On the show this week, Chris Hedges talks to history professor and author Paul Street about the Biden administration and its continuity with the Democratic and Republic administrations’ policies and programs to benefit the elite and corporate interests, rather than working-class Americans.
This past week a video game company in trouble, Gamestop, became the center of media attention. Day traders had driven up the company’s stock price by thousands of percent in just one day. The mainstream media narrative was the ‘small guy’ investor challenged the big boys of finance who had bet Gamestop stock price would contract, not rise sharply. The little investor, so the story goes, initially won big but Gamestop’s stock price escalation was stopped in its tracks by coordinated forces of Wall St., as trading was abruptly halted later in the day in the midst of the run-up. But that narrative, that media spin, has it wrong. The real meaning of what has happened is quite different.
As calls to defund the police gain traction, bloated police budgets are coming under scrutiny for siphoning public resources away from black and brown communities. While police budgets are typically public documents that must be approved by elected officials, there are other institutions in place with the sole purpose of funneling even more resources toward law enforcement. Police foundations across the country are partnering with corporations to raise money to supplement police budgets by funding programs and purchasing tech and weaponry for law enforcement with little public oversight. Annual fundraising events and parties like the St. Paul Police Foundation’s “Blue Nite Gala” and the Chicago Police Foundation’s “True Blue” event are huge moneymakers.
Empires fall a little bit at a time and then all at once. Over the last two decades, America has proven itself to be well along on that journey. The coronavirus pandemic has simply pushed our nation further along that downward spiral. Ultimately, the pandemic has further exposed and exacerbated — for those still somehow in denial about the decades-long reality of America as a decaying empire — deep political, social, economic, cultural and other societal problems. The country's infrastructure is rotting. Trump presides over a plutocratic, corrupt, cruel, authoritarian, pathological kakistocracy. The commons is being reduced to rubble while the ultra-rich extract ever more wealth and other resources from the American people. Excessive military spending has left the United States incapable of attending to the basic needs of its people.
Welcome, everyone to the longest-running play in U.S. history: “Voting for the Lesser Evil.” The play’s strength, as you well know, is its easy-to-memorize script, combined with its superb ability to change the essential characters—all while keeping the same dialogue! Our set design also remains largely the same, although recently we’ve had to highlight red and blue colors and build a swing to denote the characterizations of “states.” Throughout the decades, our show has been labeled a melodrama, a tragicomedy, and even science fiction. The beauty of ““Voting for the Lesser Evil” is that it’s all above the above! Some people have lobbied for the play being renamed “The Greatest Show on Earth.” It does remind one of a circus, doesn’t it?
By Gary Rivlin and Michael Hudson for The Intercept. Steve Bannon was in the room the day Donald Trump first fell for Gary Cohn. So were Reince Priebus, Jared Kushner, and Trump’s pick for secretary of Treasury, Steve Mnuchin. It was the end of November, three weeks after Trump’s improbable victory, and Cohn, then still the president of Goldman Sachs, was at Trump Tower presumably at the invitation of Kushner, with whom he was friendly. Cohn was there to offer his views about jobs and the economy. But, like the man he was there to meet, he was at heart a salesman.
By Nomi Prins for Tom's Dispatch. Only a month has passed since November 8th, but it’s already clear (not that it wasn’t before) that Trump’s anti-establishment campaign rhetoric was the biggest scam of his career, one he pulled off perfectly. As president-elect and the country’s next CEO-in-chief, he’s now doing what many presidents have done: doling out power to like-minded friends and associates, loyalists, and -- think John F. Kennedy, for instance -- possibly family. Here, however, is a major historical difference: the magnitude of Trump’s cronyism is off the charts, even for Washington. Of course, he’s never been a man known for doing small and humble. So his cabinet, as yet incomplete, is already the richest one ever. Estimates of how loaded it will be are almost meaningless at this point, given that we don’t even know Trump’s true wealth (and will likely never see his tax returns). Still, with more billionaires at the doorstep, estimates of the wealth of his new cabinet members and of the president-elect range from my own guesstimate of about $12 billion up to $35 billion.
Right now is the opportune time for people to say no to plutocracy and demand a people's agenda. The rejection of the Democrats and the unexpected election of Donald Trump have caused confusion among the elites and have opened political space. The people's defeat of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a victory over the power of transnational corporations, confirms that when a movement of movements works together, we win. People across the country are rising up and will continue to do so. This is critical for social transformation. We encourage you to organize in your communities and to take the streets.We must also be clear in our demands. We are offering an outline for a People's Agenda.
By Ralph Nader for Alternet - In the 1920s, near the end of his spectacular career as our country’s most prominent fighter for working people, labor leader, presidential candidate, orator, and all-around progressive Eugene Debs was asked by a reporter: “Mr. Debs, what do you regret the most in your lifelong struggle for justice?” Debs looked at him and replied: “What do I regret the most? I regret that the American people can have almost anything they want under our Constitution, but they seem not to want much of anything at all.”
By Travis Richard Sweatte for Jacobin Magazine. United States - In the aftermath of the Democratic National Convention, Hillary Clinton may have a commanding lead, but it’s clear that she won’t be able to win over segments of Bernie Sanders supporters and other independents. Many Americans — repulsed by both Clinton and Trump — are eager to cast a protest vote for a third party. Predictably, mainstream commentators have roundly criticized these candidacies, evoking the memory of Ralph Nader’s Green Party run in 2000 and the specter of “election spoiling.” Much of this hysteria has centered around the “Bernie or Bust” campaign, which is increasingly associated with the Green Party candidacy of Jill Stein. But despite the liberal press’s endless hand-wringing over the remote possibility of Stein spoiling the race for Clinton, the fact is that the Green Party is by no means the largest third party in American politics.
By Chuck Collins for Inequality - Nico House was in the streets last week outside the Democratic National Convention with Revolt Against Plutocracy. He is a self-described “political revolutionary,” inspired by the presidential campaign of Senator Bernie Sanders. House, 27, was a paralegal in the U.S. Army and a student at UNC Chapel Hill. He is working to raise funds for investigative documentaries about political corruption and posts regularly to the blog Revolt Against Plutocracy.