Category Archives: Democratic Politics

Palast, Socialism, and the New York Times

I don’t think it is the subject of controversy that Greg Palast is the reporter who first, and most completely, told the story of the 2000 election in which George W. Bush made off with the victory falsely, since Gore actually won Florida when all the counting was done, if not feloniously; too many mechanisms were employed by the Republican Party to take the time and space to enumerate here.  I am not writing about that election on election day 2020.  I am writing about several interlaced political phenomena that this sad country had better do something about if it is ever to approach the Democracy its citizens think they deserve, and a large number of them, think they already have.

The driving force behind this piece has been the failure of the New York Times to include in its pages the name Palast.  I assume the reason for his absence is the fact that he is an unabashed leftist.  He has written quite a few books, and the central theme of every one of them is that the corporate oligarch class is at work everywhere and in every way seeking to subvert the very notion of Democracy, along with any steps towards its realization.  In spite of whatever pretensions there are, the New York Times is likely the most powerful upholder/bulwark of that very corporate oligarch class.

Then along comes Donald Trump and the election of 2020 and everyone with a reasonable brain is firing in the same direction, their interests, if only temporarily, precisely aligned: Trump must be defeated.  Standing in the way of that are all kinds of problems with the machinery of our democracy, wisely or not, left in the hands of the 50 states.  Palast is a smartass; there is not the slightest doubt about that, and he uses his brand of humor to skewer pretension and its practitioners like the folks at the New York Times, though I frankly don’t remember if he has ever said something uncomplimentary specifically about them, or it.  So, whether that paper has been specifically targeted with his sarcasm or not, what is clear is that he has done the work that it should have been doing, and upon which the essential victor in Georgia this year, Stacey Abrams (though her name was not on the ballot) has relied.  In fact, just today, Nov 16, 2020, a NYT article referred to the problem to which he has directed such enormous energy in the last two decades, Republican false “purges” of legitimate voters, without mentioning his name or his responsibility for calling attention to the issue.

His most recent book, “How Trump Stole the 2020 Election,” leaves absolutely nothing to the imagination when it comes to the flaws in our elections, based on reporting from 2000 until today.  Some things are not nailed down.  For example, the case that operatives are able to change the numbers of votes in a candidate’s column, or the actual choices on the ballot, is maybe just a strong suspicion at this point.  What is not just a strong suspicion is that the purging of voters from the rolls in states, Red States, across the country is a fact, and not a trivial one.  In Georgia in 2018, Stacey Abrams would have won had it not been for unlawful purging of voters by her opponent, then election chief and Secretary of State, now governor Brian Kemp.  I can’t remember if it was 300,000 or more, very likely Democratic voters that were purged, but it was far past the margin of Kemp’s victory in an election that Abrams, bravely, never conceded.

In 2020, the purges are still in operation and Palast has demonstrated, without the slightest question, that some 198,000 Georgians have been purged from the rolls erroneously, and from this criminal trial lawyer’s perspective, feloniously.  The purgers set up an algorithm, or whatever, that knocked off everyone who had moved since the last election, knowing that 80% still had the right to vote at their new address which was around the corner in far too many cases.  There are other tricks that Palast has uncovered, and they do nothing but raise one’s blood pressure for those of us who actually think every citizen should be encouraged to vote, not just allowed.

Here is where it gets peculiar.  That last sentence or its gist could have been found in a NYT editorial.  Those people claim to want everyone to vote, too.  As do all of the Democratic members of the House and Senate.  It isn’t shocking any more the extent to which Republicans admit they don’t want people voting; the demographics are heading in a seriously wrong direction for them these days. Crime and chicanery are about what’s left in their satchel.  But the Democrats and all their power operatives clearly SAY they want everyone voting.  So they should be promoting the brilliant work of Greg Palast, advertising his books and his videos, since the more people are aware of the deeds to which I make reference, the less likely they will be to fall victim to them or vote for their executioners, i.e. Republicans.

How many times has the New York Times mentioned Greg Palast? Zero.  How many times has he testified before Congress about his election findings? Zero.  So what is going on here?  Would these centrist democratic forces prefer to lose than live in an actual democracy that might, according to some, produce a progressive agenda?  Or do they simply think they can get away without answering that question because their power in other regards is so overwhelming?  

I am now writing as Trump has lost but hasn’t, and probably won’t, concede.  The Democrats, or maybe more accurately, the oligarchic, ruling class, has achieved its greatest victory.  One of their most reliable practitioners, Joe Biden, (Iraq War, Crime bill, general corporate hegemony, Anita Hill, etc) has been elected with a diminished House majority, and likely, pending two Georgia run-offs in January, a Republican majority in the Senate.  Bingo, the perfect excuse not to accomplish anything that might discomfit the oligarchs.  Was it a gamble by the ruling class, that they barely pulled off, given the small margins in key states?  Or would they have preferred Trump to a progressive-leaning landslide, or the likes of Bernie Sanders?

How did we get here, to the place where diehard lefties like myself are doing what they can to get Trump out even though the replacement is way below unacceptable?  It all begins with Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Economic Bill of Rights:


The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries, or shops or farms or mines of the nation;  

The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation;  The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living;  

The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad;  

The right of every family to a decent home;  

The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health;  

The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident and unemployment;  

The right to a good education.


Those are the words he spoke at his State of the Union Address on January 11, 1944. But they are the product of the attitude he expressed so vividly as he announced his Second New Deal on October 31, 1936, when he said that his efforts in the fight for what we call “economic justice” were opposed “by business and financial monopoly, speculation, reckless banking, class antagonism, sectionalism, war profiteering,” propelled by a hatred of him.  To which he added, “I welcome their hatred.”  

FDR has been, at least in rhetoric, the guiding light of the Democratic Party since he took office in 1933.  He engaged in warfare as a class traitor and set down markers for a just society that resonate now as much as they did then.  So now I ask, which leader of the Democratic Party will stand for these principles now with the words “I welcome their hatred?”  Not Joe Biden or Nancy Pelosi or Chuck Schumer, or, importantly, South Carolina Repesentative, Jim Clyburn, who gave Biden the win he needed in the South Carolina primary with a crucial assist from Barack Obama who called Buttigieg and Klobishar to get them to drop out and endorse Biden, thereby destroying the chances of Bernie Sanders the Socialist who had won, for all intents and purposes, the first three primaries. 

So the centrist, business-friendly, ruling class Democrats managed to defeat the Socialist.  The embracer of the ideas of FDR was beaten by the forces aligned with FDR’s haters.  And who precisely are these haters today, those for whom defeating a Socialist is worth the gamble of a continuation of Trump?  The fossil fuel industry, convicted of conspiring to destroy mass transit in the first part of the 20th Century, has now been shown to have known that global warming and climate change were the inevitable results of fossil fuel usage forty years ago, and did and said nothing in light of that knowledge.  Does Joe Biden welcome their hatred?  He has actually called the climate crisis an existential threat and has pledged 2 Trillion dollars to fight it.  And who does he suppose is going to be his foremost opponent in that fight, other than the fossil fuel industry and its surrogates in the Republican Party?  You say some of their surrogates are Democrats?  You say some of Biden’s advisors and potential nominees have been lobbying for fossil fuels for the last number of years?  I suppose all of that is true.

The financial industry, scoundrels of 2008, deserve all of our hatred just as FDR expressed it in 1936, but they found impunity under Obama/Biden. Amazon and Google and Facebook are classic monopolies that should have seen the end of their reign and made plans for it, but now will fight regulation while wielding influence among the powerful.  Has there been an expression welcoming their hatred from Joe Biden?  Hardly. They love him. He, after all, carrying a card or not, is a DLC Democrat.  Clinton and it, the DLC, decided that power was with the money in politics, not the far-more-numerous people.  They picked a few wedge issues that all but the extremes could agree on, abortion, guns, gay rights, and declared them to be the heart of the Democratic Party, at the same time assuring big money that it had nothing to fear from them.  They went straight to Goldman Sachs and became the whores of Wall Street, deftly omitting any reference to FDR’s second New Deal or welcoming anyone’s hatred.

And now, 40 years later, Trump has managed to lose but only barely, while claiming seats in the House and maybe still hanging on to the Senate using as his light saber the fear of Socialism.  And Clyburn is decrying Socialism in front of a statue of W.E.B. Dubois, one of America’s premier Socialists, probably in the same month that he extolled the virtues of FDR–just guessing about that last, but Pelosi and Biden sure have within memory.  Clyburn is as strong a DLC’er as there is as a recipient of massive quantities of campaign contributions from Big Business and Big Pharma.  Might there have been another way?  How about confronting the enigma head-on instead of talking out of both sides of Democratic mouths.  FDR’s declarations about economic rights are, after all, as good a definition of Socialism as anybody needs.  What we need is a “paper of record” that will let its readers know when a Democrat extolls the virtues of FDR at the same timing shilling for big business.

Is mendacity playing a role in this debate?  Anybody reading this probably doesn’t need to be told that there are unprincipled liars who are major voices as these issues are discussed.  Jim Clyburn and Representative Spanburger of Virginia can whine about having to run against attacks on Socialism, but he should know those attacks aren’t going away whether the Left is outwardly embracing the label–Sanders, Ocasio-Cortez–or just making glancing references to FDR.  The Republican Party employs the best at doing the worst, and they have no regard for honest discourse.  Every time they step to the plate, they are either lying or dancing on the edge of the term.  And they are great at it.  And, and this part is important, there is a lot in the history of Socialism to be used, however dishonestly.  Hitler and Stalin, for example, both used the word while embodying everyone’s worst nightmare of the Totalitarian state.  But Marx would have been appalled at what was wrought in his name, because, “dictatorship of the proletariat” to the contrary notwithstanding, he was a democrat and fervently believed in the principles of democracy.

But the last thing the Republican public relations apperatus, or the DLC, corporate oligarch, Democratic public relations apperatus have the slightest concern for is that the unknowing might confuse the bad things they inaccurately associate with Socialism with the good things that are the heart of its dictates.  Obviously, and in fact, that is their aim, to play on ignorance for emotional and strategic advantage. So that is a tough fact of life for us Socialists; they lie, and they have material with which to work.

I propose a different strategy from that currently employed by left Democrats.  I think it is possible to win the debate, even among the less politically literate, just by turning around, facing the chaser, and shouting back.  The good news is that we don’t need to lie to have a truly powerful rebuttal that those, who consider themselves more astute at this business than I, have decided not to resort to.  The bottom line fact of life is that everyone loves Socialism, everyone.  It’s just a question of, in which instance?  Socialism does NOT, even if you were to hew closely to the dictates of Das Kapital, which I found unreadable, but which America’s pre-eminent Marxist of the late 20th Century, Michael Harrington, explained to me, simply mean that the state owns the means of production.  Socialism involves the long continuum of government action through the use of money, owning as in the Tennessee Valley Authority, or just affecting in the case of farm subsidies or tax breaks, or…BAILOUTS.

The whole debate about healthcare and socialized medicine is illustrative of the conundrum and the dishonesty employed in the public relations trenches.  Rush Limbaugh and his fellow travelers–why not employ their tools if you can?–shout with abandon about the perils of socialized medicine as did Trump’s campaign in the past 6 months.  What’s wrong with that?  Well, no one, no, actually, no one, is suggesting that the United States should adopt socialized medicine.  What is promoted, with a majority of citizens approving, is socialized medical insurance, the so-called single-payer, Medicare For All program that Sanders, and at one time or another, look it up, Elizabeth Warren and Barack Obama supported.  In such a system, the doctors would NOT be employees of the government, but the bill payers would be.  The provision of healthcare would be private in every meaningful sense, unlike for example, the medical attention received by the most famous current besmircher of Medicare For All, calling it Socialized Medicine, Donald Trump, when he contracted Covid and had to be admitted to Bethesda Naval Hospital where he was cared for by government-paid doctors of various high ranks.

Hypocrisy, mendacity, deception. These are really all the Right and Republicans and the DLC Corporate Democrats have when it comes to Socialism.  Who, after all, was it that came begging in 2008 when the precipice was staring them and us in the face?  It was big business, Republicans and Democrats, and specifically and principally the banks, who had their hands out, were bailed out, and then bugged out when it would have been time to calmly and rationally discuss the benefits and detractions of Socialism.  I haven’t done the study, but I feel quite certain they were at the heart of the financial embrace that defeated the public option in the healthcare debate in 2009, furiously backing the Blue Dog receptor of mountains of health insurance money, Max Baucus, while whinging about the disaster of Socialism.

For a time, the government actually had a piece of the auto industry and Obama did a wonderful bit about moving some of these Ford Taurus’s at a blockbuster sales event.  That was Socialism in its classic form, actual ownership of a company, so those decriers who were begging for a bailout in 2009 can sit down and shut up; they crave Socialism existentially.  The hypocrisy is not hard to make out; it is the foundation of the public relations effort against Socialism and its proponents.

So, in its simplest form.  The fight today appears to be between corporate America and left socialists. And it is being fought with the machinery of Democracy, elections, with one side professing support for, and the other, unabashedly in opposition to, complete citizen access to the ballot box.  But part of the army, the Decorporocrats, just will not commit to the battle, and therefore, must be considered to be in league with the enemy.  Sure, this analysis leaves out a lot of the country that can’t or won’t look beyond abortion or guns; they are unreachable to the Democratic Party, but not a large enough percentage to win the White House on their own.  What’s left of the electorate are the targets of the Anti-Socialism crusade, and the most powerful force in that effort is the New York Times which has the ability to strike its blow for the Decorporocrats and the Recorplicans just by ignoring some of the most important journalism for the vitality of Democracy that can be found anywhere–the work of Greg Palast.


Goldberg, Marcotte, and Walsh Go After Tara Reade, Biden’s Accuser

Having now consumed sufficient quantities of political venom concerning the accusations leveled at presumptive Democratic nominee, Joe Biden, by a former intern, Tara Reade, that amount to the crime of rape by a foreign object, I am compelled to weigh in since I haven’t yet succumbed to the effects of the poison.  Joan Walsh and Amanda Marcotte and Michelle Goldberg have been serially destroyed by the estimable Nathan Robinson of Current Affairs, but that isn’t going to stop me from dancing on their graves. And all of those years cross-examining rape victims and overcoming some pretty serious pangs of empathy to do it, may have given me a little bit of a different angle to see it all from.


Goldberg et al are expressing skepticism about Reade’s allegations, but they can obviously feel the cold wall of feminist outrage against their back, so they do their best to make it all palatable.  But political hit jobs will always be political hit jobs no matter how silky smooth it feels going down. As Robinson points out, as long as you get the words, “changed her story” planted in the minds of the reader, it really doesn’t matter whether you allow for the possibility of her telling the truth or not.


The problem that #MeToo encountered, and, with the lengthy sentence of Harvey Weinstein, and multiple other resignations and dismissals, it was thought, had overcome, was the inbred fact of these cases, that it is searingly uncomfortable, and incredibly damaging for the victims to open their mouths.  The reluctance has always been an arrow in the defense lawyer’s quiver because it leads to long periods of time between event and complaint and often a halting process of disclosure once it is begun. The story isn’t changed, it is simply not able to be told in its fullness at one time, or at a certain time, in the life of the abused woman.  #MeToo managed to provide this understanding in such a way that people such as Joe Biden were able to declare that women who make these claims do so at enormous cost, and that cost is sufficient to overcome whatever doubts might be urged against them for not saying anything immediately, or for not being able to stomach total disclosure in one fell swoop.  It should be “presumed,” in Biden’s words, that the accusations are true, until the opposite has been shown.


There is not a relevant syllable that Tara Reade has uttered about what Biden did to her that cannot be more than adequately explained by the structure of all #MeToo complaints as we have come to know them.  The power imbalance at the moment of the crime, coupled with the accurately perceived long term detrimental consequences to the victim’s career demand that the decision to complain be considered with the utmost care and deliberation.  Would Elizabeth Warren have progressed beyond “baby law professor” if she had opened her mouth just after being chased around a desk by her senior? We will never know, but it took the #MeToo movement to pry the facts out of her. 


When Goldberg and Marcotte and Walsh went after Tara Reade, they were playing public defender, soulfully bemoaning the prior inconsistent statements that some referred to as a “changed story.”  But that is not their forum, nor a role for which they are qualified. It would have been entirely appropriate for Joe Biden’s defense lawyer, had the statute of limitations not extinguished the idea, to repeat to Tara Read’s face each and every one of the differences that may well exist between what she has said or didn’t say throughout the decades.  And, were it to have transpired in a criminal court, it would have been the jury’s prerogative to find that there was that degree of uncertainty, not beyond a reasonable doubt, such that the only proper verdict would have been “Not Guilty,” but in that case, Joe Biden would have walked out of the courtroom, an acquitted accused rapist. Under no circumstance would he have been declared, at that moment, an innocent man.  In California, an acquitted defendant can make a motion to be declared “factually innocent.” Should such a motion be granted, at that event, may the word innocent be relevantly and legally applied. These are all matters way beyond the remit of Goldberg et al. Their job, as journalists, was to give Tara Reade the presumption to which the understandings of #MeToo make her entitled. It was their job to treat her the same way they treated Christine Blassey Ford, or any other woman who has managed to summon the almost unimaginable courage to speak the horror of her personal experience against a powerful man.


Goldberg et al are journalists who have taught the world the functional realities of #MeToo, but here, in this most momentous time, they decided to forget all that they had taught, or even the words of this particular accused, “[F]or a woman to come forward in the glaring lights of focus, nationally, you’ve got to start off with the presumption that at least the essence of what she’s talking about is real.”  Amen. But there is one further matter that must be addressed since it tends to shed light on the minds of the perpetrators, Goldberg, Marcotte, and Walsh.


Tara Reade’s accusation may not sit well because it is, in a sense, a garden variety #MeToo complaint, not made at the time, halting in its revelation.  But each of the “Three” are forced by truth to acknowledge that there is the important matter of corroboration in the case of Ms. Reade in that she complained to friend and family at the time.  What is enlightening is the fact that there is an additional piece of evidence that even a criminal jury may have had some difficulty with. Reade claims to have brought the crime to the attention of her supervisor in the Senator’s office, a fact which no supervisor supports.  But what is clear from the investigations that have been conducted by the likes of Marcotte and Walsh at least, is that Reade was reassigned out of the position she held immediately following the complaint, mirroring precisely what she recites as the chronology of events. We, the unwashed and unresponded to, would dearly love to be able to cross-examine the “Three” concerning their omission of this particular piece of chronology in their discussions of Tara Reade.

Nuland and Kagan and Clinton

There are so many reasons to vote for Bernie Sanders.  For those of us whose interest is primarily in national security and foreign policy, the two other names that you might not recognize in the title of this piece are the best ones I can think of.  Robert Parry at said it better than I can in, but the main point, which Parry alludes to, is that Bernie seems to be making nothing of this issue.


Maybe he is completely on top of it, understands the issue, and sees it precisely as Parry and I do. And maybe he knows from his decades in the business that you don’t win elections on foreign policy, though that is a premise that a lot of presidents might well argue with, Kennedy and Cuba, Carter and Iran, Reagan and the Soviet Union.  But why not play a pretty good card, pivotal or not?


Hillary Clinton has allied herself with neocons for decades; the idea that her vote on Iraq was some sort of one-off “mistake” is absurd.  Her alliance with, and support for, and employment of Nuland and Kagan, the husband/wife neocon intervention operatives, is absolutely everything one needs to know about the direction of Clinton’s foreign policy, assuming she sticks with her history and eschews some sort of redemption scenario which is the fantasy-based rationale for my vote for her in any general election.

Kagan was a co-founder with William Kristol of the Project for a New American Century, made famous in “Rebuilding America’s Defenses” for its pre-9/11 reference to the necessity for a New Pearl Harbor in order for the US to be able to project power around the world in the way that its signators wished.  Who were members of that gang?  Cheney, Rumsfeld, Pearle, Abrams, Wolfowitz…need one say more?

“I Told Them To Cut It Out”

Hillary Clinton’s self-congratulatory pronouncement at the first Democratic debate that when she represented Wall Street–giving the most benign interpretation to that phrase–she went down there, being aware of the behavior in which they were engaging, and told them to cut it out, provokes a question or two.  They are:


  1. What precisely was the behavior that led to her admonition?

  2. Upon what information was she relying to conclude that the admonition was appropriate or necessary?

  3. Where did she say what she said and who was present?

  4. Is there a record of what was said?

  5. What was the reaction to her statement?

  6. Was the conduct of which she was complaining criminal or just risky and stupid?

  7. When she returned to the Senate, what steps did she take to confront the problem which impelled her to go to the headquarters of the mis- or malfeasance and admonish its practitioners?

  8. Did she conduct hearings, make a referral to the Justice Department, or inform her colleagues, or the other citizens that she represented, of the dangers that she foresaw?

  9. How precisely would she describe those dangers, did she memorialize her fears at the time in any manner whatsoever?
  10. Maybe most importantly of all, what did she want us voters to think about her?  Are we supposed to be impressed that she had the gumption to speak harshly to the financial world, her most powerful backers?  Are we supposed to be impressed that she knew bad things were happening?  Or are we supposed to be too stupid to realize how useless an act she was committing.  Did she know what a useless act it was, if act it was?


Robert Caro and American History

Robert Caro is a dinosaur, and we should be thankful.  So we have it from no lesser than Charles McGrath on the cover of the New York Times Magazine.  Caro’s work is brilliant.  So we have it from former President William Jefferson Clinton in the cover article of the New York Times Book Review.  In appearances all across America’s media, Robert Caro is praised and saluted for his most recent installment, the fourth, of his proposed five volume work on Lyndon Baines Johnson, who, according to Caro and most of the rest of the world, brought us as a nation so much good, though he may not have been.
Continue reading

Two Cents on The State of the Union

At what point should a president realize that it just hasn’t worked out as he had planned; that he is going to be incapable of delivering what he told himself he wanted?  Did Barack Obama not understand, before he took the oath that there were powerful forces at play in this land and that their interests are not those of the people, and, giving him every benefit of the doubt, not those of Barack Obama?  Where was Barack in 1994 when the insurance lobby spent $300 million dollars, by one account, to defeat Clinton’s mess of a healthcare bill which was in its essence a series of gifts to the very companies that paid that money?  What explains the administration’s utter lack of preparedness for the fight that has been going on for the first year of his presidency over healthcare? Continue reading

Questions For Mc Cain

1. One assumes that you, Senator Mc Cain, would agree that committing American forces in a war is the most serious decision and the most substantial test of judgment faced by any president.
2. The record suggests that even today you concur with the Bush-Cheney decision to go to war in Iraq.
3. One assumes that you agree that the reasons employed by the Administration to create support for the war were largely concocted lies vigorously sold as the truth, or premises founded on willful ignorance, sold equally vigorously. Continue reading

Keith Olbermann, Special Comment

I think that Edward R. Murrow would be applauding loudly, that in the midst of the cowered sheep of American mainstream media, a voice of outrage speaks his mind, looking straight into the eye of power. Keith Olbermann may bring a tablespoon too much sanctimony to the dish for everyone’s taste, but anyone who denies themselves these moments, cheats themselves of an opportunity to be uplifted by a public act of courage. The depth and breadth of the spine that it takes to engage in such talking of truth to power is difficult to gauge, not sitting in the chair in front of the cameras. Quite considerable, I am thinking. Continue reading

Open Letter to Hillary Clinton

Dear Senator Clinton,
It  is very easy to be a dispenser of advice.  It is very easy to suggest selflessness on someone else’s part.  It is extremely easy to advocate a courageous stand when one’s own backside or reputation or historical achievement or marriage does not hang in the balance.  In the event there is doubt about any of these claims, keep reading. Continue reading

What Obama Won’t Say about Hillary, and Maybe Shouldn’t

Hillary is a member of the power elite. Her husband has been a member the Trilateral Commission since at least 1991 and the two have attended the Bilderberg Conference, one hundred and thirty or so inhabitants of the world’s most rarified air. Those groups have been driving the interests of Empire since they were created. They are peopled by the most powerful and fantastically wealthy human beings on the planet. They conduct their business in utter secrecy. As groups they have been worried, almost to the point of saying so, about the problem of democracy since the 1960’s. They are the global status quo, and every one of their members and associates have benefited enormously from the vast and growing inequalities in all of the world’s countries. Maybe Hillary will act against her fellows’ interests. Continue reading