Posts Tagged ‘Eric Holder’

It’s hard to believe, but there are a few good things coming out of the Coronavirus, economic, and systemic racism crises. The personal and societal tragedies far outweigh these bright spots, but they’re worth mentioning nonetheless. It’s always good to remind oneself that things aren’t quite as bad as they seem.

Here are some of the silver linings. Let’s take the darkest, foulest of “silver linings” — a “silver lining” akin to that you’d get by dropping a scratched-up, stamped-metal spoon into a septic tank, hauling it out two years later, holding it up to the sun, and regarding its glowing, rusty edge alight with filigreed fecal matter: that glowing, tangerine-colored fecal matter being Donald Trump. Here are the relatively good things about him:

  • Donald Trump is a moron, too stupid to understand his own best interests. Yes, Trump’s incompetence, his complete failure to lead during a deadly pandemic, has already cost well over 100,000 lives, and will likely lead to at least twice that. But when he came into office, Trump had a chance to completely destroy what passes for American democracy — that chance supplied by both the outright racist, authoritarian Republican Party and the screw-the-poor, authoritarian, corporate-servant Democrats, such as the Clintons, Obama, Holder, Biden, Schumer, and Pelosi, who all pursued Republican economic and social policies that resulted in an ever-expanding wealth gap, grossly inadequate and unequal healthcare and education, mass incarceration, and the police as uniformed, above-the-law terrorists.

If the Republicans had placed in power a capable fascist, who handled the Coronavirus pandemic competently, it’d likely be game over: he’d be immensely popular — and he’d have ushered in outright totalitarianism, which Trump obviously yearns for. But that didn’t happen. Instead, the Republicans installed Donald Trump, an outright idiot, too stupid to understand even the most basic of his own best interests. (We’re talking about a man so stupid he managed to bankrupt several casinos — otherwise known as licenses to print money — who began receiving a $200,000-a-year allowance at age three, who received over $400 million from his dad, and who was so incompetent he’d be much better off today if he’d just put his money into an index fund.) Trump’s self-sabotaging stupidity has given us vitally necessary breathing room.

  • Trump is a bullying sadist who brags about sexually assaulting women and his anti-LGBT Bigotry. Trump’s boasting about his sexual assaults, with over 20 credible accusers, including three who’ve accused him of rape; his utterly creepy comments about how “hot” his daughter is and how he’d like to date her; his condescending and dismissive attitude toward women; and his assaults on women’s reproductive rights have left him massively unpopular with women, and hence headed for defeat. (I’m a guy, and reading about Trump’s assaults on women leaves me wanting to take a shower; I’m sure the reaction is even more visceral for most women.)

Trump has also been pandering to his theo-fascist evangelical base by attacking gay human rights. This is already backfiring, furthering isolating the Republicans from the American mainstream.

  • Trump is an outright racist. Race-baiting has always been Trump’s stock in trade. Starting with the Obama birth certificate bullshit, and followed up by separating families seeking asylum (literally tearing babies out of their mothers’ arms), locking immigrant kids up in cages, and attempting to deport kids who were brought here without documentation and have spent their entire lives here, Trump has made it very plain that one of the most important Republican playing cards, perhaps the most important, is outright racism. Since the supposedly decent Republicans have seen fit to in no wise oppose Trump’s vicious actions, they’ve made it plain that racism is the Republican calling card — as it’s been since passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the consequent Republican Southern Strategy, replete with race baiting and voter suppression. Now, that Republican racism is out in the open (no more need for dog whistles), the Republicans have to own it, and they’re on a demographic suicide course. Trump has accelerated this day of reckoning.
  • Trump defeated Hillary Clinton. For this, we should thank Trump. Clinton was the ultimate, entitled, neo-liberal Washington insider. During the 2016 primary campaign, she rained down fire on Bernie Sanders’ mild, common-sense reforms within capitalism (reforms which he inexplicably labeled a “revolution” — bad branding if there ever was bad branding). Clinton was the ultimate status quo candidate. Had she won, the underlying, festering problems — a grossly unequal distribution of wealth and income, an ever-expanding surveillance state, grossly inadequate healthcare, stagnating wages, staggering student debt, an accelerating climate-change crisis — would have gone unaddressed (especially wealth and income distribution), or barely addressed, the Republicans could have run against her without having any real solutions to anything (as has become obvious), they could well have kept control of both the Senate and the House, and in 2020 they could have run an intelligent fascist who could have completely destroyed our sad farce of a democracy en route to an environmental apocalypse. Clinton, her husband, Biden, Obama, et al., paved the way for a Republican fascist. Thank god the Republicans chose one who’s uniquely loathsome and utterly incompetent.

Trump, with his bargain-basement Mussolini act, has alerted a great many people to the looming threat of fascism, and has provoked a huge progressive backlash. Where it will lead, no one knows, but the backlash against Trump, racism, economic disparity, and Trump’s callous, deliberately cruel policies provides at least some hope. One of those hopes is that the Republican Party will become a rump party influential in only the most religiously, socially, and culturally vicious and benighted parts of the country.

There’s one more related, relatively bright spot:

  • Joe Biden is an unprincipled opportunist who’s been in thrall to corporate interests his entire career. He’s made a career of catering to corporate interests (e.g., the bankruptcy bill that made it almost impossible to discharge student debt), advocating mass incarceration (his 1994 crime bill), and supporting Obama’s persecution of patriotic whistle blowers such as Ed Snowden. The good news here is that Biden is an unprincipled opportunist — but a smart one, at least smarter than Trump. He knows which way the wind is blowing, and he’ll probably bend accordingly. He might try to institute at least a few of the desperately needed reforms because he’ll think it’s to his political advantage to do so. I certainly hope so.

We’ll shortly deal with the silver linings of the Coronavirus pandemic and the economic collapse. (And, yes, there are some silver linings there, too.)



Provocations, by Chaz Bufe, front coverby Chaz Bufe, author of Provocations: Don’t Call Them Libertarians, AA Lies, and Other Incitements

The Republican takeover of the Senate in 2014 can be traced to the waning months of 2008. That was when Obama fired his progressive economic advisors, the first sign of Obama’s coming wholesale betrayal of those who elected him. Out went Robert Reich and Robert Rubin and in came Wall Street insiders Tim Geithner and Larry Summers.  When Obama needed economic campaign rhetoric, he turned to the progressives. When he needed to set economic policy, he turned to Wall Street. This is prima facie evidence of deliberate betrayal.

The progressives had been pushing for a huge stimulus–somewhere around $2 trillion, which would have been enough to jump start the economy and put people back to work in short order. Instead, Obama asked for and got an $800 billion stimulus package (much of it in the form of tax reductions, one of the least efficient ways to stimulate the economy), which was enough to keep the economy from totally collapsing, but not enough to put significant numbers of people back to work.

The House and Senate Democratic “leadership” (an oxymoron on the level of “ex-gay,”  “humble televangelist,” or “compassionate conservative”) was more than happy to play along. In particular, Harry Reid could have changed the rules of the Senate and run it on the basis of simple majority rule. He didn’t. Instead, he left the old rules in place, which in effect required a super-majority (60 votes) to pass any significant legislation.

We all know what followed economically: continued massive unemployment; continuation of the decline in median wages that began near the time Bush took office; creation of relatively few new jobs, mostly low wage jobs; millions of people losing their homes in the foreclosure crisis; tens of millions more losing a major part of their savings as their home equity declined–and a huge rebound in stock prices and record corporate profits.

At the same time, Obama and the Democrats in Congress did nothing to investigate, let alone prosecute, the banksters responsible for crashing the economy, the banksters responsible for the greatest financial fraud in world history. And there were plenty of bank and other criminals to prosecute, if the Obama Administration had wanted to; it didn’t. (If you doubt this, read Matt Taibbi’s works on the topic, particularly Griftopia.) As Attorney General Eric Holder stated last year–demonstrating in a single phrase why he’s unfit to hold office–the major banks are “too big to jail.”

The Obama Administration and its minions in Congress also did nothing to investigate, let alone prosecute, those responsible  for lying the U.S. into an illegal, disastrous war of aggression in Iraq. Its record on torture is similarly shameful. Even as I write, the Obama Administration is trying to bury a Senate report on torture under the Bush/Cheney Administration.

What did Obama do instead? What did Obama deliver? About the only thing he delivered on was a healthcare plan, and even there he didn’t even try to deliver what was needed: a single-payer or some other type of public plan. Instead, he delivered a half-assed–more accurately, quarter-assed–plan that let the insurance companies continue to siphon billions from the healthcare system and that has left tens of millions uninsured.

At the same time, despite promises that he’d have “the most open administration in history,” Obama almost from day one began to ruthlessly persecute whistle blowers and journalists.  He also ramped up the the mass surveillance of American citizens begun under Bush, to the point where nearly everyone is under constant surveillance by the NSA and other government agencies.

In the face of this wholesale betrayal, Obama appeared stunned at the Republican rout of Democrats in the 2010 midterm elections. In 2008, a majority of the country wanted major change, which Obama promised. Instead, he cynically betrayed those who had voted for him in almost every single particular.

And he thought he could get away with it. His attitude prior to the midterms seemed to be, “Hey punks! Who you gonna vote for? The Republicans? Huh?  I don’t think so. You’re gonna take what I’m dishing out, and like it!”

Well, a lot of people didn’t like it; they decided not to reward betrayal with their votes, setting the stage for what followed: Republican takeovers of state legislatures across the country, voter suppression on a mass scale, and widespread gerrymandering, which ensured continuing Republican dominance in both state legislatures and Congress. (For example, in Ohio, which Obama carried in both 2008 and 2012, Republicans hold 12 of the 16 congressional seats.)

With Obama continuing his hypocritical, corporate-toadying, anti-civil liberties, war criminal-coddling policies since the 2010 debacle, it’s little wonder that progressives are disillusioned and apathetic. It’s little wonder that Republicans have continued to cement their hold on power.

Right-wingers are fond of pointing out Barack Obama’s middle name: “Hussein.” What they fail to point out is that that middle name is inappropriate: it should be “Judas.”