Those Pesky Hunter Biden Emails

Joe and Hunter Biden in 2010

W.J. Astore

In trying to cover the Hunter Biden email story with his usual zest, honesty, and outspokenness, Glenn Greenwald ran afoul of the bosses at The Intercept and issued his resignation. Matt Taibbi covers Greenwald’s resignation here, and Greenwald himself has posted the article that got him into trouble here. At her own site, Caitlin Johnstone cites Greenwald’s resignation as exposing the rot in mainstream media outlets. As Johnstone puts it:

I don’t know that the Hunter Biden October surprise shows anything more scandalous than you’d expect for any major US presidential nominee. I do know that the uniform conspiracy of silence and obfuscation from the mass media about it is uniquely scandalous and says bad things about the future of journalism in western news media.

The Bidens have yet to deny the authenticity of these emails. Even so, the mainstream media, joined by digital powerhouses like Facebook and Twitter, have worked to minimize the story. In some cases, not just minimize but to misdirect, as in suggesting the emails are part of a Russian disinformation campaign in favor of Trump, even though there’s no evidence of this.

As one Washington Post article bizarrely put it: “We must treat the Hunter Biden leaks as if they were a foreign intelligence operation — even if they probably aren’t.” [emphasis added]

Come again? Obviously no Vulcans work at the Post, since there’s a complete lack of logic in that statement.

I think what’s going on here is obvious. For the mainstream media, it’s payback time for Donald Trump. Trump has described journalists as “the enemy of the people,” and don’t think that scarily intimidating statement has been forgotten by the press. Also, there is a modicum of guilt within the media, I think, for their role in facilitating Trump’s rise in 2015-16. They never took him seriously in the sense of believing he could win, but they did love all the high ratings (and money!) he generated.

Readers here know that I reject both Trump and Biden as viable presidential candidates. Trump is a narcissist, a liar, and an incompetent leader; Biden is a fading bureaucrat who’s thoroughly compromised by his business, industry, and banking ties. Arguably, Biden is the lesser of two evils, but that certainly shouldn’t mean that the media should protect him from Hunter’s sad record of influence-peddling in the Biden name.

More so than most people, I imagine, journalists are tired of Trump. They want things to go back to “normal.” But censorship in the cause of normalcy is too high a price to pay, especially for the lesser of two evils.

Whose Law, Whose Order?

bible
The face of lawlessness and disorder in America

W.J. Astore

Along with being a self-styled wartime president (in a totally incompetent attempt to contain COVID-19 that has cost tens of thousands of American lives), Donald Trump now claims to be the “LAW & ORDER” president (the all-caps echoes his tweet on the subject).

But whose law and whose order?

Trump is lawless.  He had peaceful protesters gassed, including Episcopal clergy, just so he could pose with a bible in front of a church.  And, by the way, mixing religious law with civil law is a practice the radical right allegedly condemns (they always cite Sharia law here), but not when the holy book is their bible.  By the way, what was the Democratic response to Trump’s shameless bible stunt?  Nancy Pelosi got out a bible, only she read from hers.  Great “opposition,” Pelosi.

Again, whose law and whose order.  Order imposed by violence and weaponry, non-lethal or otherwise, isn’t order.  It’s tyranny.  And the law in America seems to be what the rich and powerful say it is.

I come back to a crucial point made by Matt Taibbi:

You don’t elect politicians to commit crimes; you elect politicians to make your crimes legal. That is the whole purpose of the racket of government.

So, what is the law in America?  That which has been defined as legal by politicians who are bought — who follow the orders of their paymasters.

That’s the kind of “law and order” Trump is talking about.  The law of the already privileged and the order of the fist.  And it’s also why so many people are fed up, so many people are protesting, and so many people want real change.

What Do Leading Democrats Believe In?

pelosi
Would you buy a used car from them?

W.J. Astore

Give me five minutes, and I can tell you exactly what Bernie Sanders believes in.  Single-payer health care for all.  A $15 minimum wage.  Higher taxes on the richest Americans.  College education that doesn’t bankrupt families and leave students with crushing debt.  Criminal justice reform.  Investment in infrastructure and renewable energy.  He gives specifics, and he’s walked a principled walk for decades.

But what does the Democratic Partly leadership believe in?  As this article at Truthdig put it, “Nancy Pelosi Believes In Nothing.”  Of course, she does believe in something: her own power and privilege, which she seeks to maintain and expand.  But principles like those held by Bernie Sanders?  Forget about it.

I’ve been reading Matt Taibbi’s “The Great Derangement,” a terrific book that came out in 2008, and Taibbi nails it in this passage (pages 243-4):

The Democrats’ error was in believing that people wouldn’t notice this basic truth [that the party’s ideology is driven by power and nothing more] about their priorities. They were wrong on that score. In fact, a Quinnipiac poll taken around that time [2007] found the approval rating of Congress had fallen to 23 percent. Other polls saw the number plummet to the teens. The rating of the Democratic Congress was even lower than [George W.] Bush’s, and it was not hard to see why. Bush was wrong and insane, but he stood for something. It was a fucked-up something, but it was something. The Democrats stood for nothing; they viewed their own constituents as problems to be handled, and even casual voters were beginning to see this.

If you substitute Trump’s name for Bush’s in the above quotation, it makes even more sense.  “[Trump] was wrong and insane, but he stood for something. It was a fucked-up something, but it was something.”

This is the biggest issue for corporate Democrats: What do you stand for?  For so many in the establishment, what they stand for is themselves.  The perpetuation of their own power and privilege.  This is the biggest reason why Hillary Clinton lost in 2016.  It was always all about her.

Another quotation from Matt Taibbi made me laugh out loud even as I winced at the harsh truth of it (page 190):

You don’t elect politicians to commit crimes; you elect politicians to make your crimes legal. That is the whole purpose of the racket of government.

In this case, the “you” in question are all the banks, corporations, and other vested interests that essentially buy our politicians.  Until we get big money out of politics, this corruption will persist.

Bernie Sanders doesn’t take corporate money.  Neither does Tulsi Gabbard.  But most of the current batch of Democratic candidates for president in 2020 do take money from big corporate and financial donors.  And that should tell you what they believe in: their own power and privilege, and little else.

Speaking of Bernie Sanders, I recently read a depressing article in the Nation by Eric Alterman who argued Bernie can’t win in 2020.  Why?  Supposedly because Americans won’t elect a socialist, and also because Trump and the Republican attack machine will convince Americans he’s simply too radical.

WTF?  Americans are desperate for leaders who believe in something rather than nothing.  That’s why Trump won in 2016.  Again, in the spirit of Taibbi, Trump may be batshit crazy, but he does take a stand, e.g. “Build the wall.”  The best way to defeat Trump in 2020 is to go bold: to nominate a candidate with strong core beliefs.  A candidate who connects with young and old and who inspires enthusiastic participation.  That’s Bernie.

But perhaps Jimmy Dore, the comedian/political commentator, is right: establishment Democrats like Pelosi would rather defeat Progressives like Bernie Sanders than win the presidential election against Trump in 2020.  Because if Trump wins, they can continue to serve (and profit from) corporate interests while posing as being anti-Trump, i.e. they can continue life as they know it, with all the power and privilege that comes with it.

As my wife quipped today, “They don’t let their beliefs get in their way, do they?”  Which is another way of saying they really have no beliefs at all.