Saturday, December 30, 2017
Wednesday, December 27, 2017
Wednesday, December 20, 2017
To the Senators and Representatives who did this thing [passing this disastrous tax bill]: you will not have a peaceful retirement. There are going to be a lot of angry people. They will remember that we held the world in our hands, and you threw it away.
Dear Republican elected officials: no one believes you anymore, not even most of your supporters.
The 1962 Peter Weiss play, The Persecution and Assassination of Jean-Paul Marat as Performed by the Inmates of the Asylum of Charenton Under the Direction of the Marquis de Sade, usually called Marat/Sade in self-defense, or perhaps just to save column inches, is worth watching, though it is not an easy watch.
It is exactly what the title says it is. The Marquis de Sade really did write plays when confined at Charenton, and he really did have inmates perform them. He did not write “The Persecution and Assassination of Jean-Paul Marat,” but he very well could have. There’s a lot there, and a lot of it bears on our current situation. In the filmed play-within-a-play, the Marquis (Patrick McNee) debates Marat (Ian Richardson), a nihilistic libertarian arguing with one of the great socialist rhetoricians, as the very simple plot tells the story of Marat’s rise to prominence and assassination by Charlotte Corday, portrayed by a narcoleptic inmate (Glenda Jackson.) In the background, the insane cast of inmates act atrociously and, ultimately, revolt. The lyrics of Adrian Mitchell’s “The People’s Reaction” might have been written as expression of the motivations of Trump supporters. There is a waterboarding scene (it was psychotherapy once, though I doubt it was used at Charenton during the Marquis’s time; the actual director of Charenton, who gets short shrift in Marat/Sade, disliked torture.) There is even – yes! – a compulsive rapist.
The play was enormously influential both as social commentary and as theater, shaping the art in the second half of the 20th century as well as the careers of great actors. Weiss, who I judge one of the great artists of the 20th century, nailed our current situation. I think there is a Freudian subtext with the Marquis as ego (self), Marat as superego (conscience), and the inmate cast as id. Freudianism has not worn well, but Marat/Sade, connecting sexuality and political revolution, has. It is also about Naziism; Weiss's family were refugees from the Nazis.
And so, here we are, dealing with fascist monsters from the id.
Friday, December 15, 2017
Except that did not happen after all. Instead, five months later, we have the tax rewrite, written by lobbyists, released at 5pm on a Friday. It is likely to pass; one of the last holdouts, Sen. Robert Corker, was persuaded to vote for it, demonstrating that his deficit hawkery was all along hypocrisy. So unless something extraordinary happens, it will pass. No single person even knows every provision of the law; indeed, one that seems to be specifically for the Trump family was snuck in at the last moment.
Now what? Do we need a constitutional amendment that forbids the creation and maintenance of aristocratic fortunes?
Tuesday, December 12, 2017
Sunday, November 26, 2017
©2017 Randolph M. Fritz. Used by permission.
Sunday, November 19, 2017
[It now appears that Leann Tweeden's claims as to the provenance of the image are false and that this was a long-prepared ambush. A summary may be found at https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/931413204504334336 (original thread on Twitter.) I have downloaded the image file from http://www.kabc.com/2017/11/16/leeann-tweeden-on-senator-al-franken/ and confirmed that most of the photograph's (I cannot read it all) metadata is as @DipswitchDan says.]
[Since I wrote this, a three more accusers of Franken have come forth; two are anonymous. As with the first accuser, Franken's alleged behavior pales beside what Trump and Moore have done.]
The last Presidential election left a lot of women terribly angry. Not only did Hillary Clinton, the first major-party woman candidate, lose, she lost to the blatant sexist jerk and quite possibly rapist Donald Trump.
I think this fed into the willingness of women to speak up in the recent rape and harassment revelations. Harvey Weinstein, a major Hollywood producer, was outed as, allegedly, a compulsive rapist. Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore is alleged to have a taste for teenage girls. In one instance he is alleged to have made a blatant pass at a 14-year old; in another instance, assault is alleged. Comedian Louis CK is alleged to be a exhibitionist. Democratic senator and former comedian Al Franken is accused of having crossed lines with a fellow USO performer many years ago; there are so far no other allegations.
Meantime, we have Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand saying that William Clinton should have resigned, and never mind the chaos this would have thrown the Democrats into, and all the attacks on Senator Bernard Sanders as sexist, which predate the 2016 election.
Some of these things are not like the others. The multiple women who accuse Trump, Weinstein, Moore, and Louis CK have much to lose and little to gain in speaking out. The accusations against William Clinton came from people supported by a long-standing conspiracy: they were offered much money and some were threatened as well. Al Franken has only one accuser and is a reliable political ally of feminists. Senator Bernard Sanders has also been a reliable political ally of feminists (say feminist organizations as reported by Vote Smart) and there are no accusations against him at all. Yet we have people claiming that Sen. Franken ought to resign and that, retroactively, William Clinton ought to have resigned. Although Clinton was accused of sexual impropriety, I don’t think the single rape accusation stands up. And sexual impropriety between consenting adults isn’t a crime.
Only Franken has admitted to the allegations and apologized. No other accusers have come forward and 13 of his former staffers, women, have come out in his support. Apparently Franken, at least, has cleaned up his act.
The allegations against Franken are far weaker, and the alleged misconduct far less, than those against Trump, Weinstein, Moore, and Louis CK. William Clinton clearly did have sexual intercourse with Monica Lewinsky when he had enormous authority over her, which is dubious conduct at best, but he does not seem to have coerced her; she seduced him. The claims of rape on Clinton's part dissolved on close examination; no-one can tell if they were true or not. Personally, I don't believe he was a rapist: I do not believe that Hillary Clinton would have stuck with him if he was. Al Franken's first accuser is his political enemy, a Fox News sportscaster, a frequent visitor to Sean Hannity's right-wing political show, and she seems to be shying away from testimony under oath. Franken, unique among all these men, has acknowledged his conduct, apologized, and offered to participate in an ethics committee investigation.
I am left thinking that if we pressure all the officials with consciences who have done wrong out, we will be left with only the conscienceless and the moral prigs. And to all the angry women who want Franken to resign: who would you rather have in the Senate: Al Franken or some Minnesota version of Roy Moore or Joni Ernst? Do you believe that a hearing of Franken in the current Senate would be anything but an attempt to rerun the Clinton impeachment hearings?
Not a very happy conclusion, no.
Saturday, November 4, 2017
And now, finally, the whole thing has blown apart. It could hardly have come at a worse time.
Friday, November 3, 2017
To me, what this shows starkly is how much the big money has dominated the Democratic Party and the big money is out of touch with the people. Neither party was listening to the people, which left the field open to demagogues.
Which leads me to a very hard question: is Bernard Sanders a demagogue? No question about Trump. But what about about Sanders? His rise was made possible by the unresponsiveness of both parties to the needs and will of the people. He believes in what he says and he says some pretty good things. But his most ardent followers don't seem to listen when he tells them they have to be their own revolution. They want a messiah and they will have their messiah, even over their messiah's objections. So perhaps he has been made into a demagogue against his will. I am reminded of Frank Herbert's Paul Atreides, who became the unwilling leader of a jihad.
How did the world's first modern democracy come to this pass? And what do we do about if, indeed, there is anything to be done? It seems that, somehow, the concept of civic responsibility has withered, or perhaps it never grew as the Framers hoped. This is a big and difficult question, suited to a historian of the stature of de Tocqueville or a philosopher of the stature of Karl Polanyi. It demands a major research project, well beyond the scope of anything this cynical old bird has undertaken. But it is terribly important that we do address these questions, or the future will be grim.
As to the Democratic Party: oh, how could you? And even so, even if you are a rickety fortress, you are the fortress of American democracy. To everyone who is not a fascist, and to anyone who is starting to suspect that fascism is not the answer: join up and let's get to building.
Tuesday, October 24, 2017
The Republicans would have dug up his 1972 alternative press essay on sexuality and gender roles and spun it as rapey. They'd have dragged out his support for the Sandinistas in Nicaragua and said he was a Communist and a traitor. They'd have dog-whistled the white supremacists, painting Sanders as a race traitor, and spun up the anti-semitism, all the while claiming he was a bad Jew and a traitor to Israel. They'd have told the African-Americans he was racist, and told the white folk he was too soft on African-American criminals. They'd have leaned on his atheism.
Sanders lost the Democratic primaries by more-or-less 20%. His support in the general election might have been just as poor. Instead of winning the popular vote and losing the Electoral College vote in a squeaker in the swing states, he might have lost the popular and the Electoral College vote.
So I really don't want to hear "Bernie would have won." Perhaps he would have – Trump won, after all, so anything is possible. But Sanders' victory was not assured and at the time of the primary votes he was less popular than Hillary Clinton. I also don't want to hear people blaming the Democratic Party for not making him the nominee – Clinton won. Even without the machinations of the deplorable Deborah Wasserman Schultz and the Democratic National Committee she chaired, Clinton won. And, most importantly, I don't want to see the opposition to the fascist Republican Party further split. So suck it up, Americans, and let's get on with fighting the fascists.
When the histories are written, I do not think the likes of Flake will fare well.
Sunday, October 15, 2017
You worry about NAFTA, I worry about payments on the national debt. When he was a crooked developer in New York City, his policy was never to make the last payment. That is what he has done with the CSR payments. He may wait to the worst possible moment, then default on the national debt.
Nice economy you have there. Be a shame if anything happened to it.
Saturday, October 14, 2017
Monday, October 9, 2017
Meantime, here's a link to Indivisible, which seems to be the most effective of the resistance groups.
So, quiet for a while. Be well, all of you. Resist!
Sunday, October 8, 2017
The Federal Reserve was created before Keynes, before there was a macroeconomics worthy of the name. To implement the insights of Keynes, which is to say, to implement macroeconomic management policies based on our best knowledge, we need a Department of the Economy, which has power over the whole of national economic policy, and laws that order that policy, so that this power is exercised in a democratic fashion.
Tuesday, September 19, 2017
Remember this: they're fascists and must be opposed.
Monday, September 11, 2017
(There may be more to say about this. But I'm not sure what, and I want to get this out.)
Monday, September 4, 2017
You are part of a long line of people who wish to rewrite not only the law but historical fact itself to make it support you. To deal with some of your historical claims:
- Fred Clark reminds us that most US Protestants did not believe abortion was murder 40 years ago; this "biblical" "truth" is literally newer than the McDonald's Happy Meal. (It is also not in the Bible.) It was largely a belief of Roman Catholics, widely despised by the more radical Protestants. This was made into a widespread belief through extensive propaganda in the 1980s, and this was done because racism had lost much of its power.
- Somehow the Supreme Court did not find an unlimited firearms license in the Second Amendment for 200 years.
- The Constitution never was Christian. "Nature's God" in the Declaration of Independence refers to the distant Creator of Deists, nothing like the interventionist God your kind of Christianity believes in. The Constitution is deliberately non-religious.
And, finally, don't you worry about the state of your own soul? In the Gospels, Jesus condemned pious hypocrisy in the strongest terms multiple times. As a public Christian you must know your views are considered hypocritical by others who profess Christianity. I suppose, in your view, they are the hypocrites and apostates. But have you considered the possibility that you might be wrong?
Jim Wright complains that the Democrats are not unifying. I think the place to look for reasons is where the Democratic leadership stands. With the Republican turn to right-wing extremism, both conservatives and liberals have joined the Democrats, leaving the party with a conservative wing and a liberal wing, and if they satisfy one, they cannot satisfy the other. This results in a party which cannot articulate a vision which will energize voters.
"The left" is not – cannot be – an organized faction in US politics unless the US political order changes. Bernard Sanders, the unexpected leader of the US left who emerged in the 2016 election, acknowledged this and, after losing the Democratic nomination, supported and campaigned for Hillary Clinton. As far as I can tell, most of his supporters followed him; the vocal Sanders left appears to be a small minority.
At this point, it seems to me we are in a space of shifting coalitions within the parties. Outside of the Republicans, young people and older women are the two largest demographic factions, and these are at loggerheads. Inside the Republicans, the heat is rising. So far, Trump still has his support, but it is possible that will fracture, as Trump fails to deliver. There is a huge amount of money on the radical right side, however, and there are many people who desperately want a return to the conditions of their youth, and that is not possible.
As to emergent groups, I would keep an eye on Indivisible, which appears to be the most politically effective of the loose coalitions that emerged in the wake of the vast failure of 2016. Sanders Our Revolution is also around and is fielding candidates, and their policy wing, the Sanders Institute, is finally, finally beginning to articulate a moderate leftist vision for United States in the 21ˢᵗ century. So far, I'm not seeing anything that strongly impresses me from either of the Sanders groups, but it is early yet.
I would like to say something kinder about the Democratic leadership, but it appears to me to be working terribly hard to lose more elections.
Finally, I remind everyone yet again that all of this is long-term thinking. In the short term, we must resist.
More the seed of a Gestapo, I think, the seed of a national secret police, than brownshirts (SA), Nazi paramilitaries, I think. It’s a little more than a pedantic point: the Gestapo had official power; the SA were party thugs and were ultimately suppressed by the Nazi leadership. The Gestapo was created by unifying the police forces of the Reich under the SS. The US analog of this would perhaps be bringing state and local police forces with ICE which, indeed, is being attempted.
Sunday, August 13, 2017
Part of what seems to have gone wrong in Charlottesville – though, as Jim Wright says, you usually don't have reliable data until a week after the events – is that the local police went easy on the fascists, allowing lesser – though still potentially lethal – acts of violence. Another part is that Donald Trump and some of his administration (Bannon, Gorka, Sessions) are supporters of the fascists. The fascists, with some reason, believe they are likely to get away with acts of violence. President Trump has yet to condemn the white supremacist ideology of various alt-right factions involved.
We are now looking at, I think, the worst act of far-right domestic terrorism since the Oklahoma City bombing. I fear a crackdown, which, given this administration's direction, is more likely to fall on the opposition to the fascists than the fascists.
Tuesday, August 1, 2017
“This committee will hold hearings beginning the week of September 4th on the actions Congress should take to stabilize and strengthen the individual health insurance market,” the panel’s chairman Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and ranking member Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) said in a statement. – via TPMLast time I remember Sen. Murray making a bipartisan deal, on unemployment insurance with Rand Paul, thousands lost their unemployment insurance. I wonder how many millions will lose health care under this compromise?
It is not only Republican moderates that always cave to Republican extremists; Democratic centrists always make concessions, too.
To be fair, better the Republic survives. But some of its citizens will not.
Afterthought: single-payer and a public option will at least be on the table; that will help in the negotiations. But I don't see how any remotely decent plan can make it through the House, or be signed into law by President Trump.
Friday, July 28, 2017
Two factors in this survival. First, feminist activism, some 80% of the people who frantically called their Senators were women. Second, the internet, which made possible the biggest flash mob every.
(I read this for a project I was working on and decided it deserved a review.)
Tuesday, July 25, 2017
One ironic thing: "amendment king" Bernard Sanders, as ranking member of the budget committee, will be the Democratic debate manager. May he have fun obstructing the fascists.
The main thing here is not the health care bill, which will be bad enough, but that Ryan, McConnell and their shadowy backers can pass enormously cruel and unpopular laws – even laws which will kill Americans – written in secret. Now that they have succeeded in that, there will be more such laws passed. The USA is now an authoritarian state run by a largely secret faction.
Pretty sure that isn't what the radical right guys who voted for Trump and the Republicans mean by freedom.
Saturday, July 22, 2017
Friday, July 21, 2017
If the state is allowed to control women's bodies, it will also eventually control men's bodies.
Wednesday, July 19, 2017
Cantwell, note, is not a DINO. She's a moderate Democrat from a state with a liberal majority, though one with a strong conservative minority. I don't see that the Republicans are going to accept any compromise that will make the ACA better and anyway they haven't budged in 20 years. Now, maybe the Dems see a chance to break the far-right coalition that dominates the Republican Senate delegation. Maybe. But it sure looks like the Dems are looking for an opportunity to cave after they have won, and I don't understand it.
Saturday, July 15, 2017
- It's not about the money, it's about the death and suffering. The intention of the Senate health insurance changes, as the bill gets worse and worse, are plainly to first impoverish and then kill people, many in lingering painful ways. The tax cuts are actually being increased, as the pain and suffering grow.
- The would-be-founders of the Kingdom of Gilead are champing at the bit, waiting for one of their own to be made President. Trump is a lesser threat than these; he's only nasty-kinky racist and greedy. That lot wants to turn the USA into a theocracy.
- We do not believe. Even as it happens, even as it is begun, we do not believe.
Friday, July 14, 2017
Wednesday, July 12, 2017
So then it is President Pence, his VP pick approved by Congress (Cruz? Ryan?), and the Congressional Republicans, trying to create the Kingdom of Gilead.
What will we be fighting? What policies they will propose? What side of the battle various government departments and agencies fall? Where does the military land?
And how will we fight them? If we need to prepare for pitched battles, that is different from the long slow legislative and legal grind.
Is anyone thinking about this? Anyone?
How do we fight it?
Tuesday, July 11, 2017
Russia isn't the only enemy of US democracy here. I think the US christo-fascist faction (McConnell, Kochs, Ryan) is likely to take advantage of the chaos to install their own President, Michael Pence. We need to remember that our strategic goal is to defend US democracy, not just defeat Trump and the Russians.
Monday, July 10, 2017
On Sarah Palin's "14 words" (white supremacist tweet): I hate Alaska Nazis.
I thought it said going to go down with stories about bad kings, myself. With added history about what happens to countries betrayed by a faction of their leadership. Why are most Republican elected officials on board? They must know the history of treason for political ends – certainly Gingrich does. Do they think they will all escape the consequences of their actions?
The Princess sits on the throne for a moment. Mr. Pierce, why haven't more people noticed that Trump thinks and acts like a monarch?
The central problem here, in my view, is the overall insecurity of US civilian IT infrastructure. It is the job of the NSA to secure it, yet this does not seem to have been done. Not expecting leadership from the Trump administration on this issue.
Wednesday, June 28, 2017
With pols routinely using the press as conduits for falsehoods, I would like to see the press fight back. This can, for-sure, be abused or just plain wrong, but we need to reestablish some standards, some way for readers to know which way is up.
(Somewhere there is a longer article to be written on this, but I can't figure out what it should say.)
In response to Charles Pierce, who commented "Am I wrong, or is the multi-faceted deliberate sabotage of the ACA the most undercovered element of this debate?"
I think most journalists just can't grasp how strange and horrible this is, and the big media outlets are covering for the Republicans. The journalists cannot imagine something like Nazi policy in the USA. We are looking at the "culling of the unfit," which is something out of the bad old days and most US journalists lack the imagination to even believe it is possible in the 21ˢᵗ century USA.In response to @Trumpnado2016, who commented: "It walked talked & tweeted like an authoritarian kleptocrat it's whole life, why would anyone have doubted Trump'd be a wannabe dictator?"
People lack imagination, seems to be the basic answer. It's the same way that Kissinger was allowed to plan atrocities, and Nixon execute them (and sometimes Kissinger bypassed Nixon.) The so-called "normal" people couldn't imagine them, couldn't believe in them, and didn't act to prevent them. Rather like "good Germans," come to think of it.Are we to lose our republic because we cannot imagine its enemies?
Tuesday, June 27, 2017
Some large employers with multiple locations in the state of Washington, such as retail or restaurant chains with company-owned stores, file a single quarterly report to cover employees at all locations. This quarterly report may list a single location, such as a corporate headquarters, in the address field and not provide any method of ascertaining whether a specific employee worked at a Seattle location.Chains with company-owned stores are significant minimum-wage employers.
And then we have:
In our baseline analysis we focus on single-location establishments for which we can determine with certainty if they are subject to the ordinance.In other words, their focus was on the corner shop, rather than big chains. But these are some of the least stable businesses and subject to every change in the economic wind. In particular, they're very subject to rises in rent, which are a big deal in Seattle, and the researchers seem to have inadequately controled for this.
The study is an interesting one, but the popular use of it, at least, overclaims hugely. Since the study contradicts most previous work in the field, I think it deserves to be treated as an interesting study, rather than new authoritative work.
Saturday, June 24, 2017
Friday, June 23, 2017
Ironically, I don't think Trump is a member of the organized movement; he could never be trusted to keep the secret. But Jared Kushner might be. The Koch Brothers, certainly. Senate Majority leader Addison Mitchell McConnell. Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions. Erik Dean Prince and his sister Elisabeth Dee DeVos. Perhaps Neil Gorsuch. Perhaps Richard Cheney. (Notice the family connections. They cannot trust anyone not tightly bound to them.)
The cruelty is the point. The tax cuts are the excuse given to the rich, to gather their support, but the deaths are necessary for the movement's vision to be realized. Calls for compassion are lost on the leaders. They are fanatics, as fanatical and hypocritical as the leaders of Da'esh, and they would rather see the world in flames than lose control.
I do not believe the Republican leaders are reachable. They are either believers, or so committed that they cannot back out. The Republican followers, though, those might be reached.
Wednesday, June 21, 2017
Monday, June 19, 2017
In Seattle, Charleena Lyles, an African-American woman, called the police on a burglar and was shot by the police. The Seattle Times offers the following headline: "Mother with knife killed by police was pregnant and had mental-health issues.”
In DC, 17-year-old Muslim girl assaulted and killed after leaving Virginia mosque, https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/fairfax-loudoun-police-searching-for-missing-17-year-old-reported-to-have-been-assaulted/2017/06/18/02e379ac-5466-11e7-a204-ad706461fa4f_story.html?tid=ss_tw&utm_term=.fe4f957a5bbd
I think I am going to find a roost somewhere and defend it against all comers.
Wednesday, June 14, 2017
Attorney general Jeff Sessions apparently lied and perjured himself on the witness stand in front of Congress. Meanwhile, Senate Republicans continue to write their health care bill in secret, and Senate Democrats continue to not be willing to fight the thing. My own Senator is just not willing to do anything behind regular procedure. Now that she's been directly insulted by Senator Lamar Alexander she may be more willing to act, but what does it take to get the Democrats to actually do anything?
And this morning brings the news that Republican House whip Scalise has been shot in an apparently non-political mass shooting.
The past day and a half, I think, has been the worst for American democracy of my life. My country, oh my country.
Monday, June 12, 2017
Washington, DC. Today Republican Senate leader McConnell announced that all Democratic Senators will be arrested and the US Senate will henceforth be known as the House of Lords. "We feel this change reflects the power of the body and the position of its members." When asked about the Constitution, Senator McConnell replied, "The constitution is subordinate to the needs of the nobility."
In other news, President Trump announced he is changing his title to King. House Democrats are appealing to their home states for military aid.
Friday, June 9, 2017
Dear Clinton supporters, please stop publishing Republican oppo research on Sanders.
Dear Sanders supporters, please stop being sore losers.
Don't make the mistake that the Republicans did while in opposition; they intensified internal conflicts so much that now they cannot agree on policy. Remember that you will eventually be negotiating, and that will be far more successful if you do not go into the negotiation hating each other.
Thursday, June 8, 2017
And another thought: in the bad old days, a bad king would have charged Winner with treason (added) and executed her summarily. I'm sure someone in the Trump administration, if not Trump himself, would like to do so. The constitutional safeguard against this, the very specific definition of treason, is a great bulwark against bad rulers.
Monday, June 5, 2017
And as we’re still sometimes having the argument about whether outreach to the white working class requires betraying racial equality, consider that racism is a common refuge for alienated white guys. And currently we’ve got a generation of white guys whose fathers had steady union jobs with good wages and benefits that are now long gone. If racism is growing in this population, the way to combat that is not to yell at them, but to come up with ways to help them feel connected to a more progressive vision. Martin Longman has some thoughts on this. – "The Myths That Guide Us"
Tuesday, May 23, 2017
It imposes huge burdens on people who already are hurting. Not just the very poor, but also the working class. In fact, among the biggest losers would be people who voted for Trump – whites in rural and poor areas of the country who depend on Medicaid, food stamps, and Social Security disability."You cannot lie to the working class, James, not even once. They will know, and they will never trust you again." – fictional Fredrich Engels, Steven Brust and Emma Bull, Freedom and Necessity
And so they will, though it will take time for them to figure it out.
Saturday, May 20, 2017
After the hideous electoral loss the left suffered on 11/8, it seems that the Sandernistas and the Clintonites are still duking it out.
The Clintonites keep saying that Clinton's loss was due to Sanders, which is wrong. Most Sanders supporters voted for Clinton and Sanders himself campaigned for her. Clinton's loss was due to sexism, racism, bad press, and bad luck, in that order, with sexism far and away the biggest factor.
The Sandernistas alternate among saying that Sanders could have won, that the Democratic Party betrayed them, and that Sanders betrayed them by joining the Senate opposition. We can't, of course, say that Sanders would have lost. Still, I doubt he would have won. I was concerned that a hippie socialist atheist Jew would have had trouble in the general election and Kurt Eichenwald confirmed this in his reporting; Sanders would have been accused of, among other things, rape apology, communism, treason, and everything else Republicans could gin up from his long and varied history.So what would have happened when Sanders hit a real opponent, someone who did not care about alienating the young college voters in his base? I have seen the opposition book assembled by Republicans for Sanders, and it was brutal. … Could Sanders still have won? Well, Trump won, so anything is possible. But Sanders supporters puffing up their chests as they arrogantly declare Trump would have definitely lost against their candidate deserve to be ignored. — Newsweek
Now we get people saying that Sanders doesn't care about women and people of color while, at the same time, saying that he is willing to be a Trump ally, which is idiotic — he gave up his shot at the Presidency to oppose Trump. Sanders, this past Sunday:“There is a lot of racism in this country. There is a lot of sexism, a lot of homophobia,” he said. “I don’t have to explain to anybody here the racist background of Mr. Trump … I don’t have to tell anybody here about the slurs, the awful things he has said about Mexicans … Muslim people … and obviously … his attitude towards women.” Sanders urged his audience to unite in order to resist bigotry. “When we bring millions of people together, here in the wealthiest country in the history of the world, when we do that, there is nothing we cannot accomplish,” he said, acknowledging cheers of affirmation from the audience. Sanders highlighted the plight of the middle class in America, a problem he frequently spoke about on the campaign trail. “For 40 years, the middle class of this country has been in decline,” he said. “You see enormous pain and confusion as to why the people on top make huge amounts of money, while the middle class continues to shrink, and 43 million Americans live in poverty.” — The Daily Free Press (Boston University)
The Sanders and Clinton factions are now allies in defeat. We tried Clinton's way, and it didn't work. Now it's time to try Sanders way. Sanders is part of the Senate leadership. He has long experience getting concessions from a hostile coalition and fewer ties to the 1% than anyone else in the Senate. We are on the same side; let's get to work.
But we plainly aren't going to. At this point, what it would take to unify the Resistance would be something like a younger female version of Sanders, and I don't see anyone like that on the national stage.
Wednesday, May 3, 2017
Advocates of social justice have tied themselves into knots defending the economic policies of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton and they have left the opposition to Trump no way to unify. We now have a narrative where it is claimed that the "far left" (by which is meant the left wing of the Democratic Party) is overwhelmingly racist and sexist by neglect, concentrating on economic issues exclusively, and that the centrist wing of the Democrats, with its concentration on social justice to the exclusion of economic justice, is morally superior, and more deserving of support from women and people of color. This seems to me madness.
To set the language straight, first, because I am a pedantic bird, the Democratic Party has no far left. The far left is Glen Ford, Cornel West, Noam Chomsky, and so on. None of these people have any influence in the Democratic Party and two of them are African-American, making it plain that economic justice is an issue for people of color. This is not a new thing; women and people of color have long been part of the far left, an honorable tradition going back to figures such as Jenny Marx and, later, in the United States, Richard Wright and Langston Hughes. These people became Marxists in part because so many of the issues which faced women and people of color in their time were economic: women could not own property, the property and savings of African-Americans were routinely looted, and so on. In our time, the consequences of the crash of 2008 fell hard on people of color, who were disproportionately victims of mortgage fraud and disproportionately unemployed in the resulting depression. The African-American writer Ta-Nehisi Coates (and you should read him), in his essay "The Case for Reparations," uses this latest attack in a long history of attacks on African-American wealth in support of his argument.
The centrist wing of the Democrats is also the Wall Street wing of the party, led by the Senate Minority Leader Charles Shumer. In their times, President Barack Obama and Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton were leaders of this wing. Obama, as President, was a leader in social justice. Not only did the simple fact of an African-American president bring hope to African-Americans, in policy he supported the rights of African-Americans, women, and, under pressure, lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transexuals. At the same time, he was a supporter and defender of the financial services industry, prosecuting no bankers despite their engineering the crash of 2008, refusing to advocate for a single-payer health care plan, or even a public option in the privatized system of the the Affordable Care Act, and taking only weak action on employment. These had harsh consequences for people of color, who were disproportionately victims of mortgage fraud and disproportionately unemployed in the depression which followed the crash. Hillary Clinton, as advisor to William Clinton, similarly took neo-liberal stands in the earlier Clinton administration, which led to harsh reforms in welfare and Medicaid, again disproportionately falling on people of color.
It was a blessing ("barack") for African-Americans to see one of their own in the highest government office of the United States. It is a blessing for LGBTQ people to have the respect, however grudging, of the legal system. Yet without economic justice as well, one has self-respect, civil rights, and institutionalized poverty – injustice. There is no way to have social justice without economic justice, and the separation of the two is itself injustice.
In the current situation, we have feminists attacking Bernard Sanders for being insufficiently feminist. Yet the Democratic Party's conservatives are even less so. Even Hillary Clinton; this faction forgets the weakness of her position on abortion. The unofficial leader of the moderate left, Bernard Sanders, is slammed for weakness on the issue, while he has been a strong supporter of women's rights for his entire political career, while the Democratic centrists, who are weaker, are granted a pass. There is little difference between Tim Kaine, Hillary Clinton's running mate and supporter of the Hyde Amendment, and the Roman Catholic pro-Planned Parenthood anti-abortion Heath Mello, candidate for mayor of Omaha, who Sanders and the Democratic National Committee support.
Centrists are not social justice warriors. They are the "white moderates" who Martin Luther King, Jr. slammed in his "Letter from a Birmingham Jail" as those who preferred "a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice."
Yet what is to be done? The split has been created. There is a huge amount of effort devoted to widening it; the very wealthy, seeing their wealth threatened, are working hard to shoot the Democratic Party of its left wing. I do not see how, once that is done, the party can hope to win elections outside of major cities, and perhaps not even there. Feminist support for Democratic centrists is hugely foolish; the centrists have been slow-walking feminist issues for decades, as King's white moderates did with segregation, and betray feminists when the centrists see a profit in it.
Bernard Sanders, an independent running for President, stood for the Democratic nomination. He was well aware of the risks of a split in the opposition to fascists. Yet some the party's major backers in the financial industry are now supporting a split. It may be that, reluctant though Sanders has been, he has planted a sapling new party.
What are such a party's chances? It depends, paradoxically, on the integrity of the Republican Party. If the Republican Party falls from internal contradictions, and it may – its President is mad and its House delegation is unable to pass a budget or a health care plan – there will be space for a new party in the American two-party system. If not, it is harder to say. Will people abandon their long-held party loyalties? Republicans support a newly conservative Democratic Party? Democrats support a new Progressive party? And the fascists, domestic and international, will be quick to exploit any split.
Saturday, April 29, 2017
Somehow, Bernard Sanders is being blasted for being anti-choice and anti-feminist, for supporting a formerly anti-choice Democratic candidate supported by the national Democratic Party. Only Sanders gets the blasting, though what he is doing is supporting a Democratic candidate supported by the party. And my mind went back to the election…
Bernard Sanders: "I happen to believe that it is wrong for the government to be telling a woman what to be doing with her own body."
Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, went on record as supporting "late-pregnancy regulation that would have exceptions for the life and health of the mother."
Somehow I don't see many women attacking Clinton for this stand.
The Wall Street Dems who are pushing this so hard, they are such good feminists, right? Sure they are. Right until women's rights bump into the profits of the people who fund their campaign. Or just until a woman wants to be a CEO.
People, people. Sanders has been a strong supporter of women's rights for his entire political career. The two strongest resistance factions have now been brought into bitter conflict. How the fascists must be toasting their victory!
It seems to me that Sanders is being attacked because he is an inconvenient critic of the conservative faction of the Democrats, who very badly want to go on allowing the banks, insurance companies, and the rest of finance to rip off the rest of us. Once they have gotten Sanders out of the way, they can go back to losing elections, I suppose.
There is much and deserved talk of how Trump is not acting in the interests of his supporters, who stick with him anyway. But there seems to me not enough talk of how the conservative Democratic leaders are also not acting in the interests of their supporters, who stick with the Democratic Party regardless of how it fails them.
Why should Trump supporters have all the fun?
Bob Dreyfuss, writing at ThePopulist.Buzz, quoting Guttenplan of Nebraska:
All of the women I spoke with here [in Omaha] were well acquainted with Mello’s personal opposition to abortion. But they also knew that while remaining true to his beliefs, and his Catholic faith, he has been a public defender of Planned Parenthood, one who has shifted his efforts from blocking abortion to helping women avoid unwanted pregnancies by supporting comprehensive sex education and access to contraception—the same path travelled by politicians from Bill Clinton to Joe Biden to Tim Kaine.
Myriam Renaud, writing at The Atlantic:
During the 2016 presidential campaign, Hillary Clinton has repeatedly spoken out in support of the right to abortion. Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards has praised Clinton for treating reproductive issues as “more than just a sound bite” and the pro-choice organizations Emily’s List and NARAL Pro-Choice America have endorsed her. However, Clinton’s views on abortion are more nuanced and reflect her religious commitments to a greater degree than partisans on either side of the issue may realize.
Tuesday, April 25, 2017
(This is a reaction to a discussion of the French elections over on Crooked Timber.)
This discussion is so much a reprise of the arguments that led up to a Trump victory. “He can’t possibly win,” “He isn’t so bad,” “They’re both the same.” etc., etc., etc.
And then he did, he is, and they are not.
Fight the fascists. Fight them with all your heart and mind and soul. Remember that what is at stake is the peace of Europe and the world itself.
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.