Robert Reich: Make America Decent Again

When I first read Robert Reich’s latest column, I wasn’t sure I agreed with him, but the more I’ve thought about it, what he says makes a great deal of sense.  Take a look and let me know your thoughts …


Donald Trump fears only one Democrat: Warren Sanders

By Robert Reich

Robert Reich-4There aren’t 20 Senate Republicans with enough integrity to remove the most corrupt president in American history, so we’re going to have to get rid of Trump the old-fashioned way – by electing a Democrat next 3 November.

That Democrat will be Warren Sanders.

Although there are differences between Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, I’m putting them together for the purpose of making a simple point.

These two have most of the grassroots energy in the 2020 campaign, most of the enthusiasm and most of the ideas critical for America’s future.

Together, they lead Joe Biden and every other so-called moderate Democrat by a wide margin in all polls.

That’s because the real political divide in America today is establishment versus anti-establishment – the comparatively few at the top who have siphoned off much of the wealth of the nation versus everyone else whose wages and prospects have gone nowhere.

Warren and Sanders know the system is rigged and that economic and political power must be reallocated from a corporate-Wall Street elite to the vast majority.

This is why both Warren and Sanders are hated by the Democratic establishment.

It’s also why much of the corporate press is ignoring the enthusiasm they’re generating. And why it’s picking apart their proposals, like a wealth tax and Medicare for All, as if they were specific pieces of legislation.

And why corporate and Wall Street Democrats are mounting a campaign to make Americans believe Warren and Sanders are “too far to the left” to beat Trump, and therefore “unelectable”.

This is total rubbish. Either of them has a better chance of beating Trump than does any other Democratic candidate.

Presidential elections are determined by turnout. More than a third of eligible voters in America don’t vote. They go to the polls only if they’re motivated. And what motivates people most is a candidate who stands for average people and against power and privilege.

Average Americans know they’re getting the scraps while corporate profits are at record highs and CEOs and Wall Street executives are pocketing unprecedented pay and bonuses.

They know big money has been flooding Washington and state capitals to cut taxes on corporations and the wealthy; roll back health, safety, environment and labor protections; and allow big business to monopolize the economy, using its market power to keep prices high and wages low.

Most Americans want to elect someone who’s on their side.

In 2016 some voted for Trump because he conned them into believing he was that person.

But he’s given big corporations and Wall Street everything they’ve wanted: rollbacks of health, safety, and environmental protections, plus a giant $2tn tax cut that’s boosted stock prices and executive pay while nothing trickled down.

Trump is still fooling millions into thinking he’s on their side, and that their problems are due to immigrants, minorities, cultural elites and “deep state” bureaucrats, rather than a system that’s rigged for the benefit of those at the top.

But some of these Trump supporters would join with other Americans and vote for a candidate in 2020 who actually took on power and privilege.

This is where Warren and Sanders come in.

Their core proposals would make the system work for everyone and alter the power structure in America: Medicare for All based on a single-payer rather than private for-profit corporate insurance; a Green New Deal to create millions of good jobs fighting climate change; free public higher education; universal childcare.

All financed mainly by a tax on the super-rich.

They’d also get big money out of politics and rescue democracy from the corporate and Wall Street elites who now control it.

They’re the only candidates relying on small donations rather than trolling for big handouts from corporations, Wall Street and the wealthy – or rich enough to self-finance their own campaigns.

Only two things stand in their way of becoming president.

The first is the power structure itself, which is trying to persuade Democrats that they should put up a milquetoast moderate instead.

The second is the possibility that as the primary season heats up, supporters of Warren and Sanders will wage war on each other, taking both of them down.

It’s true that only one of them can be the nominee. But if the backers of both Sanders and Warren come together behind one of them, they’ll have the votes to take the White House and even flip the Senate.

President Warren Sanders can then start clearing the wreckage left by Trump, and make America decent again.

The Deep State bites back

Finally, a few people associated with the Trump administration are beginning to defy Trump. Two women have testified before the House committees investigating Trump with an eye toward impeachment, and I understand there will be more. Our friend Jeff has written about these two trailblazers who put country and law before loyalty to the Oaf in Office. Hopefully there will be more soon. Thank you, Jeff!

On The Fence Voters

It’s notable that in the last few days, we’ve seen two women, Marie Yovanovitch and Fiona Hill, come forward to testify before the various committees conducting an impeachment inquiry into the actions of President Trump, surrounding his phone call to the Ukrainian President.

By all accounts, even though we haven’t seen the transcripts, they’ve given powerful testimony, both exhibiting a full grasp of the issues commensurate with their long histories of serving at the State Department and the National Security Council. In other words, here are two powerful women, intelligent and patriotic, who’ve served with distinction and honor for the United States government. Not only that, but both are experts in their particular field of foreign diplomacy, invaluable resources in how we relate to various situational hotspots around the world.

Is it any wonder that the President doesn’t care for either of these two brave women? Of course not. It’s…

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They Walk Among Us …

Last week, I re-blogged a post by Gronda titled ‘What Is This QAnon Group All about?’.  I find the very concept of this group so disgusting and reprehensible that I hadn’t had the heart to write about them, so I was happy to find that Gronda had.  A day or so later, I came across a piece in The Washington Post that sent chills down my spine.  What follows is a piece written by Post reporter Isaac Stanley-Becker, based on an interview with a “real-life believer” in the concept of QAnon.  It is not for the faint of heart, and frankly it made me want to simply walk away. I apologize that this post is a bit longer than I normally do, but I thought the entirety was important.

QAnon: Meet a real-life believer in the online, pro-Trump conspiracy theory that’s bursting into view

By Isaac Stanley-Becker, August 3 

QAnon member

Paul Burton, left, who is a believer in the QAnon conspiracy theory, with his father, Tom Burton. (Provided by Paul Burton)

After I wrote about QAnon, an online conspiracy theory that leaped on Tuesday from the far reaches of the Internet to the audience at President Trump’s rally in Tampa, an email arrived in my inbox from a man named Paul Burton.

He described a colleague and me as “Bezos’ boys,” referring to Jeffrey P. Bezos, the owner of The Washington Post, and asked, “How’s your fishbowl?” meaning, I presumed, a place open to public view and subject to critique. “LOL!” he added.

I responded, asking if he would be interested in speaking with me about his belief in QAnon. Much about the philosophy remains mysterious, even contradictory. But the central idea, which has no basis in observable reality, is that “Q” is the government insider, or cadre of insiders, leaving clues on digital message boards about a countercoup underway to vanquish deep-state saboteurs and their ring of elite allies, including Hillary Clinton and George Soros. 

Less clear to me, given the anonymity that shrouds the threads on which the theory has spread, was the nature of the people who find it credible. How did they come across Q’s “crumbs” of information? What made the tenets of QAnon — tinged with racism and anti-Semitism — convincing to them? What were their day jobs?

We had a short back-and-forth in which Burton suggested several resources to expand my understanding of Q and its mission, which I read. He said they would convince me that the theory had merit, which they did not; QAnon is a hodgepodge of outlandish ideas.

Then he called me. We spoke for 45 minutes early Friday morning.

Burton, 55, doesn’t claim to be representative of QAnon’s following. He lives outside of Atlanta and works in real estate and as an operations manager for a university. He hasn’t met any other believers in person but estimated they number more than 1 million. (Based on activity on message boards and membership in Facebook groups, this appears to be an exaggeration.)

But Burton is one example of the flesh-and-blood Americans who have bought into a theory whose growth online has had actual consequences, including inspiring an armed man to descend on the Hoover Dam in June, demanding the release of a Justice Department report about James B. Comey and Hillary Clinton that had already been released. In the spring, QAnon gave fuel to a fanciful effort undertaken by an armed group called Veterans on Patrol to find evidence of a child sex-trafficking ring in Tucson.

What became clear from our conversation is that Burton’s belief in QAnon stems from his frustration with how authority over information and verification is allocated. He resents what he perceives to be the self-righteous assumption of expertise made by members of the media and academia. He told me he worked in academia, and when I asked him to elaborate, he said he meant he was “an armchair philosopher. I make my impact where I can. I have no desire to be high-profile.”

Burton thinks that QAnon presages “the most devastating impact possible on the deep state, as they call it, and on the evildoers and on the fringe leftists and on the violent antifa groups and devastating effect on the Soros money as well as liberal Democrats.” He doesn’t think the “storm” — the community’s term, drawn from Trump’s reference last year to “the calm before the storm,” for the president’s conquest over the deep state — will involve violence, unless, Burton said, it comes from “the left.”

Perhaps more significant, though, Burton thinks QAnon marks the emergence of long-hidden communities of people who want to decide for themselves what the truth is.

“There are millions of very smart middle-class nerds — men and women of all races — that have normal lives, and they have no desire to work for The Washington Post or work on Wall Street or get their name in headlights and receive a plaque in front of 300 people,” he said. “They want to live their lives, but they happen to be extremely bright or creative or intuitive or unbelievable researchers who are just living humble lives. Now there’s an Internet, and they can plug into a community.”

QAnon, he said, is about circumventing the media’s standards of verification and “speaking directly to the people, just like Trump is doing.”

Burton lives in the Atlanta area with his wife — “she’s not very political,” he said — and two children. In his spare time, he likes to take his family to the park, where they play with a drone that belongs to one of his kids.

“I have a smartphone that I’m addicted to just like most people out there,” he said. “I read an article today that said that 50 percent of adult Americans’ time is spent on media of some type.”

He said he uses Twitter but abstains from most other forms of social media. “Twitter to me is a tailored news feed,” he said. “I try to stay plugged in with sharp, good people out there on the Internet — and in real life.”

The son of a civil engineer for the Navy, Burton grew up all over the country but completed most of his schooling in Southern California. He studied finance at San Diego State University. He liked to sing when he was young.

He said his father, now 88, was a “Southern Democrat,” a supporter of conservative white Democrats in the South, who became a “Reagan Democrat,” part of a massive defection of white voters from the Democratic Party that helped realign the two groupings in the second half of the 20th century.

“I grew up in the glow of the [Ronald] Reagan presidency,” said Burton, who was a registered independent for much of his life but declared himself a Republican 10 or 15 years ago. Part of what accelerated his drift to the right, he said, was the rise of the Clintons’ “corrupt empire,” as he put it, which he said was documented in “Clinton Cash,” a 2015 book by Peter Schweizer, a collaborator of Stephen K. Bannon, who was then head of Breitbart News and later became, briefly, Trump’s chief strategist.

The Clintons, he said, “subverted” Barack Obama, whose presidency, according to QAnon, caused mounting dissatisfaction in the military, where Burton has been led to believe the seed of “Q” was planted.

“Apparently military brass in the Pentagon got sick and tired of it, and they found a candidate that they could discuss everything with,” Burton said. “And apparently they went to Trump and asked Trump to run.”

I asked him why these renegades chose Trump. “They probably thought he would win,” he said.

Burton came to believe this, or at least most of it — “I don’t believe 100 percent of anything,” he told me — when he saw a post on Twitter in December of last year about someone or something operating under the alias “Q,” plotting a “countercoup of the clear coup that was underway.”

“I was just mildly interested,” Burton told me. “You know, with anything, my bullsh– detectors are up. And I always assume something is bullsh– until you sort through it, and you realize it is or isn’t, connect dots with things you know.”

There have been only a few other online theories, he said, that have piqued his interest. “Here and here,” he said. “Nothing like this.”

QAnon just struck him as immensely logical, he said: “Sometimes the best ideas are the most obvious.”

His method of political analysis, he said, is akin to the way he reads the Bible. “I don’t listen to what churches and priests interpret. I go to the most direct translation and read directly Jesus’ words and what Jesus did.”

He thinks Trump “is doing an amazing job,” and he believes the president is one of 10 people who compose Q. In his mind, two others are also civilian — most likely Stephen Miller and Kellyanne Conway, top White House aides — and seven are military.

He said discounting QAnon comes from the same blindness that caused mainstream pundits to discount Trump. The problem, he said, is one of bubbles, and the fact that people in Washington assume that everyone thinks as they do.

“D.C. is seen as pigs at the trough, and Trump was seen as somebody who would go in and overturn the apple cart,” Burton said. “People don’t care that he talks about grabbing the ‘you know what,’ just like they didn’t care about [Bill] Clinton.”

Evidence that Trump’s plot is working, Burton said, lies in the planned retirement of some of his most vocal critics in Congress. Many Republicans, not all opponents of the president, are leaving their seats at the end of the year. “If you read through the Q posts,” Burton promised, “it’s clear he’s been sending signals for us.”

But for Burton, QAnon isn’t really about Trump. It’s bigger than the 45th president. Bigger even than American politics.

It’s about the screen that Burton believes conceals the truth about nearly everything we encounter. “I don’t read all the fluff,” he told me. “I go directly to the information and find out what they’re talking about. What are these posts, what are these tweets?”

“If you just clear your mind, tabula rasa, you’ll believe it, too,” he said.

This, my friends, is the mentality we are up against.  Those of us who seek a return to respectability and accountability in our government, must find a way to overcome or contend with this mentality and the people who ascribe to it.  Frankly, I’m not sure where to even begin.  Perhaps a hot shower is as good a place as any … somehow I feel a bit grungy.

“That’s Our Hitler!”

Blogger-friend Erik Hare has knocked yet another one out of the ballpark. His analysis of the latest Trump budget, and I use the term ‘budget’ loosely, is spot on, I believe. Please take a moment to read Erik’s post … I guarantee it will give you some food for thought! Thank you, Erik, for a great post and for implicit permission to share!

Barataria - The work of Erik Hare

The moment comes about halfway through Mel Brooks’ brilliant 1968 movie “The Producers”. Max Bialystock is deep into his plot to stage the worst musical ever for the purpose of having it close after one performance. All he has to do is raise far more money than the flop could possibly take to stage and no one will ask for their share of the 25,000% of the profits which has been sold to investors. The worst musical ever, “Springtime for Hitler,” has been chosen. It’s now time to cast it.

Hippie Lorenzo Saint DuBois wanders into the casting call and gives his performance. As soon as he says, “If everyone in the world had a flower instead of a gun the world would be one big smell-in!” Bialystock rises triumphantly and declares, “That’s our Hitler!”

It’s the moment when simple comedy runs boldly over the line into farce and never…

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