Friday, May 29, 2015

Hastert, Hastert, Has—hunh?

The response of the blogosphere (except for the crazy right wing) has been similar to mine. Josh Marshall reminds us of the 2006 Mark Foley scandal, harasser of young male pages in the House, and Hastert's lukewarm response. Digby also recalls Foley, and wonders what Rahm Emmanuel knew. And Buzzfeed reports hints that there were other victims.

For myself, I've had a day to react and think it over. My bottom-line conclusion is that our organizational forms and customs in some way ease the road of molesters. Let change come soon!

Reforms: Electoral and Media

So in the UK, the Tories, the Conservatives of the much-hated British austerity, have won again. As Brad Delong observed, "So Britain now shifts from a 59%-supported government to a 37%-supported government? And this is supposed to be a good system?" How is this possible? First: the Tories slacked off on the austerity for the last six months, and none of the other parties have called them on it, second, Scottish National Party split the Labour vote, third, Labour has become moderately conservative, and bleeds energy and enthusiasm to the Greens of various shades.

Above all is the British plurality ("first past the post") voting system and the British media, heavily influenced by the radical-right Rupert Murdoch, which has been talking up austerity and spreading deficit hysteria. If a family followed the debt-panic model of the right-wing media, it would pay down its credit card debt before paying its rent.

Which leads to a reform program:

  1. Media reform. We have known since the 1930s that politically-dominated mass media can enormously and quickly swing public opinion. In the wake of World War II, laws were written to reduce this domination, and these have been steadily weakened, until a single person, Rupert Murdoch, has created major radical right media organizations in the USA and UK. How can one have any meaningful political dialogue when the only major political media voice is right wing? The mind cannot soar on one wing!
  2. Electoral reform. It's become very obvious that democracy in the UK and the USA both are in dire need of electoral reforms, including: (1) Instant-runoff, ranked-choice, or some similar system (2) mandatory citizenship voting (3) "none of the above" as a choice.

Where are the radicals?

And why aren't they out in the streets? Because things are very bad. Why isn't every bank office, every legislature, occupied?

I wish I knew. Occupy fell apart. The trolls took over the Assemblies. Without overarching organization, there was nothing to hold it together after the initial enthusiasm.

It is not enough to gather in the street. Once you are there and gathered, you must go somewhere, there must be a destination. Which is where? Adam Smith's liberalism, which we would now call conservatism, provided a framework for capitalism which proved ultimately inhuman, which I rather suspect the author of The Theory of Moral Sentiments would have rejected. Marx's Communism provided a framework for a society based on sharing, which has so far proven beyond implementation. It equally is not possible to believe that Marx and Engels would have the defended the brutalities of authoritarian Communism.

I can imagine a humane technocratic democratic socialism, rooted in Keynes and Enlightenment political values, but I cannot see how it can possibly be something people would march for, sacrifice for, even to death. A long explanation cannot be a rallying point!

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Hastert, Hastert, Has—aaargh

Former Republican Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert has been indicted for concealing banking transactions. He was being blackmailed, and, as Brad Delong puts it:
That Dennis Hastert was a high-school teacher and wrestling coach from 1965-1981 is material to this money-laundering indictment. That and the fact that Hastert's conduct between 34 and 50 years ago is material, is the source of the aggrieved party's believing they deserve $3.5 million, and leads Hastert to think he should pay up tells us more than I think we need to know
In other words, Hastert was probably molesting students in his care. There have been rumors about this going back to 2006, at least.

This, coming on top of the Duggar media shitstorm, leads me to despair. How could— How could anyone not see through those pious hypocrites? How can they still not see? How could we have put this— this— this molester at the head of the lower House of the Congress of the world's greatest power, third in line from its Presidency? Why has there been no housekeeping of the conservative leadership?

Because there hasn't been, you know. And, probably, there won't be.

Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorns, or figs from thistles? In the same way, every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will know them by their fruits.

Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord”, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only one who does the will of my Father in heaven. On that day many will say to me, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many deeds of power in your name?” Then I will declare to them, “I never knew you; go away from me, you evildoers.”—Matthew 7:15-23

F—, F—, F—, F'ity F—!