Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Trump tells his fascist Proud Boys to 'stand back and stand by'.

It was the fascist, white supremacist, bullyboy vs. the underwhelming centrist Democrat in last night's theater of the absurd. 

Trump, trailing badly in the polls with only weeks to go, did just what he was coached to do, what he has been doing consistently for the past three years -- show no regard for protocol, bully, harangue, and intimidate in hopes Biden and his liberal supporters would crumble in fear and steer clear of the polls in November. The strategy surely failed last night. But we won't know the real effects until the ballots are counted (or not).

Biden held up well considering, punching back when he had to, but calmly turning to the cameras and getting his main talking points across. Biden's high point came when talking about his youngest son. Biden rolled with what must have been a gut punch, saying: “My son, like a lot of people, like a lot of people we knew at home, had a drug problem.” 

He avoided any major gaffe or stumble that would feed into the Trump narrative that Biden is too old or not fit to serve as president. But in the face of Trump's incessant red-baiting, Biden took the McCarthyist bait and ran from the party's socialist and progressive left and policies like the Green New Deal and Medicare For All.  

DONALD TRUMP: So why didn't you get the word… China sends up real dirt into the air. Russia does. India does. They all do. We're supposed to be good. And by the way, he made a couple of statements. The Green New Deal is a hundred trillion dollars.

JOE BIDEN: That is not my plan [crosstalk]. The Green New Deal [crosstalk] is not my plan. 

 DONALD TRUMP: Your party wants to go socialist medicine and socialist healthcare. 

JOE BIDEN: The party is me. Right now, I am the Democratic Party. 

DONALD TRUMP: And they're going to dominate you, Joe. You know that.

JOE BIDEN: I am the Democratic Party right now.

It was shades of Louis XIV's  L'État, c'est moi, except that Louie had it right. He was the state, holding power in France with an iron fist during a 74-year reign of terror. Biden is no Louie and definitely NOT the party, or at least not the party's future. 

MY main takeaway from last night's debacle is that a sitting president of the United States, on the world stage, refused time and time again to renounce white supremacy and openly encouraged gangs of racist, anti-semitic thugs like the Proud Boys to intimidate voters.

When asked by debate moderator Chris Wallace if he'd denounce the violence from white supremacist groups, Trump's chilling reply was: 

"Proud Boys, stand back and stand by. But I'll tell you what, somebody's got to do something about antifa and the left."

The Proud Boys were reportedly celebrating Trump's fascist call to arms last night, along with his charge to his followers to invade polling places

He also made it clear that he wasn't going to accept the election results if he loses, and admitted for the first time that he was placing Amy Coney Barrett on the Supreme Court to resolve any election disputes.

CHRIS WALLACE: And are you counting on the Supreme Court, including a Justice Barrett, to settle any dispute?

DONALD TRUMP: Yeah. I think I'm counting on them to look at the ballots, definitely.

And then... 

CHRIS WALLACE: … Will you urge your supporters to stay calm during this extended period, not to engage in any civil unrest? And will you pledge tonight that you will not declare victory until the election has been independently certified? President Trump, you go first-

DONALD TRUMP: I'm urging my supporters to go in to the polls and watch very carefully because that's what has to happen. I am urging them to do it. As you know, today there was a big problem. In Philadelphia, they went in to watch. They're called poll watchers, a very safe, very nice thing. They were thrown out. They weren't allowed to watch. You know why? Because bad things happen in Philadelphia. Bad things.

I don't know if last night's debate debacle will move the needle any in the polls. It may slightly, considering that many Trump supporters, raised exclusively on FOX News and Rush Limbaugh, rarely get to see him challenged directly by Democrats. But either way, the debate did succeed in making the choice abundantly clear to all what exactly they are voting for and against. 

Monday, September 28, 2020



If Joe Biden can't win tomorrow's debate now, he's really in deep doo-doo. I mean, his winning talking points have been handed to him on a silver platter. 

Joe -- just keep saying "seven hundred and fifty dollars" over and over. Viewers will get it. 

The bombshell revelations that President Donald Trump paid just $750 in federal income taxes the year he ran for office and paid no income taxes at all in many others threaten to undercut a pillar of his appeal among blue-collar voters and provide a new opening for his Democratic rival, Joe Biden, on the eve of the first presidential debate. -- AP

Whenever they refer to blue-collar voters, their white blindspot is showing. You know they've only been interviewing white voters without college degrees for these stories. They're certainly not talking in class terms since Black voters, who are predominantly working class, never bought into Trumpism in the first place. While an overwhelming percentage of Black, Latinx, and working poor will vote for Biden and the Democrats; turnout and overcoming Republican vote-counting shenanigans will be key.

Winning Tuesday's debate doesn't necessarily mean winning the election. Biden remains steadily on top in the polls, but so did Hillary Clinton in 2016, winning the popular vote by 3 million votes even while running the worst campaign ever. But in swing states like Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania, Democrats failed to reach out and mobilize Black voters in cities like Milwaukee, Detroit and Philly and ended up losing those states and the electoral college votes that come with them, by less than 100,000 votes.

Biden became the party's nominee in hopes that his folksy style would win over white working class Trump voters in those battleground states. But so far, the campaign's focus on winning Republican voters has not paid off. For example, the Democratic convention featured more Republican than Latinx speakers, and now most polls show Biden with weak support among sections of Latinx voters. 

This according to Peter Hogness and Emily Lee in their Guardian op-ed.  

Defeating Trump is too important to leave to the Biden campaign.

Biden is not our savior. In fact, if he wins, on many issues he may be our opponent. But defeating Trump will open possibilities for organizing that won’t exist if he remains in office. 
I doubt that most Democratic voters are looking for Biden to be their "savior." This election is about one thing -- getting Trump out of the White House and his fellow Trumpists out of the senate. 

I don't know if Trump's personal gaming of the tax system will move the needle any in terms of losing his MAGA base. But the new revelations may hopefully put some pep into Democratc steps and give Biden some good talking points among working class voters who have to pay their taxes. 

Thursday, September 24, 2020

How should we respond to the latest numbers?

Chicago Mayor Lightfoot put this message on every digital billboard in the city.

Reporter: "Win, lose or draw in this election, will you commit here today for a peaceful transferal of power after the election?"
President Trump: "We're going to have to see what happens." -- NBC News

In case you're hanging your emotional hat on the ups and downs of the national polls -- don't. They really don't tell you much except that JoeBiden will likely be on top of the polls by election time, but by numbers within the margin-of-error. The state-by-state polls, especially in the 2016 battleground states, are slightly more telling. They clearly show that Trump is in trouble in many of the states he won in 2016.

For example, Biden is leading or running close in Iowa, Texas, and (can you believe it?) Georgia. 

They show that Biden is running stronger in swing states than Clinton did in 2016, and if all the votes are counted fairly, Trump will lose, not only the popular vote again, but in the electoral college as well. Not only that, but a Biden victory will likely carry several more Democrat senate candidates to victory with him. Of course, that's all a big IF. 

Trump may not be the brightest bulb but he can count just like we can. His likely response to these numbers will be a turn towards an extra-electoral move to hang onto power; i.e., a coup d'etat of some sort. 

The coup is already happening with his appointment of a supreme court justice prior to the election, a key to his plan. Republican hope is that even if the election results are tied up in the courts, a majority of the justices will call it for Trump. Even if the plan fails, the high court will be key in intervening in state prosecutions of Trump and his grifter family. 

The Atlantic reports that the Trump campaign is already "discussing contingency plans to bypass election results."

And this yesterday on CNN:

"Well, we're going to have to see what happens. You know that I've been complaining very strongly about the ballots and the ballots are a disaster," Trump said, when asked if he could commit to the peaceful transition.
"(G)et rid of the ballots and you'll have a very ... there won't be a transfer, frankly. There'll be a continuation."
To prevent Trump from stealing the election, says Elie Mystal in The Nation, people need to vote in such overwhelming numbers that we overcome all his shenanigans. And the best way to do that is to vote early in person.
Not everybody can vote in person, of course. I’m not a Republican, which means I don’t believe Grandma needs to risk death in order to win an election. The most you can reasonably ask of a person for whom going  to the polls is too dangerous is to request and return an absentee ballot. But if your state offers early in-person voting and it’s safe for you to do so, you should.
I agree with this voting strategy but would add that we also need to start making contingency plans around the possibility that the coup is successful and that it is backed up by police, military and para-military forces. Yes, vote early and in-person if possible, but get organized for a struggle that goes beyond election day.

A NEW HILL-HARRIS  X POLL FINDS...51% of registered voters want to do away with the electoral college altogether. In 2016, Trump lost the popular vote by roughly 3 million votes but won the electoral college against Hillary Clinton. 

The EC, born of compromise at the 1787 Constitutional Convention, was set up to protect the slave states. The result was that for 32 of the United States’ first 36 years, a slave-holding Virginian occupied the White House (John Adams from Massachusetts was the exception).

CHICAGO NUMBERS...Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx is beating great-white-hope Republican Pat O’Brien by more than 14 points. This despite O'Brien trying to paint Foxx as "soft on crime" and Foxx being made a target by Trump and his partners at the head of the FOP over the Smollett case.  

Monday, September 21, 2020


Mayor Lori Lightfoot at RGB vigil

Lightfoot spoke about how, less than 12 hours after Ginsburg’s death, President Donald Trump released his list of Supreme Court justice picks. When Lightfoot mentioned Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s name, the crowd booed in unison.

“The forces of darkness and evil were already at work. The hypocrisy of these people knows no limit.” -- Chicago gathering for RBG

State's Atty. Kim Foxx on RBG

 Foxx continued: “While some might argue the law is not a place for social activism, Ginsburg didn’t listen to this noise, always rising above the critics to bring justice and equality for the American people.” -- Sun-Times

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on RBG

“It’s not just the fact that she’s a woman who served on our highest court or the first Jewish woman to serve on our highest court. But it’s how she served...And when you are in this space, you don’t have to occupy this space in the way that every man before you did. You can be the first, and you can be brazen, as you are the first.” -- NYT interview

 Donald Trump

"You have good genes, you know that, right? You have good genes. A lot of it is about the genes, isn't it, don't you believe? The racehorse theory. You think we're so different? You have good genes in Minnesota." -- At Minnesota rally

Ed Rendell, former DNC Chair

“Suburban whites are pretty much gone” for Trump,  And Biden is far less objectionable to many working-class whites than Clinton, a more polarizing nominee whose favorability ratings were lower than Biden’s. -- Trump loses ground with white voters

 Rebecca Solnit

What we do now matters as it never has before. As a country, we are on the cusp of an epic decision. Climate change, Covid – our hearts ache. But a new era is possible. We can do it. -- Guardian

W.E.B. DuBois (1946)

I should be the last to insist that the uplift of mankind never calls for force and death. There are times, as both you and I know, when
“Tho’ love repine and reason chafe,
There came a voice without reply,
‘Tis man’s perdition to be safe
When for truth he ought to die.” 

Monday, September 14, 2020



John Fogerty: "Confounding" that Trump campaign played "Fortunate Son" at the rally.

CA Gov. Gavin Newsom

"The debate is over around climate change," Newsom said as he toured a burn area in Northern California. "Just come to the state of California. Observe it with your own eyes. It’s not an intellectual debate. It’s not even debatable any longer."  -- NBC Bay Area

Donald Trump

“I have built a nuclear — a weapons system that nobody’s ever had in this country before. We have stuff that you haven’t even seen or heard about. We have stuff that Putin and Xi have never heard about before. There’s nobody — what we have is incredible." -- Forbes

 Roger Stone to Trump: bring in martial law if you lose the election

...said Trump should seize total power and jail prominent figures including Bill and Hillary Clinton and Mark Zuckerberg if he loses to Joe Biden in November. Stone said Trump should consider invoking the Insurrection Act and arresting the Clintons, former Senate majority leader Harry Reid, Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, Tim Cook of Apple, and “anybody else who can be proven to be involved in illegal activity”. -- Guardian

John Fogerty

“It’s a song I could have written now, and so I find it confusing, I would say, that the president has chosen to use my song for his political rallies, when in fact it seems like he is probably the fortunate son." -- The Hill

Bill Russell, NBA Hall of Famer

"Racism is not a historical footnote." -- Players' Tribune 

IL Atty. General Kwame Raoul 

“How old were you when a cop 1st pulled a gun on you?”  “Seventeen,” he answered. It happened at the corner of 50th and Woodlawn avenues on Chicago’s South Side." -- Politico


Friday, September 11, 2020

Biden's coalition & the Pentagon budget

The very thought of a Trump victory in November is so odious that it leaves me fearful for the world's future and the future of my children and grandchildren. The growing threats of uncontained global pandemics, impending environmental disasters like the current west-coast firestorms, fascism enforced by a puppet Justice Department and a stacked right-wing Supreme Court for the next 40 years are all terrifying and will drive me and hopefully millions of others to the polls as soon as they open, to vote for Biden/Harris and to recapture the Senate. 

But now and post-election, I am also deeply concerned about the right-center election coalition the Democratic leadership is banking on to win in November and to rule the country for the foreseeable future. It's an alliance built on a partnership with that old gang of neocons (so-called "moderate Republicans") and all but excludes the party's progressive wing. 

Most troubling about the revival of the old Clinton/McCain foreign policy coalition is its regime-change and Cold War strategies. They are the foundations for eternal wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Middle East--wars that are bringing us closer to what would be a disastrous military confrontation with China.

This grouping has never met a war they didn't like going all the way back to Vietnam, and Trump is actually seeking a faster withdrawal than Biden of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, Iraq, and those based in NATO countries like Germany. No less important, though perhaps less headline-grabbing, was Trump’s 2017 expansion of the 1033 program, which provides for the transfer of Defense Department military gear to civilian police departments. So increasing D.O.D. spending also means the increased militarization of the police. 

Don't take it from me. Take it from Biden himself who yesterday assured the Pentagon brass that under his regime, its near-trillion-dollar war budget would not remain merely intact, but could be increased, and that U.S. troops would continue to be an occupying force in Afghanistan and elsewhere. 

Biden said, however, that the Defense Department desperately needs to innovate in emerging technology such as beefing up its cyberwarfare capabilities and unmanned aircraft.

“We have to focus more on unmanned capacity, cyber and IT, in a very modern world that is changing rapidly,” Biden said. “I’ve met with a number of my advisors and some have suggested in certain areas the budget is going to have to be increased.”

Let's be clear:  Cyber and drone warfare are no less deadly than traditional warfare, while even increasing the numbers of civilian casualties.  

According to the Pentagon's own organ, Stars & Stripes:

But the guiding star for the Pentagon since 2018 has been the National Defense Strategy, formulated by former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, that identifies China as America's principal adversary. That's likely to carry over to the next administration no matter who's in charge, say defense strategy experts Mackenzie Eaglen of the American Enterprise Institute and Todd Harrison of the Center for Strategic and International Relations.

All this runs completely counter to the policies of the party's Progressive Caucus, which call for a 10% cut in military spending, with that $70B redirected towards social spending. 

Ahead of the Senate’s consideration of a proposed $740.5 billion military budget authorization, Sen. Bernie Sanders took to the Senate floor to call for a 10% cut in annual Pentagon spending to invest in education, health care, and poverty reduction in America’s most marginalized communities. Sanders has been the most vocal critic of the Democratic leadership on this.

"At this pivotal moment in American history,” said Sanders, “we have to make a fundamental decision. Do we want to spend billions more on endless wars in the Middle East, or do we want to provide decent jobs to millions of unemployed Americans here at home? Do we want to spend more money on nuclear weapons or do we want to invest in decent jobs and childcare and healthcare for the American people most in need?"

But Progressive Caucus' House amendment in July was soundly defeated with a majority of Democratic reps voting in opposition. A review of campaign contributions later showed that Democrats who voted against the amendment received far more campaign funding from defense industry interests.  

Some pundits say that Biden's prostrating himself before the generals is little more than an election campaign ploy to take advantage of Trump's recent "suckers" and "losers" insults to GIs and veterans and win over Republican voters and isolating progressives in key battleground states. Another scenario has Biden is trying to placate the military brass to keep them neutral in the event that Trump refuses to leave the White House after losing the vote. 

Such tactical moves in the face of a possible Republican win in November are understandable. But it's still pretty clear that Biden's election coalition partners are clearly pro-Pentagon spending and demanding that he rid himself of their progressive opposition as the price for their support. 

That battle for the soul of the Democratic Party, as John Nichols calls it, will continue right up through election day and beyond. 

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Barr, take your law-and-order shit show out of our city

AG Barr, who has turned the Justice Dept into accused rapist Trump's personal defense attorney, get the hell out of our city!
Trump's protector and faithful sidekick, Atty. Gen. William Barr is in Chicago to tout his so-called Operation Legend, which has so far resulted in the mass incarceration of thousands of mainly Black and Latino young men in cities across the country.

Barr claims the operation is responsible for reducing the city's gun violence. But that claim is bullshit (not her words), according to Mayor Lori Lightfoot

In contrast, Barr is using the Justice Department to aid and abet the international gang of criminals that now occupies the White House. The latest outrage is Barr's move to replace  Trump’s private legal team with DOJ lawyers to defend the accused rapist in a defamation suit brought by author E. Jean Carroll. Last year, Carroll credibly accused Trump of raping her in a Manhattan department store in the mid-1990s.

In Chicago, FBI sweeps have led to the arrests of more than 500 people, many on federal gun and drug charges so those arrested can be held without bail. The DOJ operation involves federal agents conducting large scale, counter-gang investigations using police informants and covert aerial surveillance. This at a time when Chicago's crime rate is on the decline and when area prisons have become COVID hot spots. 

But Operation Legend has more to do with Trump's election campaign than it does with crime-fighting. Barr has used his appearance here to blame the supposed "wave of violent crime" on the ongoing nationwide protests since the police killing of George Floyd and Brianna Taylor, as well as on "anarchic and far-left extremist groups."

Using Wednesday's announcement in part to criticize ongoing efforts pushing for racial justice and police reform, Barr blamed those protests in part for a spike in crime nationwide earlier this year and repeated a "law and order" refrain often employed by President Donald Trump as he campaigns for reelection. -- 5 Chicago

With the election only weeks away, Trump is counting on a new law-and-order surge to energize his base and spread fear among white suburban voters while painting Democratic-run cities, especially those with black mayors, as crime-ridden "shitholes." 

To her credit, Mayor Lori Lightfoot, while offering to work with the feds to control the worsening gun violence in the city, slammed the Trump/Barr political assault on Chicago, leaving Barr to complain that Lightfoot excluded federal efforts in their own discussions on the decrease in crime--adding that Chicago police had been invited to Wednesday's announcement but declined to attend, with Barr citing "politics" as the reason.
"They were certainly invited and could have attended," Barr said, when asked why members of CPD were not standing with federal law enforcement on Wednesday.
Lightfoot responds:
"Nearly two months ago, the mayor sent a letter to the President outlining areas where the federal government has the unique ability to help us fight the epidemic of gun violence... While the president continues to make factually inaccurate comments about Chicago from the political stump, almost two months later, we've received no response to the letter and worse, no results from him for Chicago. We hope Attorney General Barr's visit is part of an effort to help make these actions a reality as opposed to using our city and its residents as a political prop, as his boss regularly does."
It wasn't.

Omar Muhammad (formerly known as Omar Saunders), from left; Marcelias Bradford, Larry Ollins, and his cousin Calvin Ollins were arrested and falsely convicted as teens in the abduction, rape, and murder of a woman. Advanced DNA testing more than a decade later cleared all four. Foxx's opponent, former prosecutor Patrick O'Brien led the frame-up. 

Along with the black city mayors, the law-and-order Republicans' main target has been Cook County States Attorney Kim Foxx. Foxx is currently locked in a close campaign battle with Republican great-white-hope former prosecutor Patrick O'Brien who has attacked Foxx for being "soft on crime," particularly in her handling of the Jussie Smollett case, as a centerpiece of his campaign. 

But it was O'Brien who led a Barr-like charge in a rushed effort to convict four West Side teenagers on trumped-up rape and murder charges more than 30 years ago. It is clear now that torture was used in obtaining a confession that led to their false conviction.

All. four were cleared by DNA evidence after a decade in prison. 

Tuesday, September 8, 2020


Students at Hawthorne Scholastic Academic on Chicago's North Side picked up supplies to use at home in the waning days of summer vacation. Remote classes for Chicago Public Schools students begin today. Manuel Martinez / WBEZ
CPS parent
“I seriously want to cry. … There is NO WAY he can be online all day like this. It isn’t possible.” A teacher responded: “Believe me, teachers are crying too.” -- WBEZ
Diane Ravitch
 I am a proud anti-fascist. Are you? -- Blog
Robert Reich
No other developed nation has nearly the inequities found in the US, even though all have been exposed to the same forces of globalization and technological change. -- Guardian
Donald Trump
...says his appointed Pentagon brass "want to do nothing but fight wars so that all of those wonderful companies that make the bombs and make the planes and make everything else stay happy." -- WH Press Conference 
Columnist Eugene Robinson
 Trump’s message to Whites is unmistakable: Be afraid. Those people — you know who I mean — are trying to take over your country. I will stop them. All of this is nothing less than undisguised white supremacy. -- Washington Post
Senior administration official
“The president means no disrespect to our troops; it’s just that the way he speaks, he can sound like an asshole sometimes." -- Daily Beast