H. Scott Prosterman – Informed Comment https://www.juancole.com Thoughts on the Middle East, History and Religion Wed, 04 Aug 2021 05:43:19 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.18 Anti-Vaxxer Trumpian Pols are Killing their own Constituents for Profit — and Endangering us All https://www.juancole.com/2021/07/trumpian-constituents-endangering.html Wed, 21 Jul 2021 04:04:31 +0000 https://www.juancole.com/?p=199001 Oakland, Ca. (Special to Informed Comment) – Tennessee Governor Bill Lee is killing his constituents by pandering to Donald Trump. He’s following the leads of Texas’ Greg Abbott and Florida’s Ron DeSantis, as state executives, reading the tea leaves of the Tea Party and blowing in the political wind – lives of their citizens be damned!. Their alliance with quack health professionals, Fox News and other right-wing organizations is doing great harm. They are prolonging the pandemic and causing more people to die. Tennessee became the Volunteer State for its large contingent of volunteers for the War of 1812. Gov. Lee is now calling on volunteers to die for a different cause, his political agenda in service to Trump.

The ongoing American public health crisis is the result of gross misinformation campaigns from multiple sources. State legislators in Tennessee and elsewhere are punishing public health officials for . . . using their best science-based judgment to protect public health. They are following Trump’s model to demonize Dr. Anthony Fauci and other health professionals, for calling out issues that conflict with the beliefs and wishes of “the base.” That’s a euphemism for the millions of proudly ignorant people who reject science, and applying it to solve scientific and medical problems. Some of it arises from raw ignorance, while another part arises from a diabolical political agenda, to appease and placate Trump and his devotees. This is a parallel dynamic to his “Stop the Steal” movement, which has quickly become a visceral threat to American Democracy. Sadly, both are long-term consequences of Newt Gingrich and Ronald Reagan’s “all big government is bad” campaign.

Just when you think you’ve heard it all, along comes Dr. Sherri Tenpenny to give a new twist to medical quackery. Here is a woman with a medical education, who uses her standing to salve the anti-vax movement with misapplied segments of science, to concoct a plausible sounding reason to avoid vaccines. She’s the one telling people they can become magnetized by the vaccine, and that it would cause DNA shedding of the virus in patients and their sexual partners. Some vax-objectors are actually medical professionals, devoted to Dr. Tenpenny and the destructively phony organization, Health Freedom for Humanity. They and Dr. Tenpenny are doing great harm to American public health.

In my home state of Tennessee, the governor recently fired Michelle Fiscus, the state’s medical director for immunizations, because she recommended allowing minors to get the Covid vaccine without parental approval. Oh, and it’s not just the Covid vaccine that has an official state information embargo, but ALL childhood immunizations! Whereas Ms. Fiscus invoked a state Constitutional provision called the “Mature Minor Doctrine,” some legislators argue that it was misinterpreted for the purpose of accomplishing “go’mental overreach.” Promoting vaccines in a Republican-dominated state legislature can bring punitive measures. Public health was never a partisan issue until Trump saw a need to demonize America’s top public health official, to suck up to the far-far right, and play to the base. It’s called pandering. They have spread false alarm about the Covid vaccine, including the bizarre notion that it “alters our DNA.” Not true. The Covid vaccine DOES alter the patient’s mRNA (Messenger RNA) to fool the immune system into building resistance, but does NOT contain the active virus, which could be “shed” into a sex partner.

That made the Vols front-and-center of Steven Colbert’s hilarious ridicule last week. The cover for this destructive cowering to t-Rumpian madness, is the alleged preservation of parental authority, and stopping “go’mental overreach.” Despite this Republican war on public health, the state continues to administer vaccines. Public health officials in Shelby County (Memphis) and Davidson County (Nashville) continue to promote childhood vaccinations, and resist other draconian state directives intended to destroy public education in those counties, but not elsewhere. Poor Nashville, surrounded by Tennessee; poor Memphis, stuck in the corner hard by Arkansas and Mississippi.

What’s truly alarming is that some medical professionals have dignified Tenpenny’s positions to inflate her standing, most notably Health Freedom for Humanity (HFH). HFH stakes noble ground positioning themselves thusly: “We declare freedom from the overreaching arm of Big Pharma and its bedfellows. We are unmovable and unstoppable.” Their “team” is composed of dozens of thoughtful looking people with “Dr.” in front of their names, most of whom are NOT medical doctors. They include a “mindset coach,” and purveyors of debunked therapies. While some “alternative care” practitioners can perform valuable roles, the HFH roster dignifies concepts that lack scientific support. Naturopaths are valid health professionals who perform vital services. The ones on the HFH roster present some bizarre notions on their websites. HFH dignifies the worst of the worst of questionable practitioners across the alternative health care spectrum. Bio links to their team members lead to everything from legitimate medical websites to Instagram accounts with no medical substance. Some are devoted to selling merchandise and books, and dispense no medical information. HFH is popular with some naturopaths, but abhorred by others who take their practice more seriously. Some team doctors list their “degrees in progress.”

Now that Trump is no longer president, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has restored useful science-based information to their website. This is because science recovered in the 2020 election from a demoralizing defeat the previous cycle. CDC lucidly points out, “None of the vaccines authorized for use in the U.S. contain a live virus. mRNA and viral vector vaccines are the two types of currently authorized Covid-19 vaccines available.” The alarm about DNA alteration is laid to rest thusly: “mRNA and viral vector COVID-19 vaccines deliver instructions (genetic material) to our cells to start building protection against the virus that causes Covid-19. However, the material never enters the nucleus of the cell, which is where our DNA is kept.”

Yes, Big Pharma is bad, but so are phony people who claim medical expertise they don’t hold. And yes, big pharma does make money off the Covid vaccine and all others, because nobody today has the “right stuff” of the great Dr. Jonas Salk. He donated his invention of the polio vaccine, rather than get rich off of it, Dr. Salk was a noble mensch who realized he was rich enough, and preventing a pandemic was pretty damn important. But that was a long time ago in a far-away galaxy. Recently some Tennessee legislators discussed shutting down the state’s public health information office. According to their logic, if a town disbanded the fire department, that woud ensure that there would be no more fires. And Dolly Parton is not pleased that governor squandered her $1M investment in Vanderbilt’s research to develop the Moderna vaccine. Miss Dolly for governor! She’ll do no harm.

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Bonus Video added by Informed Comment:

NBC: “Tenn. Health Official Says She Was Fired For Teen Vaccination Efforts”

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Bye Bye Bibi Blues: Netanyahu was Israel’s Trump https://www.juancole.com/2021/06/blues-netanyahu-israels.html Fri, 04 Jun 2021 04:04:43 +0000 https://www.juancole.com/?p=198169 Oakland, Ca. (Special to Informed Comment) – Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu and former President Donald Trump have both steered their countries, parties and political ships to the far-far right; in pursuit of greater power; fueled by hate, intolerance and corruption. But now some of Bibi’s allies are jumping ship to form a new government. Republicans meanwhile, refuse to abandon Trump, and chose to remake their party in his fascist image. Facing charges of breach of trust, bribery and corruption, Bibi managed to delay his trial by the convenience of the Covid pandemic, and arguing that attempts to oust him are a politically motivated witch hunt. As Trump makes the same argument, he and Bibi have become a two-headed monster that feeds off fear, ignorance and a devotion to manufactured grievances.

The Likud Party has dominated under Bibi’s leadership for 12 years, and shifted even farther to the right when empowered by Trump, his sycophant Ambassador David Friedman, and the dark prince Jared Kushner. By granting Bibi and Likud their entire wish-list, including the disingenuous Abraham Accords, these men paved the way to the explosion of the recent 11-Day conflict. In Bibi and Trump’s fantasy world, the Palestinian cause didn’t matter, so they marginalized it out of the discussion, along with the two-state solution. With Bibi waning, right-wing parties are finding strange bedfellows on the left, with which to form a government, and retain a vestige of power. They know Bibi’s ship is sinking fast and are bailing for their own political lives, ideological purity be damned.

Bibi’s political dominance has paralyzed Israel through four inconclusive elections in the past two years. The likely successor, Naftali Bennett is an ideological podmate of Bibi, who gained power pressing all the buttons on right-wing wedge issues including opposition to the two-state solution and expansion of illegal settlements. (They have a gift for inspiring mixed metaphors.) Under the power-sharing agreement, he will serve as PM for two years, followed by MK Yair Lapid for the remaining two, IF the government holds that long. This unusual power-sharing agreement includes Raam, an independent Arab party in the governing coalition for the first time in history. But its fragility may be offset by the recognition that Bibi’s agenda has been destructive for Israel and the worldwide Jewish community. (Anti-Zionism has morphed into Anti-Semitism for many ill-informed people.) Should the coalition collapse, Lapid would be the more likely political survivor poised to form a new government.

Not all devout Jews are also devout Zionists, though AIPAC has brainwashed much of the American Jewish community into believing that Zionism MUST be a central tenant of modern Judaism. That one is a religion and the other is an ideology, born at the end of the 19th Century through centuries of deep-seated anti-Semitism, and forged by the Holocaust; is lost on many Jews. And as more American and European Jews recognize the brutal hypocrisy Zionism has become; they are questioning, objecting and withholding financial support. This has led Likud to more readily embrace Evangelical Christians, whose “love” for Israel is a perverse dynamic, considering it is motivated by an apocalyptic vision of a world without Jews. But their perverse “love” for Israel is welcomed by right-wing leaders, despite the underlying “hate” for Judaism, as a matter of political survival. What could be more counterintuitive than a Jewish state favoring Evangelical Christians over Jews?

Bennett now recognizes that Bibi has become an existential threat to Israeli society and the independent judiciary. His remaining in power could light a fuse for World War III, so Bennett is jumping ship to avoid enabling the collapse of Israel and a truly apocalyptic conflagration. While some Christians look forward to the Apocalypse as a spiritual goal, most are more interested in prolonging their lives on this earth and avoiding hellfire and brimstone for themselves and their children. Jews holding to Messianic visions also have a sense of mortal preservation, and Bibi’s agenda threatens them too.

Though the proposed government reflects the diversity of Israeli society, it may be unworkable because of the conflicting agendas of its members. Naftali is unlikely to change his devotion to expanding the settlements, or get on-board with police reform and other issues favored by the left. Raam’s participation is motivated by the hope for more resources and greater rights for its citizens, and hoping to repeal discriminatory housing and land-use laws.

The fly in the ointment is Knesset Speaker and Bibi loyalist Yariv Levin, who has the power to delay a confidence vote on the new coalition until June 14. This gives Bibi and Likud time to persuade some coalition members to abandon the proposed government, and Bibi one last chance to benefit from the resulting chaos. He would remain as a “caretaker” PM should that unfold. With Trump’s help, Bibi killed the peace process and ignited the May war with Hamas. Re-igniting conflict would benefit him politically. As with Trump, Bibi has demonstrated a willingness to sacrifice Israeli lives for his selfish political ambition. He has also attacked the judges in his trial and the functional obligations of the Israeli judicial system, as did Trump in losing numerous court challenges to the 2020 Election. The prospect of a total collapse of Israel’s judicial system and economy is what brought Bennett to finally oppose him.

Time and again, Bibi has undermined American political and economic interests, along with Palestinian rights and a viable two-state solution. Some of this has taken the form of brazen violations of American and International Law. Bibi’s interference with the Iran nuclear deal is an example of his selfish destruction, as was his effort to show up President Obama on a state visit in 2019. He also sabotaged the Oslo accords, George Mitchell’s diplomatic efforts at the beginning of President Obama’s first term, John Kerry’s efforts in 2014, and openly campaigned for Trump. No other president or prime minister has dared interfere with American electoral politics, except of course Vladimir Putin. And that is the most revealing reflection of Benjamin Netanyahu, his willingness to play Putin at the expense of democracy in Israel and America.

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Bonus Video added by Informed Comment:

Channel 4 News: “Israel in “political chaos” as Netanyahu’s time as leader runs out”

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Mitch McConnell, Shepherd of Shame: Taking Names for a New, Deeper Circle of Hades https://www.juancole.com/2021/05/mcconnell-shepherd-taking.html Mon, 31 May 2021 04:04:59 +0000 https://www.juancole.com/?p=198096 Mitch McConnell will go down in history as one of the most destructive men in American History. If obstructing all the positive legislation and court nominations of President Barack Obama wasn’t enough; if enabling all the horrors and cruelties of President Donald Trump wasn’t enough; if brazenly changing Senate rules to undermine . . . let’s call it Democracy wasn’t enough; if dispensing with his reasoning for not giving a hearing to Merrick Garland, and then changing the Senate rules again to ram the Barrett SCOTUS nomination through the Senate wasn’t enough; now comes McConnell’s greatest attack on Democracy yet. It is commensurate with the scale of the terror inflicted on the U.S. Capitol on January 6. He is now officially the “Shepard of Shame,” for blocking the Congressional investigation into the causes and responsibility for the riot. He is protecting the criminals who threatened the lives of his colleagues and his own. All in service to Donald Trump and the millions of morons whom he inspired to come out and act out their violent, racist fantasies.

He is protecting the members of his party, whom he shamed earlier this year for trying to block certification of President Joe Biden’s election: criminals such as Senators Josh Hawley, Ted Cruz and Representative David Kustoff, among others. In doing so, he has officially given the Republican Party over to Trump and truth-deniers such as Rep. Lorena Boebert (who recently passed her GED just before getting elected.) He is giving credence and standing to Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, who has not only trivialized the Holocaust, but used it as a political prop by comparing mask mandates to the madness of the Holocaust.

McConnell and his flock don’t want America to know the extent of Trump’s role in trying to undermine the legitimacy of Biden’s presidency, or those of Roger Stone, Reps. Mo Brooks and Madison Cawthorn. McConnell is protecting these people from the consequences of the greatest betrayal in American History. We won’t know if Trump’s operatives sabotaged police and National Guard response to the riot. So we are left to assume that is true, but they will never be held accountable.

As a result, Dante is excavating a new, deeper Circle of Hades, beneath that of the common traitors. The new layer is for special traitors, who have betrayed every function and ideal of representative democracy and the American Revolution. These are traitors who have expressed greater confidence in former KGB Director Vladmir Putin, than in America’s own intelligence agencies. Traitors who have expressed affinity for the very forces America and the free world defeated in World War II. Traitors who align themselves with the forces defeated in the American Civil War. They have betrayed every war veteran since the American Revolution, not to mention the millions of people suffering the consequences of Trump’s anti-human agenda.

McConnell is protecting Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who argued that states that actually counted their votes and certified Biden as the winner had “capitulated” to some nefarious, anti-democratic force. He is protecting the dark princes, Eric and Don Jr. and Gavin Newsom’s ex-wife Kim Guilfoyle, who riled the crowd with challenges to “be a hero or a zero.”

He is protecting Amy Kremer, who barnstormed the southeastern states, rallying the Trump faithful to go to Washington and fight to overturn the election. He is protecting Q-Anon, Proud Boys, 3%’ers and other openly fascist organizations, and the elected officials who give them cover and faux legitimacy.

McConnell argues that a January 6 commission would be superfluous, because of existing investigations by local law enforcement agencies and the Justice Department. He said, ““It’s not at all clear what new facts or additional investigation yet another commission could lay on top of the existing efforts by law enforcement and Congress.” The problem with that dismissive tactic is that criminal investigations investigate crimes; not the motivation, networking and planning behind them. A formal commission would look into the instigators, who have not been charged with crimes. A commission could determine how the rioters got to Washington, what they did when they got home, and what they did during the riot. McConnell and Trump don’t want anyone to know the motivations of the 500 criminals who have already been charged. This gives cover to the Fox News and ONE Network truth benders who still say the rioters were antifa operatives DISGUISED as Trump supporters.

The Justice Department and local law enforcement look into the individuals charged with crimes, but not the broad network conspiratorial activities that lead up to January 6. That is what the commission is for. The existing Congressional investigations are focused on police and security failures, but not what fueled the violent mob.

Bipartisan investigations build and foster trust across the aisle. Under McConnell’s leadership bipartisanship has died. The commission would insure that there is never a repeat of January 6. McConnell wants to leave that possibility on the table, because Republican hegemony has become more important to 30% of America than the health and security of the Republic. He has made “country over party” a quaint and dated concept, with no sense of shame.

McConnell is protecting at least three members of Congress who gave recon tours to the rioters the day before. He is protecting extremist groups from being investigated for their planning, coordination and networking. We’ll never know who else was involved beyond those already charged, and there could be many.

McConnell is not interested in preventing a recurrence of the greatest attack on American Democracy in history. And he is enabling Congressional reps such as Rep. Andrew Clyde (R-GA), Andy Biggs (R-AZ) and Ralph Norman (R-SC) to continue their efforts to peddle fictions, and re-write the history of that day with no interference of challenge. The Republican Party is no longer about standing up for police, truth or the founding principles of the Republic. It remains deeply invested in protecting Trump’s fictions. Clyde said the whole thing was a normal tourist visit. And it was a bunch of French tourists who stormed the Bastille on July 14, 1789 staying within the velvet ropes.

Featured image:

Licensing

Description

Addison Mitchell McConnell Jr., aka Mitch McConnell, is the senior Senator from Kentucky. He is the Republican Majority Leader.

This caricature of Mitch McConnell was adapted from a photo in the public domain from the US Senate.

Date
Source Mitch McConnell – Caricature
Author DonkeyHotey
This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.
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How Trump’s “Abraham Accords” Inflamed Tensions by Marginalizing Palestinians and how Biden must hold Israel Accountable https://www.juancole.com/2021/05/marginalizing-palestinians-accountable.html Fri, 14 May 2021 04:04:25 +0000 https://www.juancole.com/?p=197787 Oakland, CA (Special to Informed Comment) – Formal military units and street gangs are fighting it out separately throughout Israel, Palestine and the territories. Both Arab and right-wing Jewish street gangs have been fighting it out with each other AND cops. Nadav Eyal of the newspaper Yediot Ahronoth characterized it saying, “We are seeing the fracturing of our social compact.” Hobbs and Locke never envisioned this, though for one it’s a state of war, and for the other a state of freedom. Innocent civilians have been killed on both sides, including many children, as Hamas and the IDF exchange rocket fire in densely populated areas. It’s called war and there’s nothing “civil” about it.

It’s easy to blame all this on the alliance of awfulness between former US President Donald Trump and Netanyahu. Trump’s alliance with Netanyahu led to a radical change in American Foreign Policy, which relegated the two-state solution, Palestinian claims and human rights out of the discussion. Trump and his toady Ambassador David Friedman granted Bibi everything on his wish list, departing from the Carter-Clinton-Obama policy of “friends don’t let friends commit political and economic suicide.” Trump has enabled it.

Most unfortunate is that the escalation is helping Netanyahu stay in power; despite facing charges of bribery, corruption and breach of trust. Extremists on both sides fuel the conflict, and prompt one another to escalate. In this political vacuum there are no credible negotiating partners on either side, and no one on either side is commanding the street. Don’t negotiate with terrorists? Both sides have acted as terrorists, but one side has an unlimited military budget thanks to $4B a year from the U.S., with no terms of accountability. The Abraham Accords, by which Trump and Friedman normalized Israel’s relations with the UAE, Sudan, Bahrain and Morocco may have stabilized some elements, but by further marginalizing the Palestinians, helped set this off.

Though Arabs technically enjoy citizenship in Israel, they face many discriminatory restrictions and inconsistent application of standards, not unlike the Southern reaction to Reconstruction. This includes Israel having the standing to expropriate land and property from Palestinians in Arab East Jerusalem, while Arabs in Israel have no recourse to reclaim their family homes since the Nabka (Palestinian diaspora) of 1948. NYT Columnist Tom Friedman succinctly summarized, “Palestinians argue that it is unfair that Jews can reclaim land or homes they owned in East Jerusalem before 1948, but Palestinians have no legal means to reclaim land they owned in West Jerusalem or anywhere else in Israel before 1948.”

The byzantine complexity of both Israeli and Palestinian politics also factors in. The Palestinians can’t seem to agree on terms for their next election, while Israel just had a fourth in two years with no government being formed. This created a political vacuum of effective leadership for both. And there may be yet a fifth election without a power transition, if a new government can’t be formed by June 2. That is MK Yair Lapid’s deadline, after Netanyahu failed to assemble a working coalition.

The recent conflagration is a perfect storm of badly timed events, with the attempted eviction of six Palestinian families from the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood East Jerusalem as the catalyst. A decision on the eviction expected last Monday has been postponed to June 8. Two families have already been evicted and four others are fighting it. Ironically, Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit may become an advocate for the Palestinian families, and in consideration of their request, he asked the Supreme Court to delay the hearing so he can evaluate it.

Why are Arabs being evicted from their own Quarter of Jerusalem, giving a cruel twist to this 150 year-old dispute? Because some Israelis claim title to the land from before 1948, by virtue of a real estate deal in 1876. Israelis consider the Arab residents of Sheikh Jarrah to be squatters, while Palestinians claim they were tricked into signing the 1876 agreement. A bitter irony is that Palestinians consider all Jewish settlers to be squatting on their land. When Israel captured and annexed East Jerusalem in 1967, it returned the land titles to a Jewish Trust that had bought it in 1876. It was then sold to right-wing settlers, who have been trying to evict the Palestinians since then. The Palestinians signed an agreement in 1982 recognizing the Jewish ownership, and accepting “protected tenant” status in return. Not surprisingly, Arab titles dating to Ottoman rule of Palestine have been produced to challenge the standing of the Jewish Trust. Israeli Law is a combination of British Common Law, Jewish Law, Islamic Law (Shariah applies only to family and probate matters) and elements of the Ottoman code. In this matter all elements are play.

It got ugly on Monday, May 10 as the hearing date came a couple days after Laylat al-Qadr, or Night of Power, when the Quran was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad by Gabriel. This is the same Gabriel who foreshadowed Jesus in the Book of Luke, and who helped Daniel interpret his dreams. (Islam revers Jesus and 18 Jewish prophets as they do Muhammad.) Monday also coincided with Jerusalem Day, commemorating Israel’s victory in the 1967 War. Jewish marchers through the Arab Quarter of the Old City initiated provocations, which prompted Palestinians to stockpile stones at the Al Aqsa Mosque, and use them against Israeli soldiers who attacked the mosque; injuring 300 Palestinians, while sustaining light injuries to 20 soldiers.

Israeli soldiers attacking Al Aqsa Mosque is the ugliest provocation imaginable. But Hamas’ leadership has also been counterproductive. What did they THINK was going to happen when they fired missiles into Jerusalem and other populated areas, other than eliciting responses that created more Palestinian martyrs? It’s a vacuum of leadership on both sides.

Inflaming the situation is in Netanyahu’s selfish political interest, because it compels some politicians to support his inflammatory military agenda, rather than oust him. Ongoing conflict is good for Bibi, but no one else in Israel or Palestine. The US has already put Hamas on the terrorism watchlist and heavily sanctioned it. But Israel is accountable to the US by virtue of the $4B in annual aid. At least it should be. President Joe Biden needs to get off the bench, and into the game forcefully.

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Bonus Video added by Informed Comment:

Al Jazeera English: Israel Police spokesman defends forced Palestinian expulsions

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Republican Apoplexy – Play Ball and Pass the Popcorn https://www.juancole.com/2021/04/republican-apoplexy-popcorn.html Wed, 07 Apr 2021 04:04:13 +0000 https://www.juancole.com/?p=197093 Oakland, Ca. (Special to Informed Comment) – This Republican apoplexy over Major League Baseball (MLB) taking the All-Star game out of Atlanta is hilarious on one level; but scary on another. And they’re punishing themselves to amplify their position that Georgia has a right to engage in brazen voter suppression, in service to the Donald Trump’s Cult of Personality Disorder. They’re also being proactive in an effort to restore “Karen” Kelly Loeffler to the Senate over Sen. Raphael Warnock in the next mid-terms. They know they can only accomplish that by making it harder for black and brown people to vote for Black and Jewish senate candidates.

Now comes Texas Gov. Greg Abbot who says, “Don’t take me out to the ballgame; I won’t throw the 1st pitch for the Texas Rangers opener.” Yeah, like you’re going to boycott baseball? HA! Fine, you would have been showered with boos by Beto’s growing constituency, and Molly Ivins’ descendants. Abbot said, “It is shameful that America’s pastime is being influenced by partisan politics . . .” So, we’re left to discern that objections to “partisan-driven” voter suppression laws is an act of “partisan” corporate thuggery. Corporations are using their economic power to weigh in in favor of free and fair elections, at the expense of race-baiting, and voter-suppression in service to the Republican myth that the election was stolen from Trump.

MLB responded to Georgia’s effort to suppress black votes by moving the game and upcoming draft out of Atlanta. Coca-Cola and Delta Airlines, the crown jewels of corporate Atlanta published forceful objections to the law, and are threatened by boycotts too. Really? Boycott Delta? How you gonna’ get to Hilton Head or the Gulf? Yeah, like people in Atlanta are going to boycott Coca-Cola? Fine, but don’t buy a Pepsi dealership just yet. What’s next? Waffle House will get “woke” and boycotted? How can they boycott Waffle House when there’s one at every freeway interchange between Chattanooga and Savanah? That’s about as funny as White Supremacist “Karen” Kelly Loeffler owning the WNBA Atlanta Dream, a team named in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, and composed of mostly Black American women. Oh wait, she tried that and it didn’t work out so well. The players “fired” the owner, or rather forced her to sell her shares in the team.

Republicans cry about “securing the integrity of fair elections,” when they really mean “securing the election of future Republicans.” Not exactly fair, but right in line with their Orwellian agenda. Gov. Abbott calls this a “false narrative.” Though Abbott is sitting this one out, the Texas Rangers ballpark will be open to full capacity in yet another sign of human sacrifice to Trump’s Vector America Campaign. Texas already has one of the highest Covid infection and death rates, attributable to Abbot’s policies to minimize the reality of the pandemic, and deny the validity of SCIENCE.

They also want to suppress votes for SCIENCE in future elections, after SCIENCE made such a huge comeback in the 2020 Election. So, play ball and pass the popcorn; SCIENCE be damned. But the governor won’t be there to enjoy the game because he’s mad at MLB for standing up for voting rights in America. That’s OK because, Abbot isn’t the guy to tell you how to pitch to Mike Trout on a warm night, on artificial turf with the wind blowing out. No, that’s George Will’s department, and he already condemned Georgia’s voter suppression bill and the entire Trump agenda.

Washington Post columnist Greg Sargent noted, “Republican lawmakers are telling their voters to get angry at corporations that express support for the voting rights of African Americans, while also telling them that raising taxes on corporations to fund infrastructure repair is socialism.” Ah Socialism, a favorite code word of Republicans to describe everything from safe and sound infrastructure maintenance (bridges, dams, roads), to fire and police departments, to the USPS (Ben Franklin never intended it to be a moneymaker, but rather a service to bind the Republic), the electrical grid, delivery of energy services, farm subsidies, public libraries and more.

They say Coca-Cola is rolling out a new flavor called Woke Coke; there can never be too many flavors of Coke in Atlanta. Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp doubled down on the voter suppression campaign, calling MLB’s decision based on “fears and lies,” while South Carolina Sen. Jeff Duncan said MLB was undermining “election integrity.” Wait, I’m lost here. Republicans want to ensure “election integrity” Georgia by minimizing the number of minority and non-Republican voters, who can vote. And that by objecting to this, the baseball gods are somehow interfering with the “integrity” of elections that are rigged to keep Trump and his minions in office forever. The Georgia law is cornerstone of the wall, supporting the Hump t-Rumpty myth that the 2020 Election was stolen from him. He’s been out of office for months, but he still inspires mixed metaphors.

Up until the 1960’s voter suppression took the form of sadistic police officers and sheriff’s deputies coordinating with local thugs to murder Freedom Riders and other voting rights activists. The Voting Rights Act and other federal legislation put an end to that, though the Supreme Court has weakened that law. Now voter suppression takes the form of less violent gratuitous cruelties, such as criminalizing sharing food or water. How uncivilized! Major League Baseball, Coca-Cola and Delta Airlines are all big, bad corporations with myopic attention to their bottom lines. But they’re civilized enough to call out the brazen Republican efforts to undermine democracy. Drink Coke (though I don’t), fly Delta and play ball!

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Bonus Video added by Informed Comment:

KENS 5 San Antonio: “San Antonio leaders concerned Texas voting bill will lead to fallout, cost tourism industry”

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Trump is What Republicans Have Always Wanted https://www.juancole.com/2021/02/republicans-always-wanted.html Mon, 15 Feb 2021 05:04:34 +0000 https://www.juancole.com/?p=196147 Oakland, Ca. (Special to Informed Comment) – Former President Donald Trump continues to dominate the Republican Party despite being disgracefully impeached twice, and that is because he’s just what they’ve always wanted. For all his destruction, George W. Bush wasn’t cruel and bigoted enough for them; George H. W. Bush, same. Reagan authored the blueprint for this grand destruction, which Trump has shot up with steroids. Reagan was cruel and mean, despite his sunny disposition, but still not mean enough for today’s Republicans. And Eisenhower was more progressive than most of today’s Democratic office holders. Same for Nixon despite his awfulness. Reagan began the campaign to destroy government “as we know it,” and undo Nixon’s progressive legacy of OSHA, EPA, Clean Air and Water Act, expansion of Food Stamps, Medicare and other great social programs. Trump fulfills their every dystopian fantasy, and they remain devoted to him and fearful of his influence.

Some 43 Senators and 199 House Members who violated their oaths to uphold the Constitution, and certify a free election. They supported disrupting the peaceful transfer of power and giving Trump a free pass on trying to kill them! Seriously, he was trying to instigate the murders of Vice President Mike Pence, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, so that he could declare martial law and remain in power. And they gave him a pass. If only there were a way to remove them right now. The Republican Party has indicted itself.

The once honorable Republican Party stopped being the “Party of Lincoln” under Andrew Johnson with his sabotage of Reconstruction. It stopped being the “Party of Eisenhower” under Reagan if not Nixon; Goldwater notwithstanding. Now the Republican Party is Trump’s own Cult of Personality Disorder.

Freedom of speech isn’t freedom to incite a riot to overthrow the government. There is no need to cite landmark cases when there is fresh video and audio evidence supporting the felonious allegations. And let’s stop using the word “misdemeanors” in this situation. This was not a frivolous attempt to blame Trump for the riots based on ‘double hearsay statements of fringe right wing groups,” as his counsel argued. Trump has mainstreamed these “fringe right wing groups,” and empowered them to try to overturn the election. They tried to execute elected officials of both parties, and overthrow a popularly elected government at his behest and in his name.

The House impeachment managers laid out an airtight case for conviction, not only of Trump; but also Fox News and what’s left of the Republican Party. While they showed videos of members of both parties voicing their fears of imminent death at the hands of the Trump mob, its infuriating to know that 199 House Members and 43 Senators voted as they did.

There is some irony here. The US foreign policy establishment and the CIA have worked hard to overturn popularly elected leaders for decades (Iran, Argentina, Chile and intervened in 117 elections around the world from 1946 to 2000.) Now it has happened here, orchestrated by a violent, racist former president who still commands 30% of the country.

Those 242 elected officials who didn’t have the spine to vote for conviction have betrayed the ideals of the American Revolution and have dishonored the veterans of all wars since. Republicans pretend that the rioters were not chanting “fight for Trump” battle cries. Their denial illustrates their utter depravity and their unfitness to serve.

It was infuriating and sad to see those nasty monsters, the insurrectionists, defile one of the most beautiful and sacred buildings in America. I cherished my time there as a Congressional intern in 1973, the Summer of Watergate. They destroyed priceless art and statues in the name of Trump and what’s left of the Republican Party..

The former GOP is now the QOP (QAnon Party), as they attack their own elected officials who voted to hold Trump accountable for the Capitol riot. Trump holds complete sway over state and local party leaders, as they cannibalize their senators and congressional representatives who voted to not turn America into Trump’s private dictatorship, but rather to uphold the 2020 Election results. A time for unity? Sure, hold hearings in both houses of Congress to investigate and expel the 199 House members and 43 Senators, who supported the insurrection to overturn the 2020 Election. Then talk to me about unity.

Those seven brave Senators are to be commended for their integrity and willingness to stand up to the Cult of Personality Disorder: Senators Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Mitt Romney of Utah, Ben Sasse of Nebraska, Richard Burr of North Carolina and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania joined all 50 Democrats in voting to convict. Sen.Collins got over her certainty that Trump “has learned his lesson.” Credit is due.

The upside of the acquittal is that it may well be the death of the Republican Party as we have known it, the party of the super-wealthy justifying ever growing inequality in America. The only way they have left to make that justification is to bring in the cultists and white supremacists. County and state Republican Party leaders are marginalizing the few Republicans who had the courage to call out this cult of Trump. They are bankrupt of any positive solutions, or the intellectual capital to justify themselves. Their day is done.

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Bonus Video added by Informed Comment:

“Republicans Acquitted Trump Again. Now They’re Stuck With Him. | MSNBC

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Trump is fomenting a Second Civil War in America, not happy that his side lost the first one https://www.juancole.com/2020/08/fomenting-second-america.html Mon, 31 Aug 2020 04:04:24 +0000 https://www.juancole.com/?p=192893 I don’t think it’s hyperbolic to argue that Don the Con Trump has re-ignited a second Civil War in America; considering that armed vigilantes have responded to his prompting with shows of armed force at multiple state capitals and city halls, and now murdered good American citizens as a response to his perverse call to action. The Republican Party always had undercurrents of racism, aside from the “liberal” faction known as the Ripon Society. Many never were satisfied with the results of the Civil War.

The Republican Party wasn’t the Party of Lincoln for long after he died. His successor did his best to mitigate the gains of the Civil War during Reconstruction, and preserve the impact of slavery with Jim Crow laws. Richard Nixon’s southern strategy was a notorious appeal to racism with coded dog whistles, including the theme of “Law and Order,” which Trump has claimed as his own.

Ronald Reagan’s 1980 campaign launch near the gravesites of three civil rights martyrs in Philadelphia, MS characterized his presidency. Trump’s appeals to fear and racism loathing are as frightening as the George Wallace speeches I heard on the car radio when he was running for president. Those who live by hate die by hate; my Black friend and I, on our way home from school in May, 1972, heard on that same car radio that Wallace had been shot.

I’ve often cited the popular Southern folk interpretation that the last battle of the Civil War occurred in Oxford, Mississippi, when James Meredith enrolled in graduate school at Ole Miss.

We thought that was the last battle, until Trump issued the all-clear signal for the Rebels to come out and act out.

Trump’s defiant defense of Confederate heritage is a perverse thing for a real estate huckster from Queens. But it is no more strange than his embrace of Evangelical Christianity and the most extreme goals of far-far right wing Zionism. It’s all a reality show after all, and a brazen con in service to his brand. This is a much bigger reality show than Trump envisioned, but then he’s not much on forecasting.

The murders of innocent Americans by right-wing vigilantes are a direct consequence of their empowerment by Trump’s increasingly incendiary and reckless rhetoric. So is the dramatic level of violence linked to Anti-Semitism and racism. That some Jewish Americans are enabling him is beyond shameful.

Trump has fomented a second Civil War in America in service to his ego and brand. This is an unintended but inevitable consequence because he recognized the Republican Party’s undercurrents of racism, and fully actualized and monetized them.

The great authors Sinclair Lewis (It Can Happen Here) and Phillip Roth (The Plot Against America) forecasted this political horror in their books. The opening of HBO’s podcast of its dramatization of The Plot Against America is now eerie to listen to:

It’s a scary full circle instance of twentieth century art imitating life, and life imitating art in the twenty-first century.

What this reality show needs is for someone to fulfill Ned Beatty’s role from Network in real life. For most people the takeaway from that film is the iconic, “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore.”

That one is certainly apposite again. But one of my favorite scenes in cinema history is when Howard Jensen (Beatty) invites Howard Beale (Peter Finch) into the grand conference room, and after a cordial welcome stands at the other end of the table and bellows, “You have meddled with the primal forces of NATURE, Mr. Beale, and you will atone! Am I getting through to you, Mr. Beale? . . . “

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are best positioned to deliver that speech. Joe will be a great president, but Kamala has the prosecutorial experience as SF City Attorney and California Attorney General. She has the chops to convey this apocalyptic message with gusto and passion. And wouldn’t it be grand to see Trump take that from a woman in the final scene before he is hauled off?

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The Revolution IS being Televised* https://www.juancole.com/2020/05/revolution-being-televised.html Sun, 31 May 2020 04:04:19 +0000 https://www.juancole.com/?p=191206 Oakland, Ca. (Special to Informed Comment) – There is nothing like another outrageous tragedy to compound the initial tragedy. This is NOT to diminish the outrage that sparked these nationwide urban riots. George Floyd was not only murdered, but lynched and tortured for suspicion of passing a phony $20, and being black. We’ve all seen the sickening videos of this man’s brutal detention and murder. Anger and rage are great motivators, and generate a lot of energy. That’s what’s happening.

Most, many and almost all of the protesters were peaceful, loving, caring people infuriated by what we saw on the videos. The Oakland demos were a “family atmosphere” event for most of the day, reports say. It was relatively quiet in Oakland Thursday night – TOO quiet, as fires, looting and vandalism raged in Minneapolis and Louisville, among other cities. I knew we were due – Oakland looters, saboteurs and anarchists would never be outdone by what happened elsewhere. And they wielded major destruction on Friday night, destroying corporate AND family, minority-owned businesses.

More regrettably, other cities are following that example. John Lee Hooker’s “Motor City’s Burning” isn’t local anymore. People are damaging their communities in retaliation for something the small-biz owners had nothing to do with, AND who often sympathize with the protesters. This reflects the arrogant, self-righteous narcissism that has looters, anti-social anarchists, and Trumpian Republicans abetting their mutual goal of ending government as we know it

After midnight they were still looting and vandalizing businesses in Downtown Oakland, and car dealerships on Auto Row-Broadway St. They totally destroyed a new Target store that will not reopen today or maybe ever – the outgoing voice mail said, “This store is now closed.” There’s a Sprouts nearby where I shopped yesterday. All that is a little over a mile from my house. Fires smoldered inside the Walgreens at 14th and Broadway (the epicenter of all major demos in Oakland), and other places. Some were dumpsters, others were businesses, family-owned and corporate. It’s maniacal and tragic. I was really angry that a neighborhood food store was closed early Friday when I got there at 6:30. Now I understand why. Sorry I called to complain.

Two Federal protective service officers were shot by assailants who pulled up in a car next to them at Oakland Down Town Federal Building. One died. This is not all right, and that dead man deserves tears, too. Who knows what the agenda was here, or who the perpetrators were?

It may be, as the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., said, that a “riot is the language of the unheard.” But burning down your own community only silences you further. That’s just the depth of self-destructive stupidity. Many people already struggling suddenly don’t have jobs, and some businesses BARELY surviving the pandemic are now bankrupt!

Oakland cops were restrained to a remarkable degree early in the evening, until someone threw a Cherry Bomb or worse into their formation. Tear gas was fired, the perpetrator was quickly tackled and arrested, and it went downhill from there at 7th and Broadway near Oakland Police HQ. When I went to bed, there were still copters buzzing overhead, but it was too late to tune back in. I needed to decompress from the overload. This was compelling like the OJ Bronco Chase, but I knew that riots were “scheduled” in Oakland for Friday night so I stayed in, and watched them on TV. The Revolution IS being televised, with all due respect to the great Gil Scott-Heron.

In order truly to gain justice for George Floyd and other victims of police brutality, and for African-Americans, who have been economically marginalized in a way few whites can comprehend, America needs a movement, not a riot.

*With All Due Respect to Gil Scott-Heron.

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Bonus Video added by Informed Comment:

Mercury News: “RAW: Oakland Target vandalized during George Floyd protest ”

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Viral Coups: Authoritarians like Trump and Israel’s Netanyahu see Coronavirus as Opportunity for Power Grab https://www.juancole.com/2020/03/authoritarians-coronavirus-opportunity.html Wed, 25 Mar 2020 04:03:51 +0000 https://www.juancole.com/?p=189880 Oakland, Ca. (Special to Informed Comment) – The United States and Israel may be considered “liberal democracies,” though the US is technically a “republic;” and Israel’s brand of democracy is qualified by its selective application of human rights. Both Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu and President Donald Trump have ravaged traditional norms of government and social boundaries in their respective countries, with shameless mendacity and fear-mongering.

Now both men are using the Coronavirus (Covid-19) to solidify their hold on power. Both are positioning themselves as “wartime” leaders, whose nations will suffer if they are ousted. And both exude a very unhealthy sense of opportunism to monetize and benefit politically from this crisis. Considering their mutual investments in each other’s political fortunes, this is not surprising.

Bibi is trying to prolong his reign as an “unelected prime minister,” by closing the courts, the Knesset and other governmental functions. That means his trial on bribery, fraud and breach of trust can’t move forward, and he remains as PM indefinitely. As Chemi Shalev noted in Haaretz, “For over a year, Netanyahu has suborned Israeli democracy, the rule of law and the overall interests of the state in his personal quest to escape the long arm of the law.” Now, he is using the Coronavirus to blackmail his political rivals and Israel into accepting his leadership in a National Unity Government. As George W. Bush did in the aftermath of 911, Bibi is depicting any resistance as an act of national betrayal with full-frontal defamation. The so-called “compromise” with Benny Gantz’s Kahol Lavan Party would give Bibi another 18 months [rf1] as PM, while they get portfolios of other ministries. Gantz dismissed Bibi’s “compromise” saying, “There is an expectation that I should come under Netanyahu, as if that is the only alternative. I ran wars. I know how to run national crises no less than him.”

In a shocking authoritarian move, Bibi has postponed his own trial by closing the Israeli Courts. He has undermined the PM selection process by preventing the newly elected Knesset from nominating a new Speaker, thereby assuring his standing. In response to the Coronavirus, he has employed the Shin Bet security agency to deploy widespread surveillance on Jewish Israeli citizens, in a manner usually reserved for known Arab terrorists, with no parliamentary oversight.

Trump is using the crisis to stonewall congressional investigations, while weakening immigration rights and labor unions, three of his longstanding policy goals. He sealed the US-Mexico border supposedly to contain the pandemic, but Mexico has 118 confirmed cases, while the US has over 13,000. The Trump Justice Department requested that Congress allow judges to detain people indefinitely without trial, and suspend constitutional rights during the pandemic. The Democratic House would never pass this brazen attempt to destroy the U.S. Constitution, but Trump is trying. Just as Bush Jr. used the drama and panic of 911 to restrict civil liberties, Trump is doing same without a hint of nuance. He wants to suspend Habeas Corpus, which hasn’t been done since the Civil War. While some jurisdictions are releasing low-level, non-violent prisoners to reduce exposure and spread of the virus, Trump is trying to lock more people up indefinitely. So this is not about saving lives, but consolidating power.

Both men have used this crisis to silence opposition and solidify their hold on power, while neither have been “duly elected.” Trump’s electoral victory in 2016 came with the notorious assistance of Russian “Soviet-style” interference, abetted by voter suppression and gerrymandering, though Secretary Clinton’s tone-deaf, lackluster, and arguably corrupt campaign also fed into Trump’s agenda. And he lost the popular vote by over 3 million. Bibi is trying to wrangle another term as PM after failing to win a majority in three elections over 11 months. His ultimate motive is to position himself to replace President Reuven Rivlinin 2021, which would guarantee him immunity for another seven years! His additional 18 months as PM would allow him to serve until that time.

But Gantz is not taking this lightly, having moved aggressively to seize control of the Knesset with the slim majority he holds. Already, he has introduced legislation at the committee level to prevent a criminal defendant from running for or serving as PM, while Supreme Court ordered the Knesset to elect a new speaker before any unity government can be formed. They also instructed that Gantz must get the first turn as PM, not Bibi. Yuli Edelstein, Knesset Speaker will hold a vote this week in accordance with the Supreme Court decision. He has been the only Likud MK to show civility toward Gantz, by agreeing to allow him to form four new committees, over the objections of all other Likud MK’s.

Haaretz columnist Yossi Verter noted, “Under the cover of the danger, the fear and the anxiety, the person who lost the brakes long ago is plotting to eliminate the last vestiges of Israel’s democratic structure.” Netanyahu is an animal fighting for survival, and the vestiges of democracy in Israel are in his way. In the U.S. that pesky old Constitution keeps getting in Trump’s way. American civil liberties and that old thing are being tested as never before. Like all nations, the US and Israel are fighting a major public health crisis. They are also facing parallel challenges to their very democratic structure and function, from their own leaders who are using this event as an excuse to introduce authoritarianism into their democracies, and ensure their long-term rule.

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Bonus video added by Informed Comment:

Haaretz: “Israelis protest “Crime Minister” Netanyahu in front of the Knesset”

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