A confirmation hearing is a job interview, not a trial

Candidates for Appointment to Government Posts or Judgeships Don’t Have a ‘Presumption of Innocence’

Whatever your view of Brett Kavanaugh, let’s get one thing clear:  While he’s hoping to become the ninth justice of the US Supreme Court, he is not on trial. He is facing a confirmation hearing by the Judicial Committee of the US Senate. Republican backers of this clearly flawed and truth-challenged candidate are insisting indignantly, …

Book Review

Ron Ridenour’s ‘Pentagon on Alert: The Russian Peace Threat’

In the preface to his remarkable three-volume History of the Russian Revolution, Leon Trotsky, writing in 1930 about earth-shaking events in which he was a key actor, explains his view of writing history. He cites reactionary French historian Louis Madelin, who wrote that “…the historian ought to stand upon the wall of a threatened city, …

Ahhh, the Smell of Corruption In the Morning

“Awesome Uncontrollable Male Passion” Meets Its Match

There’s so much bald-faced lying going on among Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee that the media needs to stop accepting this condition as normal and “to penetrate that lie.” That’s the view of Lawrence O’Donnell, a self-proclaimed mainstream socialist who isn’t afraid of controversy, a man who has worked in a number of roles …

What 'jury of peers'?

In Montgomery County PA, It’s Often a Jury of White People

I just had the experience of sitting on a jury in a criminal trial in the County Courthouse of Montgomery County, PA, a sprawling urban/suburban/rural region just north and west of Philadelphia. The first indication that something was amiss was when I entered the jury assembly room at 8:15 am on Monday. There were some …

Bloomberg as presidential nominee is what's wrong with the Democrats

We Already Have a Fake Billionaire President; Why Would We want a Real One Running in 2020?

Word is that Michael Bloomberg, the mega-billionaire former mayor of New York City who watched his wealth more than double while he sat in the mayor’s office is thinking of running for President as a Democrat in 2020.

Why does that suck?

Michael Bloomberg and the NYPD cops he ordered as mayor to attack the Wall Street Occupy movement in November 2011Michael Bloomberg and the NYPD cops he ordered as mayor to attack the Wall Street Occupy movement in November 2011
Well, listen as my dear departed friend and co-founder of this site, Chuck Young, recounts (in an article written foR TCBH! published almost eight years ago) his conversation in late 2010 with a Bloomberg “push-poll” caller trying to convince Chuck to support Bloomberg in his re-election bid:

Pollster: Mayor Mike Bloomberg wants to close the $4-billion budget by taking control of the pension plan from the state and enacting pension reform.

Chuck Young: Didn’t you just ask that?

P: No, that’s a new statement.

CY: Well, it sounds like a statement I disapproved of with only slightly different wording.

P: So you somewhat disapprove or strongly disapprove?

CY: Strongly. Now it’s your turn to answer my question. Do you know how much Mayor Mike Bloomberg is worth?

P: No, I don’t.

CY: I’ve seen different estimates, but it’s probably about $18 billion. You can put on your survey that I strongly disapprove of that.

P: The statement is this, sir: Mayor Mike Bloomberg wants to avoid raising taxes on the middle class by taking control of the city union pension plans from the state legislature.

CY: Didn’t I already answer that?

P: No, sir.

CY: Strongly disapprove.

P: Mayor Mike Bloomberg wants to shift control of service union pensions to the city council because the city council understands the needs of the people of New York City better than the state legislature. Do you strongly approve…

CY: $18 billion. You know what Mayor Mike could do with that all that money in his wallet?

P: Sir, I just need to know: Do you strongly approve, somewhat approve…

CY: Mayor Bloomberg could cover the entire budget gap all by himself, and still have $14 billion to live on. How bad could his life be with a mere $14 billion to spend? Would his daughter have to give up even one of her dressage ponies?

A party at war with itself:

DNC Facing Insurgency from Its Progressive Base

This article is running on the website of RT-TV
Yet another upstart socialist-leaning candidate, Ayanna Pressley, ousts a long-time liberal Democratic House incumbentYet another upstart socialist-leaning candidate, Ayanna Pressley, ousts a long-time liberal Democratic House incumbent
The Democratic Party leadership, composed of centrist and conservative Democrats who covet the money donated into party coffers by big Wall Street banks, arms manufacturers and the drug and medical establishment, was upset with the surprise primary victory of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a young upstart Puerto Rican woman in the Bronx Queens congressional district of a 10-term House incumbent in June, as well as by victories of left and socialist candidates in various state legislative and local primaries across the country.

The first argument

One morning, at breakfast,
Creator took a bite out of his toast.
He held it up to his wife proudly.
Moon, he said.
He took another bite.
Mushroom, he said.
His wife frowned.
He took another bite.
Anteater, he said.
And another: Acacia.
Now his wife glared at him.
Acacia!?
Creator was squirming in his chair.
He had to pee.
He took several quick bites,
Leaving only the trunk
And a big bulb at the top
Before he hurried from the table.
Human, he said over his shoulder.
His wife stared at his plate.
I feel sorry for that skinny thing! she said.
And that giant brain is only going to get him in trouble!
She nibbled the top much smaller and sighed,
Not looking forward
To when her husband returned.

Crying wolf over looming economic and climate crises

The US Need Not Inevitably Descend into Violent Chaos If and When Disaster Strikes

Liberal opponents of serious, aggressive action on climate change like California Governor Jerry Brown are the strange bedfellows of right-wing survivalists on one thing: Both are quick to warn darkly that if environmentalists have their way and impose strict cuts on oil, gas and coal production or on mileage standards for automobiles and pollution controls on power plants, or in the case of right-wingers, if the banking system is allowed to continue to run US economic policy and the Fed isn’t audited, the irate citizens of the US will descend into an orgy of anarchic violence and mayhem.

The argument is that if Americans are told they can no longer drive gas-guzzling automobiles and blast their air conditioners at will, or if the US financial system again collapses as it did in 2008 leading to the Great Recession, the people of this country will essentially go mad and a lawless chaos of dog-eat-dog, kill thy neighbor for his food, will ensue.

“It will be like the Great Depression all over,” I read in one account of a recent report by one JP Morgan Chase analyst who is predicting a dramatic market crash of over 40% followed by armageddon. (I learned about this little report of impending disaster from a former cop friend who advised me to get a gun and plenty of ammo and to stock up on food to be able to protect my family.)

But this is truly ignorance regarding what actually happened when everything did collapse back in the Great Depression and Dust Bowl.

Feeding hungry kids during the Great DepressionFeeding hungry kids during the Great Depression
 

It’s true that a few despondent investors did leap from windows of tall buildings in lower Manhattan after the 1929 stock market collapse, but not all that many, and things continued fairly calmly after that as the economy began to seize up. After all, very few Americans were actually invested in the market. But even as the lay-offs, bank collapses, bankruptcies and home foreclosures began to mount, there was no revolution in the US.

My own father, then just a young kid, recalls his family losing their home in Flushing, NY as his father, a carpet jobber, lost so many customers he had to give it up, unable to make the mortgage payments. He didn’t pick up a gun and go on a rampage, or join others in his situation and storm Washington. He just started looking for odd jobs to support his wife and two kids, and voted for Franklin D. Roosevelt in the next presidential election in 1932 and the other three after that.

The Great Depression, when unemployment soared to 25% of the workforce by 1933, remaining above 15% as late as 1940, far past any level it has hit since that time, even in the recent Great Recession, which of course was also much shorter. But even in the depths of that monstrous economic collapse in the 1930s, the American public didn’t turn on each other. In fact, quite the opposite, it was an era of sharing of what people had, and of collective action for change — especially in the field of labor union organizing. The Socialist Party also saw it’s biggest surge of support (the Communist Party, too), as workers saw the need to band together to defend themselves against a capitalist class that was viewed as predatory and criminal.

Sen. Gravel’s high bar for political courage

The Kavanaugh Hearing is about Political Posturing, Not Keeping a Political Hack Off the High Court

The politically ambitious mainstream Democratic Senator Cory Booker has been posing as a courageous man ready to put his seat in the Senate at risk by violating Senate rules and releasing “confidential” emails of Supreme Court nominee and current Appeals Court Judge Brett Kavanaugh at Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Former Sen. Mike Gravel (D-Alaska) and Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ). Whose the real 'profile in courage'?Former Sen. Mike Gravel (D-Alaska) and Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ). Whose the real 'profile in courage'?
 

The truth of course is that some of what Sen. Booker “released” had already been declassified, and that in any event, nothing was of a national security nature. Furthermore, as a senator from a very Democratic state — New Jersey — and one with a Democratic governor and legislature, Booker would not be in any real danger even of losing his seat. In the highly unlikely case that Senate Republicans might try to have him tossed out of the Senate for a rule violation — something that hasn’t happened since 1862 — the New Jersey governor would certainly respond by just using his authority to reappoint him to fill the unexpired term.

All good for Booker, right? Where’s the downside?

The NY Times' remarkable anonymous opinion article

Is it Treason or a Defense of the Constitution?

XX(public domain photo)
 

Most of the uproar, left and right, about the revelation — in both a NY Times anonymous opinion page article by a “high official” in the White House, and a new book by Bob Woodward — that there are top people working for President Trump who are actively trying to keep him from doing dangerous or reckless things out of ignorance or anger, has focused on the question of whether such actions constitute treason, or whether it validates the claim that a “Deep State” cabal of secret behind-the-scenes Machiavellians is working to subvert a duly elected president.

There are grounds for making both arguments, but I’d toss in a third.

Missing from most of these analyses is the reality that officials working for the White House, and indeed the entire US government, don’t take a vow or have any legal obligation to support a leader, or even to support the government or for that matter such a nebulous concept as the “country” or “nation” or the United States of America. Rather, like all members of the military, they take an oath to “uphold and defend” the Constitution of the United States.

That is a big difference.

If the person who wrote that piece in the Times, and those he refers to as also acting behind the Trump’s back to prevent disaster (for example the president’s call to invade Venezuela or, as reported by Woodward’s sources, to murder Syrian leader Bashar Assad, or just to kill more people in Afghanistan), they are acting to prevent the president from violating international law and the US Constitution. If they prevent him from firing Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller who is investigating him and his campaign, which would be obstruction of justice and a high crime under the Constitution, they are protecting that Constitution.