You are browsing the archive for 2020 December 06.

Avatar of admin

by admin

Here are 19 ways the road to a more just society runs through Congress: Ralph Nader

December 6, 2020 in Blogs

By Common Dreams

…read more

Source: ALTERNET

Avatar of admin

by admin

This Marxist philosopher foresaw the rise of Trumpism more than 80 years ago

December 6, 2020 in Blogs

By Salon

More than eighty years ago, a then-obscure German philosopher wrote an essay that foresaw the essential reason behind President Donald Trump’s enduring political appeal. His name was Walter Benjamin; born to a Jewish family in Berlin, Benjamin was present for a pivotal moment in history, and watched Hitler rise to power. By the time he wrote his most famous essay, he was an exile living in France amidst financial hardships, having recognized that the Reichstag fire three years earlier signified that the Nazis had achieved total power in Germany.

In 1936 — as Hitler was violating international treaties with impunity and preparing Germany for war (a threat that many Western powers did not take seriously) — Benjamin, a Marxist and a Jew who was thus obviously opposed to the Nazis, postulated that modern fascists succeed when they are entertainers. Not just any entertainer — a circus clown or a juggler-turned-fascist wouldn’t do. Specifically, modern fascists were entertainers with a distinct aesthetic, one that appeals to mass grievances by encouraging their supporters to feel like they are personally expressing themselves through their demagogue of choice.

Benjamin’s insight, which appears to have been largely forgotten, is that keeping fascism out of power means recognizing how they use aesthetic entertainment to create their movements. That does require us to admit, cringe-inducing though it may be, that Trump is an artist — albeit a tacky, shallow and transparently self-aggrandizing one. More importantly, his movement, the MAGA crowd, has a distinct aesthetic which he has created and honed for them.

The key passage from Benjamin’s “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction,” which was published in 1936, deserves to be quoted in full:

Fascism attempts to organize the newly created proletarian masses without affecting the property structure which the masses strive to eliminate. Fascism sees its salvation in giving these masses not their right, but instead a chance to express themselves. The masses have a right to change property relations; Fascism seeks to give them an expression while preserving property. The logical result of Fascism is the introduction of aesthetics into political life.

Earlier in the essay, Benjamin describes how the history of art itself had changed in modern history. Although works of art were initially created carefully by individual craftsmen working under mentors, industrialization made it possible for art to be produced on a large scale and distributed quickly …read more

Source: ALTERNET

Avatar of admin

by admin

Trump fires 9 Pentagon advisors and installs cronies while blocking Biden from military briefings

December 6, 2020 in Blogs

By The New Civil Rights Movement

On Friday, the White House fired nine members of the Pentagon’s Defense Business Board and installed people loyal to President Donald Trump, Politico reports. At the same time, Trump’s Pentagon officials have refused members of President-elect Joe Biden’s transition team to meet with officials at U.S. intelligence agencies.

The aforementioned board members were all fired via form letter email that told them that their terms had expired — even though that wasn’t true for three of the members — and they were neither given any warning nor thanks for their service.

“The Defense Business Board is made up of more than a dozen industry and academic leaders who volunteer to provide independent business advice to Pentagon leadership and are appointed by top Pentagon leaders,” the publication writes, adding that the board has generally been understood as non-partisan.

Among its duties, the board reviews defense agencies and field activities, studies data on how private companies interact with the Department of Defense.

In their place, Trump installed his former campaign officials Corey Lewandowski and David Bossie. Trump could’ve installed his new members as the board can accommodate up to 35 people and only had 16 before the firings began.

The firings come one week after the White House fired a dozen members of the Defense Policy Board, a similar advisory council of experts outside the government, and his Defense Secretary Mark Esper. As of November 20, more than 40 percent of the Department of Defense’s top positions have been left unstaffed thanks to Trump’s firings.

Meanwhile, because Biden’s team hasn’t been able to meet with defense officials for almost a month after he won the election, it has “impaired the Biden team’s ability to get up to speed on espionage operations against Russia, China, Iran and other U.S. adversaries,” The New York Times reports.

…read more

Source: ALTERNET

Avatar of admin

by admin

‘Fatalism’ at White House as Trump spends his time ‘going nuts over election fraud’: Administration official

December 6, 2020 in Blogs

By Tom Boggioni

In an examination of the transition of power from outgoing President Donald Trump to the incoming administration of President-elect Joe Biden, a White House official conceded Trump has a lot of free time on his hands during which he is obsessing over his belief that the election was stolen from him by fraud.

According to the report, the harsh reality of a lost election has settled upon White House staff with the Washington Post reporting, “… inside the White House, the mood has darkened and a sense of fatalism has engulfed much of the staff,” who are mostly busy looking for new jobs — which they are finding may be more difficult than they expected.

“Even senior staffers are starting to move on, sending a steady stream of résumés to Republican firms. But Trump officials who were especially combative on Twitter are viewed as ‘pretty toxic,’ said one Republican operative, and are being advised to seek work in less political venues first, providing a sort of cooling-off period,” the Post reports before adding that many of those same staffers are working from home now leaving the White House empty and dark.

As for the president, an administration insider claimed the president has no immediate plans for the future and spends his days obsessing over the lost election.

The Post reports, “Trump has little in the way of a plan, according to several senior administration officials, and is focused rather on cataloguing the ways he insists he was robbed of victory.”

“The large majority of his time has been unstructured, in the Oval [Office], just going nuts about voter fraud,” confessed a senior administration official. “I don’t know how else to put it. That occupies seemingly every waking moment of his day.”

The report goes on to note that Trump’s lingering obsession with fraud was fueled by a report from Fox News’ Sean Hannity that “purports to show suspicious suitcases at a Georgia canvassing center. Georgia officials have said the video shows entirely normal ballot processing.”

You can read more here.

…read more

Source: ALTERNET

Avatar of admin

by admin

'One person standing in the way': Abysmal jobs report ramps up pressure on McConnell for COVID relief

December 6, 2020 in Blogs

By Common Dreams

The Labor Department’s release Friday of an abysmal jobs report showing that U.S. hiring slowed dramatically in November served as another occasion for Democratic lawmakers, progressive advocacy groups, and economists to demand that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell end his months-long obstruction of a desperately needed coronavirus relief package.

Devoid of any “silver linings”, the fresh jobs numbers further undercut the Kentucky Republican’s argument just last month that the economy is trending in the right direction and therefore requires less stimulus to drag it out of recessionary territory. According to Friday’s report, the U.S. added just 245,000 jobs in November, down from 610,000 in October and the fifth consecutive month hiring has slowed.

“Congress knows how to help workers and families. It knows how to prevent the looming recession. One person is standing in the way. Mitch McConnell’s political games are costing lives and livelihoods.”

—Sen. Ron Wyden

Elise Gould, senior economist at the Economic Policy Institute, warned that with key federal unemployment programs set to expire at the end of December and coronavirus infections on the rise nationwide, “millions of workers and their families are in for an even harsher winter” unless Congress takes decisive action.

“The unemployment rate edged down to 6.7%, but for the ‘wrong’ reasons as 400,000 people left the labor force,” Gould noted in an analysis of the new figures. “The number of workers unemployed 27 weeks or more—the long-term unemployed—shot up to 3.9 million in November. Now, over one-third (36.9%) of the total unemployed are long-term unemployed.”

The alarming numbers came at the tail end of week in which coronavirus relief talks, previously stagnant for weeks, appeared to progress slightly, with Democratic congressional leaders and President-elect Joe Biden throwing their support behind a $908 billion bipartisan stimulus framework despite its serious inadequacies.

“We’ll take the time we need and we must get it done,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told reporters Friday, voicing optimism that lawmakers can strike a deal on a relief package before both chambers depart for Christmas recess. “We cannot leave without it.”

In a tweet Friday, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said that “this latest jobs report shows the need for strong, urgent emergency relief is more important …read more

Source: ALTERNET