Let's continue with a shoutout to PDiddie, not only because he linked to my Monday morning recount post-mortem in this entry (thx for that, Perry). PD starts with his own reflections on the ramifications of Jill Stein's recount, upon which we have both blogged ad nauseam, with particular focus on whether the recount has enhanced or dimmed the prospects of the Green Party in Texas. But then his thoughts turn to the larger opposition party in this state and its moribund condition (to use PD's adjective).
Will the Texas Democratic Party soon disintegrate, either at the state of national level? If Texas Dems don't get their shit together adequately in 2018, will they leave any bases uncovered on the statewide ballot (as in 2000, 2010, 2012, and 2014), allowing a Green candidate to score the magic 5%? Will the mass of liberal and progressive voters in Texas finally see through the Democrats' habit of plugging the gaps with any warm body willing to run and vote instead for a real progressive?
These two paragraphs in particular caught my attention:
So as left-leaning bitter-enders agitate for something resembling reform with hopes the Democrats can engineer at least a White House comeback, the rest of us continue to endure the status quo: full GOP control, with Texas (and many other states, mind you) statewide races determined in the GOP primary and not the general, a state Democratic party apparatus moribund, unfunded, and at less than a 40% share and sinking. Twenty-eighteen stands woefully small chances of moving that needle.
And as long as Texas Democrats can employ a recruiter like Cliff Walker and judicial candidates like Betsy Johnson, they can keep their finger in the dyke and prevent less than one percent of their potential vote leaking out to the Greens. I say 'potential' because this is what Democrats believe: Green votes all belong to them, and no facts seem able to crack that shibboleth. Maybe some day, but Team Donkey remains content to sell shit sandwiches as hope and change for the foreseeable future.
Russia and Syria
Following the recount story has been a real eye-opener—less for what the recount itself revealed than for the relentless torrent of bullshit about it from various media sources (too many to link here) and trolls on social media. The one accusation leveled at Stein & company that makes me laugh and cry the most is that Stein, like Julian Assange, is a Russian tool, because after all she once had dinner with the Putins.
From what we know, the Russian government has convinced a large slice of the Russian public that they should be perfectly content with a Trump presidency, so Russia is quite satisfied with last month's presidential election result. So why would the Russian government, or operatives within that government, pay Jill Stein to push for recounts where there's even a remote possibility of flipping the electoral votes to the no-fly-zone-in-Syria-advocating Democratic nominee?
It speaks volumes about how widely the disease of cynicism has spread among intelligent people in the States, that they automatically ascribe ulterior motives to Stein. I mean, obviously, she's really working for Hillary, and George Soros is footing the bill, right? These folks cannot believe, when Stein says that she is concerned about the integrity of our electoral system, that she actually means it. It's an arena in which the Green Party has been actively involved since 2000.
It also speaks volumes about the level of panic among US liberals, that they will take stories about investigations into possible Russian hacking of email servers and turn them into OMG OMG OMG THE RUSSIANS HACKED THE ELECTION TO MAKE TRUMP PRESIDENT!!!! Some of our Democratic friends and neighbors are grasping at whatever even looks like a straw to cast doubt on the legitimacy of the election. (I agree that the results are illegitimate, but for different reasons I won't go into here.) Friends & neighbors, the source of this story is one of the world's largest disseminators of disinformation, our own beloved Central Intelligence Agency.
Speaking of Russia, we are now awash in stories of the destruction of Aleppo (Halab), Syria's second city. I will admit to having my conscience pinched by messages, textual and video, from people who are trapped in Aleppo and will quite probably be dead soon.
According to the "real news" sources, this destruction is the work of Bashar al-Assad and his Russian accomplices. Certainly, the situation there is dire, but according to Canadian independent journalist Eva Bartlett, corporate media's "real" reporting there is flawed at best, bullshit at worst. Do yourself a favor and watch the entire 18-minute video of her conference at the United Nations.
Naturally, it bothers me that the main media outlet leveraging Bartlett's reporting is RT America (Russia Today). I've enjoyed a lot of what I've seen from RT, especially Lee Camp's Redacted Tonight and Abby Martin's erstwhile Breaking the Set. But I'm aware that Russia has plenty to gain from reframing the narrative, pinning the blame for the death and devastation on the rebel militias. From what I have seen, RT gets a measure of editorial freedom, and its programming offers critical views of Russia's activities fairly regularly.
Is Bartlett the only journalist challenging the official story? Fortunately, no. Robert Fisk has not spent much time in the combat zone recently, but he has logged years of time all over the Middle East, and he knows the score.
Some people actually have an appetite for the picayune details of conflicts like that in Syria. It can be helpful (if depressing) to remember that the dead are actual human beings, that the 3,000-year-old city may be completely obliterated, and that more actual human beings are forming armed groups with the goal of removing a human rights pariah from the presidency.
However, my left-of-center comrades and anyone else who cares, when pondering the mess that is Syria, it is also important to remember a few important components of the larger picture:
- Yes, Russia has traditionally supported the Assad regime.
- The United States, along with some Sunn'i Arab allies, has decided to fund the rebels.
- Many of these rebels are the people we have previously called al Qaeda and ISIS, groups the US has spent untold billions trying to destroy.
- The US have only exerted diplomatic pressure on the Assads when such pressure can be seen as defending Israel (which may explain why so many YouTubers posting Bartlett's videos accompany those postings with anti-Semitic dog-whistles directed at Zionists).
- Russia's state and corporate media sources routinely lie.
- US corporate media sources lie just as routinely.
- Media in the US and Russia have an annoying habit of reporting their governments' pronouncements as fact, with only minimal scrutiny afterward.
- Even when the major media sources don't lie, editors have a responsibility to package complex stories in ways media consumers can understand. That means reducing the vocabulary to eighth grade–level. That means identifying good guys and bad guys (hint: the US is always the good guys).
- There are usually fossil fuels involved in stories like this, sometimes as the main focus, sometimes lurking just outside the frame of the narrative. Syria may not be a major oil and gas producer, but think about pipelines, think about access to waterways, think about fracking and horizontal drilling that have opened up a lot of new O&G sources in recent years.
- In other words, perhaps not everything you know is wrong, but most of what the post-factual world powers that be want you know is wrong.
UPDATE: Here's another link to Caitlin Johnstone, with today's piece on the hilarity of Democratic Neo-McCarthyism.