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The white-Left Part 1: The two meanings of white

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Will Trump order the Army onto US streets in a desperate attempt to continue his control?

At the first presidential debate, US President Donald Trump famously told the white supremacist Proud Boys to “Stand by.” Now we know what he was telling them to stand by for: Proud Boys is calling for a million MAGA march in Washington, DC on Saturday. Is Trump hoping that they can cause enough violence and disruption to allow him to declare martial law and deploy US soldiers on to American streets to preserve his presidency?

After the May murder of George Floyd, racial justice protests broke out across the country under the banner of Black Lives Matter, Trump wanted to send regular US Army troops to suppress the protests. At the time, this move was opposed by the only other person in the US government that can issue direct orders to the military, Secretary of Defense Mark T.  Esper.

Because the 1878 Posse Comitatus Act limited the power of the federal government to use federal military personnel to enforce domestic policies within the United States, Trump could legally deploy the US military for domestic law enforcement only by invoking the Insurrection Act of 1807. This rarely used act allows the President to deploy US. military and federalized National Guard troops for particular circumstances, such as suppressing an insurrection. While the Black Lives Matter protests were wide-spread and massive, they hardly represented an attempt to overthrow the US government.

Two days after President Trump threatened to invoke the Insurrection Act, and send active-duty military troops to control the growing wave of protests, Esper came out and publicly opposed Trump's move towards martial law. At a 3 June press conference, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said:

“The option to use active-duty forces in a law enforcement role should only be used as a matter of last resort and only in the most urgent and dire of situations. We are not in one of those situations now. I do not support invoking the Insurrection Act.”

A month later, 5 August 2020, Esper called the protests in the wake of George Floyd's murder “a wake-up call not only for America, but for himself,” according to Military Times. He continued:

“I don’t think what everybody appreciated — at least me, personally — is the depth of sentiment out there among our service members of color, particularly Black Americans, about how much the killing of George Floyd — and the other incidents that preceded it and succeeded it — had on them and what they were experiencing in the ranks as well.”

He promised to step up efforts around diversity and inclusion in the Defense Department.  He also banned the Confederate flag from military bases and supported the renaming of those named after Confederate traitors. About Trump invoking the Insurrection Act he added:

“I was really concerned that that continued talk about Insurrection Act was going to take us in a direction, take us into a really dark direction, and I wanted to make clear what I thought about the situation as secretary of defense and the role of the active-duty forces. And to kind of break the fever, if you will, because I thought that was just a moment in history where ... if somebody doesn’t stand up now and say something and kind of push the pause button, then ... it could spiral.”

We are there now. Esper is gone, fired by Trump in a tweet on Monday. Esper said about his firing, “Who’s going to come in behind me? It’s going to be a real ‘yes man.’ And then God help us.” In his final message to the troops he thanked them for putting “People and Country first,” and admonished them to “always do the right thing.”

The yes man replacing Esper is Christopher C. Miller. He is the director of the National Counterterrorism Center, and now he has been named as acting defense secretary.

Trump didn't just replace the defense secretary, he decapitated much of the Pentagon's top civilian leadership and replaced them with Trump sycophants and white supremacists. By Tuesday, top officials overseeing policy, intelligence and the defense secretary’s staff all had resigned. 

James Anderson, the Pentagon’s acting policy chief, is being replace by retired Brig. Gen. Anthony Tata. He is a racist who promoted the conspiracy theory that former President Barack Obama was a “Manchurian candidate,” and a “terrorist leader.”  He called Islam “most oppressive violent religion I know of.”

Jen Stewart, the Defense Secretary's chief of staff, has been replaced by Kash Patel, a Devin Nunes acolyte who has had a number of roles in the Trump administration, including helping Republicans discredit the Russia probe

Joseph Kernan, undersecretary of defense for intelligence, is being replaced by Ezra Cohen-Watnick, was a close ally of former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

Trump is clearing house, and putting Trump loyalists in key positions in the Pentagon. He is likely doing that with other federal agencies that wield the coercive powers of the federal government. It is also rumored that Christopher A. Wray, the F.B.I. director, and Gina Haspel, the C.I.A. director, could be next in line to be fired.

Why is he doing this with only 70 days left in his legal term as president? Is it possible that he is planning a coup that will require invoking the Insurrection Act and martial law? While that seems far fetched given the 200 year history of stable transfers of power in the US, at least one person who knows his way around the Pentagon says “Mark me down as alarmed.” Retired four star general Barry McCaffrey doesn't give any credence to the idea that the Esper firing is a simple question of revenge for opposing Trump in the past.  He's seriously worried that they are looking at illegal methods of using the power of the US military, and other security agencies, to turn Trump's presidency into a dictatorship. “This is some crazy thinking inside the White House,” he said,  “We are in a risky situation right now.”

We need to take his situation very seriously. It's clear that Trump has no intention of conceding the election to Biden, or leaving the White House before he is forced out. What makes this situation so perilous is that many Republican lawmakers and other administration officials, such as the Secretary of State, appear to be backing Trump's attempt to ignore the clear mandate of the voters.

They know that all the fuss they are making over dead people voting, which no doubt happens in every election in which ballots can be submitted before election day, or their extra poll watchers leaving dissatisfied, has a snowball's chance in hell of overturning the election. These are just tactics to distract, and buy time. As are the excuses given by various Republicans that they are just giving Trump time to adjust to the new reality.

Most probably, they will try to convince Republican controlled state legislatures to overrule the voters in their state and instead, send Trump friendly electors to college. They must know this won't be accepted by the people either. They also know from the Black Lives Matter protests of the Summer, and the recent massive celebrations of Trump's defeat, that there will be massive resistance to any attempt by the Trump cabal to stay in power.

This is the best explanation for these recent changes in the leadership of the coercive arms of the federal government.

Where do the Proud Boys come in? And by the way, they have recently dropped the thin veneer of being multi-ethnic defenders of “Western Civilization”, and declared themselves white nationalists. 

Trump can't just declare martial law on a whim. That would never do. He has to have a cover story, an excuse to invoke the Insurrection Act. This Million MAGA March could be just the ticket, provided anti-fascist fighters take the bait and engage with them.

If this scenario seems far fetched, it would be good to remember that Trump had ordered ordered active-duty troops from Fort Bragg, North Carolina, to assemble outside the D.C. area to put down the Black Lives Matter protests in June, before Esper strongly objected. That's how close we came.

Any woman that has broken up with an abusive boyfriend will tell you this is the most dangerous stage of the relationship.

We must now think about the unthinkable, and prepare to repel attempts by the Trump cabal to use state violence to stay in power.

Clay Claiborne


Time of the Preacher by Willie Nelson

It was the time of the preacher

In the year of '01

Now the lesson is over

And the killing's begun

It was the time of the preacher

In the year of '01

When you think it's all over

It's only begun

Sunday, November 1, 2020

Why Joe Biden is a lesser evil than Bernie Sanders or Greens' Howie Hawkins

In November 1975, I learned my first hard lesson about third party voter suppression. It was a very personal lesson. 

Clay Claiborne @ Amcar - 1975
At the time, I was the Shop Steward for Department 102 at a boxcar factory, the Amcar division of American Car & Foundry [AFC], down by the river in St. Louis, Mo. 

We had just come off a 20 week strike that started on the 3rd of May, and ended on the 20th of September. There were several thousand workers at this plant, half of them African American, divided among several unions. I was among the 700 or so in the International Brotherhood of Railway Carmen of America, Local 365, AFL-CIO.

Before the strike, a core of several dozen activist workers formed a cross-union organization by the name of Labor Power that helped propel the militancy of the strike; as a result it continued to grow during the strike, and after. On the strength of that work, I ran as the Labor Power candidate for Steel Plant Committeeman, which would have given us a seat on the local's executive board. When all 304 ballots were counted, I had lost by a mere 6 votes.

Some said I lost because I ran openly as a communist. Others said I lost because I ran a militantly anti-racist campaign. But I alway felt I lost because local leadership had convinced another member in my department, A. Baldridge, to run even though he had absolutely no chance of winning. He drew only 9 votes, most likely from friends in our department, and that gave local leadership the outcome they were desperate to achieve.

Fast Forward...

If A. Baldridge had said about his 9 votes, “Whatever happened to working class solidarity?,” he could have presaged 2020 Green Party presidential candidate Howie Hawkins' “Whatever Happened to Left Solidarity?” complaint in CounterPunch, 26 Oct. 2020.

Similar to the way Fox News tries to pretend the pandemic is not the context for everything else they are presenting; this is another one of those cases where what is not said, what is missing upon reflection, is the biggest problem. 

Because of Trump's 2016 victory, and what has coalesced around him since, a resurgence of white supremacy is on the ballot in 2020. That is the number one issue. All others are secondary. Howie Hawkins doesn't get that; neither did Bernie Sanders for that matter,

Joe Biden
at least gets that. That's why his campaign slogan is “Battle for the Soul of the Nation.” It's why he campaigned at Gettysburg, and in Georgia. It's why he did well in South Carolina. He says it's why he got into the race in the first place. 

Unlike World War II, the American Civil War was not ended on terms of unconditional surrender; certainly not with regards to white supremacy. A sort of compromise was reached. Although forced to relinquish some of its most offensive habits, it was allowed to linger on. With struggle, its operations have been diminished with time.

Now, surrounding the Trump presidency, we have seen a resurgence of white supremacy, and an attempt at a breakout. In 2020, a kind of "Battle of the Budge" against racism is going on, and Bastogne is on the ballot. If Trump gets a second nod for his racist and fascist policies, and another four years to reshape the government and the country, the results could be catastrophic for humanity.  

Bernie Sanders
From the beginning, Biden has been running an anti-racist campaign. That is the battle that must be taken to Trump et al. That is the minimum requirement for the opposition candidate in this particular go round. At least Biden meets that, which is more than can be said about Howie Hawkins, or Bernie Sanders.

Marianne Williams was the only other candidate in the Democratic primary debate that got it. In response to the bickering over the branding of environmental and health policy at the first CNN Presidential Candidates debate, Tuesday, 30 July 2019, she warned them to focus on the question of the year:
I assure you I lived in Gross Point, what happened in Flint would not have happened in Gross Point, this is part of the dark underbelly of American society, the racism, the bigotry, and the entire conversation that we're having here tonight, if you think any of this wonkiness is going to deal with this dark psychic force of the collectivized hatred that this President is bringing up in this country, then I'm afraid that the Democrats are going to see some very dark days.
Unfortunately, she was never taken seriously as a contender. She endorsed Bernie, after she dropped out, and then she endorsed Biden.

What is prompting this new turn toward racism? 

“There will be no Medicare for All or Green New Deal from the Democrats," Hawkins complains. Sorry, not this go round, that's not number one and two on the list right now. The question is how will the nation respond to this attempted resurgence of racism in the United States? The millions that protested under the banner of Black Lives Matter after the murder of George Floyd voted with their feets this Summer, and they were of all colors. This Fall, our attentions turn to the ballot box because it still represents the most direct, and hopefully, the least painful way, of getting the Trump cabal out of power soonest. Many things make this an imperative, not least of which is that because of the pandemic, tens of thousands of lives hang in the balance. 

And Howie Hawkins just doesn't get it. He doesn't ever really make an ant-racist argument.

When Hawkins does get around to discussing what would be called “The Negro Problem” in another era, he manages to do it without mentioning racism or Trump, while making a Fox-News-like critique of the Democrats:
[W]e fight for affordable housing and against the brutality of police forces that do what the Democrats in the cities designed them to do, which is to keep downscale people, particularly Black people, down and out of upscale communities.
Whatever does he mean by “downscale people”? Are all Black people “downscale people”? He doesn't give us a clear answer. Instead, we are subjected to such nonsensical drivel as this: 
The simple-minded trope that a vote for the Greens is a vote for Trump ignores the fact that a Green vote is in the Green column, not Trump’s. It is an anti-Trump vote, a stronger anti-Trump vote, and a second front against Trump that adds to the total against Trump.

Okay, I thought I had a basic grasp of this electoral college thing, but now I'm confused. Where does “Total Votes Against Trump [TVAT]” fit in? What column does it go in when it comes to determining which individual candidate has more than 270 electoral votes?

Hawkins whines and complains like Trump; he continues, even “ecosocialists are not calling for system change in this election.” Yes! Get the Net! The only system change on the ballot this year is the moves in the direction of an openly white supremacist and authoritarian state being implemented by Trump, his cronies, and his enablers. People from all over are rallying around the Biden/Harris campaign to oppose this reactionary system change.

Instead of bemoaning a lack of “Left Solidary,” and proposing the cure be that everyone join him in his blindness towards the current situation, maybe he should drop his own competing bid for president, and join with the great masses of progressive people by voting for Joe Biden, and putting an end to the hard reign of Trump.

Green Party is being used for Voter Suppression

The Senate Intelligence Committee Report on Russian Active Measures Campaigns and Interference in the U.S. 2020 Election cited the work of cybersecurity researcher Renee DiResta
Voter suppression narratives were in [the data], both, on Twitter (some of the text-to-vote content) and within Facebook, where it was specifically targeting the Black audiences. So the groups that they made to reach out to Black people were \ specifically targeted with 'Don't Vote for Hillary Clinton,' 'Don't Vote At All,' 'Why Would We Be Voting, ' 'Our Votes Don't Matter, ' [and] 'A Vote for Jill Stein is Not a Wasted Vote. '
This is how the Russians did voter suppression in 2016. They also supported the Jill Stein campaign more directly, as did certain Republicans, with the goal of  helping Trump win.  Trump understands the value of voter suppression. In a leaked audio, he can be heard rejoicing over low black voter turnout in 2016  “Many Blacks didn’t go out to vote for Hillary ‘cause they liked me. That was almost as good as getting the vote, you know, and it was great,”

In Wisconsin, the Republicans have been helping both Kanye West and the Green Party get on the ballot because they understand the value of 3rd party voter suppression. Knowing that a vote for Hankins was almost as good as a vote for Trump, some well known Republican lawyers were happy to help, and Hawkins was happy to accept their help. He excused the collaboration with “You get help where you can find it.”  He has a similar excuse for accepting help from Putin's Russia via appearances on RT: “Beggars can’t be choosers.”  It looks like while Howie is warning his supporters “Don't vote for the lesser of two evils,” he is acting like the enemy [GOP/RT] of my enemy [Biden] is my friend. 

At the end of that 20 week strike, we ended up voting for a contract that was less than we were fighting for. The advise "don't vote for the lesser of two evils," never made practical sense. Sometimes you just have to make the best of a bad situation.

Friends in High Places...

I have many stories from my years at the boxcar factory. This is my favorite...

On Strike 20 weeks in 1975
The company attempted to fire me many times, but the union, and the workers always fought hard to get me back inuntil the last time. Once I even had to file a case with the National Labor Relations Board[NLRB].

James, a friend, was an overhead crane operator. It was a thing of beauty to watch him rotate the whole side of a boxcar 180°, while avoiding all the obstacles, as he moved it from one side of the plant to the other. The hook on his crane was half my size. So skillful was he that his idea of a good joke was to silently maneuver the tip of that hook under the back of my hard hat, and lift it slightly to announce his presence 50 ft. overhead. 

After I got back from one of these firing attempts, people told me of a stunt he had pulled in the struggle to get me back. Using a 10-ton parts bin, he pinned my foreman against a large machine so delicately that while the foreman, Joe Fielder, couldn't extract himself, not a bone was broken, and no real injury was done.  Then he leaned out of the cab, and yelled down at him a warning, “You stop f*cking with Claiborne!” before releasing the frightened manager.

After I heard that story, when someone asked me how I got my job back, I simply said, “I have friends in high places.”

Clay Claiborne

If you haven't voted already, please vote!

Saturday, October 24, 2020

Could a white supremacist terrorist also be a Bernie Sanders supporter?

On Friday, The Washington Post ran a story about an assassination plot against Joe Biden by a lone white supremacist terrorist. It began:

As it was becoming clear in March that Joe Biden would be the Democratic presidential nominee, Alexander Hillel Treisman started to map out his plot to assassinate the former vice president, federal authorities say.

The Daily Beast also picked it up:

According to court documents obtained by The Daily Beast,Treisman’s arrest spurred a shocking investigation that uncovered his affinity for mass shootings, racist ideologies, and interest in killing the Democratic presidential nominee. Treisman quickly became the target of a Joint Terrorism Task Forces (JTTF) investigation which included agents from multiple field offices around the country.

This plot had gone well beyond the talking stage. Originally from Seattle, Alexander Hillel Treisman had traveled “to a Wendy’s mere miles from the former vice president’s home,” and in his van the police “found a trove of weapons, including an AR-15 style rifle behind the driver’s seat, a canister of Tannerite, an explosive material, and more than $500,000,” when he was arrested in Kannapolis, North Carolina.

Before he turned his aim towards Biden, he posted on iFunny, a Russian owned social media platform that has become a hub for white nationalists as they have been banned from other platforms, “using racial slurs and talking about killing Black Americans.”

If you're like me, about now you're thinking—another rabid racist Trump supporter. I too was surprised to find that Treisman appears rather to be a fan of Bernie Sanders.  The Charlotte Observer reports:

Treisman also appeared to have been a fan of former Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. In fact, his musings about Biden took place after Sanders left the race on April 8.

“My hatred is for the complacent American people who will turn u in for their own satisfaction,” Treisman posted that same day. “But aside from former goals, my eyes are on the future. If anything I have to save bernie while I can.”

What Bernie Sanders got wrong

On Thursday, 22 Oct. 2020, Chris Hayes asked Bernie Sanders about some polling Trump is promoting that has a majority saying that they are better off today than four years ago. Sanders, with two signs behind him “Fight for a Green New Deal” and “People Power,” responded:

I'm not hearing that people think that they are better off today than they were four years ago. You can debate how people felt before the pandemic, but right now, the facts are quite clear. We have lost tens of millions of jobs. Millions of people have lost their healthcare. I mean, you just saw a million and a half people in New York City alone, one city, are having a hard time feeding their kids. So, I do not believe that most people today, after the pandemic, consider themselves better off than they were four years ago. But clearly, in my view, what Biden has got to do in the last 2 weeks, what we have got to do with a Democratic Congress, is make sure we do not go back to business as usual.

I'm going to fight for a 100 day agenda which speaks to the needs, and the pain, of working families today. We're going to raise that minimum wage to a living wage. We're going to create millions of good paying jobs rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure, transforming our energy system. We're going to expand healthcare. I want to see us move forward with Medicare for All single payer system at least the 1st year that lowers the eligibility age of 65 down to 55. Got to deal with criminal justice, immigration reform—right now! If there was ever a moment in American history where the Democratic Party has gotta be strong, bold, and stand up to the powerful special interests, this is that moment.

What I didn't hear in that recitation is anything that spoke to the pain caused by racism, anything that spoke to me as an African American. Nothing that referenced the racial inequities exposed by the pandemic. Nothing that spoke to the rise of white supremacist viewpoints and policies in the past four years that surpass anything I have witnessed in this country since I stood on the Mall in Washington, DC to hear Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. speak about his dream on 28 August 1963.

Nor, did I hear anything a white supremacist would necessarily disagree with, nothing that was specifically anti-racist. 

Black Lives Matter march in Pasadena on Friday
Sure, “criminal justice, immigration reform” may be taken by some as alluding to those concerns. I rather suspect Sanders thinks so, by the way his voice emphasized that phrase, but they don't. In fact, there is something mildly racist in implying that they do. Most African Americans aren't under the supervisor of the criminal justice system, even though all suffer under the heel of police brutality. Just as most Latinx, and Asians, aren't immigrants. 

Sanders subsumes police brutality under criminal justice reform, but both are more in the US where they are also used as instruments of racist social control, and that must be addressed directly. Also, the phrase “Got to deal with criminal justice, immigration reform - right now!” has no specific content at all, both racists and anti-racists use those terms. They just differ on what the reforms look like.

While he is big on championing the class struggle of all workers with demands like the Green New Deal, Medicare for All, and the $15/hr. minimum wage, “Sanders seldom trained that same impassioned rhetoric on the problems that so many black voters wanted addressed: police brutality, white supremacy, and the ways in which economic inequality is inextricable from race,” complained Terrell Jermaine Starr in 2016. Not much changed for his 2020 run.

Black Lives Matter march in Los Angeles on Saturday
Bernie Sanders was cheered when first introduced at the “She the People” event, a candidate forum focused on women of color, 15 August 2019, but he was booed my the time he left, because when ask what he would do about the rise of white supremacist violence, he first related how he too was on the Mall with Dr. King, and then moved on to give his standard economic stump speech about ending “all forms of  discrimination,” Medicare for All, etc. He was actually given three chances to address this question, but he never did to the audience's satisfaction. Tulsi Gabbard was the only other candidate booed. In her case, it was because of her position on Syria.

Sanders never did a good job of addressing racism, or the rise of white supremacist violence, when prompted by an audience of color. When he wasn't addressing people of color, he didn't even go there. He never understood that that was the single most important question, not just for people of color, but for all Americans, in the 2020 election.

He acted as though his big wins in white primary states would propel him to victory in South Carolina, and beyond. He scrapped plans for a speech on racial justice, canceled a planned visit to a civil rights museum in Mississippi, and  skipped a commemoration of “Bloody Sunday” in Alabama, answering criticisms, by snapping that he was drawing big crowds in California.

LaTosha Brown, co-founder of Black Voters Matter, said she didn't think Sander's understands that racism is as “central and key to our condition as the economic issues. Sometimes I feel like he doesn’t see that.” Noting that “Bernie has not publicly expressed that he even thinks that he needs black voters,” she concluded “There's a blind spot as it relates to race.”

Sanders never delivered a comprehensive speech to clarify his views on the relationship between race and class. The one time he was slated to do so, in Flint, MI, he scraped the speech when the audience he expected to be mostly black people turned out to be mostly white. Apparently, that wasn't a message he wanted to deliver to that crowd.

While African Americans understand the importance of class difference better than most, including class differences within the black community, we also understand that like the Jews under Hitler's reign, we share a common fate, if the white supremacists should consolidate their power under Trump. 

This has made the defeat of Trump the most important consideration with regards to the selection of a Democratic candidate to go up against him in 2020. This also made support for a third-party candidate, with no real chance of winning, out of scope for most African American voters.

The problem for Sanders was not an inability to win African American voters to his progressive ideas. For example, 74% back his Medicare for All. The problem is we don't think the 44% support for that notion among white voters is enough to make him a winner in November.

Bernie Sanders knows the importance of addressing those questions—when he is addressing an African American audience, and wooing black voters—but for the most part his focus is pretty much a call for economic justice. Like most in the white Left, he acts as though the struggle for socialism will subsume, and resolve, the racial issues in due course. 

His campaign never spent much time and money on winning support among African Americans, and when it did, “It was always a dog-and-pony show when it came to black outreach,” was the way one former staffer put it.

Trump is a white supremacist, a racist. He can't be beaten by another angry white man just because he isn't a racist. He can only be beaten by a candidate that is actively anti-racist. This ain't Bernie, so African American voters quickly came to the conclusion that he wasn't the candidate that could beat Trump. This flowed from two reasons: 1) His refusal to address the problems of the racism that daily harms African Americans, meant that he would never be able to mobilize the turnout in our community sufficient to defeat Trump, and 2) His refusal to draw a “line in the sand” with regards to Trump's racism with white voters, meant that he would never win over enough white voters to make the difference. That's why he lost the nomination.

The week before the South Carolina primary, Steve Phillips warned in The Nation “If Progressives Want to Win, They’ll Have to Talk About White Supremacy.” In an article under that title he said:

[T]he most progressive candidates in this race have spent far more time critiquing other, more moderate candidates and supposedly race-neutral aspects of Trump’s time in office, such as his tax cuts for the rich, than they have fighting white nationalism. (Ironically, moderate Joe Biden may be the only one who has directly refuted Trump on this point: One of his early campaign ads challenged the president’s 2017 defense of the white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia.)

What's more, that anti-racist ad was directed at all voters. Joe Biden, in spite of all his past misdeeds, including on the question of race, ran an anti-racist campaign from the very beginning. He even said that Trump's infamous Charlottesville comments, very fine people, on both sides, was the thing that prompted him to run in the first place.

Nevertheless, Sanders had a healthy lead through the first three primaries in overwhelmingly white states, while Biden's was on life support. Most expected him to drop out soon, and progressives thought they were finally within striking distance of getting a progressive Democratic candidate that expressed their views.

Then the African American voters of South Carolina had their say, voting 84% for Biden. That changed everything. That was on Saturday, 29 February 2020.  The following Super Tuesday, Biden handed Sanders his hat on the strength of the black vote, defeating Sanders in eight states with large African American populations.

Many credited his victory to the endorsement of SC Representative James Clyburn. They viewed the black voters as sheep, blindly following the leadership of an old party hack. But Biden was already leading among black voters in South Carolina before the endorsement. He had a regular presence in black churches, and the endorsement of a hundred black preachers before Clyburn's very late endorsement. While the endorsement certainly helped, it is probably more accurate to say Clyburn was “leading” from behind, endorsing the candidate he already knew was going to win the African American vote in SC.     

After than, some “Bernie Bros” really showed their racist asses. One tweeted  “People won't say it but the truth is that many voters in SC are low information voters. Which is a nice way to put it.”

And what would be the less nice way to put it?

The truth is that most African American see Donald Trump, and the rise of the white terror he represents, as an existential threat to our existence. They see defeating him as the number one priority in this election. It's not that they don't support programs like the Green New Deal, Medicare for All, or the $15/hr. minimum wage. They do. They just doubt that a candidate championing that progressive agenda can win over enough white voters while a majority of those voters are still so backwards as to support Trump. 

Trump is trying hard to paint Biden as a socialist because he thinks that association will make him unelectable at this time. That it is still a tight race against the moderate Biden, even after Trump has so badly fumbled the pandemic response, and crashed the economy, would seem to bear that out.

Why would a white supremacist support Sanders?

But, all that aside, there may be no better proof that Bernie Sanders has failed to run an anti-racist campaign than the fact that a rabid racist like Alexander Treisman would still support him. To understand that, we will have to look at Treisman's political philosophy.

Treisman proclaimed his support for the Christchurch mosque shooter, Brenton Harrison Tarrant. This is a new breed of white supremacist that claims to be anti-globalist, anti-capitalist, and pro-green—what he described as an “eco-fascist” position, proclaiming “Globalized capitalist markets are the enemy of racial autonomists.”

In his “The Great Replacement” manifesto, he claims to be for “increasing the rights of workers,” as long as they are white workers, “overthrowing the global power structure”, “taxation should be considered theft", “Green nationalism is the only true nationalism”, “there is no nationalism without environmentalism", “pushing increases to the minimum wage;  furthering the unionization of workers; increasing the native birthrate and thereby reducing the need for the importation of labour; increasing the rights of workers” all in the name of ending immigration. “[T]he need for increasing profit margins of capital owners needs to be fought against and broken.”

When asked if he is a socialist, he responded “Depending on the definition. Worker ownership of the means of production? It depends on who those workers are, their intents, who currently owns the means of production, their intents and who currently owns the state, and its intents,” because they import cheap labor to replace white workers. Many of his slogans sound very “progressive,” but they are only meant to apply to white people.

This man, propelled by these ideas, massacred 50 Muslims in New Zealand Mosques on 15 March, 2019.

Patrick Crusius is the El Paso shooter who killed 20 people, and wounded dozens more, at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, on Saturday, 3 August 2019. Like Treisman, he said he was a supporter of “the Christchurch shooter and his manifesto.” In his manifesto, he said his attack was  “a response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas.” 

He opposed “The takeover of the United States government by unchecked corporations.” Claimed to favor “a basic universal income to prevent widespread poverty and civil unrest”, “ambitions social projects like universal healthcare,” but only for whites. He complains that “Corporations are heading the destruction of our environment by shamelessly overharvesting resources.” and “Fresh water is being polluted from farming and oil drilling operations,” and opposes “imperialistic wars.” Saying “The government is unwilling to tackle these issues beyond empty promises since they are owned by corporations. Corporations that also like immigration because more people means a bigger market for their products.” But also “I am against race mixing because it destroys genetic diversity and creates identity problems.” His goal is to carve a white ethnostate out of the US.

As you can see, this newest iteration of fascism and white supremacy has adopted many of the slogans and catch phrases of left-wing progressives in a effort to gain a following among white workers. If you remember that “Nazi” was just English shorthand for the National Socialist German Workers Party, you will know this is not a particularly new trick.

Given this outlook, the problem isn't understanding why someone like Treisman might be attracted to Sander's agenda of a Green New Deal, Medicare for All, or a $15/hr minimum wage. The problem is that he hasn't seen anything like an anti-racist side to the Sanders' program that would repel him. 

Vote Trump Out Now!

Clay Claiborne

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

The Trump Show hospital episode closes

While being asked “Are you a super spreader, sir?" US President Donald Trump left Walter Reed Hospital via Marine One helicopter Monday to return to the White House, and the campaign trail. Apparently, Trump was bored with the hospital already. Insiders were saying he is “done with it.” Normally, remdesivir is given only in a hospital setting, but his doctors are planning to give him the fifth, and final dose, at the White House today. His doctors are justifying his early release by pointing out that the White House has fully staffed, state-of-the-art medical facilities, with the equivalent of an ICU room. With all that at home, and his illness being so mild, it's likely he never really needed to go to the hospital at all, but coming, or going, you can bet it was Trump, and not his doctor, that was calling the shots. I mean shots, as in film. This has all been political theater, a Trump Production,  

Both the video message he sent out yesterday:

“It's been a very interesting journey. I learned a lot about COVID, I learned it by really going to school. I get it, and I understand it.”

And this tweet:

Which he sent out before he left the hospital were designed to downplay the potency of COVID-19, while re-framing his campaign in relationship to it, much as I had predicted on Saturday, when I wrote:

For eight months now, Trump has been trying to “beat” Covid as a political problem with “magic,” snake oil, and other tricks of the con man. None of that is working; a vaccine can't come soon enough, and now, between the Rose Garden fiasco, and the general uptick in cases we are seeing all over the country, he is about to lose that battle for good. So, instead, he checks himself into the hospital, and neutralizes all that. Later he can emerge victorious, saying: “It was just like the flu, just like I said.”
Trump is nothing if not predictable. He sent out the tweet below this morning. A similar message saying the flu was worst than COVID-19 was taken down by Facebook, and in record time. [Tweet]:

On Monday morning he also said, “As your leader, I had to do that. I knew there was danger, but I had to do that.” Again with the cryptic messaging! Had to do what? Had to get the virus? Wouldn't it be safer just to act like you got the virus?

Later came sooner than I expected on Saturday. Still, many questions remain about his disease, and its treatment. 

The most troubling thing remains its timeline, which his doctors, and the White House staff, have gone to great lengths to obscure. We have been told that the president is tested often, even daily, for the virus. So, it's hard to imagine that the disease had progressed so quickly, and so drastically, that in less than 24 hrs. after first being discovered in testing, he already required admission to the hospital, even out of an abundance of caution. Especially now, when he is being released but still, “not out of the woods yet.”

At the first briefing on Saturday Dr. Conley said Trump is “doing very well,” and they were “just 72 hours into the diagnosis now,” which he later corrected to say he meant 3 days, he also said on Saturday “in particular days seven to ten, are the most critical in determining the likely course of this illness.” Well, that would be this Wednesday through Saturday. So, given he probably didn't need the hospital when he went there, why bring him home now?

If Trump has COVID-19, which I doubt, he is lucky enough to have a very mild case, the kind that tens of thousands of Americans catch everyday, and work through in their basements without any fanfare. I think it far more likely that he isn't really sick, but the old con man saw the advantages, even the necessity, of appearing to take a loss along with everyone else, while close to a thousand Americans are dying of COVID-19 everyday, and positive test results are popping up like mushrooms, even in his inner circle. So, to deal with this messy situation at work, he simply called in sick.

On Saturday, his doctors said he had “a mild cough and some nasal congestion and fatigue.” That had been on Thursday, but that was all behind them on Saturday. Later, they said “he did have a fever Thursday into Friday,” but that was gone too, although on Sunday it was reclassified as a “high fever.”  On Sunday, they also said he had "two episodes of transient drops in his oxygen saturation,” and he was given 2 liters of supplemental oxygen one time. They “debated the reasons for this," because transient drops in oxygen saturation, can be caused by many things besides COVID. For example, it is commonly associated with COPD and sleep apnea. According to this article “Normal oxygen saturation levels range between 95% and 100%.” Home oximetry, used to measure this at home are designed to trigger for a drop of more than 4% below a person's normal daytime level for at least five minutes. Dr. Conley said that late Friday morning Trump had a high fever, “and his oxygen saturation was transiently dipping below 94%," so it might have made the machine go beep.

The whole problem with trying to read these tea leaves left by his doctors is that Trump has no credibility, and he is giving the orders, not them. Therefore, his doctors have no credibility. I would really like to see enough information to determine whether his COVID was “slim” or “none,” because I wouldn't put it past him to make the whole thing up. That might have looked like a smart move, given the circumstances. Or he may have genuinely caught a mild case, just like 7 million other Americans, and played it into the same con. I don't know; when I looked at him squeezing at the top of the stairs last night...One thing is certain, if he doesn't already have COVID, and he goes back into his White House maskless, he soon will have it.

There is also this: I must tell you that there is one dataset that I looked at that strongly indicated that he really was feeling bad for a few days, his Twitter output. In September, Trump averaged 44 tweets a day, even while traveling, campaigning, and running the country๐Ÿ˜’. On Thursday, 1 Oct., it was 32 tweets, on Friday, the day he checked into Walter Reed, he tweeted only twice, on Saturday only three times. Sunday was 9 tweets, Monday it was up to 21 tweets, on Tuesday, he'd already done that many by noon. That's what I call a "V" shaped recovery. Now, in defense of my theory that Trump's COVID really is a hoax, I could argue that not tweeting much for a few days was necessary to make his story stick, and he knew it. But, I don't think he would have the discipline, do you? He had to be one sick puppy to get his tweets below one an hour.

Meanwhile Kayleigh McEnany, White House Press Secretary became the 18th or 19th person that was at the Rose Garden super spreader event, or close to Trump, that has tested positive for COVID-19, as Trump's White House emerges as the newest novel coronavirus hotspot. 

 Clay Claiborne 

My other posts on Trump's illness:
Is Trump really sick?
Trump's doctor isn't a very good Spin Doctor

Sunday, October 4, 2020

Trump's doctor isn't a very good Spin Doctor

President Donald Trump's lead physician, Dr. Sean Conley, is no doubt a first rate doctor. His current problem is that he isn't a very good liar. He led another Trump doctor's press conference today, and much of what he said contradicted what he had said just the day before, or it contradicted what White House chief of staff Mark Meadows had been saying.

If these doctors' press conferences aren't expensive photo ops, they seem to be a terrible waste of some very expensive talent. Yesterday's press conference involved Dr. Conley and nine other white lab coats. This morning he was joined by seven medical workers in white lab coats. Most of these people are clearly just there for show; they say nothing. The few that do speak always prefix their remarks with praise for their team, and their commander-in-chief. It's important to remember that they are all Naval officers in the chain of command, and Trump is their boss.

It should be expected that they will lie about the true condition of the commander-in-chief if ordered to. One could easily imagine a situation where telling such lies could be a matter of national security, but there could be less scrupulous reasons as well. Theirs is not to reason why. If we could see their orders, we'd probably understand why they sound so stupid.

When I think of the meters running over the heads of all these medical people, not only the time in front of the camera, but the time in staging as well, I can't help but think, “Don't you have something else to do?” You'd never put up with it; nor would I. I'd tell Dr. Conley to go around and talk to every member of his team, and then come back here, and give us a report - and no more meetings to discuss who will say what. Only on the taxpayer's dole! Trump's $750, on a good year, might pay for about 15 minutes of this. If all this is for the political purposes I suspect, Trump is in violation of campaign finance laws, and should reimburse the taxpayers.

Dr. Conley began,  “Since we spoke last [on Saturday], the president has continued to improve.” That was good news, because on Saturday he said Trump was “doing very well.” But while his condition may have improved going forward from Saturday to Sunday, in retrospect, it seemed to be getting worse as we looked back to Friday! Whereas on Saturday, Dr. Conley had described Trump as having had a “fever” on Friday, now it had been a “high fever,” and we found out that the drug therapies he was on included not just Regeneron, and remdesivir, which we were told about yesterday, but the steroid dexamethasone too. This has raised a lot of questions among medical experts because the combined use of these three treatments at the same time is unprecedented. Much of what we were told, combined with what was said yesterday, both by the doctors and the White House, has created more smoke than light about the state of the president's health.

The most curious thing Dr. Sean Conley said was this:

“I didn't want to give any information that might steer the course of illness in another direction, and in doing so, you know, it came off that we're trying to hide something, which wasn't necessarily true. The matter is, is that [Trump's] doing really well.”

That first part comes off as very unscientific, even mystical. How could any information he gave to the public affect the course of the illness one way or another? Is he confusing the public's perception of the disease with the disease itself, the way Trump confuses the number of COVID-19 cases found by testing with the number actually existing? Of course, this is the doctor that prescribed him hydroxychloroquine. Fortunately, that is out of the picture now. 

The reason Trump is “doing really well” is that Trump isn't really sick. The only way Dr. Conley's information could steer the course of illness is if the “illness” being treated is Trump's poor standing in the polls. 

It came off that they were hiding something because they were. It's just that simple. They are doctors, yes soldiers, but doctors first, not actors or politicians. Dr. Conley gives the “tell” to that in this very statement; “wasn't necessarily true?”, who talks like that? Don't hold your breath waiting for Trump to say he's not necessarily lying to us.

If Trump really has COVID19, then why was he not wearing a mask in the hospital videos? To me, he sounds as healthy as ever, certainly not like someone just recovering from a serious respiratory virus, but what do I know? I'm not a doctor. 

Trump says in this video:

“It's been a very interesting journey. I learned a lot about COVID, I learned it by really going to school. I get it, and I understand it.”
Just as I predicted yesterday, he is going use his “illness” to present himself as “re-born” on the COVID issue, and try to reframe his relationship to it ahead of the election.

Minutes after he posted this video, he had the secret service take him on a presidential motorcade so that he could wave to his supporters on the street, and then right back to the hospital. This is in sharp contrast to the visitation rights of your average hospitalized novel coronavirus patient. They may die there without ever being allowed a visit from a family member. Then there is the small question of subjecting two secret service agents to close contact with a Covid patient, in a sealed box with recirculating air. So much for Blue Lives Matter. They promised to take a bullet for the president, not a virus.


Trump knows that British PM Boris Johnson was hospitalized with COVID-19, and his popularity soared, at least for a while, when he came out. Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro never had to go into the hospital, but recovering helped his popularity nonetheless.

And Trump is very familiar with the old medical excuse. He used bone spurs to avoid service in the Vietnam War. Trump may be the greatest con man that ever lived, but in this case, he is playing a trick that may be the most primal, and basic, con of all times. What child hasn't feigned a stomach ache, or such, to avoid going to school because of a test, a bully, or another reason that had nothing to do with illness? Later, this same ploy, or con, may be employed to avoid a sticky situation at work. That is precisely what Trump is doing. He is just doing it on the grandest scale possible.

Clay Claiborne

Read yesterday's post on Trump's illness here: Is Trump trying to pull a #ConGimmick?
Also on Tuesday: The Trump Show hospital episode closes

Is Trump really sick?

formerly titled: Is Trump trying to pull a #ConGimmick?
“The bigger the lie, the more they believe it." 

I know most of you will think me a cynic for what I am about to suggest, but actually, I think this view is rather optimistic, for if I am right, it means our commander-in-chief is in no serious jeopardy. Besides, when it comes to Trump, I find that cynicism is the best policy.

What if Trump isn't really sick? What if he is just gaslighting us?

Let's first start by looking at Trump's

Week In Review 

Last Saturday was truly the high point. In the last weeks of his re-election campaign, Trump as able to move one step closer to delivering on one of the campaign promises most cherished by his right-wing Christian base with the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, and they celebrated in the Rose Garden. Of course, being called upon to deliver on a campaign promise likely to lead to the overturning of the very popular Roe v. Wade decision, or ending the very popular Affordable Care Act, isn't likely to win him more votes. More likely, with six right-wing Justices in the bag, some who support him for those reasons, despite some ethical squeamishness, may decide they don't have to do that any more, but what could he do?

You can see the Rose Garden affair here, but fast forward for eleven minutes because that's how long Trump made them wait, maskless, seated cheek by jowl, for him. I nominate him the least likely person to get Covid at this affair because he was up front, away from the others. The only person he was close to for any length of time was Amy Coney Barrett, and she wasn't a danger because she's already recovered from Covid. 



Monday was not a good day. Thanks to the New York Times, we finally got a good look at his tax returns, and Donald Trump was revealed as a tax fraud and a failed businessman. The next day brought more of the same from the NY Times. This is very bad for him. He was already running 8% behind in national polls, and 4-6% in some key battleground states.

Tuesday was debate night. It was his big chance to turn things around, but it did not work out well for him. His adolescent antics didn't win him any new supporters, and pissed off many formerly undecideds. His refusal to just say no to white supremacy, and his marching orders to the Proud Boys, did manage to push his tax returns off the frontpage, but only at the cost of spending Wednesday denying the obvious. Trump, besides being perhaps the greatest con man that ever lived, is also a racist.

Wednesday was also the day Cornell University release a study naming Trump “the single largest driver of misinformation around Covid.” Not “a good look” when a quarter-million of the citizens you are suppose to serve are likely to be killed by Covid before election day.

The incubation period for the novel coronavirus is from 5 to 12 days, so the first indications of the Saturday super spreader now known as the #RoseGardenMassacre would have started trickling in on Wednesday. By Thursday, they would have known they were looking at another big public relations disaster. Never mind how many might die.

By Thursday morning, Trump's unwillingness to disavow white supremacy was competing with his refusal to guarantee a peaceful transition of power if he loses, for headlines, and post-debate polls were shouting that this was the most likely scenario. With only two days to go, it was turning into a pretty lousy week for candidate Trump, one month ahead of the election.

His campaign has been flailing around for weeks. They pulled their ads because they weren't working. They were running out of money. Local officials were rejecting his super spreader rallies, and the campaign manager he just replaced turned suicidal. But his most intractable problem remained the novel coronavirus. With more than 7.4 million infected, and more than 210 thousand killed in the United States, he just couldn't con enough people into believing it's a hoax. He needed a reset for his whole campaign. More than anything, he needed a face saving way of re-aligning his Covid policy in the face of the big spike in both infections and deaths this Fall is likely to bring ahead of the election.
 
Doctor, my eyes ..Just say if it's too late for me

Then he changed everything in an instant. At 10:44 PM ET Thursday, Trump tweeted out that Hope Hicks had tested positive for COVID-19, and that he and Melania were awaiting results:



Two hours and ten minutes later, Friday @ 12:54 AM ET, he tweeted out that they both had tested positive. White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Trump had received the test results only an hour before announcing them.



Suddenly, it's as if he had turned the world on its head. The news all day Friday was about Trump and his illness. In the morning, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows was outside the White House telling reporters that Trump had “mild symptoms.” It was topic #1 for White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany's morning press conference. About 4 PM ET, the White House announced that Trump had received a dose of Regeneron, and would be checking into the hospital soon, “out of an abundance of caution.” A few hours later he took a helicopter ride to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. It's as if all that had gone before was behind him. From being the perpetuation of their misery, he had joined the Covid victims. All concerns went to him. All the criticisms, even from the beginning of the week, were drowned out. The Biden campaign even pulled its negative ads without expecting, or receiving, reciprocity.

"If you can't beat'em, join'em"

This age-old wisdom is never lost on the good con man. Sometimes a change in tactics may be necessary, and sometimes this can be a guide. For eight months now, Trump has been trying to “beat” Covid as a political problem with “magic,” snake oil, and other tricks of the con man. None of that is working; a vaccine can't come soon enough, and now, between the Rose Garden fiasco, and the general uptick in cases we are seeing all over the country, he is about to lose that battle for good. So, instead, he checks himself into the hospital, and neutralizes all that. Later he can emerge victorious, saying: “It was just like the flu, just like I said.”

It's very strange that he should first test positive less than 24 hours before he needs hospitalization, for someone who is tested regularly. That's much faster than the normal progression of the disease. It's certainly possible that his doctors wanted him there, out of an abundance of caution, even for a mild case, but I don't think he'd go along with them if he thought it would hurt him in the election. If he had listened to his doctors about wearing a face mask, we probably won't be having this conversation in the first place.

As we've all been told a thousand times over: You wear masks, not just to protect yourself from the virus, but also to protect others from you, if you happen to have the virus without knowing it. If it was only the former, only for self-protection, I might be inclined towards a libertarian bent, and say the wearing of masks should be optional. But even then, not in the case of the president. To the president I would say: We provide you with special cars, special planes, a big security detail, and a whole suite of rooms waiting at the local hospital while some Covid patients lie on gurneys in the hall waiting for a bed, not because you are Donald Trump, but because you are the President of the United States, and the welfare of the president is important to the welfare of the country. We spend billions on your security, and they can protect you from many things, but they can't protect you from a virus. So, while you may not like it. this is the job you signed up for. So once again, WEAR THE DAMN MASK!

They can't get him to wear a mask, so I don't think they could get him to check in to the hospital unless he wanted to. I suspect there are enormous resources that can be bought to bedside in the White House, if he wanted to avoid the spectacle of checking into the hospital. No, if Trump wasn't at death's door, he checked into the hospital with his “mild case” because he thought the drama of it all would help, rather than hurt, his efforts to stay in the White House. Being in the hospital assures that his illness will remain the top story, even as so many others are reporting sick.

Note, this scenario is only the slightly more honest version of the totally unscrupulous one I am proposing. In this one, he is overplaying a mild case of Covid for effect, in mine, his Covid is made out of whole cloth. Either way:  Cui Bono?
Saturday morning, the whole world waited so patiently for an update on Trump's condition. When the doctors were finally shepparded out by Mark Meadows, we got more doctors than answers.

To hear Dr. Sean Conley describe Trump's condition, it sounded like he had no problems at all. True, “Thursday he had a mild cough, some nasal congestion, and fatigue,” but that was all better now. He did quite a bit of gaslighting around the question of whether Trump had received any supplemental oxygen with repeated comments like “He's not on oxygen right now.” He wouldn't answer the question directly, like “yes, he has received oxygen.” Most reporters took it that he was trying to strongly imply that Trump had received oxygen, but wasn't being allowed to say. Later “sources” confirmed that he had received oxygen. I think he hadn't received any oxygen at the hospital, and the doctor's coy answer was the closest he would come to supporting that particular lie. Doctors have ethics. Conley led with the same kind of opiate line with regards to Trump's temperature, saying, “He's been fever free for the past 24-hours.” Only during the Q&A did he clarify, “He did have a fever Thursday and Friday,” although he was shy about giving us any numbers. He said all his organs were good, everything else was fine, and his blood-oxygen levels were normal. It sounded as if he had never been sick at all. Nevertheless, they started a five day treatment of Regeneron on Friday, and that needs to be administered in the hospital, so he is likely to be there through Tuesday. They didn't say that. I deduced it. Mark Meadows shepherded them back into the building before the questions got too specific.

A little later Meadows returned as “a source familiar with the president’s health” to sharply contradict the rosy picture painted by the doctors:
The president’s vitals over the last 24 hours were very concerning and the next 48 hours will be critical in terms of his care. We’re still not on a clear path to a full recovery.
Apparently the rosy picture wouldn't do. Looking at all those doctors telling us what a picture of health Trump is, I was reminded of the line from The Usual Suspects: “Sure you brought enough guys?” Meadows knew he needed to give us all something to worry about to keep the story interesting. A lot more people than Trump are getting sick, even in his small circle. All the talk about the contradiction between what Trump's doctors said, and what his White House said, amounted to today's distraction.

Later on Saturday, Trump tweeted out a well-produced four-minute video to a waiting, and sympathetic audience. If you ask me, he doesn't look, or sound, like someone even recovering from the flu. He looks more like someone who took off his tie to act like he is recovering from Covid.



I hope Trump comes home from the hospital soon, but if he does, we may never know whether his Covid's first name was Slim or None. In anycase, he is going to try to use this to reset his campaign. All that has gone before is in the past. He now “sees the light” on masks. He will be re-born in the fight against #COVID19. He will try to leverage his “near-death experience” into four more years in the White House. This is his first October Surprise.

Actually, this gambit isn't even all that creative. I mean, it won't exactly be the first time someone called in sick to deal with a sticky situation at work.

Just my 2¢ worth.

Clay Claiborne

Thursday, October 1, 2020

Presidential Debate #1: The Squabbles of Capital - my annotated version

After I left this comment on yesterday's Left Voice piece on the debate:
You say "Biden and Trump are on the same side: the side of capitalism." But are they both on the side putting overt white supremacists and fascists in state power? Are they both interested in a disorganized and personally self-interested approach to the pandemic that has so far cost more lives in the US than every other country, including every other capitalist state? Are they on the same side when it comes to the right to an abortion? Are they on the same side when it comes to building the strength of extra-legal white supremacist gangs? The white Left view that there were no significant differences between Trump and Clinton is what allowed Trump to bring his virulently white supremacist gang into the White House in the first place. This is deeply personal to me. I have already suffered from the growing racist movement that has developed under the Trump regime. There is no contradiction between voting for the least racist and fascist of two capitalist candidates so long as only capitalist candidates can win the presidency, and building the mass working class movement. In fact, that movement can only be built by leading in the fight against Trump's attempt to solidify authoritarian rule in the US. That's why the Green Party is smaller, and even less important than it was in 2016. Please don't make the same mistake twice.

I felt the need to deepen and extend my critique, because it is also vitally important to fight voter suppression coming from the Left. So, here, with my comments in red, is my annotated version of Ezra Brain's 

Presidential Debate #1: The Squabbles of Capital

The first presidential debate, for all its drama and chaos, showed that there are actually very few political differences between the two candidates.
Except one is calling on racist, misogynistic paramilitary gangs to help him overthrow the results of an election for the first time in US history.
While it is certainly alarming to watch Donald Trump continue his increasingly overt overtures to the far right, we must understand that it is the working class, not Joe Biden, that has the power to fight back against the far-right.
A great many forces have the power to fight back against the Trump right, and we should be about uniting all of them, even including the Lincoln Project and Republicans Against Trump.


The first presidential debate of the general election was a raucous affair,
This was pretty much the lead Fox News went with. "a raucous affair" is what Trump was aiming for.
with Donald Trump playing the part of vaudeville villain to Joe Biden’s fumbling imitation of an Everyman. Trump was relentlessly antagonistic,
He wouldn't mind that description at all!
attacking Biden for everything from his record to his grades in college to his son’s drug addiction, and attacking him politically from both the left and the right. However, all of their bickering disguised the fact that, on the issues, very little separates the two men.
Sure, once you leave aside the fact that one of these men is an authoritarian, and white supremacist of the first order, bent on suppressing the African-American vote "like you've never seen before," using white supremacist paramilitaries to maintain power, suppressing free speech, and freedom of the press in a way not seen in this country in my lifetime, and generally destroying any democratic institutions, such as they are.
Both oppose defunding the police, the Green New Deal, and "largely symbolic" Medicare for All.
Which is not to say both have the same expansive view of the uses of police powers, especially to suppress people of color, and the left, both don't believe that climate change is a real thing, and have no plans whatsoever to combat it, and both would continue the same anti-science, and callus way of handling the pandemic, or health care in general. You have set very Trump-friendly bars here. 
Both support imperialism and are in a race to see who can be the toughest on China. Trump did distinguish himself by refusing to condemn white supremacists,
Not a minor point! Also a very Trump-friendly way of putting it. He didn't just refuse to condemn white supremacists. He said explicitly they needed to built militias to take on the Left and BLM, he actively help build their movement with his comments, and told them to "stand by" for their marching orders. Did you miss all that?

but Biden, for his part, strongly defended the police. Although their rhetoric differs, both candidates are strong supporters of the racist state and the violence necessary to maintain it.
You seriously don't see a difference here? Are you blind?
Mere days after we hit one million deaths from Covid-19, neither candidate has any policies to actually combat the spread of the virus other than vague overtures about how we should have been more anti-China, or that individuals need to wear masks,

Are you seriously claiming that both have the same view on the importance of wearing masks? Trump's clear anti-mask attitude, including the refusal to make N95 masks widely available even after six months, has costs tens of thousands of lives. Not a small thing. Look at today's reporting about how Trump nixed mask wearing because "it wasn't a good look."

or that we should bail out more big businesses. The truth of the matter is that Biden, Trump, and the entire undemocratic system of American “democracy” offer nothing for the working class except austerity, death, and misery.

So, I guess that means African-Americans should stop fighting for the right to vote. Perhaps we were wrong even to demand it in the first place. BTW, this view also supports Trump's voter suppression program.

“You Just Lost the Left”

Trump’s strategy for the debate was to back Biden into a corner and use this position to control the debate. The most effective deployment of this strategy came near the beginning of the debate when Trump accused Biden of giving concessions to the “radical socialists” Bernie Sanders and AOC. Biden fought back, rejecting universal healthcare. Trump triumphantly crowed, “you just lost the left.”

Putting Biden in these positions helped establish both Trump’s control of the debate itself and the efficiency with which he is able to poke holes in Biden. As another example, when the subject of race was brought up, Trump expertly used Biden’s writing of the Crime Bill and his statements around it against him.

Trump "expertly" lied. Biden never used the term "super predators," that was Hillary Clinton. But rather than call out his lie, you endorse and propagate his lie. 

It is, of course, hypocrisy in the highest degree for Donald Trump of all people to attack someone about race. After all, only a few minutes later he refused to tell white supremacists to stand down.

Again, he did more than refuse to tell white supremacists to stand down. He called them to arms.

However, the moment still stood out as a very clear and direct attack on Biden. While Biden struggled to find his footing, Trump was able to control the narrative and put Biden in several uncomfortable positions.

Sounds like you really thought Trump "won" the debate. What he did was destroy any narrative. That was his plan. Don't you see this? Instead you award him "control" points!

This ability comes both from — as the mainstream media was quick to point out — Trump’s utter shamelessness and lack of respect for the procedure of debates but also from his total lack of actual politics. 

Like I said, he has no narrative. 

He interrupted both Biden and moderator Chris Wallace all night in an attempt to show himself as a strongman. Whether or not that will work remains to be seen, 

We must work out why this does so often work with many workers.

but Trump, as a total opportunist, is able to tack left or right as needed in order to appeal to the voters he’s speaking to. In a single response to Biden on race, he attacked him from the left (on his support of the crime bill) and from the right (that he doesn’t support “law and order” enough). 

One area in which Trump was able to point to something true was in his characterization of the “recovery” of 2008. While Biden — like Clinton in 2016 — tried to insist that everything was sunshine and roses under Obama, Trump correctly criticized how slow the recovery was.

Correctly? In the sense that the first black president managed the capitalist crisis he inherited from Bush worst than Trump or other [white] bourgeois politician could have handled it? That was Trump's point, not that such crises are inherent in capitalism. Was that true? 

The truth is that many never recovered from the 2008 crisis, as an entire generation was forced to take on precarious labor and millions of dollars of student debt. Biden and the Democrats’ insistence on pretending that the crisis was resolved is totally out of touch with the realities of the real economy under Obama. This current economic crisis is not new but, rather, a deepening of the unresolved crisis of 2008. Trump, of course, has no solutions to add to this analysis other than a continuation of capitalist domination. Trump is interested only in enriching himself and his capitalist cronies. As we’ve seen since the beginning of the crisis, the only solutions that any of the capitalists have is to force us to pay for their crisis. Trump and the Republicans gave billions in bailouts to big businesses while only leaving crumbs for the working class, and when those crumbs ran out, they have been dragging their feet to extend them. Trump is nothing if not a sworn enemy of the working class.
Then why not vote to defeat him? 

“I am the Democratic Party”

Joe Biden spent the first debate trying to seem like the adult in the room. This took the form of trying to make emotional appeals to the “average voter” in the audience instead of getting down in the mud with Trump. This essentially meant that Trump was left to argue with the moderator, interrupt, and make a scene, with Biden standing aside. While Trump’s antics eventually made a refusal to engage impossible, the strategy is still interesting because it shows that Biden has made the political calculation to appeal to moderates who may agree with some of Trump’s politics but dislike his demeanor. The goal of appealing to the moderate suburban white voter that was seen at the DNC continued through the first debate.

That may be because so many white voters are so backwards they support Trump's program, and unlike the Green Party and the white Left, Biden actually wants to defeat Trump.

This strategy led Biden to tack even more to the right than he has previously. He said complimentary things about Amy Coney-Barrett,

I guess he should have trashed her &  family all the way, that would've won him votes and made the political issues around her nomination all the more clear.

Trump’s ultra-right religious extremist nominee for the Supreme Court, and said that he would support Trump if he won the election. 

He didn't say he would support Trump. He said he would support the outcome, even if the vote favored Trump. Again you "misspeak." I always thought that was the basic ground rules for participation in any election, to support the outcome even if it goes against you. You think he should take the same stand as Trump?

In addition, Biden stated explicitly that he is in favor of private insurance and that he doesn’t support the Green New Deal. Biden even bragged about how he had to defeat the progressive wing of the Democratic party in order to become the nominee, going so far as to say “The party is me. Right now, I am the Democratic Party… I am the Democratic Party right now. The platform of the Democratic Party is what I, in fact, have approved of.”

With this proclamation, Biden makes explicit the theoretical and strategic bankruptcy of lesser evilism. He is totally uninterested in moving to the left, and as more and more leftists throw tactical support behind him, he is still only moving to the right. As the crisis deepens, whoever is elected to administer that capitalist state will have to unleash some of the most devastating austerity in generations. Biden isn’t even pretending that he won’t do this. He’s promising to continue private insurance, even as hundreds of thousands die of a virus, and he won’t even support the largely symbolic reforms of the Green New Deal. If elected, Biden will mean more of the same for working people except without any opposition on the streets, since much of the masses who have been protesting Trump are being led to support Biden.

Now we touch upon the real basis of your support for Trump. You think his brand of fascism will be good for the class struggle, even if it means hundreds of thousands more will die of COVID19 in the US, and the suppression of people of color will be particularly cruel. But I think you are wrong. I think you will find that the vast majority of those fighting for black lives will vote for Biden, and if he wins, will keep on fighting for black lives.

“Proud Boys… Stand By”

I thought this should be headline coming out of this debate, not the "squabbles." "Squabbling" was the headline the Washington Post went with. Of course they didn't mention "capital," but that word is a very thin separation from what most of the capitalist press went with. That's good for Trump, if the debate is just boiled down to "squabbling," even if it is blamed on "capital," just so it isn't blamed on Trump. 

One of the most ominous parts of the debate was when Trump was called on by Wallace and Biden to condemn white supremacist militias. Trump hemmed and hawed and finally said, “Proud Boys, stand back and stand by.” This was immediately understood by many to be a clear message to the far-right to prepare to unleash violence if the election doesn’t go Trump’s way. This was only added to later on in the debate when Trump called for his supporters to be poll watchers.

You think this is a small matter? That doesn't make him a "greater evil" worth defeating at the polls?

The history of poll watchers is, of course, one of racism and voter suppression. In the 1920s, the Ku Klux Klan intimidated Black voters by flying over Black neighborhoods and dropping cards emblazoned with white hoods that read “do not attempt to vote” in Oklahoma City and congregated at polling places across Texas to “take careful note of polling procedure.” Even earlier, in 1871, Congress passed the “Second Enforcement Act,” better known as the KKK Act, to explicitly prohibit trying to prevent someone from voting via “force, intimidation, or threat.” In 1964, Operation Eagle Eye recruited poll watchers to question and intimidate minority voters in Arizona. More recently, members of various white supremacist groups plotted to “monitor” thousands of polling places during the 2016 election, and there were plans to hand out liquor and marijuana in predominantly-Black neighborhoods in hopes of tricking people into staying home.

Trump spent the debate — as he has spent much of the past few weeks — preparing to contest the election at every level.

He won't even have to do that, if you have your way, and enough progressives fail to play the "lesser evil" game, and refuse to vote against him by voting for Biden.

He has all but promised to dispute the election results, and last night on the debate stage he refused to promise to accept the results. Additionally, Trump is pushing through a Supreme Court Justice to contest the election in the courts, he’s sowing doubt about the validity of mail-in ballots to contest it in the press, he’s escalating voter suppression to contest it at the polls, and he’s asking his supporters to contest it in the streets. This will mean a likely escalation of violence from the far-right. As he has done for his entire tenure as a politician, Trump is sounding dog whistles to white supremacists.

More than "dog whistles," he is calling them to arms.

We must understand that the entire system of American “democracy” is a fraud. The system was designed by slave owners to defend their right to own human beings, and that system has put two out of the last three presidents in the White House after losing the popular vote. From the electoral college, to voter ID laws, to the Presidency itself, the U.S. is not — and never has been — democratic.

But was in more democratic when African Americans got the vote? Was it more democratic when women got the vote? Is it less democratic when voter suppression techniques are employed? Bourgeois democracy is not - and can never be complete. It must always be a matter of degrees. To proclaim "U.S. is not — and never has been — democratic" when we are in such danger of losing what little democracy we do have, plays right into Trump's "What have you got to lose?" speel. 

We need to fight back this advance of the right and attacks on our democratic rights at every turn. But we won’t do it by voting for Joe Biden,

Actually, at this time in history, voting for Biden is an essential part of the struggle to retain even our existing democratic rights. I appreciate your description of the danger Trump poses. But he won't even have to try to maintain power through a coup, if we hand him four more years on a silver platter by staying home or voting Green.

who promises us oppression with a kinder face. Biden showed us who he was and what he stood for on Tuesday night, and we have to believe him. He offers us nothing, and we won’t protect ourselves by supporting him. We will do it by organizing the might of the working class to defend our interests and lives.
Fine and glorious words! Think you can get that done before election day? Maybe you should begin by winning enough white workers away from white and male chauvinism that a politician like Trump no longer has a mass base, and policies like the Green New Deal, and Medicare for All are so popular among the masses that politicians won't fear losing the election because they embrace them.
As the West Coast burns, we reach more than a million deaths from Covid-19, and the far right advances, radical action is needed to stop the crises. Biden and Trump will both only worsen the living conditions of the working class and the oppressed.

Do you really believe that pro-Trump statement? Do you really think Biden's management of the Covid-19 crisis will be as incompetent, and anti-science, as Trump's. True, neither will end imperialism, but the difference may save hundreds of thousands of working class lives. There are significant differences between these two bourgois candidates, but your propaganda must enviably veer towards pro-Trump, because to make your case you must amplify Biden's sins while minimizing Trump's. 

We need to reject the dead-end of lesser evilism and organize now to fight back the right and defend ourselves. The presidential debate showed how little both candidates have to offer us. Despite their squabbles and theatrical blow-ups, Biden and Trump are on the same side: the side of capitalism. This will always put them into conflict with the working class, and we can’t ever expect them to do anything different. They offer us nothing, and we must reject them.

Trump is threatening what little democracy and the few rights we already have. After Trump is defeated at the polls, a pre-condition, the main battle will be to stop him from staying in office by extra-legal, and violent means. Only a mass movement can stop that. You will be in a piss poor position to help organize that after you advise against stopping him at the polls (again) and in fact, helped him win.

Clay Claiborne