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Artwork/Political Cartoons
Artwork/Political Cartoons
Artwork/Political Cartoons

This debate between Aaron Mate and the New York Times Magazine’s Mattathias Schwartz is truly entertaining. Schwartz is genial enough and a shrewd debater, and he often does a good job of representing the establishment’s main Russiagate arguments.

(He’s got them down pat.)

The problem is that, compared to Aaron Mate, Mr. Schwartz is out of his depth, even when it comes to his pet subject of Russiagate. Mate has actually read the Mueller Report and covered this deep state conspiracy theory from the start — in considerable detail. He’s delved into the Russiagate weeds, as they say.

Earlier this year, Mate’s Russiagate-skeptical reporting won him journalism’s prestigious Izzy Award, named for the legendary muckraking journalist, I.F. “Izzy” Stone.

(Matt Taibbi’s Russiagate-skeptical reporting won him an Izzy, as well. Glenn Greenwald has also done great reporting in this area — excoriating mainstream media outlets for their egregiously sloppy, often-wrong Russiagate reporting — but the awards people must have felt that Mr. Greenwald’s Pulitzer doesn’t need any company on the shelf, this year.)

By the time this cordially civil debate is over, Mattathias Schwartz finds, at one point, that he must request a change of subject — because he’s not followed international policy very closely.

Specifically, he confesses he’s not well enough informed to discuss Washington’s Russia policy over the last two presidencies. He doesn’t have a strong sense of which policies have continued from Obama to Trump, which ones have escalated, and what’s changed, generally, from one administration to the next:

“We’re moving pretty far outside of my area of expertise, like, the arc of U.S.-Russia relations, and I don’t wanna’, you know, I’m not a — I mean I know something about it, but I don’t have, you know, I don’t want to come off as endorsing your views. I don’t want, really, to debate them, either…

“And there definitely is, like yeah, there’s disagreement about Russia policy, and that’s part of the backdrop to this. And whether Russia’s like some sort of giant threat or not — there’s profound disagreement about that. And people feel very strongly, on both sides… and, yeah, you can tell I’m a Sophie! I’m not a Russia expert!”

Mate generously gives Schwartz a pass.

As a result of Mr. Schwartz’s abdication, Mate is only able to say a few words debunking the “Putin’s Puppet” narrative — even as the record of the last few years shows Donald Trump has been far more aggressive against Russia than Barack Obama was (Obama, after all, was a tiny bit sane, and his presidential moment called only for renewing the Cold War and inching us incrementally toward WWIII; Trump’s moment calls for bolder measures, fulfilling his preordained role in U.S. foreign policy, pushing U.S. aggression and hegemony to the breaking point).

Trump’s anti-Russia bellicosity, escalating the New Cold War instigated (primarily) by Democrats, has been noted by none other than Noam Chomsky and award-winning journalists from Aaron Mate to Chris Hedges to Matt Taibbi to Glenn Greenwald.

But still, the conventional wisdom has it that Trump is “Putin’s Puppet.”

(What a breathtakingly backward theory!)

Trump is the “puppet” of Putin like Hollywood’s “Chucky” is the puppet of… whatever poor kid in the movie gets “Chucky” for a birthday present!

When it comes to U.S. foreign policy over the last few years, it’s fair to say that Vladimir Putin’s orange-coiffed puppet, little “Donny,” has turned out to be one of those demon-possessed, psychotic toys that says “I wuv you” one minute and tries to bury a meat cleaver in your head the next.

For one thing, Trump has only prolonged the U.S. proxy war with Russia in Ukraine, which began with the 2014, Washington-midwifed coup. What’s worse, he’s provided weapons to the Ukrainian neo-Nazis that President Obama prudently refused to arm (even after bringing them to power and turning them loose on the Ukrainian countryside).

Destabilizing the world and risking international conflict, President Trump has also seriously damaged the multi-party Iran treaty (Obama’s one significant foreign policy achievement) and unilaterally scrapped the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty — spurning Russian pleas for sanity, in both cases.

Trump has armed Russia’s most hostile neighbors, maintained U.S. bases and conducted war games on Russia’s borders, and continued his predecessors’ assault on Moscow’s allies in the world, from Syria to Venezuela to Iran and beyond — all while expanding on Obama’s “Pivot to China,” surrounding the Chinese mainland with hundreds of U.S. warships, bases, and missiles.

Effectively, the United States has been inviting — for decades — a major military/economic conflict with Russia and China. This effort has escalated considerably over the last decade, with Washington still trying, despite the crumbling of the U.S. empire, to realize the Wolfowitz Doctrine (permanent, unchallenged world domination by a U.S.-based, corporate empire unbound by law).

As Aaron Mate notes, it’s extremely dangerous that there is no national conversation about Washington’s aggressive flirtation with a third world war.

But let’s return to Trump’s anti-Russia record…

Despite the ammunition it gives his political enemies (the neoconservatives), Donald Trump has repeated the as yet unproven allegation that Moscow attempted to interfere with the 2016 U.S. presidential election. He’s done so despite the Mueller team’s admission in federal court that there is no evidence of official Russian involvement in the ridiculously hyped “troll farms.” And he’s done so despite the general lack of hard evidence supporting the Russian “hacking” claim.

Last but not least, Donald “Hitler” Trump has tried, unsuccessfully (thank goodness), to get European nations to help the U.S. confront Russia, militarily and economically — in ways that Russia would view as extreme aggression demanding retaliation.

[What are Putin’s “red lines?” 1. Washington must not strangle Russia’s future economic ties to Germany and Europe — specifically, the U.S. must not block Moscow’s planned oil pipeline to Europe. 2. Washington must not deny Russia its historic naval ports in Crimea and Tartus, isolating them geographically, as U.S. regime-change ops in Syria and Ukraine were intended to do. 3. Washington must not burden Russia with debt and sabotage their agricultural sector, bankrupting Russian farmers and making the country dependent on U.S. crops to feed itself. That’s it. Washington can surround Russia with missiles and run propaganda campaigns against Moscow all day long — but Moscow has been clear, these are the “hills” they’re willing to “die on.” Though, dying on those hills isn’t exactly Plan A. Plan A is more connected to the unprecedented joint military exercises Moscow and Beijing have been conducting with India, Pakistan, and a few other nations on the wrong side of U.S. hegemony.]

When Mate and Schwartz return to the subject of alleged “collusion” between the 2016 Trump campaign and the Russians, Schwartz is again lost, not up to date, and confused about the timeline of key events.

Embarrassingly, he attempts to peddle one of the most thoroughly debunked planks of this conspiracy theory, citing claims from his colleague, Michael Schmidt’s, discredited 2017 NYT article, entitled “Trump Campaign Aides Had Repeated Contact With Russian Intelligence.”

Sadly, Schwartz still believes those “collusion” claims, simply because his employer, the Times, has failed to retract its erroneous story. He’s apparently unfamiliar with his bosses’ dodgy editorial policy when it comes to admitting errors in their warmongering propaganda campaigns.

Furthermore, Schwartz is genuinely surprised to learn that Schmidt’s reporting was contradicted by the FBI’s James Comey, Robert Mueller, and Peter Strzok. And he’s also unaware that his colleague has omitted those collusion claims in his new Russiagating book.

(Walked right away from those claims, Michael Schmidt has.)

But no matter how many times their Russiagate stories are debunked, people like Schmidt, Schwartz, their editors, and leading members of congress are perfectly happy to return to the propaganda trough, citing anonymous spooks with their evidence-free claims in order to keep the neo-McCarthyite narrative alive with fresh slop — like the NYT’s recent Russian “bounties” story, which was immediately disputed by the CIA.

And speaking of fresh slop… ladies and gentlemen, I give you the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee’s latest report!

The thrust of the senators’ argument is this: even though Robert Mueller — with tens of millions of dollars, subpoena power, and the resources of the U.S. Justice Department at his disposal – could not prove that Konstantin Kilimnik is a Russian intelligence operative, they really, really think he is one… or that he was one, anyway… at least when he was talking to Paul Manafort in 2016!

(But they apparently doubt that Konstantin Kilimnik was a Russian spy in 2014 when he was in the room with Sec. Clinton’s Assistant SecState for European affairs, Victoria “Fuck the EU” Nuland, helping steward the Obama administration’s Ukraine coup, overturning a democratic election.)

To support their theory that this longtime U.S. State Department asset is really a Russian intelligence agent, the senators highlight the indisputable fact that Mr. Kilimnik (like Mr. Mueller) has publicly questioned some of Russiagate’s central claims…

Their apparent reasoning: anyone who doubts Russiagate is almost certainly… A RUSSIAN SPY!!!

Schwartz argues that the Senate Intelligence Committee’s nearly unanimous, bipartisan acceptance of their own report’s conclusions makes Russiagate’s central claims “more probable.” Even though the senators have presented few new facts and offered no hard evidence of collusion, Schwartz is inclined to believe them.

His argument: How can a whole committee-full of U.S. senators all be wrong about the report they produced? Oh, they weren’t unanimous? Well, one dissenter, so what?

(I mean, it isn’t like U.S. government officials have a long history of spreading deep state propaganda: hyping the Soviet threat during the Cold War; covering up the deep state’s assassination of JFK with the Warren Commission; promoting the fictional “Tonkin Gulf Incident” to launch the Vietnam War; justifying Operation Desert Storm on “incubator babies” invented by a western PR firm; peddling phantom “WMD” to sell the 2003 Iraq War… And then there was the time the bipartisan Silberman-Robb commission told us that George W. Bush and Dick Cheney “did not politicize” the Iraq War intelligence… no, not at all.)

Near the end of the debate, Schwartz finally concedes to Mate:

“Honestly, I wish (it seems like I’m dy-) I haven’t gone deep on this story. And I can tell that you have. And I do see — I understand what you’re saying about it. And I can’t — I just don’t have what I need to, you know, have a robust debate about it. Because I haven’t. It’s just not something — it’s something you’ve been tracking, and I haven’t… And I’m gonna’ read more about it after we get off.”

(Oh, dear.)

Schwartz isn’t even aware that the Mueller team never interviewed Julian Assange, despite Assange’s repeated offers to be questioned. Mueller refused those offers despite Assange’s and Wikileaks’s alleged central role in Russia’s supposed attack on our allegedly “democratic elections.”

By and large, this debate is an entertaining and cordial affair. It’s frequently feisty, with both debaters digging in and scoring an occasional point. It’s substantive, too. The “points” are worth knowing. By the end of the discussion, however, Mattathias Schwartz, amiable fellow that he is, comes across as out of his league, uninformed, and something of an establishment tool — a Groupthinker and sucker for the Gish Gallop fallacy.

To his credit, Schwartz admits that the Steele Dossier’s central claims are garbage (he certainly deserves a point or two for debating in good faith!). That wholly debunked, now toxic “dossier” was the product of opposition research first commissioned by the Jeb Bush campaign, then bequeathed to the Hillary Clinton campaign (after Jeb’s implosion). It involved tales of “Russian prostitutes” and “pee-pee” — just enough tabloid fare to get the American public hooked.

Thanks to partisan FBI agents’ falsification of FISA applications, that bogus dossier was used to launch the first “Russiagate” probe. Immediately, the U.S. government began spying on a major party’s presidential candidate and senior-level members of his campaign — despite the fact that the dossier was the creation of a private company hired by two political campaigns notorious for their “ratfucking” dirty tricks.

The fact that an active Russian intelligence official contributed to the Clinton camp’s Steele Dossier is just a bit of icing on the Irony Cake that is Russiagate.

There turns out to be no hard evidence of any connection between the Trump campaign and the Russian government… but the 2016 Clinton campaign apparently relied on the Bush campaign, ex-spooks, and at least one GRU operative!

But don’t tell Mattathias Schwartz…

This Times representative has no answer for the charge that the vast majority of Russiagate claims have been debunked within hours. The MSM’s parade of errors do not remotely give him pause.

He is untroubled by the frequency and uniformity of these glaring journalistic “mistakes” suggesting a massive propaganda campaign designed to demonize Russia and promote the New Cold War — facilitated by a stenographic press corps, exceptionally deferential to anonymous government sources (even by U.S. standards).

“Any dictator would admire the uniformity and obedience of the U.S. media.” — Noam Chomsky

Mr. Schwartz is unperturbed by the lack of hard evidence in: the Mueller Report, Crowdstrike’s sworn testimony, and the Senate Intelligence Committee’s latest manifesto. And he finds terribly compelling government reports and MSM articles built on the claims of anonymous sources and littered with qualifiers like “likely” and “possibly” and “we believe with high confidence…”

It’s like Mr. Schwartz hasn’t followed U.S. politics for long.

It’s almost like he was born yesterday.

Ultimately, the Times’s Schwartz comes across as a bright, fairly naive, somewhat venal youngster — a go along to get along kinda’ guy. (Sincere and affable enough, I suppose, but clueless.)

Meanwhile, Aaron Mate comes across as authoritative and brilliant. He’s one of America’s most informed and committed journalists, and it shows.

By the time the debate is over, one of the world’s preeminent Russiagate experts, the award-winning Mr. Mate, has repeatedly had to patiently, ever so gently, correct and edify Mr. Schwartz… a neophyte, “Sophie” journalist who is shaping up (if he’s not careful) to become a blithe, careerist foot-soldier for the Military Industrial Complex and the New Cold War.

Hannah Arendt’s phrase about “the banality of evil” comes to mind.

[The following rant was written in response to Tom Gallaher’s piece, “Joe Biden, Don’t Let Trump Run as the Anti-War Candidate!”]

It has apparently escaped sheepherder Gallagher’s attention that Donald Trump has “walked the (anti-war) walk” a hell of a lot more consistently than Barack Obama did — which, of course, isn’t saying much, considering how Obama needlessly resuscitated the moribund GWOT agenda and expanded it from two wars (that he’d vowed to end) to seven.

Certainly, Trump is no peacenik. He’s escalated the New Cold War that Obama, intelligence operatives, and neo-McCarthyite Democrats launched over the last few years (ably assisted by the fecklessly Russiagating corporate media). He’s also continued President Obama’s “pivot to China,” ringing China with warships, missiles, and bases. And he’s scrapped treaty after treaty, including the INF.

But Trump has also fought the neocons, tooth and nail, especially John Bolton (neocon #1), who he eventually fired.

And he’s repeatedly attempted to withdraw the last U.S. troops from Afghanistan and Syria (and talked of doing so in Germany and South Korea).

And he’s occasionally made some feeble attempts at international diplomacy: in the Koreas, with the Russians, and with regard to Syria.

But most significantly, it has somehow escaped Gallagher’s attention that the modern holocaust of Middle Eastern Muslims has dramatically slowed under Trump’s presidency.

How can anyone claiming to be “liberal” or “anti-war” deny this fact? Who the hell are these “liberals” who have systematically erased these millions of civilian deaths, pitching them into the Memory Hole — like the worst Good Germans of the last Holocaust?

Consider the abysmal records of Trump’s three immediate predecessors (who didn’t initiate this holocaust but most assuredly put it into overdrive):

1. Bill Clinton — Per the WHO and other credible international organizations, President Clinton’s draconian, potable water-denying sanctions condemned “well over a million” Iraqi civilians to death, the vast majority of whom were babies and toddlers. As The Guardian has reported, Denis Halliday, the Irish career development worker who oversaw the program at the U.N., asserted (after resigning in disgust, along with two colleagues) that Washington’s sanctions satisfied “the definition of genocide.”

2. George W. Bush — As Medea Benjamin and Nicolas J.S. Davies have written, citing peer-reviewed articles and credible studies, America’s illegal 2003 invasion of Iraq (enthusiastically championed and facilitated, on the Democratic side, by one Joseph Biden) has claimed the lives of some 2.4 million human beings: “…our calculations, using the best information available, show a catastrophic estimate of 2.4 million Iraqi deaths since the 2003 invasion.”

Ironically, that article appeared in Common Dreams, one of today’s most vocal cheerleaders for the Democrats who took over the neocons’ bloody agenda after Bush/Cheney drove it into a ditch.

3. Barack Obama (the most tragic case of all) — Although Obama campaigned in 2008 as the “liberal” who would “end” Bush’s wars, he instead became the “centrist” (right-winger) who would needlessly rescue and expand the neocon agenda that Bush/Cheney had utterly discredited and demolished. He would continue “The Redirection” of the GWOT (first reported in 2007 by Seymour Hersh) shifting tactics from large-scale, boots-on-the-ground operations to: “pinprick” missile attacks; dramatically escalated drone strikes (killing 90% civilians per Akbar Ahmed’s acclaimed book, “The Thistle and the Drone”); and the use of Salafist militant proxies — creating, along with our despotic Gulf allies, a second Mujaheddin Army, for the purpose of overthrowing the governments of Libya and Syria.

Those operations resulted in two failed states, open-air slave markets, over ten million refugees, and well over 500,000 deaths: http://invitation2artivism.com/a-striking-lack-of-empathy-part-iii-the-neocons-keep-killing-americans-keep-snoozing-syriasly/

Don’t get me wrong: Donald Trump is an obvious (too obvious) monster and a truly deplorable human being.

He is every bit as racist and proto-fascist as the Republicans I grew up fearing and loathing (and the Democrats who would make the GOP’s worst nightmares of welfare “reform” and The New Jim Crow come true).

But although he’s loosened the rules of engagement, with appalling results in Mosul, Iraq and Raqqa, Syria, it is nonetheless true that, under Donald Trump, the U.S.-led genocide has slowed to “mere” scores of thousands of deaths (including Yemen, where Trump has simply continued the war begun by Bush and escalated by Obama).

Finally, while it might seem crass to reduce this discussion to numbers, one has to admit that the numbers are, frankly, staggering: Trump’s three immediate predecessors are the butchers of no less than FOUR MILLION human beings, nearly all of whom were Arab-Muslim civilians.

That’s two-thirds the number of Jews that Hitler killed in the West’s previous Holocaust.

(For obvious reasons, these Muslim casualties are not discussed in our corrupted Fourth-Reich nation… except in the extreme margins of our political discourse. But that doesn’t change the historical record.)

My question for the sheepherders: Do these millions of lives matter — at all?!!

In the land of Trump Derangement Syndrome, populated almost entirely by warmongering, Russia-obsessed “liberals,” one has to ask: Did these millions of human beings never exist?

Or have they simply been disappeared into the crematoria of the current Reich — built and maintained by Democrats and Republicans alike?

According to the California state prosecutors investigating OneWest Bank in 2015 — and its then-CEO, Steve Mnuchin — the evidence was overwhelming that OneWest and Mnuchin had committed thousands of felonies.

Thousands!

Those felonies chiefly consisted of falsifying thousands of documents and lying to notaries, making it possible for OneWest to illegally foreclose on several thousand homeowners (disproportionately African-American homeowners targeted with sub-prime loans even when they’d qualified for prime).

Kamala Harris, California’s attorney general at the time, flatly rejected the “strong recommendation” of her prosecutors. Her team had documented a pattern of “widespread misconduct” on the part of OneWest and Mnuchin — again, involving several thousand felonies committed in order to throw several thousand families out of their homes — and Harris responded by closing the case.

Later, Steve Mnuchin would donate to Harris’s 2016 campaign for the U.S. Senate (as Trump had done in Harris’s previous campaigns).

And then Harris was elected!

And then Trump was elected!

And Steve (F’g) Mnuchin became Trump’s USPS-sabotaging, generally terrible Treasury Secretary (following in a long line of massively corrupt Goldman Sachs alumni to hold that position).

But as The Intercept has also reported, it turns out that Kamala Harris wasn’t just generous (to the point of dereliction) with institutionally racist (redlining and “reverse-redlining”) Wall Street crooks.

Apparently, she also had a soft spot for serial pedophiles (just what the Democrats need on their 2020 presidential ticket!).

That kind of leniency was hardly characteristic of Kamala “The Cop” Harris, the zealous prosecutor who’d spent her professional career doing things like: fighting to keep prisoners on death row; withholding potentially exculpatory DNA evidence for several years (and sitting on other potentially exculpatory evidence, for which her office was sharply reprimanded by Superior Court Judge Anne-Christine Massullo); fighting to keep inmates incarcerated in “cruel and unusual” circumstances (longer than their sentences required), with her office citing the prisoners’ usefulness in fighting wildfires; fighting to prosecute poor, disproportionately black parents when their kids skipped school…

In short, Harris had no problem pulling the prosecutorial trigger when her targets were poor, disproportionately black and Hispanic people. When it came to policing California’s most vulnerable citizens, Harris proved to be one of the more regressive prosecutors The New Jim Crow ever had.

In dealing with the poor, her motto was “prosecute, incarcerate, and hang ’em high — even when they’re innocent!”

Yet, when it came to multitudinous felonies committed by powerful elites (Mnuchin and the Catholic Archdiocese) whose “widespread misconduct” had victimized thousands of innocents (people of color, children) Kamala Harris somehow found it in her heart to forgive.

It’s almost enough to bring a tear to the eye. (Well, to Steven Mnuchin’s eye, anyway.)

Scorch them tootsies! I like my Biden feet well-done!

Is it possible? Can we do to those metaphorical “feet” what Biden’s Democratic Party, clumsily assisted by the GOP, has been doing to the planet over the last few decades?

Can we slow-roast them until the establishment finally yields and offers meaningful action on: climate change; healthcare; democratic elections; ending the neocons’ modern holocaust of Muslims in the Middle East; restoring some semblance of the rule of law; ending the institutionally racist police/surveillance/carceral state; and giving us hope for a future for our grandchildren that doesn’t so much resemble an apocalyptic hellscape out of Mad Max)?

Well…

I understand that such thinking is prevalent, but I’ve been following this discussion intently for most of my adult life, and here’s what I have witnessed: a lot of highly intelligent, exceptionally informed, extremely patient and civil folks making the case that the Democratic Party shares the exact same agenda as the GOP, only they’ve proved significantly more capable when it comes to entrenching into law that neo-fascist agenda, while quashing dissent and manufacturing consent.

Supporting Black Agenda Report Editor in Chief, Glen Ford’s, thesis, that Democrats are not “the lesser” but the “more effective” evil, are hundreds of troublesome facts demonstrating that the Democratic Party is nothing but the oligarchy’s first line of defense against the emergence of any left-wing party — or any remotely democratic movement — in the United States.

Having obsessively followed U.S. and world politics for many, many years (a committed LOTE/Democratic voter, myself, for decades — before wising up in 2009), the last quarter-century has convinced me that the Democratic Party, with its conservative leadership and thoroughly rigged primaries, is not just the all-time best mover of the GOP’s agenda, it’s also where progressive ideas go to die.

(As AOC’s brief arc as a “progressive” has demonstrated! In 2020 Rep. Ocasio-Cortez has surrendered everything but her Twitter account to the party’s neoconservative, neoliberal leadership. She’s caved in record time, too, compared to Bernie, Dennis Kucinich, Tulsi Gabbard, et al — unconditionally surrendering to “Mama Bear” and the U.S. political establishment, as her vote for Trump’s CARES Act and her 97-second DNC convention speech confirm.)

Sadly, there are no modern examples of successfully “holding Democrats’ feet to the fire” and moving official policy in a leftward or progressive direction during Democratic presidencies (not post-JFK, anyway). Quite the opposite: When Democrats occupy the White House, the far-right’s agenda soars to new… depths.

Over the last few decades, Barack Obama and the Clintons have been the greatest movers of the warmongering, white-supremacist, biosphere-collapsing corporatist agenda that we mostly associate with Donald Trump and the GOP.

According to the ultra-conservative Federalist Society’s assessment of his legacy, the case can be made that Bill Clinton (who governed well to Nixon’s right) “signed more consequential conservative legislation than any president” in U.S. history.

That sounds about right to me. From the perspective of the far-right, Bill and Hillary Clinton were conservatism’s most effective agents… until Barack Obama came along.

How can I simply ignore this history?

I can’t.

Because in the real world (not the world of political branding cooked up by high-powered consultants), it is objectively, empirically true: No one has done more to advance fascism in the U.S. than the last two Democratic presidents… ably assisted by “Cuppa Joe” Biden [the gropey/rapey “ex-” segregationist who eulogized Strom Thurmond, wrote “The Crime Bill,” helped gut welfare, silenced harassment victims and shamed Anita Hill (in order to elevate fellow sexual harasser, Clarence Thomas, to the Supreme Court), and, as a founding member of PNAC, helped launch the West’s holocaust against Middle Eastern Muslims].

As Obama’s even-more-conservative VP, Joe Biden called one of the world’s most celebrated, truth-telling journalists, Julian Assange, a “terrorist” and did all he could to advance the Free Press-extinguishing agenda we generally associate with Republicans — all while working to preserve the New Jim Crow system he helped build (a bonus).

In August 2020, in his role as the Democratic Party’s anointed candidate to defeat Trump, Joseph Robinette Biden, Jr., opposes liberalization of drug laws and defunding the police… even as the nation is demanding racial justice and an end to the New Jim Crow (which Trump, ironically, has rolled back).

During the worst pandemic in over a century, with over 160,000 Americans dead, Joe Biden has offered no solutions, urged primary voters to head to their Covid-infected polling stations, and promised to veto “Medicare for All” should such a bill ever reach his desk (unlikely, with Pelosi and Schumer in charge).

Joe Biden has assured our neo-fascist/corporate overlords that “nothing will fundamentally change” under his administration — just as nothing fundamentally changed from Bush/Cheney to Barack Obama… or from Obama/Biden to Trump/Pence (the same oligarchs and corporations dictate national policy, no matter who’s in the White House… and millions of immigrants are deported, and thousands of children caged — it’s the post-9/11 American way).

I believe Joe Biden (not when he says he didn’t sexually assault Tara Reade, but) when he says that “nothing will fundamentally change” if he’s elected president. (Hear that, 1%? You’re safe. Even as you murder the world and normalize fascism, Joe will continue to stand “between you and the pitchforks.”)

His “feet” are fireproof.

(Don’t forget to kiss the planet goodbye after he wins or loses in November.)

BNMW (Blue No Matter Who) #1 writes: “All you progressives with your nose in the air, oh I won’t vote for Biden, Bernie should be the nominee. Blah, blah, blah, same as 2016 when you said, I won’t vote for Hillary, Bernie should be the nominee.

“You self-righteous people, and I would like to use a different word than people but I don’t want to get in any trouble, are condemning America to another 4 years of Trump. We have a 2 party system so voting Green doesn’t mean anything either. You are wasting your vote. It may make you feel better that you stood by your principles and in your mind, you can feel superior to the rest of us, but you are not helping America in any way, shape, or form. I don’t think Biden is the best but he is better than Trump so I am voting for Biden.”

JO’D responds: Welcome to our community, but I’m afraid you’re not making the best first impression, starting off by insulting “all (us) progressives” and implying that we’re being… snobby? Lofty? Superior?

If you wish to treat us respectfully, you might consider looking into our arguments that Biden vs. Trump is an absolute toss-up, in terms of which is more evil.

For one thing, Biden is a lifelong racist who has not just made offensive comments (a la Trump), but who has also advanced policies that have exploded mass-incarceration, aka The New Jim Crow.

(It was Democrat Bill Clinton who more than doubled the U.S. prison population with his “tough on crime” policies — which he first signaled on the campaign trail in 1992 when he raced back to Arkansas to preside over the execution of a mentally-retarded black man.)

And Biden, an original signatory of PNAC (Project for a New American Century) has zealously backed the neoconservative agenda that has delivered a modern holocaust to millions of Middle Easterners, predominately Arab Muslim civilians: http://invitation2artivism.com/minimizing-genocide/

Meanwhile, the genocide has dramatically slowed under Trump, who is hated by the neocons — the modern successors of the Nazis who’ve been embraced by the Democrats since Bush/Cheney left office: https://theintercept.com/2019/01/11/as-democratic-elites-reunite-with-neocons-the-partys-voters-are-becoming-far-more-militaristic-and-pro-war-than-republicans/

Let that sink in: The most genocidal faction since the Third Reich, the blood-soaked neocons, positively loathe Donald Trump, because (unlike the Clintons, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama) Trump has refused to let them run his foreign policy outright.

While it’s true that Trump hired the man in the first place, he did nothing but fight with John Bolton — one of the most notorious neocon war criminals behind the illegal 2003 invasion of Iraq. As Bolton’s Democrat-celebrated book makes clear, he was frustrated that he couldn’t get Trump to start any new wars, the way his predecessors did.

So, when it comes to foreign policy, the Orange Troll everyone was calling “Hitler” a few years ago, has turned out to be Nelson frikkin’ Mandela compared to his Democratic and Republican predecessors!

Combined, Clinton, Bush, and Obama killed between 2.7 and 4.3 million human beings, nearly all of whom were Muslim civilians, women and children. Under Trump, that number has shrunk to less than a hundred thousand killed, as the neocon agenda has largely stalled.

(Somehow, affluent, white Democrats manage to turn a blind eye to that genocide while cheering for the people who helped launch it — people like the Clintons and Joe Biden, whose massive war crimes make Trump’s destruction of Raqqa and Mosul look like minor infractions, by comparison.)

Beyond that, Biden was VP under President Obama, who deported more immigrants than all 20th-century presidents combined (~3 million) and caged children by the thousands.

Trump has a long way to go before catching up to the man that immigrants’ rights groups dubbed “The Deporter in Chief.”

Obama also let Wall Street administer its own bailout. They continued targeting black and Hispanic populations and illegally “robo-signed” millions of them out of their homes, wiping out the post-Civil Rights Era economic gains of black households.

(When Trump tops Obama in that category, do let me know.)

The list of relevant examples supporting the case that Trump is arguably the “lesser of two evils” is an extraordinarily long one, but you should trust that people like Chris Hedges, Glenn Greenwald, Glen Ford, and a lot of well-informed progressives aren’t blithely making the argument that Biden could prove to be every bit as dangerous as Trump has — or considerably more dangerous (as Obama proved to be more dangerous than Bush: normalizing torture, assassination, domestic propaganda, jackbooted crushing of peaceful protest, warrantless vacuum-surveillance of everyone, support for terrorists in the Middle East and neo-Nazis in Ukraine, hunting journalists and whistleblowers like enemies of the state, and more… all while becoming the #1 president in U.S. history when it comes to increasing domestic oil production, opening the Arctic to drilling, exporting fracking across the globe, and nullifying the Paris Climate Accords, nixing legal carbon limits and liability for polluters).

Maybe, just maybe, “all (us) progressives” are fairly thoughtful people, motivated by facts, history, and principle. Maybe we’re not willing to vote for either racist, misogynist/rapist, warmongering sack of shit… and maybe that makes your vote the wasted one: freely given to one of the only human beings in the world who represents Trumpism as much or more than Trump.

Maybe, just maybe, Black Agenda Report’s Editor in Chief, Mr. Ford, is onto something when he says that Democrats aren’t “the lesser” but “the more effective” EVIL. 

They are, after all, the ones who have succeeded in pushing the far-right’s neo-fascist agenda the furthest. Republican presidents keep fucking it up. Democrats, conversely, have made torture, etc. the new norm, retiring the rule of law for good.

Progressive #2 responds: “(BNMW #1’s) terse, insult ridden comment didn’t deserve your excellent, informative reply. But I’m glad you did. It’ll come in handy to wise up other LOTE voters…”

BNMW #2 writes: “I’m simply amazed by the idiotic attacks against Solomon and Chomsky under a valuable, much-needed article. Trump, by rejecting science for self-serving reasons, has NEEDLESSLY let at least 100,000 people die in a pandemic. He’s also made the unprecedented fascist statement that he won’t accept the results of this election, showing a willingness to risk massive bloodshed–perhaps even civil war–to cling to power. And he just appointed war criminal Elliot Abrams as special envoy to Iran–hardly consistent with peaceful intentions. What the hell does it RATIONALLY take to convince you emotional Never Biden folks that Trump is an unprecedented danger who MUST go?”

JO’D responds: BNMW #2, you wrote, “He’s also made the unprecedented fascist statement that he won’t accept the results of this election…”

Yes, Trump made a statement. He makes a lot of them. They usually contradict his previous statements, as he’s all over the place.

Meanwhile, in reality, it is the Democratic Party and fascist U.S. political establishment — and their subservient corporate media — that have spent the last four years refusing to accept the results of the 2016 election.

Rather than embracing Candidate Trump’s anti-war, anti-“trade” pact, pro-entitlements, pro-universal healthcare rhetoric and putting pressure on him to deliver, they’ve opted for a deep state conspiracy theory and made common cause with the very worst of the Bush/Cheney-era neocons.

As a result, they’ve torn our society in two and launched a new Cold War based on utter fabrications created during the 2016 campaign cycle: Russiagate, which has been 100% debunked at this point: no collusion (no contacts, even); no efforts on the part of official/unofficial Russia to interfere with the 2016 election; no evidence, per Crowdstrike, that the DNC/Podesta data was ever extracted, in the first place; no hacked power grids; no hacked C-Span feed; “Russian” bots that turned out to be American-made and deployed to frame the Russkies; and more (as documented by Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, Glenn Greenwald, and Izzy Award winners, Matt Taibbi and Aaron Mate, who were so honored for their Russiagate-skeptical reporting).

You keep insisting that genuine liberals should all fall in line behind one of the worst, most destructive, most bigoted ultra-conservatives of the last few decades. But why should we vote for a Democrat whose record in office is far more Trump-like than Trump’s own?

Hint: One of these men has had a hand in the murder of millions of human beings and the mass-incarceration of African-Americans, whereas the other has not (in fact, he’s resisted the neocons and begun rolling back The New Jim Crow with his First Step Act).

How can you feel so certain that your endorsement of a serially bigoted, genocidal rapist is the “moral” or “rational” position?

BNMW #2 writes: “There’s no evidence whatsoever that he’s just following Obama’s example. Obama DID help to crush Occupy–but after it had been in existence for quite a while. Also, he DID pay lip service to its aims–as Trump NEVER did with BLM. Also, Obama worked on the sly through fusion centers; Trump openly and brazenly applied the fascist jackboot. Someone who’s open about it feels beyond accountability (except to his bloodthirsty, gun-toting base) and is OBVIOUSLY willing to be much more extreme about crushing dissent–even to enlist his base in doing so. This extremism is reflected in Trump’s unprecedented statement that he might not accept the results of the election. Neither Obama nor Biden would go full fascist in this way–largely because they answer to a much saner base that includes MANY progressives.”

JO’D responds: (BNMW #2) writes: “Trump openly and brazenly applied the fascist jackboot.”

As did Obama, who effectively ended the First Amendment’s protection of peaceful assembly and protest. With regard to Occupy Wall Street, Obama allowed U.S. police to mace students in the face, entrap peaceful protesters and journalists by the hundreds, fire tear gas canisters at point blank range, hospitalizing peaceful protesters, burn our libraries to the ground — and finally, he coordinated an illegal, federally-directed, multi-city crackdown across the nation to violently dismantle our camps. And he used non-uniformed private contractors as a part of this effort.

What has Trump done that exceeds Obama’s jackbooted response? Nothing. He’s merely matched it.

(And you’ll note that, in making my point, I didn’t even have to get into Obama’s unconscionably brutal treatment of Water Protectors among the Standing Rock Sioux, Native Americans trying to prevent the building of a dangerous pipeline over one of the continent’s most important aquifers.)

BNMW #2 writes: “Trump, by contrast with Biden, is likely to have a death toll exceeding both World Wars and the Holocaust combined, due to his beyond-criminal climate policy. Moreover, he’ll have done more than lend a hand; it will have under his command as president. As is to be expected, you completely ignore this genocide-in-the-works.

“And concerning the election, Trump DIDN’T just make a statement; even facing an election, he was willing to use federal agents as his personal army against dissent. You’re also discounting Trump’s motivations: 1) losing is what he dreads most and 2) he faces not just the lifelong stigma of being a loser (‘the worst president ever’), but many criminal prosecutions if he loses. His motivation to stay president is STRONG and DESPERATE.

“I disagree with nothing you’ve said about Russiagate; in fact, one quarrel I’d have with Norman Soloman and many progressives is that they haven’t made it anything like the grievance against Democrats it DESERVES to be. That still doesn’t make them more dangerous than Trump.”

Progressive #3 responds to BNMW #2: “Obama believed in science and yet he took credit for growing the oil and gas industry by 88% over 8 years. That’s just in the U.S. – he was also selling fracking abroad. Methane output has skyrocketed in recent years, in part due to fracking. For that matter, the oil and gas industry executives ‘believe in science’ too. The planet is run by political leaders who ‘believe in science’, and yet most of humanity is still headed right off a cliff.

“Trump, on the other hand, persists in a moronic climate change denial, even as much of his base constituency realize it’s a serious problem. Fewer people deny the need to act on climate at the organizational, local and state levels when the federal government is so clearly out of touch with reality.

“Look beyond the rhetoric.”

JO’D responds (to BNMW #2): (BNMW #2) writes: “I disagree with nothing you’ve said about Russiagate; in fact, one quarrel I’d have with Norman Soloman and many progressives is that they haven’t made it anything like the grievance against Democrats is DESERVES to be. That still doesn’t make them more dangerous than Trump.”

Thanks for this, but the Democrats being the driving force taking us to the brink of a third World War might actually make them “more dangerous than Trump.” Russiagate was particularly irresponsible and reckless since it empowered the neocons and corporate media to constantly harangue Trump from the right — demanding that he act more hawkish.

How insane and evil is it, exactly, to take an unbalanced, amoral clown like Trump — and urge him toward WORLD WAR III on the basis of utter fabrications, simply because one sees political advantage in it?

That’s what the Democrats have done, and it’s beyond evil. It’s sheer lunacy.

Also, Trump’s climate policies are hardly any more destructive than President Obama’s were.

Obama was the #1 president in U.S. history in terms of increasing domestic oil production. He aggressively exported fracking, a uniquely dangerous accelerator of climate change, across the globe. He opened the Arctic for drilling (the first president to do so), which scientists and activists like Bill McKibben have declared “off-limits” if the biosphere is to have any hope of surviving. He brutalized peaceful Native Americans protesting dangerous pipelines. He coddled and rewarded British Petroleum after they befouled the Gulf of Mexico. And he effectively vetoed legal carbon limits and polluter liability, making the Paris Climate Accords a toothless placebo.

Considering these facts, President Obama is arguably more responsible for the imminent collapse of the biosphere than Donald Trump, because: A) he did more harm and broke more new ground in humanity’s assault on the planet; and B) the center-left and faux-liberal class celebrated him as he did so, imagining that he was some kind of “environmentalist.”

At least, with Trump in office, the mainstream is paying attention and protesting Trump’s continuation of his predecessors’ wholesale assault on Earth’s life-giving systems.

(BNMW #2) responds: “Obama had a MIXED record on climate, as I’m sure major activists like McKibben and Naomi Klein will tell you. Trump’s recorded has been UNMIXED–one of pure, reckless destruction, as if he has a personal vendetta against climate science. It’s one thing to believe in that science (and answer to a base that believes in that science even more strongly) while being compromised by corruption. It’s quite another to be utterly corrupt and HATE climate science, while being egged on by a base that hates it as much as you do. Learn the difference!

“Trump simply sees China as a more important enemy than Russia and seems, if anything, more willing to start a nuclear war. His nuclear budget and testing–as well as his disgust with nuclear arms agreements–speak volumes.”

JO’D responds: Trump’s “nuclear budget” is basically the same as Obama’s: a one-trillion-dollar investment in the “modernization” of our nuclear weapons arsenal, including billions for the development of “usable” nukes (an obscenity).

And you didn’t respond to my point that Trump has merely continued the climate policies of his predecessors, whereas Obama exploded previous restraints and forged previously unthinkable climate-destroying policies.

Obama dramatically broke new ground, causing Bill McKibben to say his actions “undermined” his climate rhetoric, and “no one can really listen to what he’s saying.”

In Paris, Obama gave the cancer patient a placebo, and everyone relaxed, thinking that some meaningful action had been taken. It hadn’t. The patient is dying.

Trump, however, offers no placebos, only more of the same — but without the Democrats’ smoke and mirrors — so we resist him. Which is more than the Blue No Matter Who crowd ever did with Obama. Rather, they elected to champion one of the most steadfast, canny proponents of fascism in American history, the president who gave away the store — when he had a “Blue” super-majority — to Wall Street oligarchs, neocons, climate destroyers, and outright, torturing, journalist-hunting, society-surveilling, warmongering fascists.

(BNMW #2) responds: “When the push and shove are as dangerous as Trump, it’s rational to yield our votes–though NEVER our support. I actually wanted Bernie or Bust to play electoral chicken with Clinton, making a set of demands and keeping her in suspense about whether we’d vote for her if she didn’t meet the demands. Some were pre-election demands, like openly and repeatedly denouncing the TransPacific Partnership. With the pre-election demands, she simply couldn’t cheat. My strategy would have been difficult to execute, but it was all we could RATIONALLY do to exert pressure once Trump became the nominee.

“But I was voted down, by the BoB board, which I think made BoB irrelevant by not using suspense over our votes to press demands. At least we would have stayed in the news, and not made ourselves look crazy by helping to elect Trump.”

JO’D responds: Only the notion that Bernie boosters “helped elect Trump” is a malicious lie promulgated by the corporate media and Democratic Party.

In truth, Bernie voters largely fell in line. Ultimately, nearly nine out of ten of us ended up voting for Sec. “We Came, We Saw, He Died” Clinton out of fear of Trump (not me — I found it impossible to cast my vote for either racist, warmongering, corrupt fascist, so I voted for Dr. Jill Stein).

Compare that number to the percentage of Clinton voters in 2008 who refused to vote for Barack Obama and instead became “PUMAs” (Party Unity My Ass!) and “Democrats for McCain!”

That number is 25%.

Yes, one in four Clinton voters in 2008’s Democratic Primary ended up voting for McCain/Palin. How appalling is that?

Progressive #4 cites JO’D saying “the notion that Bernie boosters ‘helped elect Trump’ is a malicious lie promulgated by the corporate media and Democratic Party…In truth, Bernie voters largely fell in line.”

(Adding): “Yes, as I’ve noted quite a few times: The Sanders-to-Trump switch voters were not progressive Sanders supporters; they were conservative Democrats – drawn to Sanders’ economic populism until he was out, after which they went for Trump’s bogus economic populism and racism:

“Re the conservative Democrats who voted for Trump in swing states:
https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/8/24/16194086/bernie-trump-voters-study

“Re the Obama financial crisis bailout and Trump’s bogus economic populism that – together – got the US Trump: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-08-30/the-biggest-legacy-of-the-financial-crisis-is-the-trump-presidency

(BNMW #2) writes: “But I’m NOT talking simply about “Bernie boosters” (whatever that means). I’m talking specifically about the Bernie or Bust movement, which was a minority-but-meaningful subset of Bernie supporters; the Bernie or Bust pledge had over 100,000 signers.

“Multiple factors had a role in Trump beating Clinton, but there were certainly enough Bernie or Busters for the movement to be one of them. Of course the Dem establishment deliberately (and predictably) exaggerated the role of Bernie or Bust, but my point is that the movement, by not following my advice, made itself vulnerable to that smear. In fact, I seem to recall that Victor Tiffany at one point tried to prove BoB was largely responsible for Clinton’s loss. Electing Trump is NOT something a movement seeking moral credibility wants on its resume!”

JO’D responds: (BNMW #2) writes: “Electing Trump is NOT something a movement seeking moral credibility wants on its resume!”

But we didn’t “elect Trump” and should vehemently deny that deeply dishonest, bullying claim.

Let’s be clear: Trump voters and the electoral college elected Trump. (Along with the Clintons, I suppose, who first encouraged Trump to run, then deployed their allies in the media to favor Trump over the rest of the GOP presidential field, on the theory that he would be “easiest to beat” — their fatally stupid “Pied Piper” strategy.)

The “Lesser Of Two Evils” (LOTE) voters who relentlessly try to shame us into voting for the GOP’s ever-faithful partners did their level best to elect Sec. Hillary Clinton! Only they failed, sparing the world a second Clinton presidency (a second round of colossal victories for the far-right, victories that no Republican could possibly manage: the TPP, WWIII, more drilling in the Arctic, privatized Social Security?).

Meanwhile, Bernie boosters (in politics, a “booster” is a supporter) did our best to elect one of the only politicians in America who is not a deeply corrupt lunatic — only we did so in a primary rigged by the worst of the worst: http://invitation2artivism.com/the-immediate-issue-here-is-a-million-black-and-brown-and-asian-americans-losing-their-votes/

So, don’t let these fear-driven supporters of tyranny, racism, and global destruction bully you with their ridiculous lies.

There’s no shame whatsoever in denying our vote to a neo-McCarthyite Dick Cheney clone who promised a third world war — with her “No-Fly Zones” in Syria, saber-rattling against Iran, unhinged accusations against Russia, and her vow to continue Obama’s “Pivot to Asia” (ringing China with U.S. military bases, missiles, and warships, while pushing the TPP, designed to isolate China economically and politically… as if that were possible in today’s world).

Most importantly, don’t let these brainwashed, fascism-“lite” championing cretins make you feel like you did something wrong if you voted for Dr. Jill Stein in 2016. Third parties hold out the only hope of pulling the country back from this pernicious, apocalypse-delivering duopoly (the two-party shuffle that turns out to be nothing but empty theater, a dog and pony show, where the dog and the pony are secretly best friends and work for the same oligarchs and genocidal imperialists butchering people by the millions and collapsing the biosphere).

Indeed, it was the fear-driven, unthinking Clinton voter who panicked and ended up betraying every progressive, humanistic value they professed to hold when they voted for an unabashed warmonger and unwavering career agent of our lawless, deeply racist, right-wing oligarchy: Sec. Clinton (a member of the neocon vanguard since the 1990s, with her hand in the genocide of 2.7-4.3 million Middle Easterners, predominately Arab Muslim civilians).

The people who voted for sociopathic monsters like Trump and Clinton are the ones who should be ashamed and on the defensive. They’re the ones who should be offering apologies.

As the Republican Party prepares to disenfranchise millions of people of color, students, and poor people, this November, it would be healthy to remind ourselves that the GOP’s Democratic partners do precisely the same in their primaries, preventing anyone remotely liberal from winning national elections… ultimately leading to “President Trump.”

Here’s voter suppression expert, the BBC’s Greg Palast (excerpted from his 2017 interview with Jordan Chariton):

“The immediate issue here is a million black and brown and Asian-Americans losing their votes… In my book, ‘The Best Democracy Money Can Buy,’ I also go after the Democrats. The difference is (and what’s sad is) it doesn’t matter whether it’s Republicans or Democrats, it’s always the same people — poor people, students, and others — who lose their vote, because almost all Democratic vote theft is not to steal elections from the Republicans, but to steal primaries…

“And as you saw, some of the worst cases of vote suppression, as they call it, I’ve ever seen was in California during the (2016) primary — California, it’s not Mississippi! But it was California, where I’ve actually never seen that many votes thrown away in any election in any state in America. The Democratic Party literally refused to count over one million ballots cast in that primary. And that’s why I question the victory of Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders.”

**********************

Just think about it: If Democrats didn’t rig their primaries to ensure that the most conservative and corrupt (and least electable) candidates emerge “victorious,” Donald Trump wouldn’t even be president, right now (polls in 2016 showed Bernie Sanders beating Trump by double-digits, well outside of the margin of error — the same polls which showed that Sec. Clinton’s lead was a mere 3-4 points, even less in crucial swing states).

If Democrats didn’t routinely rig their primaries for neoconservative corporatists, Donald Trump wouldn’t stand such an excellent chance of getting reelected, this year — even during a pandemic, with the economy cratering — simply because his opposite number in the Democratic Party is every bit as bad, or worse, only with no popular backing (that’s Trump’s advantage: his base is actually excited about his candidacy after the last four wasted years of faux-opposition and Russiagating nonsense; whereas Biden’s base is demoralized and angry that a genocidal, racist, rapist, Wall Street patsy is our “only alternative” to the incumbent).

But it’s not just about winning. This should also be a matter of principle: If the center-left (liberal elites, disproportionately white) actually gave a damn about voter suppression, they wouldn’t simply ignore the way the Democratic Party routinely disenfranchises millions of Americans — disproportionately people of color, students, and the poor — in their primaries.

It’s caged-children redux: When Obama caged thousands of children at the border and deported more human beings than all 20th-century presidents combined, the mainstream left was silent.

The same thing goes for the left’s abdication during Obama’s entire presidency: When he pushed the far-right’s agenda further than any president in U.S. history — expanding the GWOT; normalizing assassination, torture, and the vacuum surveillance of everyone’s communications; spreading fracking across the globe; becoming the #1 president in U.S. history for oil production, etc. — the mainstream, including most liberals, dozed.

But if we’re going to ultimately defeat the forces of white supremacy and neo-fascism — if we’re going to have any hope of doing so — then we have to oppose both right-wings of our so-called duopoly… because championing one pack of warmongering, white-supremacist neo-fascists over another hasn’t accomplished anything outside of dooming the biosphere, in all likelihood, and permanently retiring the rule of law.