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This excerpt is from counterpunch article reviewing Michael Moore’s new film.  I think the reviewer rightly tagged it, along with all the rest of the comedy late night satirists as (I’m paraphrasing now) just more furious fiddling while Rome continues to burn.  It appears that the US Democratic party are subscribing to the notion that as long as they look like they are a party in opposition that is enough for people to vote for them.  US dissident commentators have been correctly remarking decades that the US has two business class political parties that share roughly the same platform and set of policies.  That is sort of a problem if you are trying to get the poor and average people to vote for you and your pro-business/pro-elite (albeit with different window dressings) political positions.

The ‘problem’ that the Democratic party is facing is described below by Louis Proyect:

“Can we expect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to be more like Rosa Luxemburg, as the DSA would have you believe, or like Hermann Müller? The jury is still out.

When she was on Jake Tapper’s show on CNN the other day, the host grilled her about how she would come up with the forty trillion dollars needed to fund Medicare for all, housing as a federal right, a federal jobs guarantee, tuition-free public college, and canceling all student loan debt.

She hemmed and hawed in her reply to the point that Tapper told her that he was assuming that he was not going to get an answer. Instead of her saying something as mealy-mouthed as this: “And, additionally, what this is, is a broader agenda. We do know and we acknowledge that there are political realities. They don’t always happen with just the wave of a wand. But we can work to make these things happen.”

In 1968, I was selling subscriptions to a “socialist rag” door-to-door in Columbia University before the sit-in began. I was also supporting the candidacy of Fred Halstead and Paul Boutelle who if given the opportunity to be interviewed on CNN would have said something like this. “To fund these badly needed programs, we have to start with closing every single military base in the world starting with South Korea. Why are we still formally at war with a country that only resorted to a nuclear defense program to ward off an attack by the USA? The Senate just passed a bill that provides the military with $716 billion for 2019. That should be cut by 90 percent at least. We would also re-introduce progressive taxation measures that would not only be in line with the 90 percent under Eisenhower but exceed it. We would also make sure that Apple and other corporations could not use tax havens in Ireland or Caribbean islands anymore.”

However, this would mark her as a flaky radical that would be an unreliable ally in Congress. What is needed now, according to leading Democrats, is a common sense, progressive, pragmatic approach of the sort Andrew Cuomo prescribed in a press conference after he defeated Cynthia Nixon by 30 points. He wrote off people like Ocasio-Cortez as a “ripple” in the Democratic Party and whose electoral victory in Queens was a “fluke”.

Oh, did I mention what she told Jake Tapper when asked about her attitude toward the corrupt and neo-liberal Governor who just treated her like dirt? “And what I also look forward to moving forward is us rallying behind all Democratic nominees, including the governor, to make sure that he wins in November.” If she is okay with Cuomo, how can we expect her not to urge a vote for Joe Biden, Michael Bloomberg or even John Kerry in the next election?”

So, being a flaky radical seems to be something of a no-go.  What identifies one as a ‘flaky-radical’?  Apparently the willingness to examine and tackle the systemic issues of the US imperial system that are making like shitty for the majority of those who live there.  Much better to stick to the common sense, progressive, pragmatic approach.  Also known as maintenance of the status-quo.

It must be tough having to rally against the system by supporting the system…

  Nationalism is one of the major currents in US society that is wearing away the roots of their democratic nation.  The capitalist 1%’ers are using their political and media distractors in a desperate ploy to place the blame for working classes on immigrants and people who are not white.

Blaming the ‘other’ for your country’s problems is chapter one material in the corporatist manual.  It so much easier to blame people with non-white skin for taking away our jobs than admit that the system we have in place systematically eliminates well paying jobs (via outsourcing or technological advancement) in pursuit of profit and efficiency.

We can see the roots of this game plan in what Trump and Bannon are on record as saying:

     “President Donald Trump’s special adviser Steve Bannon has long disparaged South Asian high-tech workers such as Kuchibhotla and Madasani. In 2015, Bannon interviewed candidate Trump on the Breitbart News Daily radio show. Bannon suggested that there were far too many Asians in the high-tech industry in the U.S. and that perhaps there should be barriers placed on their entry. The H-1B visa, which allows high-tech workers to enter the U.S., is a particular grouse of Bannon’s. Trump expressed doubts about Bannon’s extreme views: “We have to be careful of that, Steve,” Trump said. “You know,” he continued, “we have to keep our talented people in this country.” Bannon would have none of it. “When two-thirds or three-quarters of the CEOs in Silicon Valley are from South Asia or from Asia, I think…,” he said, then hesitated. “A country is more than an economy,” Bannon said. “We’re a civic society.”

     By “civic society”, Bannon meant that the first priority of the U.S. should be to its own “native” citizens. In other words, white Americans need to be the first in the queue for the benefits of the country. In March 2016, Trump absorbed Bannon’s position. “The H-1B programme,” Trump said, “is neither high-skilled nor immigration: these are temporary foreign workers, imported from abroad, for the explicit purpose of substituting for American workers at lower pay. I will end forever the use of the H-1B as a cheap labour programme and institute an absolute requirement to hire American workers first.” When the term “American workers” is used, people like Purinton and Page hear “white workers”. It is what they signal when they yell: “Go back to your country.”

     In another radio show, in April 2016, Bannon said that the migrants to the U.S. “are not Jeffersonian democrats”. “These are not people with thousands of years of democracy in their DNA coming here,” he said. The idea of democracy in the DNA could only imply that certain “races” have democracy under their skin and that Asians are not in that company.”

Pretty chilling considering these mooks now have their clumsy hands on the levers of power in the US.  We can see the nationalism – even white pride – glowering in the statements of Bannon and Trump.  This present white nationalism flies in the face of the American demographic situation, one in which the US is become less white every year, and will only serve to increase the internal tension and strain on the democratic civic integrity of the US.

 

[Source: Vijay Prashad writing for Counterpunch]

 

I’m wondering when (if) the US will join the rest of the industrialized world in offering Universal Health Care for the American people. It seems like such a basic need, even a human right, depending on who you ask.  Not having the stress and anxiety over having to constantly navigate a hurly-burly bureaucratic maze just to access healthcare would improve the lives of so many people in the US.

Why isn’t this a slam-dunk.

Because the wrong people would benefit from a single payer, universal healthcare system.  And we certainly cannot have that.

 

“Already federal, state and local governments pay for about half of this gigantic sum through Medicare, Medicaid, the Pentagon, VA, and insuring their public employees. But the system is complexly corrupted by the greed, oft-documented waste, and over-selling of the immensely-profitable, bureaucratic insurance and drug industry.

To those self-described conservatives out there, consider that major conservative philosophers such as Friedrich Hayek, a leader of the Austrian School of Economics, so revered by Ron Paul, supported “a comprehensive system of social insurance” to protect the people from “the common hazards of life,” including illness. He wanted a publically funded system for everyone, not just Medicare and Medicaid patients, with a private delivery of medical/health services. That is what HR 676 would establish (ask your member of Congress for a copy or find the full text here. (Conservatives may wish to read for greater elaboration of this conservative basis, my book, Unstoppable: The Emerging Left-Right Alliance to Dismantle the Corporate State.)

Maybe some of this conservative tradition is beginning to seep into the minds of the corporatist editorial writers of the Wall Street Journal. Seeing the writing on the wall, so to speak, a recent editorial, before the Ryan/Trump crash, concluded with these remarkable words:

“The Healthcare Market is at a crossroads. Either it heads in a more market-based direction step by step or it moves toward single payer step by step. If Republicans blow this chance and default to Democrats, they might as well endorse single-payer because that is where the politics will end up.”

Hooray!”

 

Hooray indeed Mr.Nader.  Let us hope that the failure to pass Trumpcare is the crack in policy needed to advance the single payer agenda.

[Source:Counterpunch]

There is always hope.

   The points of view put forward here represent the thinking of an individual that does not believe in the political process, and one that believes that change can come from inside the process.  Fascinating stuff.

 

CHRIS HEDGES: Well, that’s precisely what we’re trying to do. There is a point where you have to—do I want to keep quoting Ralph?—but where you have to draw a line in the sand. And that’s part of the problem with the left, is we haven’t.

I covered the war in Yugoslavia, and I find many parallels between what’s happening in the United States and what happened with the breakdown of Yugoslavia. What is it that caused this country to disintegrate? It wasn’t ancient ethnic hatreds. It was the economic meltdown of Yugoslavia and a bankrupt liberal establishment that, after the death of Tito, until 1989 or 1990, spoke in the language of democracy, but proved ineffectual in terms of dealing with the plight of working men and women who were cast out of state factories, huge unemployment and, finally, hyperinflation.

And the fact is that these neoliberal policies, which the Democratic Party is one of the engines for, have created this right-wing fascialism. You can go back—this proto-fascism. You can go back and look at the Weimar, and it—Republic—was very much the same. So it’s completely counterintuitive. Of course I find Trump a vile and disturbing and disgusting figure, but I don’t believe that voting for the Democratic establishment—and remember that this—the two insurgencies, both within the Republican Party and the—were against figures like Hillary Clinton, who spoke in that traditional feel-your-pain language of liberalism, while assiduously serving corporate power and selling out working men and women. And they see through the con, they see through the game.

I don’t actually think Bernie Sanders educated the public. In fact, Bernie Sanders spoke for the first time as a political candidate about the reality the public was experiencing, because even Barack Obama, in his State of the Union address, was talking about economic recovery, and everything was wonderful, and people know that it’s not. And when you dispossess—

ROBERT REICH: Well, let me—let me—

CHRIS HEDGES: Let me just finish. Let me finish. When you dispossess that segment, as large as we have—half the country now lives in virtual poverty—and you continue to essentially run a government that’s been seized by a cabal, in this case, corporate, which uses all of the machinery of government for their own enrichment and their own further empowerment at the expense of the rest of the citizenry, people finally react. And that is how you get fascism. That is what history has told us. And to sit by—every time, Robert, you speak, you do exactly what Trump does, which is fear, fear, fear, fear, fear. And the fact that we are going to build some kind of—

ROBERT REICH: Well, let me—let me try to—

CHRIS HEDGES: —amorphous movement after Hillary Clinton—it’s just not they way it works.

ROBERT REICH: Let me try to inject—let me—let me try to inject—

AMY GOODMAN: Former Clinton Labor Secretary Robert Reich?

ROBERT REICH: Let me try to inject some hope in here, in this discussion, rather than fear. I’ve been traveling around the country for the last two years, trying to talk to tea partiers and conservatives and many people who are probably going to vote for Donald Trump, to try to understand what it is that they are doing and how they view America and why they’re acting in ways that are so obviously against their self-interest, both economic self-interest and other self-interest. And here’s the interesting thing I found.

This great antiestablishment wave that is occurring both on the left and the right has a great overlap, if you will, and that overlap is a deep contempt for what many people on the right are calling crony capitalism—in fact, many people on the left have called crony capitalism. And those people on the right, many, many working people, they’re not all white. Many of them are. Many of them are working-class. Many of them have suffered from trade and technological displacement and a government that is really turning its back on them, they feel—and to some extent, they’re right. Many of them feel as angry about the current system and about corporate welfare and about big money in politics as many of us on the progressive side do.

Now, if it is possible to have a multiracial, multiethnic coalition of the bottom 90 percent that is ready to fight to get big money out of politics, for more equality, for a system that is not rigged against average working people, where there are not going to be all of these redistributions upward from those of us who have paychecks—and we don’t even realize that larger and larger portions of those paychecks are going to big industries, conglomerates, concentrated industries that have great market power, because it’s all hidden from view—well, the more coalition building we can do, from right to left, multiethnic, multiracial, left and right, to build a movement to take back our economy and to take back our democracy, that is—

[…]

CHRIS HEDGES: I don’t think it makes any difference. The TPP is going to go through, whether it’s Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. Endless war is going to be continued, whether it’s Trump or Clinton. We’re not going to get our privacy back, whether it’s under Clinton or Trump. The idea that, at this point, the figure in the executive branch exercises that much power, given the power of the war industry and Wall Street, is a myth. The fact is—

 

Can a compromised system produce results that benefit the non-elite portions of society.  I’m thinking no.

[Democracy Now: Full Transcript]

From Counterpunch:

 

“Jill Stein, the Green Party’s nominee for president, has been the sudden target of attacks from all corners of online media since the official end of Bernie Sanders’ campaign at the Democratic National Convention. Outlets like the Washington Post, New York Magazine and Gizmodo have assaulted Stein by using out-of-context quotes to assail her, wrongly, for being anti-vaccination and anti-WiFi, which is a code for being “anti-science.” This allows us a unique opportunity to confirm the structural role of the media as hypothesized by Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman in Manufacturing Consent: that the media is a propaganda arm for the elite and powerful, and is used to condition us to accept the bounds of socio-political discourse as set by the ruling class. It also shows us the desperate need we have for an alternative media culture to counteract mainstream discourse.

The attack on Stein (and not, conveniently, on Gary Johnson), is linked to the need by the elite to de-legitimize A.) critics of neoliberal policies and B.) potential alternatives to the political status-quo. Trump and Clinton have had and will have no discussion about thirty years of neoliberalism and austerity. Sanders gave a voice to those within the Democrats who were willing to question, but since his defeat momentum on the left has shifted to Stein and the Green Party. It is, granted, still early, but the outpouring of support means there is a possibility the left could begin to regroup outside the Democratic Party. Real success for Stein could mean a permanent presence on the national stage for the left, to which a president Clinton or Trump would have to answer and which would be able to build an entirely different ideological discourse in the United States.”

The treatment of Jill Stein should be an interesting application of the propaganda model.  What we’ve seen during the election cycle confirms much of what Herman and Chomsky hypothesized – issues that affect the public are not being discussed, there is an acceptable line of questions, answers, and responses that are allowed in the media – the rest are swept to the margins and actively ignored.

Is there any wonder left as to why the American people look so dimly on their Congressional representatives?  They are supposed to speak for the people, yet strangely enough, once elected other interests seem to take precedence.

You can read about the Propaganda Model of Herman and Chomsky here.

Bill Moyers almost always has interesting guests and topics of discussion.  The topic of this video is why the American Congress has been so ineffectual as of late(?).  A long view, but interesting none the less.

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