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Category: USA

Trump Acquitted. Significance?

14 February 2021

President Trump was not impeached because it needs a two thirds majority of US Senators and the Democrats and Republicans have 50 each, with the Vice President having a casting vote.  So 13 Republicans would have had to vote for the impeachment, and only 7 did so. 57 to 43 was not two-thirds.

 Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said that Trump could not be impeached as he was no longer President, but this was because the Senate delayed the debate while he was, so it looked like a convenient cop-out.  Whether it was ‘loyalty to the Republican party’ is a moot question. In practical terms, Trump has a lot of support at the grass roots of the Republican party, and if he directs his supporters to oppose a Senator’s pre-selection next time it will be likely to cost them their seat.  So they were willing to toe the line that the election was rigged, and now vote that Trump did not incite supporters to storm the Capitol. It is remarkable that they were in the Chamber when the Capital building was stormed, and the Senators were in physical danger, but now they decline to condemn Trump.

It is worth looking at the Republicans who did have the courage to cross the floor:

Mitt Romney of Utah was an Independent until 1993, and a Mormon.  He stood as the Republican Presidential Candidate against Barack Obama in 2012, and was elected to the Senate in 2019.  He is 73 now, but has probably a very strong base.

Bill Cassidy MD, aged 64 was a Democrat who changed to the Republicans in 2001.  He was the only Republican Senator who did not challenge the result of the 2020 Presidential election and was condemned by his Louisiana Republican party for this stance, even prior to his voting for Trump’s impeachment.  He was elected in 2020, so will face the voters again in 2024.

Susan Collins of Maine aged 68 was elected in 1996, and is the longest-serving Republican woman Senator, most recently re-elected in 2020.  She declined to support the bill to repeal Obama’s ‘Affordable Care Act’ and also declined to support the nomination of conservative judge Amy Barrett to the Supreme Court.

Lisa Murkowsi of Alaska aged 63 has been in the Senate since 1998, having followed her father into her seat but via a write-in vote, having been defeated in the pre-selection.  A survey showed her to be the second most liberal Republican Senator after Susan Collins.  She intends to run for a 4th term in 2022, but it has been tipped in Newsweek that Sarah Palin will stand against her in the next preselection.

Ben Sasse of Nebraska aged 48 has taken a strong stand against Trump and effectively bet his political career on what is currently not a popular stand in his State, though he paints himself as a strong conservative.

Richard Burr of North Carolina aged 65 surprised colleagues by voting against Trump. He was elected in 2005, but he had announced in 2016 that he would not seek a 4th term, so preselection is irrelevant for him.

Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania aged 59 was elected to the House of Representatives in 1998, then the Senate in 2011 and 2016, but has said that he would not stand again.

So it looks as if there are very few Senate Republicans who will put the national interest ahead of their own pre-selections and party loyalties. 

This is why we need the power returned to the people both in the USA and here. The interests of the political parties are not the same as the interests of the people.

https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/president-donald-trump-acquitted/story?id=75853994
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Congress Impeaches Trump- What is Next? 14/1/21

Congress, the lower house of the US Parliament has quickly voted to impeach Trump for false claims of election fraud and his part in inciting the storming of the US Congress. That is today.

Tomorrow in 50 State Capitals there will be demonstrations by Trump supporters carrying guns.  This vote will not make them happy.  It is hard to believe that there will not be violence somewhere and that there will not be deaths.  I would not like to be a policemen in the front line of controlling these armed demonstrators.

After the demonstrations the Senate, the upper house, which has even numbers of Democrats and Republicans with only the casting vote of the Democrat speaker will consider the impeachment.  My understanding is that to stop Trump standing again, a two-thirds majority is needed, so a third of Senate Republicans would have to support the motion.  If the demonstrations turn ugly, will they?

The other question is whether the Democrats will bring it on immediately.  The inauguration of the new President Biden is in 6 days, on 20/1/21.  The nature of this ceremony was likely to be hugely modified by COVID, but now there is a new security dimension.  Biden will also want to have his legislative agenda pushed forward, as there is a huge demand for action in many areas, and impeaching a soon-to-be-ex-President, or an actual ex- President may seem an act of petty revenge, particularly if it is delayed.  Biden needs to be seen to be bringing the US together and getting on with the job, but he is unlikely to let the issue go.

The next few days will be interesting, even by 2020 standards.

www.pbs.org/newshour/politics/10-house-republicans-voted-to-impeach-trump-heres-what-they-said

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US Election Aftermath 8/1/21

All the commentators are saying that Trump has no case and that the US election was properly run and the result is correct.  No doubt they are right as far as they go.

But we might ask why people are so upset that they will storm the Capitol and make the US look like a tin pot third world rabble, where police line up to stop raging demonstrators and shoot a few.

Many years as a young child I went to the first version of ‘Around the World in 80 Days’ with my mother.   There is scene in that with a huge rally with banners, shouting, festivities and people squirting each other with hoses.  I asked my Mom, ‘What are they doing?’.  She replied, ‘They are having an election, son’.  I said, ‘That is not how you have elections’.  She said. ‘It’s how they do it over there’.

It has always stuck on my mind.  She regarded the US as not actually a civilised country.  At that time we watched Westerns where they had shoot outs and wars with the baddies a.k.a Indians.  Later she explained that they carried guns and had no health system for poor people.  When my parents retired they went on a trip to the USA and were held up at gunpoint at their motel in Los Angeles by men who needed money for drugs, which tended to prove her point.

This morning on  Radio National singer/songwriter Tori Amos told of how as an aspiring artist she played in bars and heard how the powers behind the throne arranged judicial appointments such that there was a court decision to allow unlimited money into political donations without the source of it being clear. 

Looking at the choices of president facing the US electors last time, there was Trump, the anti-Establishment TV reality host v. Hillary Clinton, an existing Establishment figure. The progressive voice of Bernie Sanders had been eliminated. This time there was Trump with his failed rhetoric and COVID non-policies against Biden, an existing Establishment figure.  Sanders had again been side-lined.  So, yes the count was correct, but how much use is this to the common person, whose job is no longer secure and whose income has not risen for decades? 

Inequality has been rising apace. Everyone may be aware of this, but some are more aware than others, some are much more affected than others, and some want to do much much more about it than others.

The vote count and procedures may be correct, but the system is not delivering a fair outcome.  Taking jobs from US workers to ones in China or elsewhere allows importers to make supernormal profits, and this process, which amounts to the undoing of colonialism where the raw materials came  from overseas and were processed in the First World will not be complete until all the world’s workers are equal.  In the meantime, the poor in the First World get a lot poorer and the rich, initially in the First World, but now elite as much by class as  by nationality, get richer (as Marx had predicted).

The Trump demonstrators are wrong about the election, but not so wrong if you talk about the system and their place in it.  Sanders may have had a solution, Trump never did.  The US elite have avoided confronting the issue so far, but it is still there, and will be ongoing.

Here is Bob Carr, ex-NSW Premier and ex- US Foreign Minister writing about how the problem will not go away.  He is less specific on why.

www.smh.com.au/world/north-america/capitol-chaos-is-just-the-first-act-the-republican-party-is-shattered-and-civility-is-not-coming-back-20210107-p56sdw.html

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Assange has Avoided Extradition to the USA for now. 5/1/21

But Judge Baraitser accepted most of the US government’s arguments that journalism could be espionage, that he would get a ‘fair trial’ in the USA. and that his extradition would have been legal, though political crimes are supposedly excluded from the extradition agreement. He has not actually been freed, and one might reasonably ask why he is being held at all, since the trumped up Swedish rape case is no longer being pursued. There is also a possible appeal from the US government, at a time when Trump is on his last legs and looking for publicity and a legacy.


Julian Assange is still in danger from COVID in Belmarsh prison. It is hard to see anything other than the British, US and Australian Establishments trying to destroy him, if not by COVID, then simply psychologically. One shudders to think what his mental state will be after being locked up for a decade with no substantial charge and having tried to do good. ‘All journalists beware!’ is the message.

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/56130.htm

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US Health System and COVID-19 11/12/20

Here is an article about the US Health system and its response to COVID. Basically it seems that the US government is subsidising COVID treatments so that they are more lucrative than treatment of other diseases, so the private operators are filling their hospitals with COVID patients whether they need to be admitted or not, and non-COVID patients are excluded.

The other thing that is interesting is that there has been a huge growth in administrators since the 1970s. It has to be understood why private health systems are so inefficient. They have to keep individual insurance databases to keep track of premiums and churn as people change funds. When someone is treated they have to account for every band aid, visit, procedure or investigation, bill the patient and pay the practitioner. They have to market their product, compete for staff, and then figure out ways to avoid paying if possible.

Universal systems have everyone eligible, so do not need to worry about who is getting treated. No need to market the system, maintain many different churning databases, compete for doctors, keep accounts for every details of every treatment and bill and pay for them individually.

In terms of better health care there is no problem of adapting to whatever disease needs the most attention as the staff are motivated to do the most effective treatments, and there is no distortion of priorities to maximise profits.

The US health system is the least effective in the developed world in terms of delivering health care. but it is the most effective at its primary object- turning sickness into money.

No one has looked too closely at why the Australian system has been able to respond. Basically our public health system is State-based hospitals, which are still largely public and have doctors who could be re-directed to testing and vaccination. They can also change to do COVID if needed, and treat disease on their merit.

The private hospitals did very well out of the government subsidies here because they were emptied ready for a COVID influx that never came and they just pocketed the cash without much publicity for this from either themselves or the Government.

Australia has continued on its previous course, which is to starve Medicare and help the private system move towards a US system by stealth, and the COVID pandemic has so far not brought this to light. What is left of the public system has done well, helped by the fact that we are an island nation, so had some warning and could act to quarantine ourselves. The government was happy to take advice from the medical professionals because it had made such a mess of not taking advice from the firefighting professionals. But Medicare is still being quietly destroyed and we are moving to a US system of private medicine.

The government saves money on Medicare doing this, even though the system is much less efficient and much less equitable. But the key reason is not the savings on Medicare, it is the money to the Party coffers from the Private Health Industry (PHI), which is now much stronger with the changes John Howard did to the Aged Care system in 1997, which made it effectively a for-profit system, and the NDIS also a for-profit system, subsidised by the taxpayer through the Medicare levee, which was ironically not being used for health. (The discussion of the Aged Care system was in one of my posts last week).

The key thing to understand in the destruction of Medicare is that the rebate to doctors which was set at 85% of the AMA fee, so as to replace private medicine, has risen at half the inflation rate for 35 years and is now 46% of the AMA rate. Doctors are paid half what they were, so specialists mostly will not use it, and GPs who still bulk bill just do shorter visits.

Here is the article on the US response to COVID. Their prevention is also hopeless, as with such a poor welfare system the people cannot afford to stop work, and the story that it was a hoax was also promoted by President Trump. The obsession with ‘individual rights’ sits uneasily with the idea of staying home for the common good, and makes disinformation campaigns easier. People wanted to believe it was a hoax, because they could not afford to stop work anyway.

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/55999.htm

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Medicine, Reality and the US vote 11/11/20

Doctors tend to assume that everyone knows certain things, particularly because everyone they meet usually does. They also tend to think that everyone knows the order of importance of what they know.

Many years ago as I started to campaign against tobacco, Henry Mayer, the first Professor of Political Economy in Sydney, who had a regular column in the SMH told me that the health people were invisible in the media on the tobacco issue. I said that this was ridiculous, it was the most studied subject in the history of medicine, with over 60,000 papers and growing daily. He pointed to a person called Tollison, who wrote in the non-medical media that was read by the business sector. There were no medical responses there. The mainstream also media had relatively little on tobacco, as tobacco advertising was one of the major sources of revenue.

So the harm of tobacco was known, but ignored, like the fact that you are going to die one day.

It came home to me, when I amputated the leg of a smoker for vascular disease. He had bad lungs and a bad heart. I said, ‘Look mate, if you keep smoking, you will lose the other leg.’

To my amazement he replied, ‘Look, all you doctors go on about smoking, but if it was as bad as you say it is, the government would do something about it’.

He had internalised the government’s non-action as being mute testimony to it not being a problem. Doctors are, after all a subculture that claims to have expertise in a certain area, as do engineers, educators, weather forecasters and many other groups. In tobacco, the Tobacco Industry, the Australian Hotels Association, Clubs and Pubs and the advertisers and sponsorship recipients fought like tigers to stop reasonable public health policy. They are probably still retarding it- there has not been a Quit campaign in Australia for over a decade.

Trump’s denial of the significance of COVID19 must have struck a chord with those who knew that in the absence of decent welfare system a lockdown would send them broke. They needed to believe that they could carry on, and he and his denial were their salvation. A lot of business interests supported them- they would go broke too.

So it was interesting that the health facts became politicised, and wearing a mask was as much a political statement as a medical one. Politics was not, and will not be in future a good basis for personal preventive heath decisions. So controlling the COVID epidemic in the US will be harder than here, where mainly apathy and complacency are in the way.

The figures that only 4% of people in the US changed their view on the dangers of COVID goes some way to explaining why Biden did not have a landslide. For many people, COVID was not an issue, Trump’s rhetoric was plausible if you did not fact-check, and the economy had been going OK prior to the epidemic.

SMH today:

Virus neglect didn’t infect Trump vote

Shaun Ratcliff

📷

Since the first person was diagnosed with COVID-19 in the US, more than 10 million cases have been confirmed and nearly a quarter of a million people with the virus have died.

Watching from afar, in a country where the coronavirus has been significantly less lethal, it is surprising the incumbent president did as well as he did.

While the pandemic probably did cost him votes, surveys we have run over the course of the year showed there are strong partisan effects on attitudes towards COVID-19, with supporters of Donald Trump mostly unconcerned about the risks from the virus, and getting less worried as the year went on.

These surveys were run in May and September. Both surveys consisted of responses from more than 1000 Americans.

In May, approximately 40 per cent of all Americans were very or extremely worried about the possibility they or a family member might catch the virus. Almost the exact same number were only a little or not at all worried. According to our data, this level of concern actually declined slightly between May and September.

This was largely a partisan affair. Respondents who said they were going to vote for Joe Biden retained a similar level of concern during this period, with 48 per cent very or extremely worried in May, and 50 per cent in September.

However, respondents who said they would vote for Trump were not very concerned about COVID-19 in May – about 19 per cent reported they were worried about it in the first survey and just 11 per cent of Trump voters reported this level of concern in the second survey.

The partisan differences, and the declining trend in Republican concern about COVID-19, are largely the product of the extremely polarised media and political environment in the US.

Trump voters are less trusting of information on COVID-19 from medical experts than Biden supporters, and between May and September a quarter of Republican voters became less likely to trust information from these experts.

This difference may, in part, stem from the media through which they obtain information. Those with the lowest levels of trust tended to rely upon more conservative cable and online news like Breitbart and Fox News, for instance, which have played down the risk posed by the pandemic.

Republicans who rely more on these conservative media outlets were more likely to have lower levels of trust in medical experts, even after controlling for demographic differences between Democrats and Republicans. They were also as likely to trust Donald Trump as medical experts for information on the coronavirus.

In this polarised environment, very few voters abandoned Trump between May and September (only about 4 per cent in our data), and hardly any shifted to support Biden.

Trump supporters tended to align their position on the coronavirus with their political allegiance. Relying more on media that downplayed the significance of the coronavirus, and taking cues from Republican leaders, they decided the pandemic was not a significant threat.

Our data indicates Biden was able to win over a small number of voters who supported neither candidate at the start of the year. It was enough to win in the end, but not enough to deliver the predicted landslide.

Shaun Ratcliff is a lecturer in political science at the United States Study Centre, University of Sydney.

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Biden Wins, but is America Trumped? 9/11/20

Biden won the US election, but everyone was surprised how close it was and how well Trump did.

It might be said that had there not be the COVID19 virus and Trumps handling it very badly, he probably would have won. Many have been wringing their hands for years, but whatever lies he tells, however much fact-checking was done, Trump seemed Teflon-coated. The standards have changed. Did we really think politicians had to tell the truth in the past and have them resign if they were caught out? The reality show host told people that economy was doing well, the stock market was up and the COVID would disappear and if he wasn’t consistent with yesterday, that is for fact-check researchers. He is still the same friendly face and reassuring voice for many.

But at a more fundamental level, the middle class in the US have been having a bad time for a long time. Neo-liberal economics favours world trade, China does it cheaper and jobs are offshored. The importers can pay Chinese prices for goods, and charge US prices, so their margins have gone up. In 2008 Obama’s slogan was that ‘Change is Possible’ but he failed to capitalise on Democrat control of the Senate and when the Global Financial Crisis came, he bailed out the banks, not the little people who still lost their homes. In 2016 Bernie Sanders recognised the problem, but the Democrat Establishment were scared of him, suppressed the vote in the Primaries and put in Hilary Clinton. Hilary Clinton, as ex-First Lady and Secretary of State was seen as part of the Establishment, and hence part of the problem.

Trump played this, as well as the voting system that favoured small states with Republican governments who wrote the electoral laws with varying degrees of voter suppression. Trump remained Anti-Establishment man, a populist, who would say anything to be popular. This time again, Sanders spoke of the need for change and used the word ‘Socialist’, a brave thing to do in America. The Democrat Establishment was again scared, and again used some voter suppression and getting the other less successful moderate candidates to withdraw to allow Biden’s late run for the Democrat nomination. So the people who wanted change were dudded again. The Democrats had an Establishment candidate, and the Republicans ran a candidate who pretended to be for the battlers.

The current situation is portrayed as just Trump’s ego stopping Biden getting on with the job, but that does not explain why 70 million people still voted for Trump and are very angry. Poorer Americans have a lot to be upset about. Biden was considered ‘past it’ by both the common people and the Democrat Establishment until the younger candidates were failing against Sanders. Biden was suddenly wheeled in to both save the poor people and get the big end of town’s money.

The Democrats scraped in this time. But this does not make Biden a good candidate. It is by no means certain that Biden has any idea how to fix the problem, or if he would be allowed to fix it if he did. Conservative Democrats put him there, and he is likely to have a Republican majority in the Senate, which neither wants progressive change, nor wants to help Biden at all. So enjoy the fine rhetoric while you can.

Even in defeat Trump will have enough power within the Republican party to destroy the pre-selection chances of any Republican who upsets him, so he may continue strutting around making up realities, with an overall effect like a bull in a china shop. But Trump in a strange sort of way was a beacon of hope, who recognised the discontent and tapped it. Though he did little to improve the situation, he gave hope that the Establishment could be defied and this role may continue.

The crunch time will come soon, when the disillusioned voters realise the situation. Will there be a systematic response, marches or vandalism? Time will tell.

It is accepted that the US voting system is so rigged that there is little chance for any candidate not backed by huge amount of money, and the system is hugely rigged in favour of the small states which favours the Republicans. The question is whether the voting system can be fixed for next time- it is hard to see how. It is stuck in the Constitution. The welfare system, the health system, the education system, the wages system and the competitiveness of American industry all seem very complex, with their solutions in different sectors of the economy. Biden is better than Trump, but that was a very low bar.

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US Election Commentary- Warning- long post, innovative stuff nearer the end 5/11/20

I shudder to comment on the US Elections- it is a crowded field- 15 professional commentators in today’s SMH alone, and that is without the electronic ones.

But I had a few thoughts, firstly about the US Voting system which is very flawed, then about the candidates, and finally about what might happen:

Biden looks likely to win and Trump is dangerously stoking tensions by calling into question the integrity of the whole US electoral system. The US electoral system is probably not corrupt in a limited meaning of the term. The mail ballots are sent in, and should be counted and not be fraudulent. The counting process is well supervised and credible.

But the whole system is hopelessly outmoded and non-democratic.  Here are a few issues:

The candidate who wins the popular votes does not necessarily win the Presidency because of the Electoral Colleges system. 

The Electoral College system gives two votes to every state, but it was set up when the US Constitution was written, so States with few people have far more votes College vote per citizen that populous States.  So Wisconsin has 1 Electoral College vote for every 195,000 voters whereas California has one electoral college  vote for every 670,000 voters, a ratio of nearly 3.5:1.  The small States are mostly Republican and in the centre of the country and there are more of them.

In most States, whoever wins the State gets all the Electoral College votes, so if a lot of  small states are won, this gives the Republicans a big advantage, which is why Bush Jnr and Trump won with a minority of the popular votes. If Trump wins this time, it will again be with a minority of popular votes. 

This problem is hard to fix as it is in the Constitution, and the small states, like Tasmania in Australia will resist this and there are about 30 Tasmanias in the USA.

Voter suppression is another art practised particularly in Republican states. This involves changing the rules so that certain groups are less likely to be able to vote.  If for example, people who have been in gaol are ruled ineligible to vote, it disadvantages black voters.  If the proof of address is needed, poorer people whose voter registration records are less up to date are more likely to be ruled ineligible. If there are few ballot boxes in certain areas and they are hard to get to, etc.  It is almost certain that the actions of Governor Bush in Florida, the Presidential candidate’s brother helped George W Bush by suppressing voters and gave him the Presidency over Al Gore.  You may recall that there was an appeal to the Supreme Court for a recount and this was denied, the Supreme Court members voting in the interest of the Party that appointed them. This is why Trump keeps talking about appealing to the Courts.

There is also ‘first past the post’ voting rather than preferential, which means that any third candidate merely takes votes from the candidate closest to him or her, and this may favour someone with less than a majority.

The gerrymander of the electoral boundaries is another problem in the US. The incumbents set boundaries that wander in strange shapes to take in pockets of voters and allow an incumbent to survive while the adjacent electorates have huge majorities for the other party, and if there was a fair redistribution the seats would all go the other way.

There is no Federal equivalent of the Australian Electoral Commission, which puts out a model for fair electoral boundaries and then hears representations of why they should be changed from this.  Rather, in the US there is a different electoral system in each state, because that was necessary to get the States to form the United States.  It was not that the founding fathers thought that this was the best system- it was simply the best that they could do under the circumstances.  So it will be very difficult to fix.

At a practical level, Trump seems willing to divide the country.  He would probably have won had there not been a COVID epidemic.  There were more jobs and the stockmarket was high. Generally if the economy is doing well, incumbents are re-elected other issues notwithstanding.  Trump was seen to have mismanaged the COVID epidemic, playing it down as tens of thousands died and millions were infected.  How anyone can still think it is a hoax is difficult to understand, (but this article is not about the media).  How much a President can actually do is other question.  Administration at a day to day level is by States, as we have found in Australia in the epidemic, they still have quite a lot of power.  It will be interesting to see how much Biden can do if he wins.  At least he is likely to recognise the seriousness, state it clearly and mobilise resources.

It seems as the votes are counted that Biden will win but partly due to some of the factors above by a lesser margin than was expected.  The longer the count goes on, the more Trump will stir trouble, and there may be riots as his supporters are strengthened in the idea that he was robbed.  It is significant that all the shops are boarded up in the most fashionable streets in Washington DC.  This is not some backwater- these streets are the equivalent of the most expensive areas in Sydney CBD.

The question will be asked, how could Trump do so well after such dishonesty and incompetence.  I will try to get in early on this.  Trump did some good in foreign policy. He probably stopped the US attacking Iran, and did not commit the US in Syria, which allowed Assad and the Russians to win, but it was hard to see a good outcome whatever happened and it may have been another US quagmire.  He has ‘stood up to China’ economically and militarily, made peace overtures to North Korea, persuaded some Arab states to recognise Israel, torn up the NAFTA (North America Free Trade Agreement0 with Canada and Mexico, and taken a far more nationalistic line on trade.  Whether all these are good remains to be seen, but they do constitute policy change that is broadly popular with his constituency.

In his style he has tweeted- a direct communication to the common person.  This is the antithesis of what was done before.  Hilary Clinton was seen as a child of the Establishment, the bankers who had been bailed out in the GFC when a lot of people lost their homes.  Presumably if they had been given the money they would have given it to the banks and they would have survived as well as the banks, but perhaps that was too administratively difficult.  Jobs have gone offshore because labour is cheaper there, which has hollowed out the middle class, particularly in the manufacturing sector.  Though this may have been forgotten by the media it is not forgotten by those affected, who do not trust the Establishment, which is partly why conspiracy theories and populism can flourish.

Just looking at the Campaign hoopla: Trump was exciting and optimistic, Biden looked the Conservative, unexciting with a negative message.  The Establishment had not fixed the problems before, now it was demanding its place at the head again to have another go.  Trump may have been talking fantasy, but it was hopeful fantasy, and reality does not look so bright. It is like a religious cult; if you assess it with your heart, it seems right, if you use your head it does not.  It is as if many people in Western society are choosing pleasant fantasy over unpleasant reality with Trump and Biden personifying the choice. 

I spoke to Joe Laurie of Consortium News during the week before the election.  He had an interesting story about Biden that is probably true.  No one thinks that Biden is a very good candidate. Most of us thought that he was past it, and I asked some weeks ago what the minimum criterion for a President was; to read an autocue?  It seems that the Democrat Establishment were not too impressed by Biden but there was a shortage of a credible moderate candidate.  They were scared of Bernie Sanders. He represented a major change. He admitted to wanting things that had been termed ‘socialist’ like universal health care, bigger taxes and more welfare.  Elisabeth Warren was the next most progressive.  There were a number of moderate candidates, Pete Buttigieg, Amy Lobucher, Tulsi Gabband, and the immensely wealthy Michael Bloomberg.  The Democrat Establishment let them have a run, but Sanders was beating them all.  So somewhat belatedly the Democrat Establishment tapped all the young moderates on the shoulder, told that that they could not win, and asked then to stand aside and let it be Biden v Sanders.  Elizabeth Warren was left there, as she was more likely to take votes from Sanders, and it made it look like a more open race.  The Democrat Establishment then supported Biden as much as possible, including doing some voter suppression in the Primaries in California in areas where Sanders was strong.  Sanders was robbed in 2016, and probably again.  So the Democrat Establishment, which represents much of the business world got an acceptable if not optimal candidate, Biden.

The people who had lost their jobs in the GFC and did not trust Hilary Clinton and were not much more impressed with Biden, who was after all, as much of a creature of the status quo as she was. So if you ignore COVID, and do not care much what else Trump has said, apart from noting that he has upset the Establishment, you get some idea of why his vote has held up so much better than was expected. 

The psephologists say that the polls are wrong, partly because of the complexity of the voting systems, but also because people do not admit that they are voting for Trump.  They tell the pollsters one thing, and vote another.  Perhaps political correctness influences their polling behaviour. 

But if Biden wins, what can he do?  He is very much part of the Establishment, who rejected Sanders’ solutions.  The world market takes jobs to where labour is cheapest, particular if it is well organised, like in China.  An unregulated market is like a Monopoly game. Those with more money set the prices and the rents, and those at the bottom compete with each other as price takers.  So money flows upward; the rich get richer, and the poorer people recognise this.  Governments have to act with wages that share the wealth, welfare that provide services and universal things like parks and roads, health and education.  If governments are not willing to do this, and the welfare is to the top end as it was in the GFC people do not trust the system.  Is Biden the man to fix this?  I doubt it.

Marx looked at history from an economic perspective and said that revolution would come in an advanced capitalist society basically because the wealth would increasingly be concentrated in fewer and fewer people.  He did not glorify revolution (as many have since), he merely said that it would become necessary because the rich would not give up their money without a fight.  The US rioters have been called opportunists and looters, but also the bogeyman of the socialist revolution has been discussed.  All this may seem premature or logistically impossible, but if the economic drivers remain in the same direction, it is certainly a matter of concern.  The Establishment must recognise that the economic system cannot remain as it is.  A Republican Senate with Biden as President does not bode well, particularly if Trump’s swansong is to focus many people’s frustration.

I attach Consortium News’ article on Voter Suppression

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COVID-19 Non-Treatment, American Style Points to the Need to Fix Medicare

10 May 2020 As Australian political parties slowly and steadily dismantle Medicare to move us towards a privatised system American-style, it is worth noting the major feature of the American system. Everyone says it is a hopeless system. It depends what you want it to do. It is the world’s best system at turning sickness […]

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