Friday, April 21, 2017
Yup, getting with the program. After whatever disasters Trump and the Republicans visit upon the USA I'm sure that the New York Times and CNN will write about the failure, but never once admit to their part in creating it.
Thursday, April 20, 2017
It sounds as if he believes he’s a real general, running a real war. And the enemy is not just the “terrorist” gangbangers; it’s millions of undocumented immigrants who’ve been designated as criminals for infractions as minor as driving without a license. And now the administration has even got media “embeds” with the troops, reporting from the front.But isn't that what the whole administration and the whole movement that supports it is about? The "Freedom" Caucus wants to withdraw health care from 24 million people. The right-wing Christian extremists want to rule everyone who isn't an extremist, especially women. (I wonder to what extent the intense misogyny of the Christian right is driven by men who want to control their wives.) The white supremacists want to rule over people of color, and will be happy to fight among themselves for the privilege of ruling white people as well. It's the war of the fascists against their own country, it seems.
I knew Trump was very likely to start a war. It’s just not in his character to resist the temptation to flex his muscle and prove his manhood. But I assumed he would fight the hated foreign hordes overseas on their own turf. Unfortunately, whatever happens with our various foreign policy crises, it’s looking more and more every day like we’re also going fight a war right here, on the streets of American cities.
Sunday, April 9, 2017
The best thing the USA could do in Syria and Yemen is take in refugees.— Raven Onthill (@RavenOnthill) April 9, 2017
That trick never works. The only way to win a war is to fight it; posturing does not lead to victory.
But it can start wars. Diplomats answer threats with threats and the verbal conflicts escalate until, finally, all parties can see no other choices but to fight. Add to that the brutal treatment of immigrants and refugees under the Trump administration, the trade policies of the Trump administration, and the diplomatic incompetence of the Trump administration. The USA is making many enemies. So I think some of the talk will eventually turn to action. It may be in some place we don't expect; Yemen is a festering conflict, Ukraine is very much at risk. (Not at all coincidentally, both centers of the global fossil energy business.)
It seems likely to me that President Trump will get his war.
Friday, April 7, 2017
Meantime, we have the media guys going on about how Presidential this was.
Thursday, April 6, 2017
How can this system last? Single-party rule is inherently undemocratic.
Friday, March 31, 2017
Wednesday, March 29, 2017
My remarks in Crooked Timber comments:
Prof. Robin, this president you call weak still commands the most powerful military in history and the vast internal police force of the Department of Homeland Security, which has gone rogue. Half the reason the AHCA went down to defeat is that it was not cruel enough for the fascist wing of the Republican Party, and Trump will seek revenge for that humiliation. The Middle East is likely to explode in war soon (watch Yemen.) If so, that will provide the Trump administration and the various factions of the Republican Party with more excuses to expand their fascist domestic policy.Prof. Robin is a very smart man with historical insight, but he seems incapable of apologizing or admitting error.
Sunday, March 26, 2017
Or we could try mobilizing women and young people for liberal causes. There's a lot of women who have discovered what feminists knew all along: that, in the clinch, Republicans will oppress them. Young people, who grew up during the depression that followed on the crash of 2008, knew that all along. If liberals can assemble a coalition of women and young people, there would be little it could not do.
Against that, we have to look at Democratic betrayals. Huge numbers of people long-term unemployed, huge numbers of people losing their homes, these things are not lightly set aside, and the Obama administration fell far short of what it could have done. In the crash of 2008, the Democratic leadership served their rich donors, rather than the whole of the people, and the people know. I have before alluded to the gospel saying that a man cannot serve both money and god. I would say rather money and the people, but the point stands: though the Democratic leadership is far more decent than the Republican leadership, both are far too dominated by big-money contributors.
We also have to understand better organizing in the electronic media environment. Electronic media are an enormously powerful way to motivate people, but getting them to actually organize into political factions and parties is enormously difficult, and revolutions have failed because activists have treated formal organization as unnecessary: consider Occupy and the Arab Spring. We need to concentrate, therefore, on formal organization.
Finally, we need to embrace our own activists. We must not, as Martin Luther King wrote in his "Letter from Birmingham Jail," confuse the false peace that comes from exhaustion or oppression with the true peace that comes from social justice. I do not care if activists are unsettling and disturbing, so long as they are active!
Thursday, March 23, 2017
Charles Pierce writing about Neil Gorsuch's testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Sen Whitehouse (D-RI):
What's interesting is that this group sees a difference between him [Garland] and you that I don't understand…now we have $10 million going the other way. That's a $17 million delta and for the life of me, I'm trying to figure out what they see in you that makes that $17 million worth the spending. Do you have any answer to that?Pierce summarizes Gorsuch's reply:
Sen. Whitehouse:If Whitehouse wanted to know who they were, he should ask them.
Gorsuch:I can't. I don't know who they are. It's just a front group.
Senator, I have no information about anything you just described. I don't know about that.Pierce:
This is not remotely believable. As Senator Al Franken pointed out later, when he read from e-mails dating back to Gorsuch's days as a high-level Republican lawyer, specifically about his work for the 2004 Bush re-election campaign, Gorsuch has been a political being for his entire adult life and, at the same time, he hasn't spent a second in elected office, so his politics were formed and were exercised almost entirely through the conservative Republican institutional infrastructure.So here we have a nominee for the highest Court in the land, perjuring himself.
Tuesday, March 14, 2017
Approximately 17,000 people could die in 2018 who otherwise would have lived if a House Republican health proposal endorsed by the Trump administration becomes law. By 2026, the number of people killed by Trumpcare could grow to approximately 29,000 in that year alone. – ThinkProgress
- Has any democracy every before made policy that would kill hundreds of thousands of its own citizens?
- We are with the AHCA in the domain of the Great Hunger in Ireland or the Holodomor in Ukraine.
- The USA cannot implement the AHCA and remain a democracy.
Sunday, March 5, 2017
Yet conservatives have crossed the line to unjust violence — fascism — and people who have done that seldom cross back. It takes strong people to admit to unforgivable sin, and repent. Most never do, never will. Can we bring the Republican Party back, when it has embraced fascism?
The Democratic Party, in the last 30 years, has tried to serve both Mammon and the people. Can't be done, and the Obama administration failed spectacularly at it. No jobs program, no relief for embattled homeowners, no prosecutions for mortgage fraud or servicing abuse. (And if you doubt that, read David Dayen’s Chain of Title.) At least, the Obama administration did not practice the economic destruction the Republicans promise. This made it possible for people to work out a modest recovery. But I do not think there is one of us who does not know someone who has lost their home, or spent years out of work.
Why would people turn out for a party which did that? I have a friend who is represented by Senator Patricia Murray (D-WA.) She made the budget deal with Paul Ryan that cut off my friend’s unemployment benefits on my friend’s birthday. Now (says my friend) my friend voted for Senator Murray during the last election with difficulty. And yet my friend is an educated activist who will determinedly vote for the lesser evil. Someone who had lost their house or had years of unemployment and is not ideological? Why would they vote Democratic? Why would their family, friends, and neighbors? The amazing thing, perhaps, is that turnout was as good as it was.
What turned out enthusiastic liberals in the last election? Jobs, banking, environment,… The socialist program of Bernard Sanders. The socialist Bernard Sanders. And perhaps his proposals did not pencil, likely they could not have been implemented as written. But the process of attempting to implement them would have produced positive results. Likely also Sanders would not have won the general election: the Republicans would have painted him as a misogynistic racist communist traitor and they would have had the help of disappointed Clinton supporters. Yet as much as there was anyone implementing your program of connecting with the opposition, of coming together, Sanders tried. He talked to coal miners and auto workers. He visited Liberty University. When Clinton won the primaries, he turned over his delegates to Clinton and campaigned for her.
But it was not enough.
What will be enough? Well, to begin with, let’s look at the old progressive or liberal or democratic socialist program: jobs, environment, equity, justice. “Vote for us: we bring peace, prosperity, and weed.” What’s not to like about that? (Weed makes me cough. But other than that.) Well, turns out that that means one isn’t allowed to be rapacious in business, that one has to give up the feeling of moral superiority that anti-abortion activism offers, and no racism, no sexism. We have just elected a racist President who brags about the size of his penis! Whose party has a history of rape apologetics. Whose anti-abortion platform protects rapists and child molesters.
At the root of this great reaction is in part threatened masculinity. The other part, I think, is a revolt against modernity. A revolt against the communications technologies which connect us. A revolt against a world where Western culture is one of many.
So we have four things to account for the Democratic loss: racism, patriarchy, a revolt against modernity, and personal economic losses. What will be enough to turn out voters against the Republicans? Perhaps organization of the enormous opposition that has emerged. As I have been writing since 2008, young people and women are mobilized. If they can organize, they can win. Time and Republican failures will work in their favor. Trumpworld is a glitzy place, but also a harsh, corrupt, and unfair one, and the public is likely to hate the reality of fascism; it is much more attractive as a vision than a reality.
But who will organize them? The party that turned people out of their homes and left them to fall into poverty is not going to be easily forgiven. Its leadership does not want to admit error. Charles Schumer, the Senator who most represents the hated financiers of Wall Street, is the Democratic Senate leader. Tom Perez, though personally liberal, was candidate of the losing party establishment for chair of the Democratic National Committee, and has won.
In the clinch, most Sanders supporters stood with Clinton. It is not clear to me if the reverse would be so. I have seen far too much denial of the problems of the Democratic Party from Clinton supporters, and if the Democrats do not change, they will keep on losing.
Our Revolution, which grew out of Sanders campaign, has its own problems. The revanchist Clinton supporters obviously, but also the unpopularity of socialism. Yet the strength and depth of the opposition to the Trump/Republican program is astonishing. If that can organize, it can defeat the Republicans.
2020. Look to 2020. The country will be a shambles by then, but with luck, organization, and leadership an opposition can win in 2020. We can try things in 2018, but by 2020 I hope we are ready.
Friday, February 24, 2017
The question arises as to why such business are allowed to continue operation, and why insurance company executives and employees are not prosecuted. At least the mortgage bankers only (only!) stole people's homes. After reading enough such stories I decided I wouldn't care if the entire industry was nationalized and all the holders of health insurance business stock lost all the value of their stock. Might teach our corporate citizens not to commit mass murder.
It does, though, explain in part why it is that there is not more horror of fascists. Horrors are built into our society; not only in the health insurance industry, but in policing, and many other places as well. We are, in fact, already desensitized.
Sunday, February 19, 2017
At the press conference:
I think I'll say a few words, and then we'll take some questions. And I had this time. We've been negotiating a lot of different transactions to save money on contracts that were terrible, including airplane contracts that were out of control and late and terrible; just absolutely catastrophic in terms of what was happening. And we've done some really good work. We're very proud of that. And then right after that, you prepare yourselves, we'll do some questions, unless you have enough questions. That's always a possibility. I'm here today to update the American people on the incredible progress that has been made in the last four weeks since my inauguration. We have made incredible progress. I don't think there's ever been a president elected who in this short period of time has done what we've done.
In private at his golf club in New Jersey:
We’re doing a lot of interviews tomorrow — generals, dictators, we have everything,” Trump told the crowd, according to an audio tape of his closed-press remarks obtained by POLITICO from a source in the room. “You may wanna come around. It’ll be fun. We’re really working tomorrow. We have meetings every 15, 20 minutes with different people that will form our government.
We’re going to be interviewing everybody — Treasury, we’re going to be interviewing Secretary of State,” he continued. “We have everybody coming in — if you want to come around, it’s going to be unbelievable….so you might want to come along. —Politico via digby.Not incompetent-crazy, mean-greedy-crazy.
& thanks to Jim Wright at Stonekettle Station, who reads Trump so we don't have to!
Friday, February 17, 2017
It was a 1930s German Communist Party (KPD) slogan, usually attributed to Ernst Thälmann, chairman of the KPD and 1932 KPD Presidential candidate. He may or may not have originated it, but, as with Hillary Clinton's "Stronger Together," it is identified with him, and has a strong resonance with the opposition to Hillary Clinton in the 2016 US Presidential election.
Thursday, February 16, 2017
Anyone who still thinks this is going to be a normal administration ought to shut up and sit down.
Tuesday, February 14, 2017
Sunday, February 12, 2017
Saturday, February 11, 2017
And this report:
Leader of CA Senate accusing ICE/Trump admin of blatantly lying about the nature and scope of immigration raids. This will get ugly - FAST. pic.twitter.com/gn6bUQJqS9— Elliott Lusztig (@ezlusztig) February 11, 2017
A 19-year-old Muslim university student on a valid Canadian passport traveling to a track meet. Denied entry after 5 hrs questioning. https://t.co/tr9AX8Rebt— Elliott Lusztig (@ezlusztig) February 11, 2017
Friday, February 10, 2017
A well-argued debunking of the ideology of free markets, perfect competition, and rational actors, the book explains how these have become the excuses for cruel policies leading to the impoverishment of the overwhelming majority in the USA. The book is deceptively simple in its organization: the first chapters is an overview of the book's argument, the second explains the economistic (Econ 101) model of markets and the third covers the marketing of the model. Following chapters explode, with data, economism as applied to the minimum wage, taxation, health care, the mortgage market, and international trade. The last is a summary and prospect.
The short-short summary here is that an oversimplified model of economic behavior and outcomes has become the excuse for policies which impoverish the vast majority of Americans and much of the world. When politicians say that raising the minimum wage makes people poorer, that is an economistic argument, and the data does not support it. When they say that taxation invariably decreases overall wealth, that is an economistic argument, and the data does not support it. And so on.
It is a short simple book, and the text is within the reach of any literate adult. The footnotes carry you into the economic literature, and that is not so accessible, but that is the point of such a book; to make economic conclusions and data available to the literate public without extensive study.
It's a quietly written, rather academic book — the author is a law professor — but that is, in many ways, its strength. Instead of being a loud blatant polemic, it quietly destroys the intellectual underpinnings of US economic policy since Reagan.
Thursday, February 9, 2017
But my cynical self was left with great grief. There was a time when dreaming big dreams was part of the USA and that’s gone. I am thinking of a button with Donald Trump’s duck tail and the legend, “For this we gave up the earth and sky?” Because likely we will. This administration wants to shut down NASA’s earth sciences program because it produces evidence of climate change and ecological destruction. What will be left of NASA after all the cuts and most of the research funding is gone will not be much. Those labs and their staffs took generations to build. If they are shut down, it will not be possible to rebuild them without the kind of investment that we do not make any more.
Now, compared to surviving, this is perhaps not a big deal. We are going to have to fight just to prevent World War III and keep health care for our citizens. But the heart dies without dreams.
Trump is the death of dreams.
Sunday, February 5, 2017
"They will know, and they will never trust you again."
And so with the centrist Democratic officials; the moderates at Balloon Juice no longer believe them. The Democrats have been losing since they received a crushing defeat from Reagan back in1980. Moderate Democratic elected officials, like Seattle's mayor Murray, just wanted the normal business of politics: policy negotiation and the business of governance. They went along and got along. But it was unequal; the Democrats gave ground and kept giving ground, until they were reduced to a few strongholds, and now they have lost everything. They're still trying, too. We have Democratic Senators voting to approve Trump's awful Cabinet appointees. Not going to work; they will get no concessions.
The unemployment rates of people of color and women skyrocketed after the crash of 2008. They were also among those hurt worst by mortgage fraud and failed foreclosure policy.
Don’t go sneering at people who want an honest wage for an honest days work. That contempt is part of the problem. The coal miners do not deserve your contempt. More efforts ought to have been made on the miners behalf, both in finding other employment and in safety, and neither party did so.
Since Buckley both major parties have increasingly relied on funding from the very wealthy. Will you deny it? Part of the job of a candidate became fundraising, and this meant that candidates spent a great deal of time listening to the sources of funding. It also enormously cramped the ability of politicians to appeal to voters who were not wealthy. Candidates couldn’t promise people better wages, a pro-employment policy, or better banking regulation without risking their campaign funding and, ultimately, their jobs.
When the crisis came, when we desperately needed to break up the big banks, return the bankruptcy system to something that allowed an honorable fresh start, and resolve the mortgage crisis in favor of the people whose homes were at risk, neither party was willing to do it — all those connections with money paid off for the money. People were put out of their homes and left unemployed for years. Would you trust a ruler who allowed that? Why?
In the end, the Democrats had no credibility left with what you might call the working class. Now, people in New York who knew Trump knew how he treated the “working class.” I am one handshake away from 10 people he stiffed. Everyone in building in New York City knows he is a giant fraud. The reports are legion. But the public is poor at seeing the lesser evil and the Democrats, for whatever reason, didn’t attack him on that. Trump had credibility with the rest of the country and that helped make the difference.
Clinton lost the election to sexism, racism, bad press, and bad luck. But in the longer term the Democratic Party tried to serve both Mammon and the people, and that turned out not to be possible.
And, damn, go reread Clinton’s “Two Baskets” remarks. She had, by that point, got it. But it was too late.
And so it is. There are too many people who were thrown out of their homes and into long-term unemployment in the last administration, which all the while claimed to be for the “working class” or “people” or whatever. You can’t message these things away; these were concrete things which people will remember for the rest of their lives. It was the same during the William Clinton administration, though the pain was less and mostly on the poor and African-Americans.
In the clinch, when it came time to turn out the voters, slight majorities voted for someone who at least promised to do something for them in concrete terms.
And maybe Sanders could have won. Maybe. Or maybe the two-foot shelf of Republican oppo research would have done him in.
I think most of the argument blames the wrong things for the loss of the last election. The immediate causes were sexism, racism, bad press (Comey!), and bad luck. But in the previous administration the Democrats didn’t deliver on major things and people knew. You complain that the Republicans prevented them? Perhaps. But where were the arrests of bankers? Why did the Democrats not make a big loud show and embarrass the Republicans? But the Democrats couldn’t; they would have had to go against the huge amount of money that puts them in office. Instead, they quietly rolled over, just as they are rolling over now as Trump guts the government. Oh, they’re talking a better game. But why are any of Trump’s cabinet nominees getting through? (The DeVos nomination has just been passed out of the committee. Why couldn’t the Democrats have denied the Republicans a committee quorum on every nominee?) Why aren’t the Democrats fighting tooth and nail every step of the way? If ever there was a time to do it, it is now.
Monday, January 30, 2017
In any event the young Communist Marinus van der Lubbe was executed for setting the fire. Historians mostly believe he was guilty. He had a history of arson and there is no reliable evidence he acted in concert with anyone else. The Nazis followed his act of terrorism with a crackdown, and that was the end of freedom and democracy in Germany for the next decade, and the beginning of the path to World War II in Europe.
It is entirely possible that some Muslim or some Trump opponent will undertake an act of terrorism, either against Trump himself or against some hated representative of the administration, and provide the excuse for the Trump administration to crack down and start a war in the Middle East. We are literally dodging bullets.
Sunday, January 29, 2017
And when they come for you, who will you call for aid, when all voices have been silenced?
“The Department of Homeland Security says a New York court order temporarily barring the U.S. from deporting people from nations subject to President Donald Trump’s travel ban will not affect the overall implementation of the White House executive action.” — CBS News
“Senior Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway said in an interview Sunday morning that a federal judge's ruling ‘really doesn't affect’ the President's executive order banning refugees and immigrants from certain countries from entering the United States.” — TPM
“White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus said in an interview Sunday that the response to President Donald Trump's signing of an executive order banning refugees and immigrants from certain countries from entering the U.S. ‘wasn't chaos’ and that he would ‘apologize for nothing.’” — TPM
“President Trump's executive order reorganizing the National Security Council removed the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs and the Director of National Intelligence as regular members of the principals committee and added former Breitbart News Executive Chairman and now Presidential Counselor Steve Bannon.” — TPM
“For political and moral reasons, it is important to remember that very little of what the President is now doing is possible without a compliant Congress.” — TPM
To sum up: the White House and the Department of Homeland Security are refusing to comply with a court order. The white nationalist Steven Bannon has been elevated to the National Security Council and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs and the Director of National Intelligence have been removed.
It’s a coup.
Friday, January 27, 2017
“In the meantime, the task is much harder: you must tell them the truth. You cannot lie to the working class, James, not even once. They will know, and they will never trust you again. Lie to the bourgeoisie all you want, because they will hear only what they wish, and to the aristocracy, because they will not hear at all, and certainly to the government, the organ of the other two. But never to the working class.” — fictional Fredrich Engels, Steven Brust and Emma Bull, Freedom and NecessityWhich, I think, explains the failure of the Democratic party's centrist wing and the success of Bernie Sanders.
(Freedom and Necessity is possibly the only pagan Marxist Victorian fantasy romance novel ever. Used copies are cheap. Recommended.)
Friday, January 20, 2017
Even Trump's supporters don't seem happy. Oh, I'm sure there are some who are jubilant. But most stayed home. What's your problem, guys? You won. You're going to get what you want. Why aren't you happy about it?
…or perhaps it is dawning that you didn't win, after all.
Thursday, January 19, 2017
Mostly, we need courage and fortitude. I think most commentators here underestimate how bad it can get, and how fast. Hyperinflation, mass unemployment, hunger, disease, these were all things good government shielded us from for 60 years. A Trump administration might bring any or all of them back.
We can fight domestic disasters, but if, for instance, the fascist faction of the Trump administration succeeds in breaking up the European Union (http://talkingpointsmemo.com/edblog/trump-has-a-plan-to-break-up-the-eu), or they default on the national debt or adopt other disastrous economic policies (http://adviceunasked.blogspot.com/2016/12/econodisaster-ahoy.html), or the extensive cuts in government spending and employment (http://thehill.com/policy/finance/314991-trump-team-prepares-dramatic-cuts) that Trump promises lead to an economic collapse, there is little we can do.
As far as health care, I am now a supporter of states rights. (https://www.balloon-juice.com/2017/01/18/1332-juiced-up/) For you people in red states my thoughts and prayers are with you, because that is all I have to offer you.