Wednesday, August 14, 2019

The Trump regime is not 1984. It's much more clever than that

In terms of obscenity, this photo of President Trump with an infant survivor of the El Paso massacre is fairly minor in the whole scheme of Donald Trump's moral crimes - to say nothing of his legal crimes. But it's emblematic of his sociopathic regime. (You can't called it an administration because governance is not its point)

Trump may not be particularly smart in the intellectual sense but his instincts for advancing his own personal self-interest is nothing short of malevolent genius. Long before he entered politics, he was a great con man.

The malevolent genius of his regime is its full scale assault on the senses. It's one moral outrage to disgust honest, decent Americans after another. You're not even done reeling/raging about one scandal and another pops up.

The children in cages meant we stopped talking about the avalanche of impeachable offenses. The gun massacres meant we stopped talking about children in cages. The Epstein death meant we stopped talking about violence. The ICE raids is Mississippi meant we stopped talking bout the Epstein death. The green card rule changes meant we stopped talking about the ICE raids. Declare open season on the bald eagle and other endangered speices and we stopped talking about the green rule changes. Pervert the Statue of Liberty Poem and we stopped talking about the attack on endangered species.

This would be enough for two years to stagger a normal nation. In America, this is just the last 10 days.

In a column for The Guardian in 2017, Aldous Huxley's son pointed out that Trump's regime was not Orwell's 1984. It was his father's Brave New World.

I'm not quite sure how an opposition candidate breaks through against this relentless, overbearing obscenity but  I'm certain Trump is hoping he gets a corporate centrist help his con job along.

During the last round of GOP primaries, Trump bragged that he could stand in the middle of Manhattan and shoot someone and he wouldn't lose any voters.

That might be the only thing he's ever said that we ought to have believed.


Thursday, August 01, 2019

People need to (be able to) work for a living

"When I give food to the poor, I'm called a saint. When I ask why they are poor, I'm called a communist." -Archbishop Dom Helder Camara.

Most recipients of SNAP (food stamps) work. And yet the president wants to further slash their already meager benefits. Some "Christian  nation."

I’ll say it til I’m blue in the face.

If you want people to work for a living (and not receive taxpayer funded benefits) then you have to ensure a system where people can actually make a living while working.

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Overturn Citizens United

Recently, Senate Democrats introduced a constitutional amendment to overturn to Citizens United abomination. Any candidate for federal office of whatever party who refuses to support this amendment will not get my vote.

Progress on any "bread and butter" issue you can name will continue to be stalled until we can start limiting the effect of legalized bribery, particularly by non-humans.

This is far more important to the future of our republic than impeachment of a particular president or publicizing tax returns.

The system was rotten long before Donald Trump and his fellow gangsters infested the White House.


Monday, July 08, 2019

Right-wing ideology is literally killing our country

"When I give food to the poor, I'm called a saint. When I ask why they are poor, I'm called a communist." -Archbishop Dom Helder Camara.

I saw this really interesting essay in The Boston Review entitled 'Dying of Whiteness.'

It gave some examples of how some people would rather die - literally die - by not getting  treatment than accept the help of medical services provided by 'Obamacare' (which was developed by a Republican governor and inspired by a conservative think tank). They would rather die than than accept help from a 'liberal' program.

It shows the extent to which the right-wing nihilism has taken our society hostage.

I don't know what kind of public policy can be developed when neither the two foundational cornerstones of governance - the greater good and pure self interest - are considered valid.

The right-wing notion that social progress is a zero sum gain - that my prosperity is entirely dependent on harm to you - is killing this country, both figuratively and literally.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Hillary Clinton passes the buck

"When I give food to the poor, I'm called a saint. When I ask why they are poor, I'm called a communist." -Archbishop Dom Helder Camara.

In an interview with the UK Guardian, Hillary Clinton claims that immigration "lit the flame" of right wing extremism in Europe.

Fascism always rises when the ruling elite is revealed as corrupt and dangerously out of touch.

Yes, sometimes the arrival of immigrants who are fleeing violence or seeking a better life for their families serves as the perfect scapegoat to "light the flame". The Other is always the most popular villain. But it only works if there is kindling to light.

Western Europe is governed mostly by centrists, like Mrs. Clinton herself. Many large countries are run by grand coalitions that cannot or will not make tough decisions for fear of the government falling.

Europe could've found a way to accommodate the migrants in a way that respected international law without undermining national societies. But this coordination required the leadership that Europe's centrist coalitions were lacking.

It's no surprise that as Europe's non-leaders dithered, the far right seized power in places like Poland and Hungary and is rapidly expanding in places like Sweden and Germany. Politics abhors a vacuum.

And that's how the far right seized power in the US. The ruling elite was revealed as corrupt and out of touch and a charismatic demagogue filled the void. Who was the standard bearer of the ruling class when this happened? Centrist Hillary Clinton.

Much of what African migrants are fleeing to Europe about are economic morasses and wars created or exacerbated in large part by European neo-colonialism. Just like much of what migrants are fleeing from in Mexico and Central America are similar collapses caused by American neo-colonialism... including those helped by Barack Obama's first secretary of state.

Hillary Clinton giving a nod to xenophobia is really just her making excuses for her own role in the rise of the US far right. The fascists needed a shady, out of touch ruling class member to vilify and the DNC obliged them. Hillary Clinton was hardly unique in that but just happened to be in that role at the wrong time. But it does make her supremely unqualified to lecture others about how to combat right wing extremism.

Thursday, August 02, 2018

We don't forget the lessons of history. We ignore them.

I've come to believe that societies don't degenerate because humans "forget" the lessons of history.

Societies degenerate because people tell themselves the lessons of history do not apply to their situation.

People think that their situation is different - which it always is, usually in some trivial way - and therefore use this insignificant difference as a pretext to waive away said lessons.

For example: Nazis referred to Jews as vermin. Hutus referred to Tutsis as cockroaches. Trump referred to immigrants as an infestation. Not exactly identical so therefore lessons of history don't apply. Or so goes the self-delusion.

Except history never repeats itself exactly. The lessons of history are intended to be broad, not narrow. They are meant to be a deterrent, not to describe an exact replication.

This is related to exceptionalism. Humans tend to view themselves as exceptionally altruistic. This permits them to dismiss any negative warnings.

I think part of it also has to do with how history is taught. We learn quite a bit about the bad things in history. We're taught quite a bit about the Holocaust and the rise of the Nazis. We learn about the failures and actions that led to the rise of totalitarian regimes.

But how much do we learn about historical examples in which movements with totalitarian and/or racial/nationalistic bents, etc. were thwarted by actions of civil society?

We're often presented with negative blueprints but rarely affirmative ones that can be acted upon.

Wednesday, August 01, 2018

Not implementing Medicare for All is absurd

"When I give food to the poor, I'm called a saint. When I ask why they are poor, I'm called a communist." -Archbishop Dom Helder Camara.   

Recently, Senator Bernie Sanders proposed implementing a single-payer style Medicare for All system to replace our completely dysfunctional sick care system. This was denounced by Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan as "absurd."

In 2018, all health care spending is expected to total $3.5 trillion.

By 2026, such spending is expected to skyrocket to $5.7 trillion.

Sanders' plan is projected to cost $32.6 trillion over 10 years, or an average of $3.26 trillion a year.

So Medicare for All would insure far more people than the current system (everyone) for far less money. To not implement such a program is what would be absurd.

Unless you own stock in the private health insurance industry.

Tuesday, May 08, 2018

#HimToo ?

Today, New York attorney general Eric Schneiderman resigned, hours after The New Yorker revealed serious allegations against him of violence toward women. Many called for him to step down immediately.

On one hand, it's good that, at least in some quarters, public revelations of violent misogyny cause the accuser to be shunned into slinking out of public life, not excused or, worse, actively embraced.
And it is fitting that Schneiderman - a vocal backer of the #MeToo - may be punished under laws that he helped pass as a state senator.
On the other hand, some of his accusers claim that they told others of his actions a long time ago and they were not acted upon.
Clearly many men in positions of power - Republicans and Democrats alike - think they are above the law - to say nothing of basic human decency - in how they treat (usually) women. Far too often, they are right.