Whispers in the Asylum (Seven Days in August)

Photograph Source: Carlos Pacheco – CC BY 2.0

Hollow Resistance: The Antidote to Obama Nostalgia Syndrome

The deadly ObamaLust Virus is ironically intensified by the fascist Amerikaner presidency the corporate-imperial Barack Obama helped hatch and empower. Here is an antidote that has passed with flying colors through all the testing trials: Paul Street, Hollow Resistance: Obama, Trump, and the Politics of Appeasement, now available over-the-CounterPunch.

The nice U.S. Census worker asked me what my latest book was about. I said, “Obama since he left the White House.” She said “he’s been doing a great job and speaking up for the American people against Trump. He’s all in!” I was polite but firm: “that’s not exactly my finding.” She said, “we’re not supposed to talk about politics.”

A Dog is Not an Aircraft Carrier: Thanks, Obama

Question to Joe Biden for an interviewer: have you taken a cognitive test? Biden’s cognitively impaired response: “No, I haven’t taken a [cognitive] test. Why the hell would I take a test? Come on, man. That’s like saying you — before you got on this program, you take a test where you’re taking cocaine or not. What do you think? Huh? Are you a junkie?”

No, Joe Boy, it’s not like that at all. An apple is not a beaver. A dog is not an aircraft carrier. And asking a presidential candidate suffering from dementia if he’s taken a cognitive test is NOT the same as telling a journalist that he’s a junkie

More Joe, on Zoom: “Lonnie knows I believe this every fiber of my being. We’re posed… [loses sentence, meant to say poised] …. what I’ve proposed is… [loses sentence] …it [what?] can be done! I think we’re in a position to really make it [what?] happen and my team and your team already working closely together to light up the path forward here. Critical laws like the pro-act to strengthen collective bargaining. On politics, like prevailing and fer…. [loses train of thought and frowns]-…look, I’m taking too much time …”

I am reminded of something Biden said last spring, on COVID-19:  “In order to avoid those [puts hand on face and scratches right eye] very high numbers, we have to do at least several things. One, we have to depend on what the president’s gonna do right NOW. And first of all he has to tell, uh, wait ‘til the cases…before anything happens …look [closes eyes, looks exasperated] the whole idea is he’s gotta get in place things that were shortages of.”

This is who the Democrats are putting up against a president who Noam Chomsky accurately describes as “the most dangerous criminal in human history.” Thanks, Barack. We owe Joe “You Know the Thing” Biden’s presence on the nation’s center stage in history’s most perilous moment to Obama no less than we owed Sarah Palin’s brief national moment to John McCain. After Biden’s second spectacularly failed presidential bid in 2007-08, Obama saved him from historical oblivion because the nation’s first viable Black presidential candidate needed a conservative old white first base coach to reassure moderate whites that a slave rebellion was not in the offing. During the 2020 election cycle, as I show in Hollow Resistance (see above), Obama played a pivotal “behind the scenes” role in making sure that Biden and not the “radical” Bernie Sanders was the Democrats’ nominee.

Barr Durham

Gird your loins for the Durham Report. ObamaGate indictments should be unsealed in an October Surprise Party. Pray for the Evil Buddha William Barr to eat one too many servings of Beef Wellington.

Made Up + Not Made Up

I made this up:

“Donald J. Trump @POTUS: Sleepy Joe’s corrupt son Bo (who was no Bo Derek) stashed ammonium nitrate in Beirut for many years. Obama and Sinister Suzy Rice signed off on it. It’s in the Durham Report. Read it and weep soon!”

I didn’t make this up: Trump’s campaign was just banned from Twitter for spreading the lie that children can’t be infected by the coronavirus.

Deep Reflections

Car lines at food banks are running six blocks long. Still, the American ruling class government can’t act to restore decent unemployment benefits. This same ruling class government still doesn’t have a serious coordinated national public health response to a killer pandemic. As millions suffer joblessness and lack health insurance amidst the greatest pandemic in a century, let it sink in: the ruling class is trying to kill you and everything and everyone you hold dear. I don’t care if that sounds like an insane exaggeration. There’s more than enough truth in that statement to put millions of us on barricades with weapons in our hands.

August 6

Depressed on Martha’s Vineyard

Michelle Obama is a little depressed. Get her a copy of Hollow Resistance. Bela Brozsek writes: “she just found out how many children got killed by her husband?” Maybe Melania can help her find a distraction – someone like Hank Seimers.

No Subtlety Don

In other news, Trump says mail-in voting is okay…in Republican-controlled states. No attempt at, no capacity for, subtlety. Just straight-up in-your-face Orwellianism from America’s tangerine honey-badger.

We’ll Be Fine

Frankly, a good part of non-resistance to the rise of fascism is the white middle-class calculation that “we’ll be fine when it happens. The main victims will be poorer and darker people. Oh well.” Gabriel Alan writes: “That goes with a marked preference of the white liberal middle class for fascism over anything with the scent of a Left, even the mild social democracy of Bernie Sanders.” Indeed.

“Bomb-Throwing Marxists”

On MSDNC and CNN you can hear “progressive” commentators defend Democratic politicos and Black Lives Matters activists by saying that these politicos and activists aren’t the “Marxists and anarchists” that Trump says they are. Jake Tapper had some high praise for Biden on CNN the other day: “he isn’t a bomb-throwing Marxist.”

Gosh Jake, Marxism is about workers’ control, the democratic control of production and society for the common good, beyond the class rule, divide-and-conquer, insecurity and environmental devastation of capital. Who in America makes and throws bombs, Jake? Giant capitalist “defense” (war and empire) corporations and their friends in the Pentagon, that’s who, Jake.

Mainstream “liberal” Democrats will throw actual “radical Leftists” like me to the wolves in a New York minute but expect me to line up at their command behind their pathetic, dementia-addled right-wing lying neoliberal warmonger of a presidential candidate. They might want to look back at the McCarthy era and at the rise of fascism in interwar Europe. It wasn’t just actual Marxists, socialists, and left anarchists who lost their jobs and lives: liberals, moderate, centrists and others deemed insufficiently loyal to the Fatherland and its party in power were also crushed. I suppose it’s a cliché to quote Niemöller, but it still applies: “First they came for the communists…then they came me for me.”

(My vaguely liberal New Deal grandfather William Paul Street was absurdly Red baited out of his teaching position at Northern Illinois Teachers’ State College in the 1950s. This was a darkly amusing story in my household in the 1960s, when “Grandpa Paul” was busy lecturing antiwar activists on the supposedly virtuous nature of Lyndon Johnson’s escalated crucifixion of Southeast Asia.)

August 7

“He Gets Us Killed”

The quote of the day goes (belatedly) to Charlamagne Tha God (CTG), who said this recently: “I really wish Joe Biden would shut the F up forever ….because as soon as he opens his mouth and makes noise he gets us all killed.” I don’t remember which ridiculous Biden comment sparked this CTG reflection – it was either Biden’s claim that Trump was America’s “first racist president” or Biden’s claim that the Black community lacks internal diversity.

Biden’s offensive right-wing idiocy is just endlessly stunning. It is such an insult for the corporate Dems to be running this clown. It is sad to watch liberals and progressives feeling compelled run behind his big leaky adult diaper with desperate fake-progressive pooper scoopers.

Let Me Out

Trump on Biden: “He’s going to do things that nobody ever would ever think even possible. Because he’s following the Radical Left agenda. Take away your guns. Destroy your second amendment. No religion, no anything. Hurt the Bible, hurt God. He’s against God. He’s against guns. He’s against energy, our kind of energy.”

I did not know that “Sleepy Joe” (Trump’s nickname for his Democratic opponent) was powerful enough to “hurt God.” Thank God there’s someone more powerful than both Biden and God: The Chosen One Donald Trump.

I need out of this nuthouse. By the way and for what it’s worth, the notion that centrist capitalist moderates are under the control of the “radical left” is a classic fascistic and paranoid-style political narrative in American history.

The Partisan Worm Inside Left Brains

It’s so weird, the hold of the binary partisan mind-F even on the brains of many who identify as Left. My publication record could not be clearer: I view the two dominant U.S. political organizations as two wings of the same corporate and imperial bird of prey. I publish an article touching largely on the awfulness of Trump and some lefties think I need a lecture on the awfulness of the Dems. I don’t. I have consistently denounced the awfulness of the Dems for nearly three decades. I publish a piece focused largely on the awfulness of the Dems and some lefties think I need a lecture on the awfulness of the Republicans. I don’t. I have consistently denounced the awfulness of the Republicans for nearly three decades. It’s just absurd. Stop it.

August 8

My Coming Smear

I will have a piece out soon on Biden’s sickening racism and racial cluelessness. It will be absurdly misrepresented as Russian pro-Trump propaganda (I hate Trump). It will be completely based on Biden’s own history and conduct, richly sourced down to the level of straight-up video showing the endless stream of racially offensive and stupid shit that has come out of Joe Biden’s mouth for years. But that won’t matter. Everything goes into the binary partisan box.

A Near Record Descent

Dark Passage, a team of geologists who monitor descents into Hell, just reported that leading Persian Gulf War architect Brent Scowcroft reached the Netherworld in “near record time.” George H.W. Bush’s former National Security Adviser will bake for all eternity in a specially heated chamber named “Highway of Death.”

Let Them Eat COVID

The Demented Antichrist is about to stage a press conference from his New Jersey golf club. Wealthy club members with drinks in hand are bunching up to be his cheering section. They are assembled in a group larger than the state’s official social-gathering limit. They are not wearing masks. The media operatives on hand have been temperature-tested and are all wearing masks. The club members will clap and hoot for their fascist pretend-billionaire hero while millions of less advantaged Americans are having unemployment cut and trying to survive without jobs and health insurance amidst an epic pandemic that the fascist leader has fanned. A comrade in Chicago writes: “Annual membership in his golf club is $350,000. This event, in the middle of multiple pandemics, is a modern version of a scene from pre-revolutionary France, or perhaps Dante’s Inferno? Astounding.”

Capitalism’s killing line is speeding up. The country club set is laughing and pinching their servants’ butts while the working class starves and dies.

Molotov Joe

“It’s an ideology that we have to stop” — Trump’s description of a Portland “anarchist” with “a Molotov Cocktail in his nap-sack” in a rant where the wannabe president-for-life has just said that Joe Biden will be “a puppet of the radical Left.”

Note to self: schedule a Zoom session with Joe Biden and discuss plans for bombing the Chicago Stock Exchange next week.

Orange and Blue

Federal Orange fascism had a poignant little lovefest with metropolitan Blue fascism: The Animal Farm Attorney General Barr saw some white “Back the Blue” rally-holders cheering outside a Washington metro-area police precinct. Barr told his limousine chauffer to stop and let him out. Barr went into the crowd and shook hands. The “Back the Blue” people told them they loved him. Masks were not in evidence. He said he loved them back. Cops love Trump, Trump loves cops. Barr loves Blue Lives Matter activists and they love Barr.

41.3 Percent Approve

Given how completely Demented Orange has fucked-up and fucked over America, the truly remarkable and soul-chilling thing is how HIGH and NOT how low his approval rating is. “Trump’s approval is slightly up from 40.7% in early July to 41.3%” this week. More than 4 in 10 Americans approve of this sadistic Beelzebub. How does this malignant ogre have an approval rating above 25%? How many Americans does he have to kill to fall into the low 30s?

August 9

A Suggestion

Between racial and partisan voter suppression including Trump’s war on mail-in voting and the U.S. Postal Service, various October (and September and November and/or December) Surprises, the endless dementia-fueled gaffing of corporate racist Joe Biden, and Trump’s success (today) at playing the white knight after crippled Congress failed to extend benefits, I will not be completely surprised to see Trump “win” a completely F’d-up and F’d-over election if an election (or some semblance of one) takes place.. We could be looking at a seriously consolidated covidian-white supremacist fascism in 2021 and 2022. I know this opens me to the standard all-knowing ridicule of intellectuals left as well as center and right but I really suggest that we go way beyond the George Floyd Rebellion and hit the streets in the thousands then tens of thousands then hundreds of thousands then millions then tens of millions to end the unelected class-rule dictatorship, the racial oppression, the patriarchy and the ecocide that produced this hideous Trump-Barr-Miller-Pence regime.

A Little Specificity, Please

If “identity politics” means specifically bourgeois identity politics (that is in fact the usual meaning), then I am its blood enemy. Bourgeois identity politics is a complete and unmitigated, Left-cancelling and counter-revolutionary disaster. I am anti-racist and anti-sexist and anti-Nativist and anti-homophobic and anti-transphobic but not in bourgeois ways — in eco-socialist and anti-capitalist ways. A socialist anti-racist is far more seriously and substantively anti-racist than a bourgeois anti-racist. Same for anti-sexism, anti-nativism, anti-homophobia, etc.

The Evil Beast is Not Toast

Trump’s benefit extension Executive Order is a two-fer for the Malignant One. The indecent orange beast gets to absurdly act like Democratic Party intransigence compelled it to step in for the people. At the same time, it can please elite parasitic financial and corporate interests who like to see Social Security and Medicare weakened (as they will be with the payroll tax suspension he has put forward). The beast gets to do this sick two-fer while idiot Biden is explaining away and badly non-apologizing his latest race-gaffe.

The Trump-Barr-Miller-Pence regime has got more tricks up their sleeve. They will release the Durham (Obamagate) document before the election. They will claim to have shepherded a vaccine and/or cure in October. They will stir up shit with China and/or Iran.

There’s the whole plan to F-up the election during, before, and after. Trump and the wealthy donor (Louis DeJoy) he put in charge of the postal service are already going postal on mail delivery, creating backlogs in an obvious effort to cripple and discredit an election that is going to rely on mail-in ballots thanks to the Trump Virus.

Four of the six cities where the Trump-Barr-Miller regime has sent federal agents to “work with state and local law enforcement” under “Operation Legend” (on the absurd pretext that the virulent racist Trump wants to stop poor Black people from killing each other in inner-city neighborhoods) are in contested states: Milwaukee, Detroit, Albuquerque, and Cleveland. That’s probably not just pure coincidence.

August 10

Who Will Protect US Elections from the American Ruling Class?

There are rumors that big U.S. capital may try to interfere in the 2020 elections, with a preference for candidates and policies that serve big U.S. capital. Has anyone else heard that this could happen?

A CBS reporter in Beirut: “Lebanon’s ruling class has survived political crises before. It may just do so again.” I think I’ll send CBS an email and ask them to use the phrase “ruling class” in reporting on the American ruling class

No Shock Here – Sorry, Lori

“We are waking up in shock this morning,” Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said at a press conference this morning. Not me. I was jogging in the Loop last night reflecting on (a) how hot and muggy it was and (b) how overdue this city was for a riot, likely to be sparked by a police incident in the Black community. I had a premonition. Anyone with any reasonable sense of how bad Black Chicago is being F’d over in the COVID-19 era should find this completely unsurprising.

The Bridges Are Up

The Loop is just surreal tonight. Lori has imposed a curfew downtown. There are cops in various vehicles (blue and whites, black SUVS, and white vans). There’ a big white “command center” trailer over by Grant Park. I saw an SUV with “Homeland Security” on the side cruising by the recently looted jewelry outlets under the L on Wabash. The bridges are up (with red lights flashing and bells clanging) over the Chicago River so you must go way west to get to the Near North Side. Lots of plywood is up already or being put in place to protect glass windows downtown. White cops (who often look like young white urban professionals these days) at State and Jackson told me that “we’ll be here all night.” When I asked them if they really thought looters would return, they said that “[the Black and progressive Cook County State’s Attorney] Kim Foxx just releases looters, so why not?” That’s what they believe.

The bridges are raised because the Black mayor fears that Black mobs will come up from the South Side to trash the Gold Coast and the Magnificent Mile.

“Looting is Bad”

Chicago Ten O’clock News shows tonight showed pissed-off white people who denounced looting in a moral, historical, and societal vacuum. These urban Caucasians have no interest in knowing what life is like in the deeply impoverished and oppressed Black neighborhoods of Chicago’s South and West Sides. They don’t care. It’s not their problem. Their moral imagination is limited to this: “looting is bad. Looters are bad and must be punished.” That’s it; nothing more needs to be said. The miserable, inhuman conditions created by centuries and decades of slavery, Jim Crow, segregation, discrimination, mass arrest, mass incarceration, mass criminal-branding — by relentless ongoing savage race-class oppression —- is a complete non-issue for these folks. Lori Lightfoot is eager to play along. “There’s no excuse for criminal activity,” she says, confusing explanation with rationalization.

August 11

Copmala’s Padlocks

I don’t have the energy to do a comprehensive Left critique of Biden’s horrific right-wing Vice-Presidential pick Kamala Harris. I don’t and won’t need to: that work has already been done and will soon be updated by a slew of smart Left writers. I would, however, suggest that people acquaint or re-acquaint themselves with Harris by looking at a short Ted-style talk she gave on behalf of racist mass incarceration at the Chicago Ideas Conference in 2015. It is one of the most insidiously condescending and fake-progressive performances you’ll ever see. She starts off with a creepy reference to her “1960s Berkeley” parents and builds (go to 11:50 if you don’t want to watch the whole thing) to a revolting attack on the silly if endearing 1960s Bay Area notion of moving taxpayer money from (imagine) mass imprisonment to schools. Listen to her derisive voice and watch the nasty faces she makes when she launches into her scornful “”Build More Schools Less Jails!” riff:

“We all have these posters [she goes into a derisive posture] in our closet [pained look on face] that is attached to a stick [stands up straight, mock-serious] that we sometimes will cart out when we’re talking about criminal justice…and we run around with these signs [disdainful face].. ‘Build More Schools, Less Jails, Build More Schools, Less Jails,’ [all said in a squeaky, whiny child’s voice]. And we walk around everywhere, ‘Build More Schools.’ We protest [mocking face, hand pretending to hold up a poster] …’Put money into education, not prisons!’ [loud mocking squeaky voice]. There’s a FUNDAMENTAL PROBLEM with that approach in my opinion. And it’s this: …you have not addressed the reason I have three padlocks on my front door.”

Something tells me that Kamala Harris’s Mommy-Daddy-Berkeley issues and her long pro-cop prosecutor and attorney general history (richly documented by others – see this excellent piece by Marjorie Cohn for one example) – have combined with her ruling class world view to cost a number of Black and brown Californians their lives and freedom.

Hey Copmala Harris, you know why you and your multimillionaire white husband have “three padlocks on [your] front door” and (you forgot to mention) a state-of-the-art electronic home security system? Because the class rule and racial oppression system you have spent your adult life defending and enforcing has reached such stunning levels of savage inequality that the top tenth of the American One Percent possesses more combined wealth than the nation’s bottom 90 percent while the median household Black-white wealth gap is six Black cents on the white dollar – a massive disparity that is only worsened by the giant racist mass arrest and incarceration regime you and your presidential running mate Joe “Three Strikes” Biden have done so much to advance.

A “Bright Spot” About COVID-19 for Chuck Todd and Claire McCaskill: It Shuts Up “the Left.”

How evil is the mainstream Dem fake-progressive cable news? Before I went out to shop today, I glimpsed MSNBC’s Chuck Todd and the defeated Republican-Lite former U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) grinning big grins while saying that there was a “bright spot” in the COVID-19-imposed online circumstances of the 2020 Democratic National Convention. The thing that made them happy about the coronavirus. Reporters won’t be able to go on a convention floor and talk to disgruntled leftish delegates who don’t like the right-wing Biden-Harris. Let that sink in: MSDNC’s Creepy Chuck and Claire dig how the deadly coronavirus means “the left” won’t be heard. These are truly awful people.

The Bottom Line on Fascism-Denial

The bottom line (no pun originally intended — see below) on the reluctance of so many dismissive know-it-all left intellectuals to acknowledge the basically fascist nature of the Trump administration the last three and a half years: acknowledging this would mean having to get up off your ass and do something about it. Beneath all the fancy bullshit (which it turns out isn’t all that fancy, it’s quite flawed and at times damn-near criminal), that’s really what it is. This includes more than a few people I know and like. I’d like them to reconsider their dangerously pathetic attitude about this.

One leading Left intellectual has even gone to the uncharacteristically bone-headed level of saying that Trump has “no ideology” other than selfishness. Gee how about white supremacism? Then there’s the elegant Neanderthals who damn-near suggest that to be an anti-racist is to be in-bed with Clinton-Obama neoliberalism.

For what it’s worth, I probably have as much intellectual (or at least word-count) credit as any living human being when it comes to criticizing the Democrats from the radical Left. The notion that calling the Trump administration and Trumpism what they really are – fascist in essence, fascistic at the very least – makes one a de facto Democrat (or blind to the blue fascism of the metropolitan police state and to the deep Weimar-like complicity of the Dems in the rise and creation of a nascent Amerikaner fascism) is an ill-conceived smear. The Democrats are not calling for mass Puerto-Rico- and Lebanon- and Gilets Jaunes-style resistance in the streets for God’s sake. Far from it: they are, as usual, trying to focus everyone on the narrow quadrennial electoral extravaganza. I have yet to meet an American anti-fascist who doesn’t think that the mass movement we require needs to go far beyond just taking down Trump-Pence and move on to confronting the whole bipartisan class-rule and racist and imperialist system that gave rise to the Trump administration.


Paul Street’s latest book is This Happened Here: Amerikaners, Neoliberals, and the Trumping of America (London: Routledge, 2022).