the world has not seen since WWII of displaced people  fleeing for their lives to Europe was due to her obscene Libya policy.  Additionally we know now for a fact thanks to WikiLeaks, that the Government of Saudi Arabia were suppliers of arms to Isis, thanks to Hillary.  Trump says he intends to crush Isis which of course will mean more war and more boots on the ground. It is highly doubtful Trump will ever negotiate a Palestinian State, following the footsteps of every President before him.





5.  The Corporations:   The corporations aren't going away, it will just be another set of moguls and despite what you may have heard, Hillary intended to support TPP - nothing has or will change in this respect.  In other words,  "meet the new boss, same as the old boss"  or just the other side of the same coin.


The Intercept

Donald Trump Recruits Corporate Lobbyists to Select His future Administration
by, Lee Fang


"As Donald Trump finishes his campaign with a promise to break the control of Washington by political insiders, his transition team is preparing to hand his administration over to a cozy clique of corporate lobbyists and Republican power brokers.


“Our movement is about replacing a failed and corrupt political establishment with a new government controlled by you the American people,” Trump says in his closing campaign advertisement, followed by flashing images of K Street, Wall Street, and Goldman Sachs Chief Executive Lloyd Blankfein.


But the Trump transition team is a who’s who of influence peddlers, including: energy adviser Michael Catanzaro, a lobbyist for Koch Industries and the Walt Disney Company; adviser Eric Ueland, a Senate Republican staffer who previously lobbied for Goldman Sachs; and Transition General Counsel William Palatucci, an attorney in New Jersey whose lobbying firm represents Aetna and Verizon. Rick Holt, Christine Ciccone, Rich Bagger, and Mike Ferguson are among the other corporate lobbyists helping to manage the transition effort.


Presidential transition teams develop policy plans and come up with a list of more than 4,000 people an incoming president appoints, including White House jobs, cabinet secretaries, and lower level positions that oversee the military, agriculture, trade, and beyond.


Trump for America Inc., a nonprofit group chaired by Gov. Chris Christie, R-N.J., to oversee the Trump transition, has quietly moved ahead, meeting with interest groups and reaching out to lobbyists to plan a future Trump administration.The group has held regular meetings at the Washington, D.C., offices of Baker Hostetler, a law and lobbying firm.


On Thursday, the group hosted a breakfast at Baker Hostetler attended by Microsoft’s Ed Ingle and Steve Hart, two lobbyists who, according to filings, have worked to promote the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Other transition meetings have included briefings with the Financial Services Roundtable and the Investment Company Institute, two lobby groups that represent Wall Street interests, as well as with the BGR Group, a lobby firm that represents Saudi Arabia and the South Korean government.


Trump, of course, isn’t alone is relying on entrenched political insiders to shape his future administration. The Hillary Clinton transition team is led by Ken Salazar and Tom Donilon, two former Obama administration officials who now serve on the lobbying teams of major law firms. Though the Clinton campaign gained headlines for banning registered lobbyists from managing her transition, the distinction between registered and unregistered lobbying is largely a question of semantics.


Trump’s decision to embrace lobbyists while denouncing them on the campaign trail should come as no surprise to any seasoned observer. The reality television mogul seized on distaste for big money politics as a potent campaign issue, denouncing the role of Super PACs during the Republican primaries. “I have disavowed all Super PACs,” Trump said, adding that he would oppose any support from lobbyists and other special interest groups. After shoring up the nomination, the candidate quickly reversed himself, not only raising cash from lobbyists but switching gears to aggressively embrace the the same Super PAC strategies used by more traditional candidates. Several Trump staffers moved from his campaign to Super PACs supporting the Trump-Pence ticket."


6.  The Markets ? Uncertainty right now let's keep an eye on these guys , will add link to the side later.


7.  NATO - Unknown.


8.  Cuba:  Unknown.

9.  Rebuilding American inner cities and manufacturing:  At this point I call bullshit on this.  Have to actually see it to believe it.


10.. Health Insurance and RX's :  doubtful if Trump will battle the mafias.


11.  Gun Control:  Are you kidding me?


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More to come, just burned out, what a disaster.


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The only positive thing I see at this moment is the probability of progressive groups unifying to end the rotten duopoly...well, let's hope.

Some encouragement from Chris Hedges: (with video)

Truthdig

'Hold Fast to the Causes of the Oppressed': Chris Hedges Speaks at Jill Stein Rally in Philadelphia


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UPDATE/EDIT 11/09:  Adding this link:


Counterpunch 


Don’t Mourn Hillary’s Loss

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We are all tired. Exhausted from what feels like years of election mania. First the primaries, the hilarious, made-for-TV Republican debates, the Democratic talk shows, the Sanders revolt to the months of boring presidential squabbles between Hillary and The Donald. The FBI. The emails. The groping. It’s finally over. Time to exhale.


Election Day has come and gone and we are now sitting in an ugly new era, stunned that the Trump revolution won, and won big. Hillary Clinton and whatever she actually stood for, lost, and lost bad. Far worse than any polls suggested, even the few that had Trump squeaking out a victory.


There will be plenty of blame flying around in the weeks and months ahead. Yet, no matter what bullshit excuse Democrats come up with for Hillary’s historic embarrassment, they have only themselves to blame. She lost because she deserved to lose. She ran an awful campaign, mired in controversy, and was unable to excite voters to the polls. She believed neoliberalism could carry the day, but she was wrong. The DNC was wrong. The establishment lost because the establishment deserved its fate.


By no means does this imply Trump will overthrow the status quo, it only means the outsider Trump was better able to exploit the boiling rage of middle America. All the workers who were undercut by Bill Clinton’s NAFTA. The hundreds of thousands that never rebounded from the Bush recession. Trump provided an outlet of hope for these lost souls – a fabricated hope no doubt, but hope nonetheless – wrapped in rage. His mastery of social media, of vindictive and racist rhetoric, helped him gut the provincial electorate.

Against all odds, against allegations of sexual misconduct, against common sense, being anti-Trump wasn’t enough to get Hillary elected.I n many ways, Hillary was her own worst enemy – a poor campaigner, a flat platform and only an ounce more personality than her VP pick Tim Kaine (and that’s not saying much).With no ground game, far less money than the Democrats, nearly zero endorsements from Hollywood and the media, Trump still prevailed. Somehow he understood a fair portion of the American psyche better than Hillary ever could.

 It seemed she learned little from the branding genius of Barack Obama or the accessibility of her husband Bill. By night’s end it was clear she gleaned nothing from Bernie Sanders’s movement and cared little about his searing critiques of Wall Street and our corrupt political system that’s left so many behind. Being against Trump, in the end, couldn’t get the job done. She needed to go further.
The years ahead will be telling. How will Democrats respond to a Trump presidency? Will they view it as an opportunity to reimagine themselves in a progressive light, or will they continue to believe neoliberalism and identity politics are enough to win elections?
Don’t hold your breath.


In the end, progressives shouldn’t be depressed by this election’s outcome (and I’m not talking about legal weed in California and elsewhere, although that might help numb the pain). They should be invigorated. They should be ready for a fight. Where the left failed to oppose the most sordid policies of the Obama administration, from drone strikes to the dreadful ObamaCare, perhaps progressives will be awakened under Trump’s reign and fill the streets in disgust at every turn.
One can only hope. Hope and rage against the new Trump machine.


JOSHUA FRANK is managing editor of CounterPunch. His most recent book is Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, co-edited with Jeffrey St. Clair and published by AK Press. He can be reached at joshua@counterpunch.org. You can follow him on Twitter @joshua__frank


end edit.


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