Saturday, July 6, 2019

A Supermajority of Americans Want Medicare For All: Why Then Does The New York Times Have A Chart Showing A Minority Of Democratic Candidates (7 out of 19, just 37%) Support Medicare For All?— Plus Why Would The Times Deceptively Interpret What That Means?

New York Times bubble head chart showing how Democratic candidates for president who favor Medicare for all are significantly outnumbered by those who don't.-  Why?
Priming its readers for the week’s upcoming Democratic candidates presidential debates, the Times Published a chart that visually emphasized how unpopular “Medicare for all” is with candidates the Democratic party is fielding to run for the United States Presidency.  It showed names and bubble head pics of 19 candidates, segregating off into a minority, seven of the candidates, just 37% of them as favoring Medicare for all.

How could this be when a supermajority of the American public want Medicare for all?  Why would the candidates of the theoretically more liberal party of our duopoly not be willing to fall in line with the polls to obtain the nomination of the Democratic party? . .

 . . . It would even be a winning position to take to win the race for the U.S. presidency against a Republican.  There are polls that say a majority of Republicans, 52%, favor Medicare for all.  And even though Fox News itself may not like it, the Fox News audience seems to love the idea of Medicare for all.    

How did the New York Times seek to explain the fact that so many Democratic candidates were not willing to follow the polls and to say that they would give the public what they want in this respect?  The Times made it seem like Medicare for all is controversially divisive: “the concept is dividing the 2020 field.”– With only a 37% minority of the candidates shown as favoring Medicare for all that lopsided oddity hardly seems like any kind of even “division.”  Then the Times very deceptively indicated that this 63% majority vs. a 37% minority on the part of the candidates was somehow reflective of the electorate: “The findings underscore that the Democratic field, like the electorate, has not moved en masse to left-wing positions on health care.”

Jeezum Christmas!  And did you notice, in that sentence, how the Times, by saying that Medicare for all is “left-wing,” rather than mainstream, uses the opportunity to be deceptive to throw in by implication the caution that there are other positions on health care that are probably too left-wing?

I just got finished publishing a National Notice article about how, over and over again, on issue after issue, the American public is being denied what huge majorities of American want and what sensibly ought to be afforded to everyone.  See: Everybody’s Realizing It Now: The Political Establishment Is Not Willing To Give The Public The Things The Vast Majority Of Americans Want And That We Could Easily Have.
By way of proving that this failure to represent the electorate is getting widely noticed, the article included quite a few lists of issues that a number of sources have come up with, cumulatively a very long list of major issues, where a supermajority of the public wants something (like “net neutrality”), but our establishment of elected officials and major party political candidates seem to think it is their job to prevent it from happening.  Those list makers were: Citizens Defending Libraries (of which I am a co-founder), Michael Moore, Jimmy Dore, Chris Hedges, and Tim Wu.  My article also made the point how it seems like the corporate media acts like it’s its job to play along and endorse the denial of the eminently sensible things on the lists of what supermajorities of Americans want.

Medicare for all came up on pretty much all the lists: that of Citizens Defending Libraries; Michael Moore’s from his film “Fahrenheit 11/9" (a slide of a Reuters polls showing 70% support); Jimmy Dore, citing that 70% of Americans are for medicare for all; Chris Hedges (interviewing Howie Hawkins who wants to become the Green Party presidential candidate stating that 60% of Americans believe it is the federal government’s responsibility to make sure all Americans have health care, and that 60% of registered voters favor expanding medicare to provide health insurance to every single citizen.  Tim Wu, in his list, did not specifically cite Medicare for all, but noted that “Seventy-one percent think we should be able to buy drugs imported from Canada, and 92 percent want Medicare to negotiate for lower drug prices” and he noted “the list goes on.”

Medicare for all is, in fact, just one example of where establishment politicians seem dedicated to not giving the public what it wants, but it is a good example, because not only could the public have Medicare for all, it would save the public trillions of dollars to switch to this universal health care system.  The huge savings are something the press doesn’t like to tell the public about.  Please read the earlier National Notice article to peruse the multiple long lists of major issues that place the public way to the left of their elected representatives and the corporate press.

The Times chart that showed the seven Democratic candidates supporting Medicare for all to be in the lonely minority was interestingly suspect in another respect: The print edition of the Times left out candidate Tulsi Gabbard.  Gabbard is another Medicare for all supporter, an eighth one.  Leaving her out made the minority appear more shrunken.  Further, it removed Gabbard from getting some recognition. The corporate media seems to be working hard to avoid giving Gabbard recognition, and/or to denigrate her: The best explanation for that is that, of all the candidates, Gabbard is clearest in her opposition to America’s perpetual and very expensive wars. .  .  After her debate, Gabbard was far and away the most Googled candidate, even though Ms. Gabbard got the third lowest speaking time in the debate.

The Times explains its Gabbard omission in its subsequently updated digital edition saying, “A 20th candidate, Tulsi Gabbard, later submitted her preference for Medicare for all.” That made Gabbard seem like a laggard who doesn’t know her mind on the issue.  But the Times print article was published June 24, 2019, and here is a very easy to find June 11, 2019 tweet from Gabbard making her stance on the issue extremely clear, as I believe was already quite widely known and easy to find out.
Easy to find  easy to find June 11, 2019 tweet from Tulsi Gabbard that puts Medicare for All at the top of a list of her expressed priorities.
The Times article did point out, with some context, an alternative to Medicare for all:
The public option was once considered too far-reaching — champions of the idea in Congress could not muster quite enough support to include it in the Affordable Care Act in 2010. But it is now seen as a more moderate alternative to Mr. Sanders’s plan, which would all but eliminate private health insurance and enroll everyone in a government-run program.
Helpful?  Implementing a "public option" might lead inevitably to Medicare for all.  And yes, in Obama’s time, it was resisted– Or probably it is better to say it was quickly tossed out by Obama as impossible and antithetical to the interests of the insurance companies he appeased.  But to raise it, is to complicate things.  Complicating things is one of the last tactics that those opposing medicare for all are resorting to.  Anand Giridharas, author of Winners take All,” about how the wealthy, with pretenses of doing good, steer things in directions very unhealthy to society's general warfare is warning about the health care debate that those fighting for Medicare for all need to keep it “pure, simple,” with “undiluted ideas” expressed in easy to digest ways like “never think about healthcare again because it’s just taken care of.”

During the first Democratic candidate’s debate the corporate media (NBC nightly news anchor Lester Holt in this case) didn’t seem to want it pure and simple, so the question the assembled candidates were asked was not whether they were in favor of Medicare for all; It was whether they favored “abolishing” private healthcare insurance.  Thus, off the bat, the question sounds negative and destructive.  It is also “gnarly” about what that means.  It invokes a lot of wonky debate about whether any private insurance is viewed as being incompatible with Medicare for all.  Only two of the candidates on the stage kept it simple and raised their hands, allowing corporate media pundits to opine that the other candidates must somehow oppose Medicare for all.
It ain’t that simple.  The writer of this article is on Medicare, and also has secondary private insurance.  Medicare for all and private insurance needn’t be necessarily incompatible, and that made the question a trick question. True, how Medicare for all will be implemented can inevitably involve nuances.  But big picture, if we are going to get to a better, cheaper system, (and beneficially simpler system too), Anand Giridharas is right, the debate, big picture, needs to be kept simple.  That's  especially true, at least, in those contexts where simple yes/no answers without explanations are being forced out of the candidates.
But, let's return the central mind-boggling spectacle here: What are there so many Democrat candidates who theoretically want the democratic nomination for president who are choosing NOT to follow the polls?   It's not just that the American's over all want medicare for all or that even a majority of Republican favor it: In their own Democratic party 84% want Medicare for all, or essentially that.  Do these candidates ignore those polls for some reason of legitimate considered conviction?  Or shouldn't we instead be asking how many of these Democratic party candidates that going against all the polls because they are just rented-out walking billboards, hired to tell the American public “you can’t have want you want” even if it makes sense, even it universal healthcare is what's available almost everywhere else in the civilized world?

Who are all these candidates in the Democratic field?  Where did they come from?  There is s dirty little secret that too few people are talking about concerning why we should expect the field of Democratic candidates to be so extremely crowded this election cycle.  The last election cycle Bernie Sander got so many popular votes in the Democratic primaries that he could have legitimately expected to defeat Hillary Clinton at the Democratic convention, except for the control over the selection of the candidates coming from the party machine.  Much of that control was exerted in the form if the parties control over “super-delegates” who when they voted to secure the nomination for Hillary Clinton at the last convention did not need to represent or be apportioned to reflect what those who voted in the primaries voted for.  Going forward, that system was reformed partly by agreement with Sanders wing of the party.  This coming Democratic convention superdelegates will not be allowed to vote. . . . unless and until there is a second round of voting.  If a candidate doesn’t win on the first round of votes there will be a second round of voting.

The more Democratic candidates running in the Democratic field, the greater the insurance that no candidate will win the first round of votes and that the superdelgates from the party machine will be able to enter the fray and again determine the results as they did in 2016 with the selection of  Clinton.  In fact, under these circumstances, the probability that superdelgates may determine things again may be even greater.  It's a mechanism that ensures that the public will not get what it wants.

And one last thing to mention as we close out this topic: Most of the candidates the democrats are fielding were superdelagtes for Hillary Clinton at the 2016 convention, voting against Bernie Sanders.  We heard this first on the Jimmy Dore Show and decided to do the research to check it out . .  And, indeed-

The following fourteen of the candidates were HRC superdelgates: Michael Bennet, Joe Biden, Steve Bullock, John Delaney, Jay Inslee, Amy Klobuchar, Seth Moulton, Beto O’Rourke, Eric Swalwell, Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand, Tim Ryan, Elizabeth Warren, John Hickenlooper.

A fifteenth candidate, Julián Castro, was not an HRC superdelegate, but his look alike, also very politically active brother was.

A sixteenth candidate, Bill de Blasio, was also not, but he was once a campaign manager for Hillary Clinton.

Tulsi Gabbard was one of the few superdelagates for Bernie Sanders (and, of course Sanders is, himself a candidate again this year).

That leaves outside of these tallies, a small list: Mike Gravel, Andrew Yang, Pete Buttigieg, Marianne Williamson, and Kamala Harris.  Kamala Harris, in particular deserves focus because the corporate press seems to be promoting very heavily.  Ms. Harris, who did not prosecute Steve Mnuchin such that he was then able to ascend to become Trump's Secretary of the Treasury, and who shouldn't be regarded as "progressive" (especially as one who has favored mass incarceration), looks like she is also just a product of the Democratic party machine devoted to furnishing non-choices. -  But the Times has her down as favoring Medicare for all.

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Everybody’s Realizing It Now: The Political Establishment Is Not Willing To Give The Public The Things The Vast Majority Of Americans Want And That We Could Easily Have

Just so readers are not too surprised: Before we get to the end of this article we are going to discuss listening to WBAI, New York's Pacifica Radio station (New York City's only truly listener-supported public radio station), as a source of information. .  WBAI as a resource for information is connected to the other things of importance we are about to discuss.

 . . .  First, we'll to talk about libraries, as a way of leading into a major  topic.  There's something that everybody now seems to be realizing-  It's how, over and over gain, on issue after issue, the American public is being denied what huge majorities of American want and what sensibly ought to be afforded to everyone.

Say, for instance, libraries . .  
New York City Councilman Steve Levin said in City Council hearings (@ 1:24) that about 95% of his constituents opposed the sale of the second biggest library in Brooklyn that was in his district and that it was the number one issue when he ran for reelection.  Nevertheless, Levin voted to sell and shrink the library eliminating most of its books and worked energetically behind the scenes to push the deal through.

The City Council followed suit, voting to approve the shrink-and-sink deal putting the recently expanded, fully upgraded library into the hands of a developer planning to build a luxury tower at the site, even though it meant the destruction, at huge public cost, of Brooklyn’s destination downtown library. . . Thus eliminated, Brooklyn’s downtown would no longer be graced with the Business Library, the Career Library, the Education Library and the federal depository library.  The City Council voted to eliminate the library even though libraries are one of the public's top priorities, ranked the “third highest budget concern” of all the city’s community boards and the “top priority” of Brooklyn’s community boards and ranked a top concern by citizens in the City Comptroller’s “People's Budget.” 

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio (now wanting to run for president) also approved the selling of the library.  He did his best to push it through even though when he ran for office he said about this and other NYC libraries in jeopardy of sale:
It’s public land and public facilities and public value under threat. . . and once again we see, lurking right behind the curtain, real estate developers who are very anxious to get their hands on these valuable properties
During that run for office de Blasio was the recipient of funds provided through the development team to which he would ultimately hand off the library in what was investigated as a pay-to-play deal where de Blasio was also criticized for not taking the best bid.  (The sale was going to be a loss for the public no matter what, because the library was sold to be torn down for less than its tear down value.)

The selling, shrinking and elimination of New York City’s libraries and their books and librarians, all of which are easily affordable, is another example of what I mentioned at the outset: An overall pattern that everybody now seems to be recognizing where, over and over again, the public very sensibly wants and could have something, but the political establishment refuses to furnish it and delivers dross or the opposite instead.

The disappointing experience we had with New York City elected officials respecting libraries may be why when Citizens Defending Libraries participated in producing a forum about Voter Disenfranchisement (how voting is being suppressed, neutralized and the will of the electorate thwarted) it zeroed in and posted the following as grist for discussion:  
The re-enfranchisement of all U.S. citizens voting should also be fought on multiple other fronts. Evidence that electeds don’t follow the popular will is ample, with the majority of Americans wanting but not getting:

        • medicare for all; •  protection of women’s reproductive rights; •  stricter gun control laws; • stricter regulations on and breaking up of the big banks; • more environmental regulation; • equal pay for women; • easier, less restrictive immigration; • less surveillance of American citizens; • less military spending and a pull back from the U.S.’s endless and ceaseless military interventions (wars); • net neutrality; • continued support for traditional public schools, and free college; • more restrictions on money in politics.   
Full disclosure: I am a co-founder of Citizens Defending Libraries and I worked to set up that forum.

More recently, Columbia law Professor Tim Wu (author of The Master Switch,” “The Attention  Merchants,” and The Curse of Bigness) wrote an op-op in the New York Times that included the following list of things he observed the public wants, but is not getting:
About 75 percent of Americans favor higher taxes for the ultrawealthy. The idea of a federal law that would guarantee paid maternity leave attracts 67 percent support. Eighty-three percent favor strong net neutrality rules for broadband, and more than 60 percent want stronger privacy laws. Seventy-one percent think we should be able to buy drugs imported from Canada, and 92 percent want Medicare to negotiate for lower drug prices. The list goes on.
See- Opinion: The Oppression of the Supermajority- The defining political fact of our time is not polarization. It’s the thwarting of a largely unified public.  By Tim Wu, March 5, 2019

Professor Wu offered his analysis of why that is.  While he acknowledged that we are supposed to have checks and balances to get thoughtful government rather than mob rule, he noted:                       
    . . . In our era, it is primarily Congress that prevents popular laws from being passed or getting serious consideration. (Holding an occasional hearing does not count as “doing something.”) Entire categories of public policy options are effectively off-limits because of the combined influence of industry groups and donor interests. There is no principled defense of this state of affairs — and indeed, no one attempts to offer such a justification. Instead, legislative stagnation is cynically defended by those who benefit from it with an unconvincing invocation of the rigors of our system of checks and balances.
Tim Wu with his list is following also in the footsteps of film maker and political critic Michael Moore (also a library defender) who included a segment in his film “Fahrenheit 11/9" released last fall (pre-election) intended to bring home the realization of how much more to the left the American public is than what the political establishment is providing.

To quote what is included about this 38 minutes into the film:
There seems to be a misunderstanding about who the real America is. Let me share with you a fact that has never been stated in the press or reported on the nightly news, or even spoken amongst ourselves. The United States of America is a leftist country.

That's right.  We are one rocking, shit-kicking, gay-loving, gun-rejecting, race-mixing, pot-smoking, tree-hugging, hip-hopping, anywhere breast-feeding, quince-cooking, left-leaning liberal nation. Here are the facts.
    The vast majority of Americans are pro-choice.
    [Slide: 71% pro-choice (NBC News/Wall Street Journal, 2018)]
    They want equal pay for women,
    [Slide: 82% Equal pay for women (YouGov, 2013)]
    stronger environmental laws,
    [Slide: 74% stronger environmental laws (Gallup, 2018)]
    legalized marijuana,
    [Slide: 61% legalized marijuana (Pew, 2018)]
    a raise in the minimum wage,
    [Slide: 61% raise the minimum wage (National Restaurant Association Poll, 2018)]
    Medicare for all,
    [Slide: 70% medicare for all (Reuters, 2018)]
    tuition-free college,
    [Slide: 60% tuition-free public college (Reuters, 2018)]
    free child care,
    [Slide: 59% free child care (Gallup, 2016)]
    support for labor unions,
    [Slide: 62% Approve of labor unions (Gallup, 2018)]
    a cut in the military budget,
    [Slide: 61% a cut in the military budget (University of Maryland, 2016)]
     break up the big banks.
    [Slide: 58% Break up the big banks (Progressive Change Institute, 2015)]
    Most Americans don't even own a gun.
    [Slide: 78% Don’t own a gun (Harvard University, 2016)]
    And 75% believe that immigration is good for the U. S.
    [Slide: 75% Immigration is good for the U.S. (Gallup, 2018)]
    And on and on and on.   
  . . . . Those crazy motherfuckers have won. . .  If America is us and we're the majority, why is it that we do not hold a single seat of power? Not the White House, not the Senate, not the House, not the Supreme Court.
To go one better that Moore in terms of showing how power and money supersedes what people want, most gun owners and even a majority of the members of the National Rifle Association (plus those who live in households with guns) want more sensible and restrictive gun laws than we have, laws which those leading the NRA seek to fend off.

Moore makes the point in his film that the Democrats are missing the boat by not representing the people.  Even more harshly critical of the Democrats as a corporately captured party masquerading as “opposition” is comedian and media watchdog Jimmy Dore who points out that those in charge of the Democratic party like Nancy Pelosi are actually making it their job to tell the public along with all registered Democrats that they can’t have what the majority of Americans want, an effort to marginalize the most important issues. . .  And they tell those wanting to work through the Democratic party that they shouldn’t even be working for those things!

Dore recently provided his own list of things that “people want and that we know we can have. . What everybody else gets to have in other countries” (and we are, he comments, the “richest country in the world?”)
    •    70% of Americans are for medicare for all
    •    63% are for a $15 minimum wage
    •    66% are for tuition free college
    •    81% support a Green New Deal
    •    59% (almost 6 out of ten Americans support a 70% top marginal tax rate.
    •    72% of American support expanding social security
    •    62% of American want to legalize marijuana
    •    65% want to reform our incarceration system
    •    63% want same sex marriage freedom
    •    69% seven out of ten, want to keep Roe vs. Wade
    •    75% think that immigration is good.
    •    83% want net neutrality
    •    61% want to stop climate change
    •    77% want campaign finance reform (which is not what the Democrats want, just repeal Citizens United)
    •    Almost six out of ten American want to break up the big banks
    •    64% want a guaranteed jobs program
    •    76% Want to tax the rich
    •    67% want to tax big corporations more
    •    Eight, almost nine out of ten Americans want to use the military only as a last resort
Listen to Jimmy Dore Show, April 18, 2019 (“Warmongers Exposed” starting at 27 minutes in.) You can also catch the Jimmy Dore Radio Show on WBAI radio.

Dore points out that the only place these things like Medicare For All are “not mainstream” is inside the beltway and “cable news green rooms.”  This goes to show, says Dore, that we live in an oligarchy where democracy has already been stolen from the public– hacked by Wall Street, Big Oil and Big Pharma.  And we blame the Russians? asks Dore.

It’s not just democracy that's being stolen from us: Our ability to communicate sensibly with each other has been sabotaged.  Wanting to make his points in his film Michael Moore proclaims that we are a leftist country. .  . a  left-leaning liberal nation.”  But does that language of Moore's ceding “the center” to others who are further right truly make sense?  Consider this tweet from Ralph Nader:
They call Bernie Sanders, Senator from conservative Vermont, a leftist. All his major proposals to improve our economy’s fairness and productivity have healthy majority support. Doesn’t that make him a centrist? -R
In response to that Nader tweet  Dr. Victoria Dooley (@DrDooleyMD) posted this image helpfully encouraging a reorientation of perspective.

Dore’s observations about how the will of the majority is thwarted and ignored by both Republicans and Democrats emphasizes the need to extricate voters from the entrapment of the current duopoly structure.  One of the quickest exits would come through reformed voting laws like the implementation of instant run off voting.  (That's something you sometimes hear more about from Dore on WBAI.)

The disconnect between what the public wants and what the political establishment delivers is part of what Lawrence Lessig wrote about in his book “Republic, Lost: How Money Corrupts Congress--and a Plan to Stop It” which observes, based on studies that if there are things that the public wants and things that moneyed interests want, the outcome is almost always determined by the moneyed interests to the extent that the two don’t coincide.  Lessig also points out that this obeisance to the money comes about without there having to be strict bilateral quid-pro-quo exchanges, which, with blinders, is the only thing the Supreme Court wants to look at when it come to reining in the influence of money in politics.  (General expectations setting up perimeters of what is conduct acceptable to those in power also work well in regulating the media.)

As a populace, we are so used to being told what we can’t have and what is too expensive to be possible that we have to be careful about regurgitating falsehoods that limit what we think is possible to achieve.  On April 18th, Bill Hartung, Director of the Arms & Security Project at the Center for International Policy, gave an important, lucidly convincing address about Pentagon and military spending for Brooklyn For Peace ("How the Pentagon Robs Our City!), which is currently running a “Move The Money” campaign with a resolution (No. 747-2019) introduced for passage in the New York City Council.

Hartung pointed out that the Pentagon and military budget is about 57% of the nation’s discretionary budget (that's basically all those portions of the budget not funded, like Social security, by their own revenue streams).  He pointed out that just the increase in the military spending in the last two years since Trump came in is as much as Russia spends on its entire military budget.  He pointed out all sorts of other problems with the spending including the lack of an audit and accountability, revolving door conflicts of interest and lobbying.   (I like to refer now not to the spending of the “Military-Industrial Complex,” but to the spending of the “Military-Industrial-Surveillance Complex,” which includes even more unknowable black box spending.  It’s not clear how close the unknown figures, if known, would be to those Hartung used.)  Hartung also made a good case for how useless, and unnecessary most of this spending is.

Hartung pointed out, quite obviously, how, in addition to taxing the wealthy more heavily, this spending on the military could be shifted over to pay for many things, subways and infrastructure included.  But I think Hartung made a mistake when he said it would be important to consider such a shift in spending to pay for Medicare For All, and that’s because Medicare For All pays for itself, providing far better national health care at the same time.  After that it probably even frees up some money in addition as well.  (For a clear understanding of this, one has to think, not just in terms of the funds shunted through government for health care, but in terms of the ultimate total cost that recipients are shelling out for health care.)

Similarly when Hartung suggested that shifting money away from the military would be important `to pay for’ a Green New Deal, he obscures the extent to which a Green New Deal would only involve a shift in the way we are currently spending our money, not necessarily the expenditure of more money.   To the extent that it is merely a shift we would not be spending more in order to not pollute and poison the planet with the green house gases that cause climate chaos.  Especially so, when our withdrawal of subsidies from fossil fuels and, our decreased expenditures on those fossil fuels, would be coming at the moment when we are a tipping point in terms the nominal direct costs (vs. true total costs) of those fossil fuels vs. renewables.  Finally, there is all the money to be saved for everyone, including by the government, by avoiding all the indirect exogenous costs of fossil fuels: We would all save tremendously when costly climate disasters are averted or when their effects are at least lessened.  But Senate leader Charles Schumer is apparently loath to see any understanding of this be elucidated: He is resisting holding Town Halls on the subject of the Green New Deal (which the press would then have to pay attention to).

Cutting Military-Industrial-Surveillance Complex spending could certainly free up phenomenal amounts of money to spend on all sorts of public goods, but if Hartung went astray in his impulse to quickly cite two of the more popular and essential things Americans want as examples of where the Pentagon money might be redirected, and if he mistakenly surmises that those things would otherwise be unaffordable, he can be forgiven.  That gets us to our second major topic for consideration here: The political establishment only gets away with denying the public these things that the public could have if it is aided and abetted by a complicit press.  We have a press owned by corporate conglomerates that exaggerate the costs and underestimate the benefits of such public goods.

For example, when a Koch funded study reached a conclusion (a conclusion the Koch’s certainly didn’t want the study group they funded to reach) that Medicare For All would save the American public $2.1 trillion (in actuality, probably more would be saved), the corporate press went into overdrive to misrepresent and ignore the math and report something quite the opposite.  See the reporting of this press misbehavior by Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting which was included in Counterspin, a program they broadcast on WBAI: Reporting on Medicare for All Makes Media Forget How Math Works, Justin Anderson, July 31, 2018.

Similarly, in New York City, we got reporting telling us that New Yorkers had to suffer the huge loss of selling public libraries for less than they were worth because otherwise New Yorkers couldn’t be expected to be able to afford libraries at all.  How very little we were spending on libraries in the overall scheme of things, especially given their benefit, went more or less unreported.  The New York Times ran a front page article about how great it was to be selling off libraries and schools ignoring information Citizens Defending Libraries gave them to the contrary.

Think back for a moment-- Remember all those supermajority poll results?  Think where the polls on all these things would be if the press did its job, instead of aligning with the corporations and the political establishment to stonewall and deny.  The polls would be shifting a lot further.  Those things the public wants and is told it can't have would be even more popular.  One area where polls would shift is where the public would now be positioned on the subject of Democratic Socialism which the public, especially young people are increasingly in favor of.  See: Libraries As A Threat To The “Perspective” That Virtually Everything Should Be Dictated And Run By The Forces of Market Capitalism, August 31, 2018.

There's still another reason to keep those all supermajority poll results in mind (including where the polls could shift to with a little help from less biased news coverage): When you find people selling you the idea that ours is an extremely divided nation (that's a common meme for the press now harps on these days), you can scoff and reject the notion that such divisions explain almost everything as a lot of tripe.  As a nation we have much more in common than we are being told.  That's true no matter how much our differences are being stoked, and it's true no matter how much the extreme right and its hateful passions, in particular, are being stoked these days. (Listening to "On Contact" on WBAI, you may have just heard Matt Taibbi explain to host Chris Hedges how American journalism is now engaged in purposefully stoking hate between citizens.)

The buttressing by the press of the political establishment’s unwillingness to represent the public on issue after issue of major importance leaves these huge supermajorities of our populace unspoken for and lacking information vital to the conduct of our democracy.  Plus, let’s once again reiterate: The supermajorities these polls record would certainly swell mightily if there was a decent flow of information out to these audiences.

This failure of the press, the huge hole that it leaves, that imbalance with so many people unserved, is the main reason why I, along with my wife Carolyn McIntyre (another co-founder of Citizens Defending Libraries), have gone on the local station board of WBAI, a Pacifica Foundation public radio station.  The proper mission of a truly public radio station is to fill such voids concerning matters vitally affecting the public by providing accurate, objective, comprehensive news and information that corporate media interests routinely intercept and bury.  There are, as we see, huge audiences out there needing to be served.  Furthermore, these issues fended of by the political establishment and mainstream press are interrelated.  Understanding how the dots connect helps us realize that we are, all of us in the huge supermajorities, in the same boat.

From what we witness now, it’s clear that privately owned corporate media can’t be expected to step into this role notwithstanding that the airwaves they broadcast over have been entrusted to them by the public.  Nor do I see the WNYC radio station in New York assuming such a stature. . . . WBAI is the only true listener supported station in New York City.  WNYC, while it calls itself a public listener supported radio station, is only about 30% listener supported.  That meager 30% is easily outweighed by all the rest of the money coming from corporate sponsorship and the large and related donations from wealthy individuals connected thereto.  You can see the influence of that money reflected in the increasingly corporate sounding content WNYC broadcasts. Those broadcasts are increasingly hard to differentiate from the product of the corporate media itself.

WBAI has been doing the work of addressing issues in New York City like the selling off and diminishment of libraries.  By contrast, WNYC, put on its board the head of one New York City’s most controversial (and "most controversial" in that area is a high bar) real estate developers, rewriting facts and history with praise for the developer’s destructive developments in a press release about the appointment, running inaccurate laudatory on-air commercials (so-called “sponsorship spots”) for the developer (“working to create vibrant communities throughout New York City”), and including that developer head and WNYC board member (Maryanne Gilmartin, president of Forest City Ratner) in an bizarre image burnishing puff piece about how she gets a good night’s sleep.

The developer, Forest City Ratner, even has connections to the selling off of city libraries.  And recently, the Chairman of the developer, Bruce Ratner, has literally shacked up with Linda Johnson the president of the Brooklyn Public Library who, when she started, vowed before her library board that the library real estate deals were her top priority.  Meanwhile, WNYC was taking substantial amounts of money from the Revson Foundation, very involved in dispensing money to encourage the new program of selling off libraries.

Such connections continue.  Laura Walker, the president of WNYC, was at the same time on the board of the Saint Ann’s School, a private school in Brooklyn Heights, which, somewhat behind the scenes, was getting a huge windfall (through being able to sell its own real estate development rights) from the sale of that central destination Brooklyn library we began by talking about.  When Ms. Walker was asked in September of 2015 by a member of the public at a WNYC Community Advisory Board meeting about the poor quality of WNYC's local coverage on matters such as real estate, including the lack of coverage respecting the libraries, Ms. Walker responded that she was meeting the very next day to get funding for WNYC coverage respecting the libraries.  Was Ms. Walker meeting with representatives of the Revson Foundation which is dispensing money to promote the library sales?  That would seem to be the logical conclusion about who she was meeting with.  And should Ms. Walker have been doing so if Ms. Walker's Saint Ann’s School was a principal beneficiary of the sale of the downtown central library?

These questions have never been satisfactorily answered except that September 14, 2017, two years after I inquired about Ms. Walker's 2015 meeting to get money for library coverage, Ms. Walker, after a fair amount of followup, belated responded:
I can assure you again that our coverage of public libraries is not, and would never be, at all affected by our funders, our board members or anything else.  There is a strict editorial wall.  I wouldn’t allow any interference, and neither would our news department.
Ms. Walker did not, thereafter, respond to my request for certain elaborations.

In the most recently filed IRS 990 form (2017's) Ms. Walker's total annual compensation as president was disclosed as $954,582, including all items beyond her basic $831,211 take home.  The last time before that when I was checking for the previously available 990 figures (back in April of 2018) Ms. Walker's total annual compensation as president was $888,110.  That means that, together with another $200,000 that Ms. Walker was taking home annually for being on the board of the commercial Tribune Media Company (another conflict of interest?), Ms. Walker was bringing home well over a very comfortable for her (uncomfortable for us?) $1 million a year.  A million dollars a year is more than half of WBAI's annual operating budget.  . . .  That helps explain why, when I did a rough calculation, I estimated that every listener dollar donated to WBAI goes about 62 times as far as a listener dollar donated to WNYC.  And those listener dollars falling into the WNYC pit then have to compete with the larger influence of all the corporate dollars.

So with numbers, connections and relationships like these gunking up WNYC's operations, what are we to expect from WNYC in terms of reporting that will represent or serve the public on the issue of libraries or other important matters? . .  

. .   In terms of the job that is not being done, the vast supermajorities of the public that are not being served by so much of the mainstream corporate media, including WNYC, with respect to the issues that those majorities care about, should we consider that problem and, by contrast, the reason that WBAI is such a critical resource, is best exemplified by WNYC's failure to properly report and explain why our libraries shouldn't be sold and shrunk?  Or is it better exemplified by the inexcusably abysmal reporting by WNYC/National Public Radio as they now help lay out the propaganda groundwork for more military spending and military actions by the U.S. against Venezuela, Iran, North Korea, et al?  Or, in fact, aren't all of these things connected, all one of a piece, examples together with much else of an overall crisis where the public is being systemically denied the things that the vast majorities of our population want and very rationally ought to be allowed have?
NOTE: This article was written before Cecile Richards appeared on Democracy Now (carried on WBAI every morning at 8:00 AM) to publicize her involvement with launching a newly formed group she is calling itself “Supermajority” thus adulterating the term and concept of  what a“supermajority” is.  See: Supermajority: Cecile Richards Teams With Alicia Garza & Ai-jen Poo to Mobilize Women Voters in 2020, May 8, 2019.  Richards is using the term “supermajority” to describe a woman’s identity political group, women being a majority of the population (slightly more than 50%).  Ms. Richards says the “super” part of the group’s name is based on the fact that she thinks “women have superpowers.”  If they do, they don’t necessarily use them dependably, just because they are women: There was discussion on the show about how more white women (though perhaps not a majority) voted for Trump than for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election.  The adoption of the name “supermajority” for the group’s formation will likely make it more difficult going forward to search for information about the existence of political supermajorities that are clearly and dependably issue-based.
ADDENDUM (added 6/11/2019): One more list!  After this article was written and posted, Chris Hedges interviewed Green Party presidential candidate Howie Hawkins on his “On Contact” radio show (on WBAI and earlier episodes of the show were mentioned in the article as first written). In the course of that interview Hedges presented another list of things that Americans want, could have, but are not being allowed to have by those dominating politics and government in the United States.

Hedges observes that his sampling from his list below is an example of how the positions that are taken by the Green Party are, in fact, in almost all cases, majoritarian positions.

Here is that list, that begins at 10 minutes into the interview:
•    82% of the Americans think wealthy people have too much power and influence.
•    69% think large businesses have too much power and influence in Washington.
•    78% of likely voters support stronger rules and enforcement and regulation of the financial industry.       
•    48% think economic inequality is very big while another 34% think economic inequality is moderately big.  (48%+34%= 82%)
•    59% of registered voters and 51% of registered Republicans favor raising the minimum that low wage worker can make and still be eligible for earned income tax credit from $14,820 to $18,000.
•    96% of American, including 96% of Republicans believe that money in politics is responsible for the dysfunction of the American system.
•    76% believe wealthy American should pay higher taxes.
•    59% favor raising the federal minimum wage to at least $12 an hour.
•    61%, including 42% of Republicans approve of labor unions.
•    60% of Americans believe it is the federal government’s responsibility to make sure all Americans have health care.
•    60% of registered voters favor expanding medicare to provide health insurance to every single citizen.
•    59% favor free early childhood education.
•    76% are concerned about climate disruption.
•    84% support requiring background checks for all gun owners.
•    58% of American believe that abortions should be legal.
“And yet,” notes Hedges, “from both of the parties (except maybe abortion), none of these majoritarian issues are being addressed.

And that’s the problem of American politics,” says Hawkins, “political preferences don’t translate into public policy, because the political system responds to the donors, not the voters.”

Saturday, May 4, 2019

The Mueller Report And William Barr Summaries- So Perfectly Calibrated To Keep Us Distracted With “Russiagate” . . . Noticing That The Public Isn’t Served By This (And Noticing Who Exactly Is)

Have you noticed? It’s amazing.  The Mueller Report, especially as it teams up with and plays in tandem off the summaries of it prepared by Attorney General William Barr seems perfectly calibrated to ensure that the so-called Russiagate investigation continues to take center stage in the mainstream corporate media as a huge continuing distraction from other bigger issues.  The Mueller Report/Barr Summary combinations are so perfectly calibrated to ensure fractious debate that it can hardly be imagined that they could be better designed to do so if it were intended.  Mueller and Barr and their families are reportedly good friends, with a relationship going back thirty years.       

Also, there is more to notice.  The Mueller Report is being used as a springboard to feed some very dangerous narratives, which, if not dressed up in anti-Trump garb soliciting cred, would most likely be treated by more of us with skepticism as propaganda.
Initially, let me say that there were serious problems with the premise of the Mueller investigation.  If you investigate the wrong questions you are guaranteed to get nonsense.  There are certainly a zillion things to investigate about Trump that are well worth investigating, everything from the Emoluments Clause violations, to the conflicts of interest of virtually all of Trump’s appointments, not to mention probably most of Trump’s real estate career with his income tax returns representing a mere tip of that iceberg.  Nor, would it be surprising to learn that Trump has been involved in money laundering for Russian Oligarchs.

As a less Trump-centric set of concerns, there are also critical things to investigate about the derailment of democracy in the United States, everything from the outsized influence of money and corporate interests in politics, to voter suppression, to unreliable voting machines, a hijacking that can be described as a “hacking” of our democracy.  That includes fossil fuel money hamstringing any action to address climate Armageddon.  But to blame “Russians” for the hijacking of our elections as an explanation is a red herring, a distraction, that leads away from acknowledgment of our real problems or the constructive fixes within our means. . .

Plus, even without throwing “Russiagate” into the mix, Trump is already our Distractor-in-Chief.

Our unproductive maelstrom of continuing distraction produced by the way that the way that Mueller Report/Barr summaries sync up to absorb energy and attention is exquisitely represented by the kind of treatment the NY Times is giving it.  They printed a special section of just the Mueller Report.  The Times is in overdrive figuring every conceivable way to crank out a plethora of stories about it.  One of its editions was essentially cover-to-cover on the subject and no edition hasn't included another story that more less screams “please pay attention to this.”

Certainly the Mueller Report/Barr Summary issuance deserves some coverage.  I think Democracy Now performed a service having Glenn Greenwald and David Cay Johnston debate the import of the whole thing twice now.  It was elucidating (especially in terms of where they agreed) while drawing out relevant facts (vs. non-facts) and generated a certain level of appreciation for nuance missing in most other coverage.  (See: As Mueller Finds No Collusion, Did Press Overhype Russiagate? Glenn Greenwald vs. David Cay Johnston, March 25, 2019, and The Mueller Report: Glenn Greenwald vs. David Cay Johnston on Trump-Russia Ties, Obstruction & More, April 19, 2019.)

Notwithstanding, because the Mueller/Barr products are so suited to keeping debate and discussion of Russiagate on the front burner of the mainsteam corporate media 24/7 news cycle, I think that Greenwald, Aaron Maté and Jimmy Dore have perhaps gone overboard about proclaiming that they were right to say that the Mueller report and investigation are a big `nothing burger,’ or its equivalent.  That’s even though they are still right, big picture, about the overblown distraction of it being a huge disservice to the American Public.

Think of all the ways that the Mueller/Barr titillations beg people to follow multiple trails of `evidence,’ like it’s a good detective story, which it isn't.*
[* Note of warning: As you read through the following bullet points you are likely to find it difficult to stay clear headed.  That is probably the inherent difficulty of trying to summarize things that themselves seem as if they’re intended to foment fuzziness.  One option to maintain a good overview is to skip reading these illustrative bullet points, or, alternatively, to initially skip them, but double back to read them afterward to verify the homework, and to see the specific examples of how things seem like they are calculated not to resolve.]
    •    Mueller walks coy hairsplitting lines in what he delivers, furnishing nothing decisively understandable by a public whose biases have been fueled to go in different directions.

    •    Mueller is delivering what he does while saying that any indictment of Trump by him is out of the question because he is choosing to follow a policy rule and interpretation of law that sitting presidents should not be indictable.  This assists Mueller in leaving things vague.  (Little is made of the concurrent fact that, if there was some sort of criminal Russiagate conspiracy, vast or otherwise, no other Americans who are, in fact, all susceptible to indictment were indicted- The only  indictments of this nature are of a few “shadowy” currently nondescript Russians safely out of the country and removed from any fact-uncovering interrogation or double checks on accuracy.)

    •    Mueller, however, notes (hint, hint?) that indictments may be possible after a president leaves office.

    •    The report's stated possible reason for the lack of an indictment (of what is thereby implied to be possibly illegal behavior) is complicated further when seized upon by Barr (and Rosenstein?) to assert the probably incorrect, frail and emotionally unsatisfying theory that any attempted cover-up, any “obstruction of justice” can't be a with “crime” if there is no underlying crime.

    •    Mueller in his report, however, says that he (and Rosenstein?) were unable to reach the “judgment” that president didn’t “commit” the “crime” of “obstruction of justice.”  Mueller in his report further cites multiple instances where he says Trump impeded and/or sought to limit his investigation. 

    •    Then Mueller specifically leaves it up to Congress to address whether there was an “obstruction of justice,” which, because impeachment is indeed in Congress’s purview, is not something to complain about from a technical standpoint.  But the standard for what conduct constitutes impeachable offenses “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors” under the Constitution, is ultimately politically defined, and doesn’t necessarily track conventional criminal law.  Isn’t this a great thing to foster more division?

    •    What Mueller has laced into his report has allowed, for instance, Thom Hartmann (April 18), arguing that the report is damning for Trump, to say (paraphrasing Mueller, after reading selected quotes) that Mueller “repeatedly” says in the report says he couldn’t reach a conclusion about whether there was criminal conduct or collusion because his investigators were lied to, because information was withheld from the investigators, because information was communicated by Trump people over apps that left no traces, information that’s out of reach and can’t be subpoenaed, plus Hartman can assert that because there were prior threats to do so, the investigation was shut down before it was complete and that he didn’t have enough time (just two years).  Mueller asserts it was because of potential delay that he didn’t issue a subpoena to obtain the President's own testimony.

    •    The report also suggests other possible reasons the investigation perhaps falls short of finding out more that could be of potential relevance: That some witnesses invoking their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination declined to testify, other witnesses testified falsely or incompletely, “numerous witnesses and subjects lived abroad” (Russians?), some evidence was privileged, and some communications were deleted or otherwise unavailable.   

    •    There is the parsed issue of whether there is “collusion” verses whether there is a “crime.”  “Collusion” sounds like a really bad thing, although in this context it is so vague as to have no meaning, not withstanding the fact that Trump likes the fact that it rhymes with “delusion.”  Mueller’s report says that he did not investigate whether individuals were colluding (did not investigate anything “under the rubric of `collusion’”), because “collusion,” doesn’t exist as any sort of defined legal theory.   But then, in his report, Mueller tells a public that has been primed to hate and blame Russians by more than two years of incendiary rhetoric that individuals from the Trump campaign had cooperative chats with Russians about Trump presidential campaign goals.  Handled that way, it still serves, rather dependably, to ignite an emotional response.

    •    That’s where we get to a key point that is not being made clear in the swirl of discussions respecting the Mueller/Barr release of information dance.  It also brings us to the core issue of whether there is anything that signifies anything amidst all the sound and fury.  When constrained to deal with indictable offenses, Mueller could only look for “conspiracy” to commit some sort of actual crime.  The fact that there have been vigorous efforts to make the Russians hateful or to imagine them as having extraordinary powers and influence (much of the stoking of the hate and imagination involves fictional stories we now know didn’t happen) doesn’t mean that conversations between political campaigns and foreign governments who have a willingness to be helpful about politics and election goals are “crimes.”  You can excitedly jump into calling it “treason,” another emotion laden word for which actual definitions are unclear, but it also probably can’t ever be put even into the elusive category of “impeachable offense” under the Constitution, because such communications with foreign governments are commonplace. Noam Chomsky’s observations about Israeli influence of our elections are therefore important.  Similarly important is Glenn Greenwald pointing out how the Democratic National Committee workers on Hillary Clinton’s campaign collaborated, coordinated and worked with the Ukrainian government, to dig up dirt on Donald Trump’s finances and Trump’s campaign manager, Paul Manafort.

This is not to say that Nixon’s negotiations as a presidential candidate (running against Vice President Hubert Humphrey in 1968) asking the South Vietnamese to prolong the war (a wartime "ally," not "enemy") wasn’t perhaps a treasonable offense. Similarly, the negotiations presidential candidate Ronald Reagan campaign is alleged to have had with the Iranians to prevent the Iranian’s release of U.S. hostages when Reagan was running against President Carter is easy to view as treason.  (Russia is not currently a declared enemy and we have no war with them at the moment.)

Two final points with respect to the core of the conspiracy theory investigated by Mueller: No matter the efforts to make the Russians hateful or to imagine them as having extraordinary powers, does that make it reasonable to believe either that the Russians had any truly appreciable effect on the U.S. elections, or that Trump is somehow an “asset” of the Kremlin.  Unfortunately, all the unresolved sound and fury, general confusion, and obfuscation is giving an emotionally riled population the cover to continue to hold onto such beliefs, whether or not they are reasonable.  Plus, whether its believable or not, unchallenged by Barr, the Mueller Report is putting out information that Russia’s intelligence Agency engaged in various forms of “hacking” the election.  This is not to say that this asserted hacking necessarily had any true bottom-line important effect.  Furthermore, there is good reason to exercise skepticism about many of these stories about hacking that our deep state intelligence community is producing.  (We are also told that Russia is a tremendous threat to us militarily: CBS News just offered a what was essentially a slickly crafted commercial for selling more Lockheed Martin stealth fighter jets to NATO based on that threat.  Nowhere did CBS offer the context that just the increase in the U.S. military budget in the two years of the Trump presidency is equal to the entire Russian military budget.  Meanwhile, in recent years Putin has been reducing Russian military spending to spend more on Russia's social benefit programs.)  

    •    Then there is the indictment by of Mueller of Michael Cohen, Trump’s personal lawyer and fixer.  The indictment by Mueller flows from its characterization as a campaign law violation, and Cohen agreed to characterize it as such in his plea agreement. The indictment is based on how "hush money" flowed from Trump to an adult movie star and to a Playboy Playmate to avoid tarnishing Trump’s reputation.  The theory that made the particular way the money flowed in these attempts to protect Trump’s reputation a campaign violation is that the payments flowed during an ongoing campaign.  It’s salacious, juicy and unsavory.  Nonetheless, our campaign laws are notoriously weak as well as complicated.  Would the Supreme Court (Trump and private private money campaign spending friendly) ultimately uphold as illegal this kind of strict restraint on personal image control efforts via such laws whenever anyone runs for office?   It doesn’t sound like a “high crime or misdemeanor.” And it has nothing to do with Russia (except to indicate that Mueller couldn’t find that anyone committed such a technical violation of these complex campaign laws with respect to Russia).

    •    Then there are the twelve foreboding criminal referrals that are sealed and mysteriously secret because they are outstanding.  Consider: All those people around Trump being instigated for activities possibly transgressing various criminal laws!  On must wonder if people around Trump breaking laws were hard to find.  All those people who could have been leaned on to disclose “Russiagate” information, but it seems that none of them did disclose anything, and all of the referrals are for matters without Russiagate substance or it would have been Mueller’s job to follow up on them rather than refer the matters out to others.

    •    There is the suspenseful multi-stage release of the Mueller investigation’s findings:
        ••    First, the years of dribbled out, titrated leaks with all sorts of suggestions about things untrue as well as true, that got intemperately interpreted by the likes of MSNC’s Rachel Maddow as she ignored other national issues.  Dribbling leaks, especially as it combined with spin, is a well appreciated media strategy.

        ••    There were the presaging hints about when the report would come out and what it would say.

        ••    The initial surfacing of the report through William Barr’s summary, Barr having arrived in his seat for the chore having clearly and rather publicly self-labeled himself as blindly partisan so as to ensure doubt about anything he says or interprets, which doubt he seals by stating things about “exoneration” that are clearly contradicted by the actual report when released.  That way the contradiction of “exoneration” with “no exoneration” became a big superseding headline.  Previously Trump’s firing of Attorney General Jeff Sessions while bringing in Matthew Whitaker as an obvious loyalist served to create the same sort of headline grabbing suspicions so that, writing in November 2018, I suggested that if Trump was smart enough it could be his ploy to keep the Russiagate preoccupations alive: The campaigning in the midterm national elections had just emphatically demonstrated Russiagate to be a non-issue in the campaign and what won seats for Democrats had been other issues.  (See: Is Trump Smart Enough To Try A Certain Russiagate Ploy?: Why Is Trump Firing Jeff Sessions Really?)  The continuing failure to focus on other issues is probably doing more harm to the Democrats and others opposed to Trump than the other thing that has been suggested, which is that the Trump will gain strength as a perceived victim of Mueller investigation “witch hunt.” 

        ••    For the smaller subset of those of us who insist on having long memories and reading the alternate press to connect the dots, Barr comes on the scene with the pedigree of being previously labeled (by conservative New Times columnist William Safire no less) as “Coverup-General” for his work as U.S. Attorney General stymying the Iran Contra investigations and prosecution.  But, on the other hand, Mueller has also been accused of involvement in official coverups, including matters with Iran Contra connections. . .  So maybe that means Barr and Mueller can work well together.

        ••    William Barr continued his tactic of conspicuously heavy-handed and therefore dismissible spin by holding a press conference about the release of the Mueller Report while holding back the report itself for two hours.  Again, this makes the suspiciousness of it a cynosure for the delectation of spin coming from the "other side."

        ••    Mueller cooperates with his friend Barr’s contributions to this suspiciousness by writing a letter complaining that Barr’s summary is misleading and has created “public confusion” undermining the purpose of the investigation.

        ••    The adversarial arguing between Mueller and Barr about these characterizations has the effect of presenting a binary set of choices where erroneous assumptions could easily be provoked that anything Mueller and Barr don’t disagree about respecting what the report’s assertions are true.  That Russia is bad?  Not necessarily: but isn’t that kind of simplemindedness always the trap of getting shunted into binary choices?

        ••    The report then comes out redacted, redacted in two redacted versions no less, one of the public and another version for Congress.  The redactions, inherently mysterious, are also instantly suspicious when they are supposed to have come from William Barr’s office alone (not true though).  And, a great bit of PR fun: Extra attention gets called to the redactions because they are theatrically color coded!               
        ••    Next we are having the dramatic fight for the unredacted report.  The drama of that fight will make the report seem more important (and seemingly credible) still.

        ••    Plus we are going to be fighting about whether Barr should resign as Attorney General or be disbarred as a lawyer because he mischaracterized (“lied about”) Mueller’s chercteriziations in the report.

        ••    Similarly, with the continuing unfolding of it all, we are going to have all sorts of ensuing debates about whether “Russiagate,” rather than other things, should be grounds for pursuing investigation and charges to impeach Trump, and that will include secondary debates about which Democrats are being aggressive enough and what are the best tactics.
    •    Added in is the whole mishegoss of Trump’s lying that generates the theory: If Trump didn’t do anything illegal, why did he lie about it?  Why?: Because generally whenever Trump opens his mouth he lies.  He is always interested in saying what he thinks will make him sound good to his listener. In the end, Trump’s lies say more about what Trump thinks about the perceptions of his listeners and what he thinks would sound good to them on a particular day than anything else.  Essentially that same back and forth can be thrown in as a question and answer to explain Trump’s habitual bullying and throwing his weight around, including wanting to quash investigations.
It's clear why people would want to cut through and dispense with all this distracting nonsense, and clear why they would want to put matters to bed by proclaiming that the Mueller investigation shows that there has never been any "there" "there" when it comes to the Russiagate investigation. Understanding that the distractions have been founded on what is essentially a hoax would provide clarity and allow us to move on.  Somewhat unfortunately, in simplifying things toward this end, those wanting to make the point that the Mueller Report found no Trump criminal conspiracy with the Russians are often unnecessarily throwing in compliments, not necessarily deserved, for the thoroughness, accuracy and reliability of Mueller's investigation.

I can concur in the opinion that "Russiagate" has been fielded as a distraction by those who are largely insincere (and if there were anything significant to find it would have been out by now), but Mueller, with all the finely tuned vagaries of his report, is not cooperating in making this go away.  There those proclaiming the opposite, that the news media's two-year gyer of leaks and obsessed over suspicions has been "vindicated"  by the Mueller Report.  Nor is Barr helping to end things with the way his antics help so many to be sure that there is, in fact, something to hide, while at the same time such antics encourage Trump stalwarts to think Trump's been "exonerated" and persecuted.
The Mueller/Barr investigation report dance is doing an excellent job of dividing up the public and keeping it divided.  Now we not only have Trump Republicans and anti-Trump people, the anti-Trump people are now divided into the Russiagate preoccupationalists, and those who would get on to the real problems of which Trump is largely just a symptom.  Yes, that includes myriad concerns about how and why democracy is tanking in the U.S.

Here is what is really more important-  In terms of what generally ought to be recognized as big picture propaganda, the Mueller/Barr Report distractions are being effectively used to kill several birds with one stone (Roger that?)- Get people angry at Julian Assange and retroactively justify going after him for the publishing the Chelsea Manning leaks about U.S. war crimes, which is what the intelligence community has long been after Assange for (and it's clearly resorting to every available tool it has available, plus notice now how new moves against Assange and Manning have been timed)- Make Russians our enemy again- And every time they say that Russia “hacked our democracy” they imply that we have a properly functioning democracy, one that wasn't already profoundly hacked.  It implies, as Noam Chomsky says, that money doesn't fairly predictably control our politics.  It implies that a foreign country like Israel (are they “hostile” if they don't share our national interests?) isn't immensely involved in interfering with our elections.  It implies that the U.S. isn't routinely involved with election interference and regime change around he world.  Should Ecuador (whose previous government gave Julian Assange asylum) be on that long list as part of this story?  Venezuela (maybe Cuba too now) is openly high on our list to be next- all of which regime change activity on our part gets justified by saying the "Russians" are terrible.

Another effect of what’s achieved is that the intelligence community is being unskeptically embraced by liberals and people with a new set of assumptions that those in the intelligence community are reliable heroes to save us.  This is a point that journalist William Arkin recently made with the issuance of his “Perpetual War” letter, a wide ranging protest of the conduct of the mainstream corporate press.  He pointed out that under Trump the intelligence community has become “more autonomous and practically impervious to criticism.”  He’s gone on to say:
there are a lot of liberals in America who believe that the CIA and the FBI is going to somehow save the country from Donald Trump. Well, I’m sorry, I’m not a particular fan of either the CIA or the FBI. And the FBI, in particular, has a deplorable record in American society, from Martin Luther King and the peace movements of the 1960s all the way up through Wen Ho Lee and others who have been persecuted by the FBI. And there’s no real evidence that the FBI is either—is that competent of an institution, to begin with, in terms of even pursuing the prosecutions that it’s pursuing. But yet we lionize them. We hold them up on a pedestal, that somehow they are the truth tellers, that they’re the ones who are getting to the bottom of things, when there’s just no evidence that that’s the case.
The mainstream corporate media mantra talking point is that Mueller (albeit a Republican) is a “straight arrow.”  Mr. Mueller, aside from his friendship with William Barr, is actually a strange dude, or at the very least there are strange things to consider about him.  When Mueller was brought in to head the FBI (his was one of the multiple oddly timed 9/11 appointments, he started at the FBI September 4, 2001) he dismantled- shifted/- at least half of the investigative resources and focus of the bureau away from white collar crime (to “terrorism”).  Mueller’s family (his great uncle Richard Bissell) and his wife Ann Cabell Standish's family (her grandfather Charles Cabell) both hail back to top people Kennedy purged from the CIA before he was assassinated.  And there is more if you want to check out how Mueller’s record is described by those not part of the mainstream corporate media.

I provide this analysis recognizing that all of the corporate media has been essentially lockstep in uncritically and participatorily reporting the Mueller Report/Barr summary concoctions as if engaged in some huge performance art piece.  My hope is that those in the alternative press universe will have the perspective to keep their bearings and do something better. 

Monday, April 1, 2019

Fossil Fuel Greenhouse Gas Pollution Blamed For Trump’s Election: New Study Teaming Up Health Scientists And Election Data Scientists Reaches Startling Conclusion

A scientific analysis that clouded thinking, i.e. CO2 clouds, led to the election of Donald J. Trump
A scientific analysis that clouded think, i.e. CO2 clouds, led to the election of Donald J. Trump.
Two heads are better than one, and two teams of scientist bringing together different areas of expertise that might never have been thought of as related can uncover and explain things that heretofore have gone entirely unnoticed. . . .

. . . That’s why we are now getting crucial new insights into some very important matters from a new study produced by health scientists studying the effects of carbon dioxide, CO2, the greenhouse house gas being pumped into the atmosphere as we burn fossil fuels, who teamed up with election data scientists who can explain exactly what accounts for often unpredictable swings of the American electorate.  It’s been more than two years, almost two and half, since Donald J. Trump was, to the great surprise of many, declared the elected president of the United States.  Now, reviewing carefully collected facts and statistics and applying a kind of analysis that nobody previously was perspicacious enough to apply, it turns out that Trump’s election can be handily explained– It's not a reason anyone thought of before.

That nobody thought of it before is probably due to the way that scientists too often operate in their own independent thought silos not realizing how their work interrelates with work that others are doing in the world.  Thankfully, we got some synergy leading to something better after two scientists from disparate specialties encountered each other in one of Harvard's faculty cafeterias and afterwards decided to bring their teams together to fashion a joint study uniting their respective areas of expertise.

For some time now scientists have known, including the work of a Harvard study confirming the findings of a little-publicized 2012 Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, that increasing levels of CO2, although colorless and odorless, can have deliver adverse health effects.  That includes “a direct and negative impact on human cognition and decision-making.”  (See- Exclusive: Elevated CO2 Levels Directly Affect Human Cognition, New Harvard Study Shows, Joe Romm, October 26, 2015.)  The effects are more pronounced in indoor environments where trapped CO2 can accumulate and rise to even higher levels, the more sealed an insulated the room is to conserve energy, the more readily the CO2 can accumulate.  That can be especially problematic in situations where rooms are well populated by the carbon dioxide-expelling breath of many human beings.

At concentrations of 1,000 ppm, human cognitive ability declines by around 21 percent.  (See: The Uninhabitable Earth- Famine, economic collapse, a sun that cooks us: What climate change could wreak — sooner than you think, by David Wallace-Wells, July 9, 2017.)  The problem is not just the better insulation of buildings that prevents air exchange; it is that with CO2 rising throughout the earth’s atmosphere, now over 400 parts per million, the baseline from which such build up starts is increasing and the outdoor atmosphere has a less restorative effect when mixed back in where indoor levels are high.

What can this look like indoors?  In examples the 2012 LBNL-SUNY article gives:
In surveys of elementary school classrooms in California and Texas, average CO2 concentrations were above 1,000 ppm, a substantial proportion exceeded 2,000 ppm, and in 21% of Texas classrooms peak CO2 concentration exceeded 3,000 ppm.
The Harvard health scientists noted that when cognition and decision-making are impaired by high CO2 levels, thinking becomes more primal and what has, in politics, been termed the “lizard brain,” that operates out of the brain’s more primitive limbic system and its amygdala, asserts itself.  The effects on politics and political outcomes of the “lizard brain” have already been widely discussed and analyzed by those concerned with political dynamics, prediction and calculations.

Trump rise psychology? - The "lizard Brain"
Predicted voting behaviors= matrix
What the teamed up scientists were able to do was create a matrix of predictive behaviors for cohorts of voters across all spectrums.  This was coupled with replicative testing involving focus sessions about how these cohorts would vote.  Overlaid was testing of the predictive shifts based on the brain and cognitive effects of the current amounts of extra CO2 pollution that they were able to research and determine that different cohorts of voters were experiencing and how with impaired cognition they would let their lizard brain impulses surface and ultimately control their choice. . .

The result was a range of predicted outcomes from the assessed influence that CO2 pollution was already having through cognitive impairment on U.S. voting behavior in 2016.  The scientists said that it was impossible to tell exactly where within this determined range the effect might actually have been on the election, but that no matter where it fell, it was clear that the effective decision making impairment was enough to account for swinging enough voters to get Trump “elected” in each and every set of determined probabilities.

As an example of how the effects were taken into account, information about how much time different groups of voters generally spend inside also had to be considered.  California voted very blue in the national election and that was accounted for partly by the amount of time Californians spend outdoors, often at the patios of outdoor restaurants where patrons are kept warm with outdoor gas burning space heaters.

While the results of the study only reached conclusions about the direct cognitive impairment effects of CO2, the paper also noted for future analysis a number of other ways the researchers have already begun to study that increased CO2 pollution in the atmosphere could have affects on the election as well.  As OSHA, the United States Occupational Health Administration, notes, high CO2 levels can also leave human beings lethargic.  The researchers feel that this probably affected voter turnout.

The researchers further pointed out that high CO2 levels also affect human cognition (and generate listlessness) indirectly via a reduction in the nutrients in the food human beings are eating.  See: Rising CO2 Is Reducing The Nutritional Value Of Our Food, by Fiona McMillan, May 27, 2018 and How More Carbon Dioxide Can Make Food Less Nutritious, by Brad Plumer, May 23, 2018.

With CO2 levels still rising in the planet's atmosphere, the scientists predict that in future elections will reflect even more exaggerated swings in the voting electorate of this nature.

The scientists said that they had hurried to get the results of their study out in time for the unfolding of the next national election cycle.  They said that they regretted not having been able to do their research and release information even sooner.  They said they would have been able to produce results sooner, but that they had a hard time being taken seriously when they proposed their study for funding.  This was because so many of their potential funders believed that other reasons provided a more probable explanation for Trump’s election.

The researchers admitted that other factors were highly influential in turning the election Trump’s way.  They said that included various forms of voter suppression, unreliable voting machines and votes that likely went uncounted. However, they said what really derailed their ability to get to bottom of what turned the election was something else. . 

The researchers said that, at one point, funding they had lined up for their study was diverted when their funder decided that a better use of the funds would be to send it as an unsolicited bonus to MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow to encourage Ms. Maddow to do more of her Russiagate investigation reporting.  The researchers pointed out that the unsolicited bonus must have been the very teeniest drop in the bucket given Ms. Maddow’s astronomical multi-million annual salary.
The irony is that the researchers, who are now at work on documentation respecting a new analysis, say that the cognition-impairing effects of CO2 pollution, which are indiscriminate, almost certainly account for the nation’s long distraction by the Russiagate probe championed by Maddow.

First publication of the researchers study and documentation is to be put up on Facebook on April 1st.