Category Archives: Kamala Harris

How do Democrats and Republicans Differ on Palestine and Israel? 

The polarized nature of American politics often makes it difficult to address fundamental differences between the country’s two main political rivals, Republicans and Democrats. As each side is intent on discrediting the other at every opportunity, unbiased information regarding the two parties’ actual stances on internal and external issues can be difficult to decipher.

Regarding Palestine and Israel, however, both parties’ establishments are quite clear on offering Israel unlimited and unconditional support. The discrepancies in their positions are, at times, quite negligible, even if Democrats, occasionally, attempt to present themselves as fairer and more even-handed.

Judging by statements made by Democrat presidential candidate, Joe Biden, his running mate, Kamala Harris, and people affiliated with their campaign, a future President Biden does not intend to reverse any of the pro-Israel political measures adopted by the Donald Trump Administration.

Moreover, a Democrat administration, as revealed, will not even consider the possibility of conditioning US financial and military support to Israel on the latter’s respect for Palestinian human rights, let alone international law altogether.

“Joe Biden has made it clear  … he will not tie US security assistance to Israel to political decisions Israel makes, and I couldn’t agree more,” Harris, who is promoted enthusiastically by some as a ‘progressive’ politician, was quoted as saying in a telephone call on August 26. The call was made to what Israeli newspaper, Haaretz, termed as “Jewish supporters.” The Jerusalem Post and the Times of Israel referred to this crucial constituency as “Jewish donors.”

Although the view of the party’s rank and file has significantly shifted against Israel in recent years, the Democrat’s upper echelon still caters to the Israel lobby and their rich backers, even if this means continuing to mold US foreign policy in the Middle East so that it serves Israeli interests.

Republicans, on the other hand, have cemented their support for Israel, but no longer around geo-strategic issues pertaining to Israel’s ‘security’ or US interests. The speeches made by Republican leaders at the Republican National Convention (RNC), held in  Charlotte, North Carolina last month, were all aimed at reassuring ‘Christian Zionists’, who represent the most powerful pro-Israel constituency in the US. The once relatively marginal impact of Christian Zionists in directly shaping US foreign policy has morphed, over the years, to define the core values of Republicans.

Regardless of the nature of the discourse through which Republican and Democrat leaders express their love and support for Israel, the two parties are decidedly ‘pro-Israel’. There are many recent examples that corroborate this assertion.

On November 18, 2019, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that Washington would no longer consider Jewish settlements illegal or a violation of international law. That position was later cemented in Trump’s so-called ‘Deal of the Century’, published on January 28.

Democrats, however, continue to perceive illegal Jewish settlements as, indeed, illegal. “This decision harms the cause of diplomacy, takes us further away from the hope of a two-state solution, and will only further inflame tensions in the region,” Joe Biden’s campaign said in a statement, in response to Pompeo’s declaration.

Although markedly different, it is hard to imagine a Democrat administration upholding the above position, while simultaneously refraining from reversing previous decisions made by the Trump administration. It can only be one or the other.

One’s cynicism is fully justified, as we recently learned, that the Democrat establishment has refused to even use the word ‘occupation’, with reference to Israel’s occupation of Palestine, in their party platform released on July 15. According to Foreign Policy, the decision “followed heavy last-minute lobbying by pro-Israel advocacy groups.”

On December 6, 2017, the Trump administration made one of the boldest pro-Israel decisions, when he formally recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. A few months later, on May 14, 2018, the US embassy was moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a brazen violation of international law.

The legal foundation of Trump’s decision was the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995. This Act was the outcome of bipartisan efforts, bringing together Republicans and Democrats in Congress. Interestingly, leading Democrats, such as Joe Biden and John Kerry, were the main cheerleaders of the embassy move, back then. Only one Democrat senator, the late Robert Byrd, voted against the Bill. In the House of Representatives, only 30 out of 204 Democrats voted ‘no’.

Even though many Democrats rejected the timing of Trump’s implementation of the Jerusalem Embassy Act, their criticism was largely political, primarily motivated by Democrats’ attempts to discredit Trump. The fact that the Biden campaign, later on, made it clear that the decision will not be reversed should he become president, is a further illustration highlighting the moral bankruptcy of the Democratic establishment, as well.

The truth is, US unconditional backing for Israel is a common cause among all American administrations, whether Democrat or Republican. What they may differ on, however, is their overall motive and primary target audience during election time.

Political polarization and misinformation aside, both Democrats and Republicans head to the November elections with strong pro-Israel sentiments, if not outright support, while completely ignoring the plight of occupied and oppressed Palestinians.

The post How do Democrats and Republicans Differ on Palestine and Israel?  first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Changing the Washington Guard: What a Democratic Sweep in November Portends

At the risk of counting chickens before they hatch, what would the return of Team Blue portend?

As is patently obvious, the US is in trouble. Climate driven heat waves and fires grip the nation. An already faltering economy with deep contradictions could only tank given the shock of the pandemic that has necessitated varying degrees of sequestering. In fact, the downturn had already started before COVID-19 hit. An already largely privatized healthcare system run for profit and a social ethic that rejects “socialized” public health measures could only have proven inadequate. Added to this mix, an historically racist nation was ripe for the righteous protests against overt injustices. These conditions pre-dated Trump’s presidency and predetermined the current calamity.

The designated chump is Trump

Trump is screwing up royally, but the root causes were unavoidable. Rather than owning up to the inherent nature of capitalism, which puts profits before people as its operating principle, elite opinion needs to point a finger at an offending scapegoat. Someone must take a fall and the designated chump is Trump. Witness Republican establishment figures defecting to the Biden camp.

Trump, under normal circumstances, would have a formidable advantage as the incumbent president. Of the thirteen US presidents since 1933, all ran for re-election except JFK who tragically did not have that choice. All but three won. These exceptions prove the rule that bad economic times doom the incumbent: Ford and Bush the Elder were defeated by recessions and Carter by “stagflation.”

Today’s circumstances are not normal. Trump’s incumbency may be a fatal flaw with conditions worse in many respects than the Great Depression.

Added to a collapsing economy and a nation aflame with racial justice protests, Mr. Trump has not improved his prospects by his mishandling of the COVID-19 contagion. A US passport was once the most accepted in the world. Now that the US leads the world in total pandemic deaths and ranks a high eleventh in deaths/population, only eight countries in the world are fully open to US tourists: Albania, Belarus, Brazil, Mexico, Serbia, Turkey, Zambia, and that most sought after destination of North Macedonia, whose national flower is the opium poppy.

The delusional fear that Trump will stage a coup to stay in power begs the question of what army and security apparatus would back him. Not the US military, nor the security state agencies – FBI, NSA, CIA and other spooks. Those institutions of the permanent state are no more in favor of Mr. Trump than most of the active US electorate, who will likely give him a boot this fall.

The next act comes with perils

In the midst of the pandemic, when health insurance claims would be expected to be out of control, health insurers have been garnering obscene profits benefiting from the public health emergency. Amongst the superrich, Jeff Bezos of Amazon added $87.1 billion to his net worth since the beginning of the year and Elon Musk of Tesla accrued another $73.6 billion.

Thanks in large part to the habitual intervention by the Federal Reserve for the owners of finance capital, Market Insider predicts “2021 could be a boom year for stocks,” while prospects for working people look grim and ever grimmer. Yes, Bernie Sanders was right that the “system is rigged” for the capitalist class.

Will a Democratic victory in November change any of this? Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, the current highest ranking Democrat, said it all: “we’re capitalist and that’s just the way it is.” Her net worth is $120 million.

Even major “liberal” Democrats, such as Elizabeth Warren, are doctrinaire “capitalist to the bone.” When asked to explain herself, the senator said: “I believe in markets and the benefits they can produce…for people.” True enough. The “people” who benefit from capitalism are the capitalists.

How about Democratic Party progressives like the “The Squad,” you ask? In the “graveyard of social movements” that is the Democratic Party, they are relegated to diversity window dressing with AOC getting only 90 seconds of fame at the Democratic National Convention.

Nominal independent Bernie Sanders tried an end-run for the presidential nomination but ran into the DNC’s “no progressives rule.” And if Biden wins in 2020 and Harris in 2024 and 2028, 2032 would be the first chance for a progressive Democrat to even try to run.

Speaking of the Democratic National Convention, Bernie Sanders praised Uncle Joe for – of all things – his health care policies. Michelle Obama carried chutzpah to new heights, criticizing Trump for immigration practices inherited from her husband. Can’t the best speech writers that money can buy come up with more convincing mendacities?

The enduring neoliberal project will continue with a likely change of guard from one party of capital to the other in January, though with a kinder face. We won’t have to contend with Prince of Darkness Pence and his buddy anymore.

The new feel-good Democratic couple will be spreading the love. And no one is feeling the “good” more than the capitalist class, rewarding the Democrats with donations of $48 million in the 48 hours after the announcement of Kamala Harris as the vice-presidential candidate. Just about every mainstream media article gushed about her amazing “qualifications,” the foremost being fund-raising. In plain English, her biggest asset is she is understood as serving the capitalist class.

The record of Democratic presidencies

It may be too soon to exhale with a Biden White House. If past performance is any indicator of future outcomes, a brief look at recently past Democratic presidencies is advised.

Under the watch of New Democrat Bill Clinton, the Glass-Steagall Act was repealed, which was a factor leading to the Great Recession. NAFTA exported US union jobs while destroying small-scale Mexican agriculture. He dismantled Yugoslavia and bombed Iraq, contributing to the now perpetual destabilization of that part of the world. “Welfare as we know it” was abolished and mass incarceration instituted. Clinton was on a roll, with Social Security next on the chopping block, only to be stopped by the Monica Lewinski scandal.

While these were pet projects of the Republican wing of the US two-party duopoly, it took a Democrat to foist it on the populace. Notably, no major progressive legislation came out of Mr. Clinton’s watch. He adroitly felt “your pain” while inflicting it on the Democrat’s captured working class and minority constituencies, much to the pleasure of the class he served.

The next Democratic president, Barack Obama, had not even completed a term in the Senate before his meteoric rise to the Oval Office. Mr. Obama had the wiring, but part of his remarkable upward mobility came from being groomed and vetted by the ruling class to carry their water. He came out of the Brookings Institute’s Hamilton Project, which successfully sought to make the Democrats the favored party of Wall Street.

After promising peace, Obama led the US into wars in at least seven countries. Although no major progressive legislation came out of the Obama presidency, his many handouts to the ruling elites include bailing out the banks with no one prosecuted for wrongdoing. He gifted Obamacare to the insurance industry while killing single-payer. He more than doubled fossil fuel production for which he proudly took credit.

The lesson is that it is often more difficult to mount an organized resistance to regressive policies when promoted by Democrats than Republicans. Recall the massive resistance to Bush’s war in Iraq that instantly vanished the moment Obama inherited that war and brazenly took Bush’s Secretary of Defense Robert Gates into his cabinet. Similarly, we have seen Democrats sabotaging Medicare for All, with Biden already pledging to veto it if it came before him.

Campaign promises Biden will keep

The only thing preventing Trump from self-destructing come November 3 is none other than the Democratic Party. Of all the potential candidates that could have walked over Trump – particularly Sanders with universal healthcare in a time of pandemic or even Warren with taxing corporations in a time of  record profits amidst a recession – they chose the one candidate who could lose.

The former senator from Mastercard has already assured Wall Street that their privileged position will be protected on his watch. The war mongers have been assuaged with the promise that the military budget can only go up. The insurance parasites know that government imposed private health policies are set in stone. The Zionists needn’t fret about the US recognizing Palestinian rights or of reversing recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Worse than the climate deniers, Biden believes in the science of global warming and knows its catastrophic consequences. Yet he will do little about it and has already opposed a fracking ban. Fossil fuel subsidies will continue under the Democrats.

Note that these dubious promises were made on the campaign trail, while trying to attract votes.

A Biden presidency – austerity at home and imperialism abroad

Pelosi set the stage for a Biden presidency. The first thing the Democrats pushed through after “taking back” the House in 2018 was the “pay-go rule,” a fiscally conservative measure virtually guaranteeing that no progressive legislation can be funded. Then in March of this year the Democrats unanimously and without any debate helped pass the CARES Act, the largest single transfer of wealth from the workers to the wealthy in the history of the world.

Democrats, with the Obama/Biden administration and since, have leap-frogged the Republicans to the right on foreign policy issues in important respects regarding Afghanistan, North Korea, Russia, Syria, Venezuela, etc. Democrats even oppose drawing down US troops abroad.

Trump has been all over the map, ineptly and inconsistently pursuing détente with Putin and while threatening Xi Jinping. With a Democratic administration, we can be assured of a more consistent, skillful, and lethal US imperialism, pursuing “full spectrum dominance” over the rest of the world.

Those who complain about Trump’s bungling should understand that the Biden alternative will be a more deadly and efficient rule of capital. We should be careful about what we wish for.

The post Changing the Washington Guard: What a Democratic Sweep in November Portends first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Israel’s Friends at the RNC: “Christian Zionists” Dictate the Agenda of the Republican Party

It is difficult – and futile – to argue which American president has historically been more pro-Israel. While former President Barack Obama, for example, has pledged more money to Israel than any other US administration in history, Donald Trump has provided Israel with a blank check of seemingly endless political concessions.

Certainly, the unconditional backing and love declared for Israel is common among all US administrations. What they may differ on, however, is their overall motive, primarily their target audience during election time.

Both Republicans and Democrats head to the November elections with strong pro-Israel sentiments and outright support, completely ignoring the plight of occupied and oppressed Palestinians.

To win the support of the pro-Israeli constituencies, but especially the favor of the Israel lobby in Washington DC, Democratic presidential nominee, Joe Biden, and his running mate, Kamala Harris, have deviated even further from the low standards set by the Democratic Obama administration. Despite his generous financial support for Israel and full political backing, especially during Israel’s wars on the Gaza Strip, Obama dared, at times, to censure Israel over the expansion of its illegal Jewish settlements.

The Biden-Harris ticket, however, is offering Israel unconditional support.

“Joe Biden has made it clear,” Harris was quoted as saying in a telephone call on August 26, “he will not tie US security assistance to Israel to political decisions Israel makes, and I couldn’t agree more.” The call was made to what the Israeli newspaper, Haaretz, termed as “Jewish supporters.” The Jerusalem Post and the Times of Israel referred to this crucial constituency as “Jewish donors.”

The references above are sufficient to delineate the nature of the Democratic Party establishment’s current support for Israel. Although the view of the party’s rank and file has significantly shifted against Israel in recent years, the Democratic upper echelon still caters to the Israel lobby and their rich backers, even if this means molding US foreign policy in the entire Middle East region to serve Israeli interests.

For Republicans, however, it is a different story. The party’s establishment and the rank and file are united in their love and support for Israel. Though the Israel lobby plays an important role in harnessing and channeling this support, Republicans are not entirely motivated by pleasing the pro-Israel lobbyists in Washington DC.

The speeches made by Republican leaders at the Republican National Convention (RNC), held in  Charlotte, North Carolina, between August 24-27 were all aimed at reassuring Christian Evangelicals – often referred to as ‘Christian Zionists’- who represent the most powerful pro-Israel constituency in the United States.

The once relatively marginal impact of Christian Zionists in directly shaping US foreign policy, has morphed over the years – particularly during the Trump presidency – to define the core values of the Republican Party.

“This is apocalyptic foreign policy in a nutshell,” tweeted Israeli commentator, Gershom Gorenberg, on August 24. In Republican thinking, “Israel is not as a real country but a fantasyland, backdrop for Christian myth.”

Gorenberg’s comments were tweeted hours before the controversial speech made by US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, America’s top diplomat, who delivered his brief notes from “beautiful Jerusalem, looking out over the old city.” The location, and the reference to it, were clear messages regarding the religious centrality of Israel to US foreign policy, and the unmistakable target audience.

Trump was even more obvious during an August 17 speech in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. “We moved the capital of Israel to Jerusalem,” Trump announced to a cheering crowd, “and so the Evangelicals – you know, it’s amazing with that – the Evangelicals are more excited about that than Jewish people … It’s really, it’s incredible.”

Unsurprisingly, 22 percent of Wisconsin residents identify as “Evangelical Protestants.”

This was not the first time that Trump has derided US Jews for not being as supportive of him as they are of his Democrat rivals. A year ago, Trump called Jewish Democrats “disloyal” to Israel. “I think any Jewish people that vote for a Democrat, I think it shows either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty,” he said in August 2019.

This was not a simple case of Trump’s typical political insensitivity but, rather, the cognizance that the real Republican prize in the coming elections is not the Jewish vote but the Christian Zionists.

In his speech before the RNC on August 27, Trump recounted to this same audience his pro-Israeli accomplishments, including the relocation of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in May 2018. “Unlike many presidents before me, I kept my promise, recognized Israel’s true capital and moved our embassy to Jerusalem,” Trump proclaimed.

The moving of the embassy, always a great opportunity to repeat the word “Jerusalem” before a jubilant crowd, was the buzzword at the RNC, repeated by all top Republicans, including former US Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley. “President Trump moved our embassy to Jerusalem — and when the UN tried to condemn us, I was proud to cast the American veto,” Haley announced proudly, which generated an approving cheer.

In all of their references to Israel at the RNC, Republican leaders adhered to specific talking points: Iran, the US embassy move, the recognition of the Occupied Golan Heights as Israeli territories, the fight against anti-Semitism (silencing any criticism of Israel), and so on.

However, the Republican discourse seems to be detached from the traditional US foreign policy view that US support for Israel serves the geopolitical and geostrategic interests of Washington. This view, predominant among Democrats, seems to be almost entirely forsaken by Republicans, whose love for Israel is now dedicated to a purely religious mission.

In June 2015, when he was still a Congressman from Kansas, Secretary Pompeo once declared before a packed megachurch in Wichita, that the “battles” against evil is a “never-ending struggle,” one that will continue “until the Rapture,” a reference to what some Christians believe to be a sign of the end of times.

Addressing the RNC from Jerusalem on August 25, Pompeo must have felt that part of his spiritual mission has already been fulfilled.

The post Israel’s Friends at the RNC: "Christian Zionists" Dictate the Agenda of the Republican Party first appeared on Dissident Voice.

“Kamala Auntie”: On the Vulgarity of Bourgeois Identity Politics in 2020

Joe Biden picking Kamala Harris for his running mate kicked off a flurry of think pieces in the media. Some of these opinions have attacked the anti-Black and casteist attitudes still prevalent among South Asians in the subcontinent and in the global diaspora.

The former prosecutor and attorney general-turned-2020 Democratic vice-presidential nominee has been propped up in much the same way as other people of color who have run for elected office. Black radicals have compared Harris’ rise to Barack Obama’s. As the first Black U.S. president, Obama regularly shamed poor and working-class African/Black people in the United States, invaded and destroyed the most prosperous African country of Libya, and bailed out Wall Street using $700 billion of public money while presiding over the steepest fall in U.S. Black household wealth. And that list makes up the beginning of the devastation Obama caused.

One thing that distinguishes Harris from Obama is while her father is an African from Jamaica, her mother is South Asian. After Biden’s announcement, the reaction among South Asians straddled the continuum. While some South Asians were overjoyed at being “represented,” others denounced her lack of action on immigrant issues in the San Francisco Bay Area. Meanwhile, others outright disapproved of her because of her African ancestry and raised questions about her mother’s caste. Now, we can unpack why anti-Blackness exists in South Asian communities, but that would be a diversion. In this article, I examine why South Asians’ newfound love for Harris really isn’t a surprise. To do that, we must delve into the heart of the contradiction that lies in Harris’ so-called leadership.

As African revolutionary Ahjamu Umi recently wrote, it is understandable that people who feel alone or who are neglected or shunned in a society would feel a sense of pride when someone who looks like them appears to have “made it.” It is important to be sensitive to that phenomenon, lest we alienate people we might want to bring closer to us. Surely, South Asians, while the most financially successful ethnic group in the United States, still must deal with the racial profiling that began after the September 11 attacks for anyone who “looked Muslim” and the impact of British colonization all these decades later. However, Umi points out it is our duty to correctly determine inside of which system people are trying to “make it.” Indeed, we must name our enemies. And our primary enemy here is capitalism, not anti-Blackness.

Suraj Yengde, a Dalit post-doctoral fellow at Harvard University, has done groundbreaking work on the impact of caste in India. Yengde has noted Dalits who live in slums face constant violence in the form of police brutality, gang crimes and a humiliating poverty many U.S. residents simply cannot imagine. However, what Yengde also points out is some Dalits who have attained a middle-class lifestyle have turned their backs on their people. What then determines the brutality Dalits and otherwise humiliated people face? It is class.

To further understand why class is the primary contradiction in the rise of Harris, we can look to the writings of Ajamu Baraka, who co-founded the U.S. Human Rights Network and is the national organizer at the Black Alliance for Peace. Baraka has theorized class equally weights race, gender, ability and other identity markers. The reason for this lies in the objective reality of capitalism, which forces oppression onto people. This reality is more brutal for people who had already been oppressed in class societies because of their gender or other identity markers. As long as capitalism remains the primary way human labor is organized, class will remain the primary oppressive factor.

The rulers understand class matters. That is exactly why Harris’ identity as a woman of color has been propped up to cover for her decades-long loyalty to the ruling class, locking up working-class and poor people and deporting migrants.

For the most part, it appears South Asians who have knowingly or unknowingly aligned with the neoliberal elites because of their own class interests or class ignorance have embraced Harris as “Kamala Auntie.” Auntie is normally added to the names of older South Asian women as a sign of respect. But a person who has dedicated her adulthood to locking up and deporting people is not worthy of the title. Herein lies bourgeois identity politics, a vulgar departure from the original identity politics created by radical African women in the 1970s.

So it’s clear a woman of color serving as vice president would not make the bombs being dropped over innocent people around the world any less painful. Neither would her ascendancy to the White House lessen the impact of structural violence in the United States. Until colonized peoples commit ourselves to a working-class internationalism that objectively assesses so-called leaders, our peoples will be duped again.

• First Published in Black Agenda Report

If you are reading this, you might be a Conspiracy Theorist

…a permanent modern scenario: apocalypse looms . . . and it doesn’t occur.
— Susan Sontag, AIDs and its Metaphors, 1989

I should not misuse this opportunity to give you a lecture about, say, logic. I call this a misuse, for to explain a scientific matter to you it would need a course of lectures and not an hour’s paper. Another alternative would have been to give you what’s called a popular scientific lecture, that is a lecture intended to make you believe that you understand a thing which actually you don’t understand, and to gratify what I believe to be one of the lowest desires of modern people, namely the superficial curiosity about the latest discoveries of science. I rejected these alternatives.
— Ludwig Wittgenstein, A Lecture on Ethics, 1929

If you’re reading this, then you’ve probably been called a conspiracy theorist. Also you’ve been derided and shamed for questioning the “science” of the Covid debacle.

The idea of science is now a badly corrupted idea. In a nation, today, (the USA) which in educational terms ranks 25th globally in science skills and reading, and well below that in math, all one hears is a clarion call to science. In reading skills the U.S. placed below Malta, Portugal, and right about the same as Kazakhstan. But in a nation that no longer reads, and *can* no longer read, it is not surprising that knowledge is absorbed via the new hieroglyphics of gifs (interestingly the creator of gifs wanted it pronounced with a soft g the more to sound like a peanut butter brand) and memes. So called ‘response memes’ are the new version of conversation, and most register and communicate (sic) confusion. As beer ad marketers know, the state of your brain after consuming a six pack is pretty much the standard target ideal for advertising. And it relays a message that six pack confusion is actually a good and perhaps even sexy state in which to find oneself. Education is for those with money, those who can afford the proper foundational skills to get into Harvard, MIT, Cal Tech and the Stanford. For everyone else science is Star Trek.

But I digress. The point is that most Americans imagine that they revere science, and they ridicule anyone they think of as unscientific. But they think of it in cult terms, really. It’s a religion of sorts. The only people who don’t are those ‘real’ religious zealots, Dominionist and Charismatic christians (like Mike Pompeo, Mike Pence, Rick Perry, Betsy DeVos et al) who hold positions of enormous power in the U.S. government under the least scientific president in history. The Christian right doesn’t like any science, ANY science. But for most of that target demographic (the educated mostly white 30%), the cry is to “trust the science”…even the great Greta says to “trust the science”. The problem is, science is not neutral.  It’s as politicized as media and news and the pronouncements of celebrities.

In May 2020, The Lancet published an article revisiting the 1957 and 1968 Influenza pandemics.

The 1957 outbreak was not caused by a coronavirus—the first human coronavirus would not be discovered until 1965—but by an influenza virus. However, in 1957, no one could be sure that the virus that had been isolated in Hong Kong was a new pandemic strain or simply a descendant of the previous 1918–19 pandemic influenza virus.

The result was that as the UK’s weekly death count mounted, peaking at about 600 in the week ending Oct 17, 1957, there were few hysterical tabloid newspaper headlines and no calls for social distancing. Instead, the news cycle was dominated by the Soviet Union’s launch of Sputnik and the aftermath of the fire at the Windscale nuclear reactor in the UK. By the time this influenza pandemic—known colloquially at the time as “Asian flu”—had concluded the following April, an estimated 20 000 people in the UK and 80 000 citizens in the USA were dead. Worldwide, the pandemic, sparked by a new H2N2 influenza subtype, would result in more than 1 million deaths.

To date, Covid 19 has not reached the million death marker in the U.S. And yet we are seeing the most draconian lockdowns in modern history, the total suspension of democratic process and a level of hysteria (especially in the U.S. and UK) unprecedented. I wrote about some aspects of this on my blog here, mostly touching on the cultural effects.

Allow me to quote The Lancet again:

The subsequent 1968 influenza pandemic—or “Hong Kong flu” or “Mao flu” as some western tabloids dubbed it—would have an even more dramatic impact, killing more than 30 000 individuals in the UK and 100 000 people in the USA, with half the deaths among individuals younger than 65 years—the reverse of COVID-19 deaths in the current pandemic. Yet, while at the height of the outbreak in December, 1968, The New York Times described the pandemic as “one of the worst in the nation’s history”, there were few school closures and businesses, for the most, continued to operate as normal.

I remember the 68 Hong Kong flu. I was in my last year of high school. The summer after was Woodstock, the ‘summer of love’. Not a lot of social distancing going on. But we are past numbers and statistics having any real meaning. The Covid narrative is now in the realm of allegory.

The media perspective is utterly predictable. Liberal outlets that have the inside track to government are seen to be reinforcing the mainstream story (VOX, Slate, Huff Post, The Guardian and Washington Post). In a recent VOX article the message was only a sociopath would NOT wear a mask and that the ‘science’ was unanimous. Of course, it’s no such thing. But the message of sites like VOX, or Daily Beast, or Wa Po or the truly reprehensible Guardian, are always going to  hammer away ‘on message’. The same is true for what passes for moderate news organs like the NY Times, ABC news, The Hill, and BBC. There has been virtually no dissenting opinions expressed in these rags. All these news outlets are given clear messages by the spin doctors in government, by the White House, and by contacts within the State Department and Pentagon. And by the advertising firms employed by the state (such as Ruder Finn).

Ad agencies are not in the business of doing science.
— Dr. Arnold S. Relman, “Madison Ave. Has Growing Role In the Business of Drug Research“, New York Times, 2002

The WHO, the CDC, and most every other NGO or government agency of any size hires advertising firms. The WHO, which is tied to the United Nations, is a reasonably sinister organization, actually. Just picking up a random publication from the WHO, on what they call ‘the tobacco epidemic’ and you find on page 33 the following chapter heading Objective: Effective surveillance, monitoring and evaluation systems in place to monitor tobacco use.” Reading further and all this is really saying is that the populace of any country is best put under surveillance. It’s for their own good, you see.

But back to the science. Here is a small trip down memory lane….

Institutions of medicine, global and national possess no more integrity than your average NGO (Amnesty International, Médecins Sans Frontières, Oxfam et al). And that means not very much.

To understand the nature of institutional corruption one must understand Imperialism. The institutions of Imperialist nations are going to further Imperialist ideology. (see Antonio Gramsci, ideological hegemony). The U.S. is not in the business of helping Americans.

Modern monopoly forms better reflect that scientific knowledge, and its advanced application to production, are concentrated, ultimately, not in physical objects but in human beings and human interaction with those objects. It is monopoly of the labour power of the most highly educated workers, by both imperialist states and Multi National Corporations, that forms the ultimate and most stable base of imperialist reproduction.

— Sam King (Lenin’s theory of imperialism: a defence of its relevance in the 21st century, MLR)

http://www.wrongkindofgreen.org/2020/04/15/vaccination-most-deceptive-tool-of-imperialism/

The idea of super-exploitation needs to be conceptually generalised at the necessary level of abstraction and incorporated in the theory of imperialism. Super-exploitation is a specific condition within the capitalist mode of production … the hidden common essence defining imperialism. The working class of the oppressed nations/Third World/Global South is systematically paid below the value of labour power of the working class of the oppressor nations/First World/Global North. This is not because the Southern working class produces less value, but because it is more oppressed and more exploited.
— Andy Higginbottom, Structure and Essence in Capital 1, quoted by John Smith Imperialism in the Twenty-First Century

The U.S. jobless rate just hit 2.1 million. Officially. Making the total something over forty million. It’s much higher in reality. Nobody has work. There is no work and we are at the start of a period of massive evictions, foreclosures, and delinquencies — and the homeless population will soon reach Biblical proportions (in some cities, such as Los Angeles, it’s already Biblical). Will be simply of a magnitude never before seen. Hence the authoritarian policing of lockdowns in, for example, New Zealand, suggests something like a practice run. The ruling class in western nations knows full well this is coming. And one wonders if it’s not, in fact, a part of the plan (oh here is where someone says conspiracy theory…probably Louis Proyect). Yes, it’s a fucking conspiracy theory. It is a theory based on evidence, however. Why is the U.S. and UK and a host of other countries deliberately insuring a massive depression? Because they care about your health? They are worried we all might catch the flu? Has the U.S. ever demonstrated a concern with your health and well being before? Remember how many discretionary tax dollars go to health care and how much to defense. Conspiracies do occur. The denial of that fact seems to be hallmark of the pseudo or false left. Does the suspension of democratic process not cause this soft left any problems at all? Look at Sweden, at Belarus…no lockdown and no problem.

It should be noted that there are a great many terrific doctors in the U.S. Dedicated and brilliant, often. But they are not the system. The system is run for profit.

With about three-fourths of Americans under lockdown, the unintended consequences will be vast. There has been a notable decrease in the number of heart attack and stroke patients arriving at hospitals, presumably because they are afraid of catching the coronavirus or of not finding a hospital bed. As the economy spirals downward, we can also expect an increase in mental health crises, domestic violence and suicides. While lockdown supporters say that to have a functioning economy, we must have good public health, the reverse is also true: To have good public health, we must have a functioning economy.
— Alex Berezow, PhD, Geopolitical Futures, 2020

Alfred Willener wrote an interesting book in 1970, analysing May 68 in France. He analyses the answers students gave to various questionnaires they responded to. The section regarding science is worth quoting.

The scandalous fact is that, for all the means that science has put at our disposal, most people live not much better than in the Middle Ages’ . The system benefits from science in the following way: through the atom bomb, through ‘the power of statistical research’ , through computers, through the chemical industry being ‘in the hands of the state’, through space research. ‘In the end, you realize’, concludes one reasonably logical reply, ‘that technological progress, which makes economic growth possible, does not satisfy the fundamental needs of man and is used above all to maintain and strengthen the system’. Lastly, I should like to quote one quite unexpected reply, which forms the extreme point of pessimism: ‘ Everyone is oppressed by science.’
— Alfred Willener, The Action-Image of Society on Cultural Politicization

I doubt seriously one would get such responses today in any European or North American country. The contemporary indoctrination regards science is acute. And the media abounds in junk science. Click bait science. And this is where most people have their opinions formed for them.

There is a paper put out by one of the founders of the World Economic Forum, Klaus Schwab, called The Great Reset. The conclusion of the book reads …

…at a global level, if viewed in terms of the global population affected, the corona crisis is (so far) one of the least deadly pandemics the world has experienced over the last 2000 years.

In other words, a mortality of .06% is simply not commensurate with the extreme measures the governments of the world (the West in particular) are taking. There is no question, none, that those measures, the lockdown, the masks, the distancing, and the attending *diseases of despair*, will kill more people by a factor of ten than the virus itself. This is not even to begin discussing the psychological harm done, in particular to children. And not just harm to children, but severe harm to the most vulnerable.

What is being internalized by children is three fold. One, there is something inherently sick and contagious about ME. Two, everyone MIGHT be a threat to my health. And three, obey authority, because you don’t want to end up like those smelly homeless people we are trying to hard to avoid. Children take things personally. They tend to blame themselves. Even in the comparative sanity of Norway, where I reside, children are increasingly anxious about the world. How could they not be? All this for a health risk of .06%.

But it is more than just the decimation of the economy in the U.S. and UK. It is a dismantling of the culture. One in three museums closed because of Covid will not re-open. Ever. Where does all that art go? Just a guess but probably very wealthy collectors will gobble it up at wholesale prices. The predictable outcome of these lockdowns, certainly in the U.S., is a guaranteed minimum income. Very minimum. Restrictions on travel, all freedom of movement, in fact, will not soon return to normal. Various forms of surveillance and tracking, as well as health certifications, are the goal of the state. Also, if this pandemic succeeded so well, with so little resistance, why not have another? And there is another aspect to the SWAT mask police, and that is that western society is becoming alarmingly hypochondriacal. Children are kept out of school for runny noses. If all kids with snotty noses were kept out of class, nobody would get an education. There is a dire future of two or three generations now developing and maturing with very weak immune systems. So that if a natural mutation takes place one day, from a Corona virus or any other, a genuinely serious pandemic could kill tens of millions.

It is not a speculation that there are people who prosper and even benefit during an economic crisis—as smaller business owners struggle, large corporations and banks benefit from huge government subsidies, giving them more power to buy failing small businesses, for example. And it is a fact that many of those people have enormous economic power to shape the policies that can benefit themselves. It is not a speculation that they would appreciate having strict measures of control against the people by limiting their freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, and freedom to travel, or by installing means of surveillance, check points and official certifications for activities that might give freedom to the people beyond the capitalist framework. It is not a speculation that they would benefit from moving our social interactions to the digital realm, which can commodify our activities as marketable data for the advertising industry, insurance industry and any other moneyed social institutions Including education, political institution, legal institution, and financial institution. Such matters should be seen within the context of the western history being shaped by unelected capitalists with their enormous networks of social institutions.
— Hiroyuki Hamada, Wrong Kind of Green, April 2020

The collapse of retail is accelerating. This is emerging as a monopolization of retail. Few shops will remain, in fact, except luxury stores in select gated areas. The rest will be online and probably rudimentary. The culture and the economy are being strip mined and recreated for a select clientele. The collapse of the economy means the collapse of the bottom 90% or so. The very richest men and corporations on the planet are making huge profits. And yet, there are precious few voices of dissent to the master narrative in the U.S.. In Norway, the lockdown was about five weeks. But it’s a sparsely populated country and one hardly noticed it save for the kids being home and not in school. But schools reopened and the Prime Minister actually made a speech apologizing, in effect, for an *unnecessary* lockdown. She had been frightened. But now, with a mild uptick in positive cases the country is considering stricter limitations on travel. Why? There is no uptick in deaths, only in positive test results. The fact remains the virus attacks the aged and the already sick. But this is very telling, I think. The Norwegian government doesn’t want to be seen as disobedient. They don’t want to not follow the grand plan provided by western agencies and experts. Even if they seemingly don’t really believe it. (The saddest aspect is the voice of Dr. Mads Gilbert, a known advocate for Palestinian rights, who has weighed in on the side of fear. Why? I have no idea. But it is worth noting his predictions from March 2020 were staggeringly wrong.) But clearly the group think pressure is powerful and small nations do not want to be singled out for bucking the *science*. There are economic coercion threatened, tacitly, as well. The pressure to conform is huge and it takes a Herculean effort — both individually and as a nation, to resist. And *experts* seem to have a hard time admitting they were wrong.

The science has been consistently wrong from day one.

As I say, this is now allegory. Or fable. There is nothing reasonable or rational in the lockdown measures of the U.S. and UK and NZ. Or anywhere. And this is not even to touch upon the criminality of the Gates Foundation and Bill Gates buying public influence and visibility. Not trained in any medical discipline, Gates has somehow made himself one of the faces of the pandemic. And to deconstruct Gates’ language is to find a disturbing quality of authoritarian hubris. Gates utters declarations as if he were God speaking to his flock. All from a man who has done little save steal from his partners and exploit the poor of India and Africa. One of the most striking aspects of this whole last few months has been the enormous and coordinated effort the Gates machine has put into rehabilitating his image. If you google “Crimes of the Gates Foundation”, for example, you will get ten different fact checkers officially denying any crimes and another half dozen articles ridiculing those who question Gates’ motives, his profit from vaccine, or even his alignment with eugenicists (de population adherents)– all are derided as, yes, conspiracy theorists. If you dare to question the rushing of an untested vaccine, you are called an anti vaxxer. My children are vaccinated. I just don’t like the idea of a hurried untested vaccine produced for a virus that needs no vaccine. And one promoted by a creepy jillionaire. But clearly the Gates charm offensive is in overdrive. The pastel cardigan is everywhere. And yet, his favorable rating in recent surveys is around 56%. That is actually not very high given the amount of self promotion involved. It’s better than Mark Zuckerberg and Joe Biden, though. Gates is not likeable. No amount of spin can change that.

The final factor to note is the Trump effect. Many liberals would literally rather see dead in the street if it meant discrediting Trump. It is no longer quite a zero sum game, though. But overall the hatred of Trump is now at a religious level, too. And behold, the opposition is Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. If you want a window in the black heart of Biden, watch and/or listen to his testimony around the Waco inferno. The inherent sadism and lack of humanity is glaringly apparent. As for Kamala Harris….

As a San Francisco social worker, I sat on the school district committee that met with families of chronically truant students. Once, when we asked a student why he didn’t go to school, he said there was too much police tape and shootings at his school bus stop. Harris, as CA Attorney General, was putting parents/caregivers in jail if their child was chronically truant. Also as Attorney General, she denied a DNA test to Kevin Cooper, a very likely innocent man who came within hours of execution in 2004.

— Riva Enteen (Counterpunch Aug. 2020)

These are the servants of capital.

The left should be emphasising the economic aspect of lockdown because it is the working class who are the principal victims of lockdown.
— Phil Shannon, Lockdown Skeptics, June 2020

A Downing street tweet today….We’re putting tougher measures in place to target serious breaches of coronavirus restrictions. Fines for not wearing a face covering will double for repeat offences, up to £3,200.

This is a class-based assault. The wealthy will not be fined for not wearing a face covering on their private beaches, or dinner parties at the yacht club.

Send in the Clowns for the Circus is in Town

Don’t bother, they’re here, already performing in the center ring under the big top owned and operated by The Umbrella People.

Trump, Biden, Pence, Harris, and their clownish sidekicks, Pompeo, Michelle Obama, et al., are performing daily under the umbrella’s shadowy protection. For The Umbrella People run a three-ring circus, and although their clowns pop out of separate tiny cars and, acting like enemies, squirt each other with water hoses to the audience’s delight, raucous laughter, and serious attentiveness, they are all part of the same show, working for the same bosses.  Sadly, many people think this circus is the real world and that the clowns are not allied pimps serving the interests of their masters, but are real enemies.

The Umbrella People are the moguls who own the showtime studios – some call them the secret government, the deep-state, or the power elite. They run a protection racket, so I like to use a term that emphasizes their method of making sure the sunlight of truth never gets to those huddled under their umbrella. They produce and direct the daily circus that is the American Spectacle, the movie that is meant to entertain and distract the audience from the side show that continues outside the big top, the place where millions of vulnerable people are abused and killed.  And although the sideshow is the real main event, few pay attention since their eyes are fixed on the center ring were the spotlight directs their focus.

The French writer Guy Debord called this The Society of the Spectacle.

For many months now, all eyes have been directed to the Covid-19 propaganda show with Fauci and Gates, and their mainstream corporate media mouthpieces, striking thunderbolts in the storm to scare the unknowing audience into submission so the transformation of the Great Global Reset, led by the World Economic Forum and the International Monetary Fund, can proceed smoothly.

Now hearts are aflutter with excitement to see the war-loving Joe Biden boldly coming forth like Lazarus from the grave to announce his choice of a masked vice-presidential running mate who will echo his pronouncements.

And the star of the big top, the softly coiffured reality television emcee Trump, around whom the spectacle swirls, elicits outraged responses as he plays the part of the comical bad guy.

Punch and Judy indeed.

All the while the corporate mainstream media warn of grim viral milestones, election warnings, storms ahead!  The world as you know it is coming to an end, they remind us daily.

The latter meme contains a hint of truth since not just the world as we know it may be coming to an end, but the world itself, including human life, as the clowns initiate a nuclear holocaust while everyone is being entertained.

Meanwhile, as the circus rolls along, far away and out of mind, shit happens:

With more than 400 military bases equipped with nuclear weapons surrounding China, the United States military continues its encirclement of China and China enters a “state of siege.

The U.S. conducts military exercises with the Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group in the contested South China Sea. These U.S “maritime Air defense operation[s]” close to the Chinese mainland are a part of significantly increased U.S. military exercises in the area.

The U.S. Defense Secretary Esper announces that the U.S. is withdrawing troops from Germany but moving them closer to the Russian border to serve as a more effective deterrent against Russia.

Russia says it will regard any ballistic missile aimed at its territory as a nuclear attack and will respond in kind with nuclear weapons.

Although the U.S. is formally not at war with any African country, a new report reveals that the United States has special forces operating in 22 African countries with 29 bases and 6,000 troops, with a huge drone hub in Niger that cost 100 + million to build and is expected to have operating costs of more than $280 billion by 2024.

The U.S. continues its assault on Syria, aside from direct military operations, by building up Kurdish proxies in northeastern Syria to protect the oil fields that they are stealing from the Syrian government, a plan hatched long ago.  The U.S. says their strategy is to deny ISIS a valuable revenue stream.  The same ISIS they used to attack the Syrian government in a war of aggression.

A new document exposes the U.S. plan to overthrow the socialist government of Nicaragua through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), a traditional U.S. regime change and CIA front organization.

Meanwhile, in Belarus, a place most Americans can’t find on a map, there is another color “revolution” underway.

Continuing its war against Iran and Venezuela by other means, the Trump administration seizes Iranian tankers carrying fuel to Venezuela.  “Something will happen with Venezuela.  That’s all I can tell you.  Something will be happening with Venezuela,” said Trump in a July interview with Noticias Telemundo.

And, of course, the Palestinians are left to suffer and die as Israel is supported in its despotic policies in the Middle East.

The list goes on and on as the U.S. under Trump continues to wage war by multiple means around the world. But his followers see him as peaceful president because these wars are waged through sanctions, special operations, drones, third parties, etc.

But back in the center ring, the two presidential clown candidates keep the audience entertained, as they shoot water at each other. Trump, who now presides over all the events just listed, and Biden, who enthusiastically supported the American wars against Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya, etc.

But then the followers of Obama/Biden also see their champions as peaceful leaders.  This is even more absurd.

Don’t you like farce?

Besides being a rabid advocate for the invasion of Iraq in 2003 as a senator, Biden, as Vice-President under Obama for eight years, seconded and promoted all of Obama’s wars that were wrapped in “humanitarian” propaganda to evade international law and keep his liberal supporters quiet. From Bush II, an outright cowboy war-wager who used America’s large military forces to invade Afghanistan and Iraq under false pretensions – i.e. lies, Obama and his sidekick Biden learned to arm and finance thousands of Islamic jihadists, run by the CIA and U.S. special forces, to do the job in more circumspect ways. They expanded and grew The United States Africa Command (U.S. AFRICOM) throughout Africa. They agreed to a $1 trillion upgrade of U.S nuclear weapons (that continues under Trump). They disarmed their followers, who, in any case, wished to look the other way. Out of sight and out of mind, Obama/Biden continued the “war on terror” with drones, private militias, color revolutions, etc. They waged war on six-seven – who knows how many – countries.

An exception to the more secretive wars was the Obama administration’s openly savage assault on Libya in 2011 under the lies of an imperial moral legitimacy. In order to save you, we will destroy you, which is what they did to Libya, a country still in ruins and chaos.  Their equally blood-thirsty Secretary of State Hillary Clinton let the cat out of the bag when she laughed and gleefully applauded the brutal murder of Libya’s leader Moammar Gaddafi with the words: “We came, we saw, he died.” Yippee!

After Libya was destroyed and so many killed in an illegal and immoral war financed with $2 billion dollars from the America treasury, Joseph Biden bragged that the U.S. didn’t lose a single life and such a war was a “prescription for how to deal with the world as we go forward.”

Biden was Obama’s front man on Iraq, the war he voted for in 2003, and wrote an op ed article in 2006 calling for the breakup of the country into three parts, Shia, Sunni, and Kurdish.

When Obama launched 48 cruise missiles and more than ten thousand tons of bombs on Syria in 2016, killing over a hundred civilians, a third of them children, V.P. Biden stood proud and strong in support of the action.

When the U.S. launched the bloody coup in Ukraine in 2014, Biden was, of course, in agreement.

But we are told that Trump and Biden are arch-enemies.  One of them wants war and the other wants peace.

How many Americans will vote for these clowns this year?  They are really front men for The Umbrella People, the money people who use the CIA and other undercover forces to carry out their organized crime activities.

As C.S Lewis said in his preface to The Screwtape Letters:

The greatest evil is not now done in those sordid ‘dens of crime’ that Dickens loved to paint . . .. But it is conceived and ordered (moved, seconded, carried, and minuted) in clean, carpeted, warmed, and well-lighted offices, by quiet men with white collars and cut fingernails and smooth-shaven cheeks who do not need to raise their voice.

In the 2016 presidential election, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump received 129 million votes out of 157 million registered American voters eager to believe that this system is not built on imperial war-making by both parties.

Perhaps that’s a generous assessment. Maybe many of those voters believe in the U.S.A.’s “manifest destiny” to rule the world and wage war in God’s name.  I hope not.  But if so, you can expect a big turnout on November 3, 2020.

In any case, it’s quite a circus, but these clowns aren’t funny.  They are dangerous.

But where are the clowns?
Quick, send in the clowns
Don’t bother they’re here

Don’t you like farce?

Extreme Moderation in the Spittoon: Kamala Harris for VP

The Vice Presidency has always gotten a degree of bad press in the US political system. Its ineffectuality is sometimes lost on the occupant, though not on John N. Garner, who considered it “not worth a bucket of warm spit.”  (R. G. Tugwell in The Brains Trust suggests that the measure “quart” was used.)  Two terms as President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s second fiddle was something he considered “the worst thing that ever happened to me”, occupying an office that was “a no man’s land somewhere between the legislative and executive branch.”  He regretted giving up the heftier role as Speaker of the House.

Joe Biden, having himself occupied that spittoon of an office for eight years during the Obama administration, has now found the person he hopes will do the same for him.  That candidate, Kamala Harris, had been an early Democratic contender for main billing, but the electoral law of entropy struck her down early.  In March, when she announced her withdrawal from the race, she was careful to keep her hat in the ring of favour, endorsing Biden as the presumptive nominee with her own lacing of fiction.  “There is no one better than Joe to steer our nation through these turbulent times, and restore truth, honour and decency to the Oval Office.”

The announcement propelled pundit land to chorus with bone weary predictions and assessments, some of which might prove, come November, to be merely astrological.  The fortissimo score that is being played through is that of Harris’s moderation and safe bearing.  The America of Donald Trump is dangerous and immoderate; Harris offers a tepid corrective, one that will see a Bourbon restoration rather than inspired reform.  She “can appeal to voters in key swing states like Wisconsin, Ohio, Michigan, and Pennsylvania,” suggests Thomas Gift, director of the Centre on US Politics at UCL.  She also measures up in the identity stakes, “the first African-American and Asian-American selected as VP candidate for a major party”.

The commentary on her selection is heavy with the centrist tag, one that seeks to push the stone throwing radicals out while supposedly embracing voters who steered to Trump in 2016.  For the Los Angeles Times, Biden’s choice of Harris “set a marker for how he believes Democrats can win – both in this election and in the future – with a multiracial coalition that can excite voters, but a centre-left brand that steers clear of the most far-reaching progressive demands.”

Ed Kilgore, writing in New York magazine, noted these points in 2019.  She is “disciplined”; she is the candidate of “moderation – or some would say, lack of courage”.  Where she is seen as radical is through no doing of her own.  As Elizabeth Weil put it, “Harris’s demographic identity has always been radical” while her record in office was marked by avoiding “saying or doing much that could be held against her.”

These are not exactly promising attributes in populist times.  The Democrats risk doing, as Ted Rall warns, of making the same mistake they did with Hillary Clinton.  Picking Harris is a suggestion to the left base of the Democratic Party to “drop dead”.  Biden’s “centrist establishment handlers view Hillary Clinton’s defeat in 2016 as historically anomalous rather than evidence of a flawed strategy.”  Identity politics becomes the substitute for policy.

This suggests that little in the way of change will be forthcoming on a Biden-Harris ticket.  Harris is branded as an institutional figure (thirteen years in public office, spent as District Attorney in San Francisco and Attorney General of California), one who, according to family friend Lateefah Simon, chose to “work within some of the most systematically racist institutions in the country” while her sister, Maya, became the enterprising advocate.

The institutional moorings of the presumptive VP-nominee is seen as a strength, till you realise that Trump’s victory in 2016, and his appeal to the country’s marked rages, were of an anti-institutional flavour.  What he has done during his tenure has been to trash them, to break the Republic, assisted by his opponents who have done little in the way of addressing the country’s ills. (Coronavirus has, and is doing, the rest.)  A ticket with Harris on it is a promise to Make America the Same Again, a return to political recycling.

Establishment Democrats are certainly happy about “no risk” Harris.  President Obama’s former national security adviser Susan Rice enthusiastically pointed out that any Republican attacks on Biden’s choice was always going to focus on whether they were “left and socialist.  It’s not true.  That is not who Kamala Harris is.  And it’s not who Joe Biden is.”

Much analysis on the Harris pick soon turns into waffle and tripe.  Former Republican staffer and communications boffin Drew Holden picks up on the “moderate and centrist” theme in the Democrat advertising strategy, but insists that she is “among the most liberal in Congress”.  This conclusion is not reached through teasing out any substantive political philosophy.  Holden is a strategist in political communication, and is happy to bore us with “Ideology-Leadership” charts featuring Harris (spot the “purple triangle”) as scoring as an extreme liberal on “our liberal-conservative ideology score”. More interesting is the view held by the editors of the conservative National Review that Harris “is a moderate autocrat”, a “moderate anti-Catholic bigot” and a “moderate monopolist on health care”.  Moderation is the new extremism.

Stool water and slush continue to mark the issue about what constitutes wings of US politics.  Barack Obama suggested in 2004 that there was no “liberal” or “conservative” America, merely the “United States of America.”  Gore Vidal’s idea of two right wings holding the US political cosmos together remains the most pertinent.  There are other iterations of the theme, which focus on the business element so crucial to the timbre of the election system.  A business civilisation will only tolerate the parties of business.  No divvying-up-the-wealth populist is ever going to be allowed to get by the banking mentality that governs the DNC-RNC duopoly.  He can certainly, as Trump has tried to do, pretend to drain the fetid swamp, with the natural inclination to fill it with his own brand of crony.  The rest is reality television chaos.