A quick programming note before I dispense the daily news and notes from independent journalists and non-corporate voices from around the world. I try my hardest to not get caught in the manufactured drama and the vapidity of our shithole president Trump. But the firestorm that Donald created by revealing his malignant soul to the world and victim blaming people who have been cratered by this cancerous capitalism that is cratering America too serves as a perfect teaching moment to discuss the shit show of our politics.
I thus use this occasion to warn the regular readers of the Ghion Journal because the title of the article–Shithole President and Shit Show Politics–will seem as though I’m reverting to the same fatuity that I’ve been railing against for more than a year. I just ask you look beyond the title because what I’m going to write will go right at the heart of our broken politics and the way manufactured drama is used to hide the hidden hands of capital thieves. Stay tuned, check our home page in a couple of hours because an article that will give a broader perspective to our bankrupt politics and duplicitous corporate media is now being written and will be published soon. Until then, enjoy your daily sips of Ghion Water.
Of Ballots and Bull…
There are movements in over two dozen states to push for politician-free independent commissions to redraw districts. In one of those states, Michigan, the grassroots group Voters Not Politicians collected over 425,000 signatures to make the creation of an independent redistricting commission a ballot initiative this year. Michigan is one of the country’s most gerrymandered states, according to the Brennan Center for Justice. Only seven states–Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana and Washington–have such commissions, which research shows tend to do a better job at creating boundaries that don’t show favoritism. Some even have rules that limit lobbyists and legislative staff from joining them. [from Lee Camp’s Website]
Winfrey possesses many of the qualities that Hillary Clinton did—her allegiance to Wall Street and her concept of neoliberal capitalism is certainly as strong as Hillary’s. Her positions on social issues also appear to be in line with Clinton’s cautious approach to racism and sexism as divorced from economic justice issues, except that unlike Clinton, Oprah has a lived experience of racism. (Like Trump, she lacks political experience—but is far more capable of learning on the job than Trump.) On everything else Winfrey’s political positions are largely indiscernible, probably by design. In fact, the idea to draft her to run for president originated from a lifelong Republican from Kansas who says he did not vote for Trump. Bizarrely, in 1999 Trump himself touted Winfrey as his first choice for vice president if he were to ever run. [from Truthdig]
Hillary Killtons Watch
Shortly following the FBI and Justice Department’s announcement of their investigations regarding Clinton-scandals, the possibility of impending freedom for Julian Assange appeared to solidify. NBC reported that Assange had been granted a passport and therefore citizenship by Ecuador, with Foreign Minister Maria Fernanda Espinosa stating that officials accepted Assange’s request for naturalization in December. News regarding Assange’s Ecuadorian passport coincided with a tweet by the Wikileaks Editor-In-Chief portraying himself in an Ecuadorian football jersey. Assange has been sequestered for over five years inside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. His captivity has endured despite UN findings and multiple other studies that described the conditions in which he is held as contradictory to laws of the United Kingdom and the United States, as well as human rights standards. [from Defiant Media]
Propagandizing the Military-Financial Complex
To cap off a long, strange day, my husband and I took the kids out last night to see Pitch Perfect 3. The first Pitch Perfect is a firm favorite in our household, the kind of movie we end up watching when we can’t agree on what to watch. We’d been waiting til we all had a night to see the latest one together, so we made a night of it and went out for some dinner, too. I even had a Coke. The sugary kind. This was a big night, people! So we were all in high spirits and I entered the theater excited to see some good music and have a good time. I wasn’t expecting a masterpiece, but I also wasn’t expecting to be blasted in the face with ninety minutes of blatant war propaganda from the United States Department of Defense. [from Caitlin Johnstone]
Dark Money and Darker Democracy
Trump steadily advanced money in the form of both loans and contributions to his campaign, including some very substantial late contributions. Perhaps even more importantly for understanding the future, the Trump campaign (including allied SuperPacs and 527s) raised and spent more than $861 million—within reasonable hailing distance of the Clinton campaign’s $1.4 billion—although its serious fundraising began much later. Our paper analyzes the sources of that late money in detail for the first time. The study also looks broadly at patterns of industrial structure and party competition in both the major party primaries and the general election. It attempts to identify the genuinely new, historically specific factors that led to the upheavals that shook the entire political system. It points especially to the steady growth of a “dual economy” that locks more and more Americans out of the middle class and into a life of unsteady, low-wage employment and, all too often, steep debts. [from Naked Capitalism]
Bipartisan Means Getting Screwed Bicamerally
If a single cliché unites all of establishment political discourse in America, it might be the idea that the greatest obstacle to progress is Partisanship in Washington, i.e. powerful people’s inability to get along. Variations of this hallowed fable, and the whole extended family that makes up the “Too-Much-Partisanship” industrial complex, are found all over Capitol Hill, cable news, and throughout all of the nation’s papers of record. It’s the rationale behind plenty of ludicrous astroturfed initiatives undertaken by political staffers upon their retirement. It’s the subtext of every breathlessly-written cover story proclaiming a dangerous new era of polarization and warning us about the threat posed by populist demagogues. [from Current Affairs]
From the YouTubes
This Day in History
Russian Grand Duke Alexis goes on a gala buffalo hunting expedition with Gen. Phil Sheridan and Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer. This ranks up there as one of the top three worse decisions ever made, right after voting for Donald Trump and Barack Obama.
Quote of the Day
“Cruel leaders are replaced only to have new leaders turn cruel.” ~ Che Guevara
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Originally from Ethiopia with roots to Atse Tewodros II, Lij Teodrose is a former community organizer whose writing was incorporated into Barack Obama's South Carolina primary victory speech in 2008. He pivoted away from politics and decided to stand for collective justice after experiencing the reality of the forgotten masses. His writing defies conventional wisdom and challenges readers to look outside the constraints of labels and ideologies that serve to splinter the people. Lij Teodrose uses his pen to give a voice to the voiceless and to speak truth to power.