Wednesday, January 05, 2022

Punish the first coup attempt so there isn't a second one

On this first anniversary of the terrorist insurrection that tried to overthrow Joe Biden's comfortable 2020 election win and with a second coup clearly in the works, remember this. 
 
Although it was a ham-fisted coup attempt, Weimar German authorities did not adequate punish the white supremacist fascist authors of the 1923 Beer Hall Putsch. They barely got a slap on the wrist. A few months in jail for treason and attempting to overthrow the republic. Enough to make them invent more grievance against the democrats (lowercase d) but not enough to deter them. 
 
They didn't fail the second time. 
 
Within a decade, they fabricated an excuse to seize absolute power - an attack on their national legislature building, mind you - and eventually genocide and world war.

Friday, November 26, 2021

The 'labor shortage' is due to the lack of 'positive work cultures', not laziness

The Lake George Mirror newspaper had an interesting interview with Lisa Ochsendorf, director of the Warren County Employment and Training Administration. She pointed out that higher unemployment benefits had little impact on the available labor pool in the county.

"We saw only about 300 people rejoin the workforce in August and September," when jobless benefits ran out, she said. 

She pointed out that the workforce is roughly the same size as in September 2019, prior to the pandemic, and that the size of the full-time workforce has been "remarkably stable for the past two decades." 

"We keep hearing that people don't want to work but that's not really the case," she pointed out. "COVID is an issue. Child care is an issue."

She added a point that is common sense among workers but seemingly controversial among the pundit class: in order to attract and retain workers, employers must create "positive work cultures."

Thursday, November 25, 2021

Undocumented immigrants have a lower crime rate than US citizens

Today we celebrate the event in which undocumented immigrants arrived in this land and were welcomed and fed by the native peoples. We all know what the immigrants did next. 
 
I am grateful that today's undocumented immigrants act with more respect toward folks already here than those who arrived 400 years ago.

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

The only Republican ideology is nihilism

The idiocy of one puppet attacking another is too absurd to bother commenting on itself.

But the nuclear war against efforts to overcome COVID and finally bring our society back to something approaching normal is a perfect illustration of the destructiveness of the Trumpism. They were lying when they said #AllLivesMatter.
 
It is a further illustration is that their only concern is to sabotage these efforts to undermine the recovery and harm Democrats chances of retaining Congress in 2022. Their governors are working quite effectively to this end.
To put their own jobs ahead of the greater good is not entirely new in politics. But to do so on a literally life or death matter that is harming their own base far more than the opposition's shows that their approach is not only vile and inhumane but stupid and self-defeating.
It's no surprise that the three or four vaguely reasonable Republican governors out there want nothing to do with the national death cult (who, of course, wants to cancel them for the disobedience).
The former Republican Party's only ideology is nihilism. They have literally nothing offer except rage. They can't even bring themselves to denounce violence or threats of violence. Even as their own supporters die in the meantime.

Sunday, November 14, 2021

Conservatives are better than liberals at organizing

A few days ago, I read an article expressing surprise that school boards became a major battleground in 2021. The author, as they say, must be new here. School boards have been an integral part of the right-wing culture wars for nearly half a century, back when they were railing against the "homosexual agenda" with their extremist demands about gay not being beaten up or outright lynched. It's no surprise that the current rage at school board meetings is neither grassroots nor spontaneous.
 
Conservatives have always had much better organization at the local levels, though, as the article points out, this hardly means the efforts are grassroots. Liberals have tended to focus almost exclusively on the "sexier" national and state issues. Conservatives thus win by default in the areas that most directly affect people's daily lives.

Friday, September 10, 2021

Remembering 9/11

20 years ago tomorrow, a terrorist attack in the United States country was the worst single crime against humanity of the new century.

Up until that point.

For a brief moment, Americans were one people, in shock, in grief, but together. The cruel attacks united us in a way that hasn't been seen since.

This hasn't been seen since because of what happened next.

The unity was cynically exploited by politicians and their sponsors to engage in an avalanche of inhumanity.

Two destructive wars that cost billions of dollars and tens of thousands of lives, both American and foreign. 

State-sponsored kidnapping. 

State-sponsored torture. 

Inciting bigotry against honest, hard-working Americans. 

So much pain inflicted.

In our name.

And worse still, encouraging "allies" to join in.

We are not safer because of this avalanche of inhumanity. 

And we are certainly not more united because of this avalanche of inhumanity.

The internal unraveling of America succeeded more spectacularly than the 9/11 terrorists could possibly have imagined. The mass murder was done by foreigners but the subsequent disintegration was entirely self-inflicted.

Bigotry always does as much damage those holding such views as it does to the objects of the hatred. This is true of individuals. And as the last two decades have shown, it is also true of societies.

Fires are only extinguished when they are deprived of the oxygen they need to survive. The fire of  division is nourished by the oxygen of bigotry. It's long past time to starve that fire.



You've got to be taught
To hate and fear,
You've got to be taught
From year to year,
It's got to be drummed
In your dear little ear
You've got to be carefully taught.
You've got to be taught to be afraid
Of people whose eyes are oddly made,
And people whose skin is a diff'rent shade,
You've got to be carefully taught.
You've got to be taught before it's too late,
Before you are six or seven or eight,
To hate all the people your relatives hate,
You've got to be carefully taught!
-From South Pacific, Rodgers & Hammerstein

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Worker shortage or rational labor choices

Last night, I was in an obviously short-staffed chain restaurant and overheard another customer bitching about it and the "lazy people who won't work" because [horror] he had to wait a few extra minutes for his check. 
 
We're living in the middle of a (again worsening) deadly pandemic where people act like wearing a mask for a few minutes is worse than Nazi tyranny. Or "child abuse." 
 
Restaurant worker is a job many of whom are directly facing these jerk customers (restaurant diners always seem to find ANY reason to be obnoxious). It is a job for which the "sub-minimum wage" was invented. And it is a job that almost never offers health insurance.

In the middle of a deadly, worsening pandemic, choosing not to accept such working conditions strikes me not as lazy but as entirely rational.

This situation also reminds us how much the service economy is based on paying people crap wages with no benefits and them taking it precisely because they don't have a choice.

Monday, August 16, 2021

Afghanistan: another failure of "nation building"

The US spent 20 years, around $1 trillion (closer to $2 trillion if you count long-term costs like treatment for soldiers), over 2300 American soldier lives - to say nothing of time, money and lives spent by European and other countries - trying to build Afghanistan into a viable state. 

 By many accounts, the Afghan army was staffed by decent men who were not given the tools to succeed by their corrupt political non-leaders. 

All that money, time and lives and the country is heading back to square one with the barbarians back in control. It's a tragic day for the people of Afghanistan, who’ve seen many tragic decades. 

No one seriously believes another few months or years would've made much of a difference in that regard.
 

Can we Americans please finally admit that imperialism and nation-building is something that can no longer work in the modern world (ignoring whether it was ever morally justified)? Let's stop starting wars that we are incapable - that no one is capable - of finishing. In the end, the only people who will have benefited from the last 20 years is "defense" contractor stockholders.