Wednesday, August 30, 2017

The Ego in Chief goes to Texas

My heart goes out to my friends in Houston and Louisiana.  They need all the help they can get.  I send my prayers for their safety.  And I expect that our government as well as private organizations and individuals will act in the spirit of America to help our brethren.

Our president went to Texas yesterday.  To offer empathy? Caring about the dead and displaced? Are you kidding? 

"After the briefing, Trump spoke to a crowd of a hundred or so people waiting to see him. It is unclear if the audience of supporters showed up spontaneously, or if they had been organized prior to Trump's speech.

"What a crowd, what a turnout!" Trump said.

He failed to mention or acknowledge the 15 casualties, tens of thousands of displaced people, or irreversible damage as a result of the hurricane."

He talked about what an epic storm it was, how it was getting great TV ratings.  Fortunately, he did talk about what a great response his administration was going to make.  

So, in case you were wondering, hurricane Harvey turns out to be all about ... Trump.  

There is an ego where his heart used to be.  What a sad little person.

Monday, August 28, 2017

The stupidity of the antifa

There was a right wing demonstration in Berkeley this weekend that had about 7000 who showed up to peacefully protest against them.  Unfortunately, about 100 "antifa" - anti fascists - showed up as well in order to attack the right wingers, and calling them fascists.  So, the anti-fascists become fascist terrorists in the name of anti-fascism.  

This is wrong.

And this is stupid on two levels at least.

First, violence doesn't stop violence, it inflames it.  

Second, it allows real fascists to claim there is violence on both sides.  It allows real fascists to say they are only defending themselves.  It allows white supremacist Nazis and KKK to justify their fascist violence.

The proof of the pudding is the statements from the person who is unfortunately the president of the United States who claims that in Charlottesville there was violence "on both sides".  To claim that even though there was violence from the alt-right there was also violence from the "alt-left" - a new term to try to claim moral equivalence between Nazis and KKK on the one side and antifa on the other.

Just to be clear, antifa is stupid, violent, and powerless.

The white supremacists of neo-Nazis, the KKK, and other hate groups are  stupid, violent, and in the White House and the Congress.  They are not powerless.  

When will my conservative friends turn on Trump and impeach him?  What will it take to realize that when they make a deal with the devil to get their tax cuts, or environmental deregulation, or their financial deregulation, or their fundamentalist court judges, they don't really get the deal, but they do get the devil.

By the way, Hitler used the Reichstag fire to blame dangerous communist violence as an excuse to firmly establish his fascist dictatorship.  It would be easy enough for our current demagogue to use antifa violence to try to become the brutal dictator that he so wishes he could be. 

Saturday, August 19, 2017

When the world is in chaos...confederate statues?

When the world is in chaos many people respond with virulent and violent appeals to racial purity. After World War I Germany joined movements exalting the purity of the Aryan race, parts of the United States exalted white supremacy by building Confederate statues, and Japan moved into the militant exaltation of their race and their perceived world destiny.  We ended up with over 50 million dead in World War II.

During the Civil Rights Movement and Vietnam war of the '60s and '70s more Confederate statues were erected in America - a defiant statement of white supremacy.

Today in response to radical Muslim terrorism Europe and the United States are reviving old, pathetic, failed white supremacist nonsense. 

I see two possible solutions to the Confederate statues issue. The first is take them down - they are proclaiming white supremacy, not honoring the confederate war. They were raised in response to the Civil Rights movement, not to honor the dead.

My second solution is to suggest leaving them up, and placing next to them in equal prominence statues of slavery – slaves being whipped while tied to a post by their cruel white supremacist masters, or slaves on the auction block while separated family members weep in despair.

The Confederate statues are not honoring the history of the south, they are white-washing the history of the south – or perhaps white-supremacy-washing the history of the south. When they stand alone without an equal reminder of what those Confederates were actually fighting for they are transparent propaganda, not history.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The disgusting false parallels of Donald Trump

The president of the United States just passionately equated “both sides” as being responsible for  the Charlottesville violence and murder over the weekend.  He actually sees Nazis and anti-Nazis as morally equivalent.  He astonishingly sees white supremacists and anti-white supremacists as morally equivalent.  Mr. Trump clearly came out in defense of his white supremacist base. 

I find this disgusting.

I am sure some of my conservative friends might feel obligated to agree with the president.  And I also condemn left wing violence as well as right wing.  But Charlottesville is not ambiguous.  This is not a confusing moment.  One side was very, very wrong.  One side is responsible for the violence.

Some headlines:

·         USA Today: “Former KKK leader David Duke praises Trump for his 'courage.'”

·         Los Angeles Times: “Trump provokes new furor by giving foes of white supremacists equal blame.”

·         Wall Street Journal: “With New Remarks on Charlottesville, Trump Leaves Himself Isolated.”

Here are some pertinent tweets:

A congressman from Michigan: "Very fine people" do not participate in rallies with groups chanting racist and anti-Semitic slogans and displaying vile symbols of hate.
— Justin Amash (@justinamash) August 15, 2017

Arizona's senior senator, battling brain cancer: There's no moral equivalency between racists & Americans standing up to defy hate& bigotry. The President of the United States should say so
— John McCain (@SenJohnMcCain) August 16, 2017

A Northern Virginia congresswoman facing a tough reelection fight next year: Mr. President, there were not "very fine people" on the NeoNazi, white supremacist side; only haters. Grateful DOJ understands this.
— Barbara Comstock (@BarbaraComstock) August 15, 2017

The GOP nominee for governor of Virginia and a former RNC chair:The white supremacists and neoNazis who invaded cville espouse reprehensible views that have no redeeming value whatsoever. Simple as that.
— Ed Gillespie (@EdWGillespie) August 15, 2017

From the commandant of the Marine Corps: No place for racial hatred or extremism in @USMC. Our core values of Honor, Courage, and Commitment frame the way Marines live and act. 
— Robert B. Neller (@GenRobertNeller) August 15, 2017

The former spokesman for the Obama Justice Department: Quite possibly the worst thing he has ever said. The white supremacists who were there heard him loud and clear. And so did the rest of us.

— Matthew Miller (@matthewamiller) August 15, 2017

A senior adviser to Obama: Republican Party: This is on you, you did this, and only you can do something about this
— Dan Pfeiffer (@danpfeiffer) August 15, 2017

Some Democrats: 

.@realDonaldTrump, you are embarrassing our country and the millions of Americans who fought and died to defeat Nazism.

— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) August 15, 2017

Mr. President - Heather Heyer was not murdered by "both sides."
— Sen. Patrick Leahy (@SenatorLeahy) August 15, 2017

If @realDonaldTrump wants to fight white supremacy, he should do three simple things:
1) #FireBannon
2) #FireGorka
3) #FireMiller
— David Cicilline (@davidcicilline) August 15, 2017

.@realDonaldTrump: "Both sides" did not wield torches, swastikas, and drive a car into a crowd, killing a woman.

— Rep. Pramila Jayapal (@RepJayapal) August 15, 2017

Dear @realDonaldTrump: Yes there were both sides in #Charlottesville. The Nazi side & the side opposing the Nazis. You're on the wrong side.

— Ted Lieu (@tedlieu) August 15, 2017

From a Brookings fellow:
When determining whether or not the president is a racist, I'll defer to the professional racists, who very much seem to think he is.
— Jamie Kirchick 🌹 (@jkirchick) August 15, 2017

From the editor of Wired Magazine:
The weird thing about "both sides" isn't just that one side is Nazis---but also that they killed someone.
— Nicholas Thompson (@nxthompson) August 15, 2017

Hollywood celebrities piled on:
Trump just said there were "very fine people on both sides" in #Charlottesville. I don't know any "very fine" white supremacists, sir. None.

— George Takei (@GeorgeTakei) August 15, 2017

I fought Nazis in World War II. They aren’t “very fine people,” @realDonaldTrump#Charlottesville

— Norman Lear (@TheNormanLear) August 15, 2017

Only the Republicans can get rid of this disgrace of a president.  The Democrats don’t have the votes to impeach him.  When do the Republicans flip the switch?  He can be impeached on a number of grounds, starting with his violation of the emoluments clause in the constitution, plus the bribery clause.  Plus, eventually I expect we will see evidence of conspiracy with a hostile foreign power to influence the election in his favor.  Plus, of course, his blatant obstruction of justice in firing the head of the FBI who had been in charge of investigating Russian election interference.

Do the Republicans wait until they see their own careers jeopardized?  Or can they react out of their own sense of honor and dignity to turn on this most dishonorable and undignified person?

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Trump's two failures

Last week was a bad week for us all.  The question has always been how will this unstable and childish president react to actual difficult world events?  How will this person who has major emotional public meltdowns when he is criticized publicly stand up to an actual crisis?

He failed - twice in one week.

First, he responded to Kim Jong Un's test firing of ICBMs by doing pretty much the stupidest thing you can do when dealing with a paranoid tyrant - he threatened nuclear war.  I know this excited his brutish base.  But, speaking of his base...

White supremacists violently rallied in Charlottesville - confederate flags, Nazi flags, assault rifles, batons, shields, torches at night - and created violent confrontations with counter protesters.  Three people died. Two police died in a helicopter crash, and one was killed by an appalling full throttle acceleration of his car into a crowd of counter protesters.  Many others were injured.  

So, our president's response?  To blame both sides.

"We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence, on many sides."

And then he went on to talk about how wonderful the economy is under his stellar leadership...

It is certainly appropriate to ask for calm, on both sides. But only after strongly condemning the instigators of the violence - the armed white supremacists who came to create violence.  But, of course, Trump didn't do that.  Indeed he can't do that - the heart of his base is the white supremacist community, who have been given permission by this white supremacist president to come out of the dark hiding places they have been lurking in for decades and strut proudly in the limelight - and do so with violence.  

Trump's favorite poll is the Rasmussen Poll which consistently skews conservative.  His approval there is 45%, compared to about 37% average of all the other polls.  But inside the Rasmussen Poll is 27% who Strongly Favor Trump.  It is not hard to conclude that the white supremacist agitators in Charlottesville are amongst the Strongly Favor group.

Friday, August 11, 2017

It's the Republicans too

It’s not just Trump that is a problem in today’s politics.  Those Republicans caught in the various bubbles of conservative dogma are the ones doing great damage to the country and the world.  Trump is the peacock - the Republicans are the wolves.

For example – health care.  The “Freedom Caucus” in the House of Representatives and their dogmatic compatriots in the Senate are promoting the repeal of Obamacare, but the impact of that obsession is to make it impossible for about 20 million people or more to be able to afford health insurance.  This is not something that provides freedom for people.  It is something that enslaves them to untreated health problems, robs them of the freedom of a healthy body that access to medical care gives them.  The “Freedom Caucus” might best be renamed the “Trap the Citizens in a Spiral of Poverty Caucus”.

For example – the environment.  The Republicans have been so blinded by the dogma of Reaganomics (in this case the deregulation part of Reaganomics) that they are stripping the country of the protections put in place to fight against the corporate polluters.  Those captured by this piece of dogma think they taking the restraints off of business and creating jobs, but what is really happening is that they are going back to the “good old days” of filthy air and water.  I find this disgusting.

For example – tax breaks for the wealthy.  Here is the second part of the obsolete and damaging dogma of Reaganomics – tax cuts for the wealthy.  I understand the idea that reducing taxes on the "job creators" is supposed to stimulate the economy.  I thought that myself up until the financial crash of 2008.  But I now understand that it doesn’t work.  What stimulates the economy is to empower the middle class, not to give more money to the wealthy.  As I have written often, Reagan lowered taxes and the economy grew, Clinton raised taxes and the economy grew more, Bush lowered taxes and the economy stagnated.  Tax rates for the wealthy do not have much of any effect on the growth of the economy.  Yet, this is a dogmatic belief of the Republican Party.

For example – restrict immigration and kick out immigrants.  This is especially dumb, it seems to me.  Less educated immigrants have always been a spur to the American economy.   Plus, highly educated immigrants are key to the tech industry.  This is little more than bigotry.

For example – talking tough.  Good grief!  We now have a president that thinks the way to deal with the paranoid man-child running North Korea is to threaten him with nuclear holocaust.  And there is a portion of the Republicans who are glad that we finally have a president with Balls.  Idiotic.  What you do is de-escalate, not escalate the rhetoric.  Trump is very “brave” – putting the lives of South Koreans, Japanese, Guamanians, and Chinese at risk in order to strut his childish bravado. 

I’m not sure when the Republican Party lost its ability to think, probably about the time talk radio and Fox News became vehicles for the Oligarchy propaganda machine. 

I realize that there is much to criticize about those lost in left wing dogmatic bubbles as well – the ridiculous extremities of identity politics, the unaffordable notion of Medicare for everybody, the dumbing down of a college education if college becomes a free entitlement, etc.  But the left wing is in the margins and the right wing is running the country off the cliff.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Children with nukes...

Kim Jong Un tests ICBMs - the U.N. unanimously imposes tough sanctions - Kim threatens nuclear strike against U.S. - Trump threatens nuclear strike against North Korea ....  WHAT?  ... Kim threatens nuclear strike against U.S. Territory, Guam ...

Children with nukes. Not good.

Apparently, the ridiculously ignorant, unstable, childish man that the Republican Party elected to be our president thinks that if Kim Jong Un threatens to use nukes against the U.S. that Kim is insulting his personal manhood.

I believe that Kim Jong Un knows that the only way he doesn't become Qaddafi or Saddam Hussein is to be a nuclear power, and to be threatening.  So, don't escalate! Stay calm and carry on.  He will only become a real threat if we have another child looking back at him from the U.S. thinking that it's all about his pathetically insecure manhood.  Kim's only point is that he can launch if he is invaded. The U.S is under no threat of invasion by North Korea. 

The big question has always been how will this disturbingly childish president react to a real crisis?  This guy has melt downs if he sees someone on the news criticize him, so what does he do if a real crisis leaps up in his face? Hurricane? Environmental catastrophe?  Financial meltdown? Foreign policy threats and aggressions?

Children can get into a schoolyard fight, but the ones who die are us....

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

The Republican compulsion to cut taxes

What's the most important thing to Republicans? Cutting taxes on the wealthy.  The wealthy are the ones who want it, and the wealthy have managed to convince the middle class Republican voter that cutting taxes on the wealthy will create jobs for them - all nonsense of course, but political beliefs are hard to change, and decades of propaganda by the Oligarchy have had their effect.  The failed attempt by the Republicans to kill Obamacare was really not much more than a tax cut for the wealthy, camouflaged with distracting rhetoric. 

It's an ideology called Reaganomics - cut taxes to spur the economy.  But it doesn't work.  Reagan cut taxes and the economy grew (after he raised taxes again a few times).  Clinton raised taxes and the economy grew even more.  W cut taxes and the economy flat-lined.  Reaganomics is just a dogmatic belief that doesn't work, but the duped by the Oligarchy Republican common voter hasn't figured that out yet.

Dogma, dogma, dogma - the killer of democracy.