Tuesday, October 19, 2021
Monday, October 18, 2021
We present a compliation of #RandomThoughts on the week that was in Our World as the Tower of Shame in Hong Kong was slated to be removed, Japan is undergoing change yet again, Iran and Israel continue their cold war and in the United States, former President Trump continues its quest to overturn the elections which has been repeatedly debunked:
Buyers in Europe and US must wait longer for supplies as factories are forced to slash operating capacity
OCTOBER 17, 2021 by Primrose Riordan in Hong Kong, Edward White in Seoul and Harry Dempsey in London
Saturday, October 16, 2021
Either dismantle the Trump conspiracy and give Americans a reason to vote for you or prepare foe catastrophe
October 15, 2021
By Marc Cooper
Barely a year out from the crucial midterms, the Democrats have two do-or-die tasks immediately in front of them. 1) Get to the bottom of and break up the conspiracy that led to January 6 and that continues to push America toward authoritarianism and 2) give an angry, confused and cynical electorate some good reasons to vote Democratic in 2022.
On both counts, the party is miserably failing and threatening to take down the rest of us along with its own future.
Among all the Weak Sisters who populate the Biden Administration, it looks like Attorney General Merrick Garland might emerge as the Prima Donna.
Unfortunate it is, as living with four years of a politically corrupt and frankly immoral Justice Department under the purview of such characters as Jeff Sessions and Bill Barr, a lot of hope was invested in Garland, thinking he would right the ship.
After four years of the DOJ working closely with Donald Trump, blindly defending the lawlessness of Trump, and enabling a number of other Trumplican zealots, Garland seemed like the guy who would impose an 180 degree reversal, that he would revitalize Justice as a true defender of universal law and a democratic order. Mostly, there was optimism that DOJ would stop covering up for political criminals that infested the prior administration and would, indeed, finally crack down on them.
That moment is now upon us. An opportunity and really an obligation to throw the weight of the DOJ into the battle to break up the conspiracy that brought us January 6 and that continues to chisel away at the Republic is now wide open.
The case of Steve Bannon, Trump’s neo-fascist Rasputin who is to be tagged for criminal contempt by the January 6 Select Committee, will land like a thud on Garland’s desk next week. Garland alone will decide with what haste and what vigor he will actually prosecute Bannon (or not) for his failure to comply with a congressional subpoena.
It would seem a slam dunk. But Garland’s first nine months in office have shown him to be excessively cautious, slow-moving, not fully transparent, and he seems to be taking the vow of DOJ “independence” to mean he should do little to piss off Republicans and Trumpers.
Garland should be praised for pushing the DOJ to take police abuse more seriously, and he should be congratulated for joining the fight to overturn the noxious Texas abortion ban. along with several other policy reforms that Garland has put in place.
Then there’s this other side of the ledger… what appears to be Garland’s reluctance to actually prosecute or even investigate any of the egregious lawbreakers of Trumpdom, including the boss, Donald Trump.
Consider some of the AG’s recent record:
He let Trump off the hook in the alleged rape case against him lodged by E. Jean Carroll.
He punted on taking any action regarding the Trump-Barr violent clearing of Lafayette Square last year.
Garland helped bury Barr’s obstruction and distortion of the Mueller Report by refusing to release the Office of Legal Counsel memo that Barr used to untruthfully defang the report.
He defended former Trump Counsel Don McGahn against congressional subpoenas.
He has appealed the ruling that Democrats secured that would reveal malfeasance at the Trump Hotel in Washington D.C.
Most egregious, Garland appears to be abstaining on any serious legal inquiry into the actions of Trump and his closest advisors. Leaving the investigation solely to the January 6 committee is a sorry cop-out as that committee lacks any real power to eventually indict. Just look at what it must go through now just to get a subpoena enforced.
Sorry to remind everybody, but Part Two of the Mueller Report is nothing less than a detailed blueprint of how to prosecute Trump on multiple counts of obstruction of justice. Barr lied when he presented the report to the public (without presenting it). So, are we supposed to just forget all about this? We just leave it hanging?
As the Justsecurity site reminds us:
And what about Trump’s actions since the election? Is Garland the last man in America to not at least suspect that Trump played, um, a major role in the January 6 assault on the Capitol? Does he not care to even investigate? And then just last week Trump was out there calling upon his toadies to not comply with their subpoenas from the House, one more act of obstruction of justice.
We’ll see next week if Garland can work up enough courage to enforce the contempt charge against Bannon. That would, at least, be a baby step.
That said, make no illusions. Steve Bannon is not about to go to jail.
The criminal contempt charge against him that will be levied next Tuesday by the January 6 committee sounds a lot nastier than it is. This is not the sort of contempt of court deal where the bailiff immediately carts you off behind bars.
No. After the January 6 committee approves the charge, it then must go to a vote before the full house, where it is expected to pass. Next, the referral goes to the US Attorney in Washington DC who is theoretically obligated to take it before a grand jury. But Garland can kill the move or approve it.
If approved, Bannon would be formally charged, he might be briefly arrested (unless he surrenders) and then…we go to trial! And then appeals. By the time that case is resolved both Trump and Biden will probably be dead. We are talking not days or months but, potentially, years.
And if eventually convicted, Bannon would pay a small fine and would most likely do no jail time.
I can’t figure out what is in the collective head of the January 6 committee. Are they scared? Do they also just want all this to go away? Or do they mean well but are simply hemmed in by process? Good question.
There were two other options available for the committee regarding Bannon. They could declare him in “inherent contempt,” an obscure but legal channel that would allow the House Sergeant of Arms to grab Bannon and throw him in the cooler till he complies. The other, more agile option, would be to declare him in “civil contempt,” the option known to many brave reporters who have been on the receiving end of this measure. You go to a judge who declares Bannon in contempt, he is put in jail without trial, and gets out when he decides to comply or 18 months later, whichever comes first.
Two schools of thought have arisen among pundits observing this case. On one side are those who think the committee chose the criminal contempt option knowing they would never really get to Bannon but would scare the other witnesses into cooperating. The other school of opinion guesses that the committee (and the House Leadership) just doesn’t have the cojones to have Bannon literally tossed into the clink next week, thereby provoking some horrible and violent reaction from the Trumplicans.
Not that the neo-fascists need any provocations. They continue to go about their business in the light of day, without concern or consequences. This past week has seen yet another rash of threats leveled against local health, election and school officials. These are now the preferred targets of our domestic Brown Shirt brawlers.
The GOP has further cemented its position in the Right Insurgency by now forcing almost all local candidates to swear fealty to the lie that Trump won in 2020. “Mainstream” Republicans are now denying that Biden is actually president and many of them are now backing new (and ridiculous) state vote audits of the election held 12 months ago.
A watered-down, Manchin-friendly voter rights bill comes up for a vote next week and you can bet the farm there won’t be ten Republican votes to break a Republican filibuster.
You can pretty much be sure that Manchin will still not support blowing it up even though it will be used to kill his own bill. And as to the Sphynx of Phoenix, Miss Sinema, only her psychiatrist knows for sure what’s rolling around in her noggin.
I, on the other hand, feel secure in declaring:
There will be no voting rights bill this session of congress.
The filibuster will not be dismantled and, so, I will note once again that NONE of the remaining Biden Agenda will be passed… except “infrastructure.”
Earlier this week, I caught Nicole Walllace on MSNBC introducing John Heilmann as her guest and asking “What is the state of the play?” Heilmann paused for a moment and then drolly said, “You know, it’s a mobius strip.”
Indeed! The state of play has been more or less frozen for months as Biden tries to push forward his alphabet soup of twin infrastructure bills. This will be Biden’s only chance to get anything at all done before the midterms, and the whole process has been a PR and messaging disaster.
Frankly, I am confounded on a daily basis. The “human infrastructure” bill, that “reconciliation Building Back Better bill,” even at reduced funding, would be the greatest investment in the social safety net since the New Deal.
Why has Biden and the Democrats so fantastically bungled the messaging on this? The poor framing of this bill, the lack of concerted Democratic agitation around the substance of the bill, has enabled an already muddle-headed media to distort the measure as some sort of obscure and expensive “spending bill.”
Whenever Biden, Pelosi, Schumer or any of the other Ancients walk up to a podium and start droning on about the bi-partisan but not partisan reconciliation infrastructure measure, you can hear thousands of TV’s clicking off .
In perhaps the single most significant poll of the last month, CBS revealed that only an anemic ten percent of the population says they know anything at all about what’s in that $3.5T Build Back Better Bill. Ten percent?! Worse, the bill has majority support anyway, somewhere around 54% but that figure rises 10% more among those who know that an expansion of medicare is included.
“Stop selling the recipe and start selling the brownie! “ says Anat Shenker-Osorio, a progressive communications consultant. Imagine, she said, if Martin Luther King had said, “I have a multi-bulleted memo.”
Biden has been terrible in selling this package. As late as this Friday he was on the air emphasizing that the BBB bill would make the US more “competitive” as if this is any concern among struggling American families looking at stratospheric housing costs along with all the other perks of this twisted economy.
Bernie Sanders wrote an op-ed for Fox News (good for him) laying out exactly what is in this human infrastructure bill and how popular it would be:
Some defenders of the Biden administration now argue that it is too early to fret over the messaging of the bill, that once it passes Democrats will have a whole year to talk about it and sell it.
This is a foolish notion. It should be obvious that entire narratives can be created free of fact…and not just negative ones. Further, once that narrative is set, it might be impenetrable by future facts.
The Democratic bungling of the BBB bill has already allowed a false, Trumplican narrative to gel around this proposal: It’s a runaway big spending bill being pushed by progressive radicals over the common sense of moderates.
Anybody who thinks it will be easy to knock down this crap has apparently been off the grid since 2015.
As I write, there should be a literal army of Democrats —not just Biden— out in all 50 states, beating the drum about the concrete measures in this package that will directly improve the lives of tens of millions. There should be ads running in every state, no matter the cost. Democrats should be relentlessly talking about the substance of this bill just as they need to escalate and maintain movement against the rising fascists.
I suppose I will file this among many other “what is to be done” fantasies. I don’t really expect much rectification in the coming weeks and months. How can I? The Democrats have shown remarkable consistency in strategic failure. I sometimes wonder if congressional Democrats have already resigned themselves to an inevitable Republican wave next year? It sure feels like it. ++