Friday, January 20, 2017

As Darkness Descends, Get Ready For The Dawn

As you'd expect, I watched and commented on the inauguration today with my colleagues from Progressive Blend Radio for our new show Trumpled Underfoot. Trump's speech was a reworked version of his stump program made all the more dark by his false dystopian view of a United States suffering from the ravages of a "carnage" that few would see if they weren't hearing it from their fearful leader. In short, it was a grotesquerie that will eventually receive recognition as among the worst and most negative speeches ever given by anyone to ascend to the highest office in the land.
Here's my takeaway from the day.
My friend, the writer and activist, William Rivers Pitt of truthout.org, was once press secretary for Dennis Kucinich wen he ran for president in 2004. Pitt quoted Kucinich talking to a crowd while campaigning in Iowa, "You are the one you've been waiting for. You've been here all along." He continued to say for himself, "I pity the dawn, for it shall find me pissed. Onward."
I've always thought I was involved and doing what I could to help nudge things in the right direction. I'm now certain that I've been kidding myself all this time.
I am upping my game and contributing more time and action than simply what I do in front of this cybermachine.
I suspect this may be true for a lot of you who are reading this. And if nothing else comes out of what we're about to experience, the notion that we will ALL be upping our game together, no longer waiting for ourselves, to instead BE what we've been waiting for, that dawn better make way. Because we WILL win the day.
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Thursday, January 12, 2017

Congress, ALL of Congress Better Sack Up Fast

It's 2:25PM EST, January 12, 2017. 8 days before the official start of the Trump administration. I'm watching C-SPAN3 for what was supposed to be a hearing featuring Gen. James "Mad Dog" Mattis (ret). The purpose is a pre-hearing in the House in advance of Senate confirmation hearings for his nomination to be Secretary of Defense. The United States military must be managed by a civilian. Civilian management of the military is a bedrock principle of the US and is a substantial reason the US has never seriously worried of military takeovers. Often though, retired military officers have been appointed to the office and for most of the past century a law has been in place that required any former members of the military be retired for a number of years before being eligible for the position. Currently, the retirement period is 7 years. General Mattis has been retired for less than 7 years. Accordingly, Congress has decided to consider a narrowly written law which would carve out a niche for General Mattis to serve now.

Since this is an unprecedented situation, Congress decided they wanted to have a hearing with the General to discuss his civilian experience and how he distinguishes the difference between civilian life and military service. Most importantly House committee wanted to hear General Mattis discuss his understanding and appreciation for why the Constitution mandates civilian management of the military.

For his part, General Mattis, who has testified before Congress in numerous capacities throughout his years of public service, was prepared and looking ahead to testifying. It seems though at the last moment, the Trump transition team and probably Trump himself, had the General stand down and not appear for the hearing. At this writing, there is no explanation for the sudden change.

What we are witnessing is a power play by the Trump admin's to be executive branch. Trump is declaring clearly that he will not be questioned or vetted at all much less in passing by anyone even by right. He is engaging in imperial behavior before taking the oath.

The Congressional committee is in near unanimity in their anger over Trump's meddling. What needs to happen and fast, is that Congress, ALL of it, House and Senate, Republican and Democratic, needs to recognize the threat posed to their constitutional authority by Trump and his handlers. Now, regardless of individual merits, they should reject the bill to waive the 7 year requirement for General James Mattis unless and until he is allowed to testify as requested.

The Congress must follow by rejecting each and every matter in which Trump interferes with their authority and make it clear that Congress is, as always, first among co-equal branches. It's unfortunate that this is where events are going already, and it's of grave concern that Congress has been so absent from engaging its responsibilities for so many years. My confidence that the people sitting in Congress now even KNOW what it means to do their jobs in a serious way is in severe question but if ever they were ready assert their primacy n American government, that time is NOW.
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Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Almost Isn't Good Enough

Long form writing doesn't come easily for me because it's hard to untangle the interconnected thoughts into linear sentences. And I edit myself. And re-edit. Then try to add links. And a little joke here or there. And before you know it, it never gets done and never gets posted. I'm gonna give it a go at keeping it shorter and see how that goes.

We have reached the height of the long Republican Party plan to game the system so carefully set up by the founding fathers of the United States. They feared one thing and believed they had designed the system to avoid the one pitfall.

They fear what they called "factions" and we call political parties. The solution to the problem was to have a nation so large and diverse that no faction to set up and last long enough around enough ideas to keep it together and overrun the rights of the people.

But since the late 1950s, the conservative "movement" has managed to pull it together just large enough in widely dispersed area, and kept it together to confound the system. Successive 10 year cycles to do well in census years allowed constant control of redistricting to lock down state houses and congress for the foreseeable future.

How did they do this? By doing an end around the usual means of information sharing with voters, namely, the media. Back to the 1950s...

William F. Buckley began using TV and magazines to focus the conservative message. No attempt to be "fair and balanced".

Think tanks were formed to promote the ideas put forth in magazines and TV. Politicians were educated in the language of the movement.

Direct mail in the 1970s spearheaded by Richard Viguerie. Go right to the people so they don't have to listen to media elites like Walter Cronkite or Wolf Blitzer tell them what to think about national and world events.

Ally with evangelical religionists so that not only was the message "right", it was "righteous". And with that it became ok to call out people who don't behave right. Redefine what it means to be American just as the term began to include groups besides white Christian men.

Simplify it with incessant repetition for a couple of decades. God, guns, and gays. Masculine, physical strength mythologized by rugged individualists like the John Wayne characters that no one even pays attention to anymore. Vigilante justice taking up where the "system" has failed.

Repeat it over and over and over and over...

Welcome to the world. The Constitution is confounded and all the founders worst nightmares have come to be. Just like they thought it could but hoped it wouldn't.

The US was a good idea while it lasted. We very nearly pulled it off.
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Saturday, October 8, 2016

Why Is THIS The One That Broke the GOP Establishment Against Trump?

Donald Trump has called Mexican immigrants rapists and murderers. He has called for a ban on all Muslims from entering the country and thrown suspicion upon all of them who are already here including those who are citizens. He attacked a family who lost a son at war for the US. He has a long history of racial discrimination going back to the 1970s and has nearly 0% support from blacks nationally. The litany of horrors that has done and has spilled from his maw goes on and on. Yet it is his 11 year old hot mic pre-interview gibberish with Billy Bush -- where Trump brags about how he attempted to bed a married woman, talks about her as merely a sex object, then continues on to do the same about a woman about to bring him to a soap opera set for a cameo, while explaining that as a "star" he can get away with doing anything to women, including just walking up and grabbing them "by the pussy"-- that finally has his own party in an uproar. This doesn't even touch on his "policies" of kowtowing to Russia, encouraging nuclear proliferation, instigating worldwide trade wars, and further rigging the tax code to favor the filthy rich over middle class Americans.

Since Trump has already defined himself as a caricature of a human circa 1955, why is this interview such a big deal?

People of conservative bent have a tendency to think of the world and politics purely in terms of their own familiarity; the words they want to hear, the people they already know, the ideas that came before them.

All of the other statements that have shaken Democrats, liberals, leftists, and the rest to their bones, make little to no impression on conservatives because to them, such statements are mostly hyperbolic abstractions that don't sound like anything other than code for standing tall and being the best, greatest, amazing, winning country that the US should be but isn't.

This time, this one hits close to home because Trump's base, the GOP base, the common thread between the party and the campaign, has the one thing being taken advantage of in his comments.

White women.

Trump is talking about "doing what he wants" because he's "a star" to white women he comes across. the GOP/Trump base is composed almost exclusively of white men and white women. Trump can indeed get away with talking badly or violently about some abstract "other" especially since most of them are some shade of brown who are far away or at a minimum unfamiliar in their look or daily affairs as he imagines them. But every good Republican is or has personal contact with good old American white women every day, and talking badly about them is not acceptable.

Finally.
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Sunday, October 2, 2016

I’m not with her. But I’m voting for her.

You can’t compare her to Bernie. Bernie is an anomaly. You can’t compare her to Trump. Trump is a waking nightmare of American culture. You can compare her to politicians of the post-WWII era. They were all men who campaigned hard and could cut each other within certain bounds of mutually accepted decency. And when the race was over and it was time to do the work of governing, they governed. They did politics. They worked to get things done by recognizing an issue which needed to be addressed, laying it all out on the table, and addressing it. If they were coming from a position of strength they did not seek always to get everything they wanted at all costs because they knew they had constituents who did not want everything the politician wanted. If they came from a position of weakness, they bargained for a piece of the action, prepared to use that as an advantage for the next election. Destruction was not the end being sought. They advocated strenuously for their positions and then gave in order to get so as to get things done. Live to fight another day. Why? Because we were all Americans, we had that in common no matter the differences in details on how we defined it. Total war against fellow citizens served no useful purpose. The idea of We The People had meaning measured in the population of the country, not just as some abstract calligraphy on an old parchment. Regardless of anything else, the people and the system put in place by the people to govern it was respected.

Hillary Clinton and her supporters respect that system. The republican candidate and his supporters do not. This election is no longer about which set of policies is worthy of favor, but whether the entire nature of the American system will continue as it is. With Hillary, it is fair to conclude from my assessment that she is then just more of the same. I agree with that. Considering our options, more of the same is preferable to blowing up everything, possibly literally. In Hillary we have a candidate who may very well be more aggressive internationally than someone of more progressive bent. She is presumed, rightly I think, to be a close friend of big money in business, finance, and government.

But she is also as socially liberal as any progressive candidate would be. In view of the likelihood that we will have 2 and potentially as many as 4 Supreme Court changes coming in the next 4 years, 2 of which may come from the right wing of the court, having Hillary making the nominations will assure for the next several decades that the liberal victories on social issues will remain in place. This is no small matter in view of the attacks on women’s rights, voting rights, racial issues, gay rights, and so much more that the right has engaged in relentlessly as long as any of these issues has existed in public discourse.

As a practical matter, Hillary’s policies represent about 80% of policies I support. Though she doesn’t take many as far as I would prefer, it’s much better than the backwards and deformed approach of her opponent.

I don’t buy in to the similarly decades long attack on every single aspect of her character and activities. They have been systematically whipped up by what she long ago defined “the right-wing hit machine” and have so seeped into the zeitgeist of US politics that it’s simply assumed that she is the most dishonest politician ever to hit the American scene. While she does have an aura of Nixonian non-transparency and slipperiness about her, nothing has ever stuck in any substantial way that suggests she’s any more than a standard issue high level political actor who will always, as is the nature of the game, toe right up to the edge of propriety without going over it. I may not like that kind of behavior, but again, in context of this election, I am willing to tolerate it. I do not believe that she is the consummate liar or criminal or murderer that she is accused of being. She is a centrist politician who is to the left socially and to the right in foreign affairs.

My conscience would like to have a viable candidate to choose. But one does not exist. Gary Johnson has proven himself to be almost as ignorant on important matters as Trump. He’s just a decent guy, and though that stands for a lot in this election, it doesn’t qualify him for the White House. He’s had many years to define clear positions on every issue yet he has not done so. Too many of his actual policies are the opposite of anything any progressive should get close to. Jill Stein as well, has no business being seriously considered. I agree with much of the Green Party platform, but the Green Party barely exists as an entity outside of California. Stein herself holds a handful of oddball leftist dog whistle positions and is just not a seasoned politician at a time when one is needed to counterbalanace the intensity of the right-wing loony bin. When the Greens make a sustained effort at building a bottom up party foundation that can show its viability at all levels of government, I’ll take its presidential candidates more seriously. For both the Libertarians and the Greens, simply showing up every four years to run for president and complain of unfairness in an electoral system which has stood for over 200 years is not serious. It’s adolescent entitlement. It’s a hobby.

The argument about having a clean conscience by voting third-party or not at all is the leftist counterpart to the right-wing individualist argument that all taxation is theft and that all government is an infringement that helps no one. The continued existence of this country, at least as it is and still hopeful for what it could be, is more important by a long way than the purity of my conscience and the consequences of a Trump presidency. My conscience will do fine supporting Hillary to avoid the horror of Trump. Being wrong about Hillary is considerably more tolerable to me as opposed to making a third-party vote and ending up with Trump when I could have tried to stop him with the simple act of a vote for her. I have no desire to stand on the ash heap of civilization with the serenity that I kept my conscience clean. The nation and the planet are more important to me than that.

I agree with Bernie Sanders that the best way for now to achieve progressive reform is to take the long view. He has, Moses-like, taken us to the mountaintop and shown us the way. It’s up to us to get there without him (although of course, he’s still here). The Democratic Party is nearly split between centrist, older, Hillary supporters, and liberal much younger, progressives. Every demographic analysis suggests that the trend towards younger and progressive will increase rather than slow. There are only so many shenanigans any party apparatus can engage in before sheer numbers overwhelm them. This is how party policy has shifted since the beginning of large American political parties in the mid-1800s. And with patience and continued activism, we may see this shift by 2020, and permanently by 2024.

I am resolved to fight another day. A movement does not succeed in one major election cycle. As progressives we are bound by our ideals to preserve our system rather than destroy it. We wish to improve what is wrong and maintain what is right. We seek to avoid actual violence wherever we can while standing strong for our principles, our process, and our goals. We can only do it by staying in the arena, learning everything we can about every aspect of party building and nation preserving. We cannot do it by allowing a creature as vile as Donald Trump and his unhinged supporters to rule over us.

Hillary Clinton isn’t the best choice among people who would make a good president. But she is also not nearly the worst and I do not believe she is as bad as she is made to be by her opponents. I DO believe that she is now the only choice to avoid the disaster that is embodied by Donald Trump and his supporters, and as an American pragmatic voter, despite my misgivings and concerns, I WILL be voting for Hillary Clinton to be the next President of the United States.
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Sunday, September 18, 2016

Birthshit

The latest absurdity from the Trump campaign is that he has helped the country by finally concluding that Barack Hussein Obama was indeed born in the United States and is therefore a legitimate citizen qualified to be President of this once Great Nation. He accepts all thanks for this announcement and regrets he had to clean up this issue after it was shamefully initiated by the Hillary Clinton 2008 presidential campaign.

Wait what??

Yes, Trump says word about the veracity of Obama's US birth came to him through Mark Penn, Hillary's 2008 campaign manager, via a strategy memo Penn wrote in March, 2007 when the campaign was just getting started. The memo includes a section called "Lack of American Roots". At the time, Obama was promoting his upbringing in both Hawaii and Indonesia as an example of a young, modern, and more worldly potential president than any who had come before. Obama's pitch was geared towards the burgeoning youth vote as a move to mobilize that notoriously difficult to reach demographic. It was a strategy that made the difference for him both as a candidate for the Democratic nomination and eventually as successful candidate for President.

Penn argued that then Senator Clinton should, as a counterpoint, highlight her upbringing as a child of the midwest as an appeal to middle-aged, middle class voters.

Regardless of anything else involving the content or application of the memo to the campaign, not a word of it makes any reference, directly, indirectly, or by any sort of insinuation, that Obama was not born in the United States.

In other words, as usual, Trump is utterly full of shit and is flat lying about the initial source of his interest in the topic, what he did or didn't believe about it, and why he continued to keep it alive for years until last week.

Almost everything Trump does is in some way a dog whistle to the racist right-wing of republican party support. It remains shocking that the folks in the GOP support system who don't fall in that category remain so quiet and tacitly supportive of such a candidate or people among their ranks.

My recollection of the birther movement was that it was promoted by a certifiable public loon named Orly Taitz. I saw her all over the news on TV and print/online making one absurd claim after another all of which eventually disappeared from public discourse including, finally, herself.

The gist of the argument devolved from the notion that we had a black guy with an Arab sounding name - which included as his middle name the last name of our recent Iraqi nemesis, who had nothing to do with terrorist acts against Americans, not that that mattered to these crazy people - running for president. The worldliness of his perspectives on international relations had nothing to do with any of it. Black people with Arab names aren't true Americans and Hawaii is so far away that it must be that he was really foreign born, especially since his father really WAS Kenyan so there you have it.

Thinking that a legitimate connection between his upbringing and worldview indicates foreign birth is still baseless, but it is also much too nuanced an explanation for anything that comes from the crazed right of this country's politics, or from the thin soupy mind of Donald Trump. It should all have been treated like a joke.

The man lies. Then he lies about his lies. Then he has his surrogates invent more lies to cover for this matryoshka of a word game that he plays and gets away with because our corporate media abides low standards.

But Hillary didn't tell anyone about the obvious pneumonia she was suffering from for a few days, so nevermind what Trump says.
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Wednesday, July 27, 2016

The DNC Did Not Make Bernie Lose

A major theme of this year's primary season has been that the system is rigged. Although the accusation has been leveled at both parties, it's the Democrats who have been most specifically accused of rigging the game against Bernie Sanders. With the release of stolen emails from the hacked computers of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), those accusations rose to the pitchforks and torches level and led to the resignation and effective disappearing of Committee chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz. But the question remains, did DNC tampering create a difference that changed the outcome of the contest?

I say no.

I'm not going to get into the guilt or or not of the DNC or any other people involved in vote counting at any of the various places around the country where shenanigans were called. For the purposes of this analysis, let's just assume that all the accusations are true. Had none of it happened, Bernie would still have lost.

Calling the Sanders campaign a longshot when it began was generous. Clinton had about an 80 point lead just about anywhere you looked. Nevertheless, Bernie DID have a base from which to begin. He's had a consistent political philosophy since he first engaged in activism in the early 60s and never wavered in his message. He's been on the right side of most of the major issues since first entering congress in 1991. For the better part of a decade he has made the rounds on liberal talk radio, featuring on a long-running segment called Brunch with Bernie on the Thom Hartmann Radio Program. He has most significantly been a favorite on college campuses across the country his entire tenure. His base was young, liberal college students, of which there are many.

In order to do well for a start, Bernie needed to assure his base turned out on election day. Typically, young voters are known to be fairly lazy even though registration windows are long and early voting through a variety of means is available in most states. The exception to the low youth turnout was Barack Obama in 2008. Bernie knew going in that he would need to have similar numbers to have a shot at Hillary's lead and name recognition.

Secondly, he needed to make serious inroads into Hillary's base among African-Americans. Those voters constitute nearly 30% of the Democratic primary vote, so it's a must for any serious contender to be well-represented.

Finally, he had to know the rules as well as or better than Hillary. The Democratic party primaries is a chaotic mess of quirky individual state and sometimes county rules regarding when and how to vote, when to count, and what determines final delegate totals.

All of these factors require a top-notch high energy staff and ground game to get the message out and get the voters in. When all was said and done, Bernie failed badly on all three counts and STILL nearly won the nomination.

Very simply, the kids didn't show up in nearly the numbers hoped for and nowhere close to what Obama pulled in '08. That failure became clear even in the euphoria of the near-win in the first contest in college student-rich Iowa. Had there been a turnout in the same range as '08, Bernie would have had huge win instead of merely shocking the nation by coming within a point of victory. This trend stayed true throughout the process. Turnout was good but it needed to be great.

Bernie failed miserably when it came to attracting African-American votes. The story of his early years in the civil rights movement was appreciated but there didn't seem to be much in the way of direct action since he'd been in Congress. For Bernie's part, his method was to work for economic justice as a means to assure the rise of blacks in American society. But today, the focus is more on institutional justice. It took Bernie a while to understand the significance of the Black Lives Matter movement and the toll taken by mass incarceration in the private prison industry and the drug war on young lives, primarily young black men.

The tell that Bernie had failed here was in the rousting he received in the fourth primary in South Carolina. This drubbing was followed quickly by much of the same throughout the South. He lost the black votes by as much as 70 points when he needed to come within 15 to be able to claim cutting down that advantage.

And finally, Nevada showed his people didn't fully grasp the complexities of the rules. A simpler version of the lack of rule mastery occurred in New York when millions of potential voters went unregistered in the closed primary because the campaign was not aware of the very early deadline, a rule in New York that went back to the late 1800s.

It's likely that all of this went down as it did because in the early stages Bernie had no realistic expectation to do as well as he did. As a result he kept his simple basic economic message and never beefed up and expanded into other issues. By the time he needed a broader outreach, it was already too late.

The "rigging" of the DNC would have made the difference of a few points and hence only a handful of delegates in the states where it happened. But this was nothing against the big losses Bernie suffered in many states because of failed minority outreach, lack of youth registration, or turnout. He needed to run a perfect campaign. He did not.

Bernie talks in terms of "a political revolution" which emanates from within the confines of the Democratic Party. He didn't necessarily envision it simply as himself winning the White House. He wanted to regain a place for liberals and progressives in their traditional party, where the Clinton movement had taken it firmly to the center. To accomplish that, Bernie wanted to win seats at the table and increase membership rolls for young liberal activists who were going to be around a long time and who are to come into their own demographically by the end of the decade.

Knowing the difficulty of new parties or even growing minor already-existing parties, Bernie has advocated that his supporters stay in the party even though the DNC appears to be as rotten as a worm-eaten old wooden boat. He argues for determination and focus for the long haul in order to wrest control from the centrists and spread the liberal message across the country, where it received such an unexpectedly positive reception. And he argues that none of it will be possible if the Republicans are allowed to retake the White House and control the future of the Supreme Court.

To Bernie's experienced mind, the only chance to reignite the progressive spirit which built and sustained the middle class and finally began the still unfinished work of the Civil Rights, Women's Rights, and Gay Rights movement, is for his supporters to lick their wounds and get back to work.
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Sunday, March 13, 2016

Gravitar Profundus to Attend Trump Event in Boca Raton, Florida Tonight

I have my ticket to enter the Trump event tonight in Boca Raton.
I don't plan to get myself in trouble. I'm not wearing any Bernie gear, no tie dyes, nothing that can be misconstrued to indicate I am anything more than the short, fat, bald, middle-aged guy that I am. My mouth will be kept in check. I'm there to listen and watch. If nothing else, my ticket prevents a true believer from checking in with their fearful leader.
This is what I hope will be a soon to pass eruption of what I never doubted existed in the worst parts of the American personality. I presume most of the people there for real support really don't go along with the hatefulness and violence that Trump espouses. But despite that, they assist it into being and by that association, they are just as guilty as those who join in the hate and violence.
For my part, I think it's important to engage personally when something like this is happening. If a KKK parade were gong down my street, I wouldn't cower in my closet until it went away. When you leave the floor to bad ideas and bad people, they will take it and never easily give it up.
I've had my suspicions about why Trump got involved in this process at first. But regardless what his original purpose might have been, he's become mostly a rallying point for all of the worst aspects of the American character. I and some of my friends will be there hoping to represent at least some of the better parts of that same character. At a minimum, I have to bear witness to this.
Pictures, possibly some video, and surely some posts to follow. I'm heading to the event around 4. The actual begins at 7. It's an outdoor venue and rain is in the forecast.
PEACE!!!
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Thursday, January 21, 2016

The Establishment

The latest favorite phrase of the political class and the media that promotes it is The Establishment.

As a notion, being an outsider is always a popular and nominally effective way for a would-be member of The Establishment to gain entry to it. Promising angry voters that they have a chance to support someone who can act against The Establishment, but only if they are made an important part of The Establishment, despite the twisted logic, gains much coverage. That notion is especially true at the end of a two term presidency when no one wants what they see as the "same old".

Usually we are presented with candidates among whom will be a selection of claimants to title of outsider. This time around we have the benefit of more than the usual number who have audacity to make such statements about themselves. Let’s look at a few of them:

Hillary Clinton: She's the same old. She makes absurd claims to outsider, non-establishment status because she’s a woman and Republicans hate her with the white hot passion of ten billion suns. Of course, she is the MOST establishment candidate this side of JEB! Bush only with a much deeper establishment record than he does. My neck practically breaks from the cringe-induced recoil when she gets up on this line of talk. It was most prominent earlier this week when she was criticizing Bernie Sanders because he stated quite correctly that she had received the endorsements of Planned Parenthood and Human Rights Council because they were establishment just like her. Those organizations do excellent and necessary work and deserve to be respected but let’s not deny that they are part of the LIBERAL establishment. Getting hated by the right does not make one non-establishment. The right is not the only game in town as the Clinton machine has been demonstrating for 25 years.

Marco Rubio: Claims outsider status I guess by virtue of his refusal to do his job as a Senator. While a member of the Florida state legislature though, he was indeed part of the Republican party hierarchy and was its golden boy as Jeb!’s protégé. But since he’s crushing Jeb!, now, he’s really more like the Kylo Ren of modern politics (though it would be deeply inappropriate to compare Jeb! to Han Solo – and by the way, is it now ok to dispense with the Star Wars spoiler alerts already?).

Ted Cruz: Might actually be able to claim outsider status because he's such an abhorrent man that everyone and I do mean EVERYONE in politics hates him, especially those of his own party. He's the only character in this contest who can make Trump look like a good idea.

Trump: Technically an outsider because he’s never run for office. But as a land developer as he’s often mentioned, he has greased the wheels of politics as needed on every side of the machine when business required it. Not only does this define the corruption at the heart of The Establishment, it makes him more of an inside operator, and thus Establishment, than any elected official could ever be. The one claim he can make, and a legitimate one, is that he is his own cash backer so he is truly beholden to nobody and therefore is free to deal with everybody. And that would be great if he wasn’t a crass, narrow-minded, racist, xenophobe, asshole who doesn’t give a damn about anyone without gold-plated toilets to flush away their waste. Trump is a businessman who has always overstepped his actual abilities, then got out from under his huge mistakes by taking advantage of the bankruptcy laws to avoid being wiped out. He is like a billionaire welfare cheat. Except when he does it, it costs millions to billions in losses to others while he walks away free to build and destroy again. As a self-proclaimed successful businessman, he looks good to undereducated voters who want to be brash and rich like him but didn’t have wealthy daddies and great bankruptcy lawyers to get him through the hard times when he could only fly first class instead of on his own 747. But the eternal fallacy is that a good businessman does not have the same skill set as a good politician. Politics is an infinitely harder job than being a businessman. Politicians are constricted in ways that a businessman is never held back, plus a lot of the work has to be done more or less out in the open instead of always behind closed doors and held in private. To be sure, a lot of deal making happens in the dark in politics, but in business, that’s in the design of the deal. The goals of business are easy – make the money. That is NOT the goal of politics. The amorphous “public good” is the goal. The act of politics is working around every different definition of that to benefit people whether they voted for you or not. Trump does not care about any of this. He’s a shameless self-promoter who has no problem walking away from his many failures. That is not the job of president of the United States.


Bernie Sanders: a unique combination of long-time insider by virtue of being in or almost in elective office for much of his adult life, and outsider by being the only real independent politician. He is unconnected to money obligations of big donors, and has a consistent record and core set of beliefs since long before his first public office. He has been part of the political machinery at almost every level of American politics and he currently seeks to be at the top of the executive level. Being unconnected, he can honestly claim he is not part of the Establishment because they won’t let him in since he is something The Establishment ceased to be long ago: a genuine Public Servant. Having him as president will be interesting on many fronts. Of course he will get zero support from the republicans. No one except a republican will ever get their support and any but the most outrageous radical will get a consistent majority even of THEIR support because of the tea party morons. The Democrats will fall in line because they’ll have to. But it might and probably would spark a revival of that party’s backbone for the first time since a Kennedy ran for office. Should that happen, the nature of congress would probably change fairly quickly with a number of the few remaining moderate Republicans falling in line as well. Perhaps some tea partiers in name only would revive their moderation and behave like a loyal opposition again. Regardless, no matter how you quantify it, Bernie is no establishment politician while he knows everyone, is respected by everyone, is considered honest by everyone, and has the public good at heart even if you don’t agree with his policies and methods. He’ll never be accused of being in it for himself and certainly not for any Establishment cronies. 

The way Bernie is doing it is the only way in a democracy to take down The Establishment. You have to be the ghost in the machine come to life.
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Saturday, October 3, 2015

Whither the US?

What is our purpose in the world? I mean the United States, not humanity. Humanity serves no purpose except itself. But is that all the US does as well? And even if that is all the US does, what is it that serves the US?

I wonder about this today because I just read how the US bombed a hospital today in Afghanistan run by Doctors Without Borders. The US has been engaged in wars in central and west Asia now for the better part of 25 years going back to the first Iraq war in 1991. And involvement arguably goes back further to the Iran-Iraq War, and of course the Cold War before that, and before and before...

Since World War II, American foreign policy had the bipolar world of the threat of the red menace to use as an explanation for almost every adventure and intrigue in which it engaged. But that threat has been gone as long as the direct warmaking in the middle east and subcontinent.

But the US won. What's been the point since then?

Neo-Conservative ideology developed by spitshined genius Paul Wolfowitz and other notorious Republicans created a reason for a monopolar world of US world-beating and freedom-spreading before any other nations or peoples could have the chance to challenge it. It was a simple notion: the US is really fucking rich and powerful and unchallengeable for the moment so use that power to spread the fuck out of freedom across the world because it's so awesome.

Of course, like most Americans, other people across the world don't care much to be told what to do, especially when it comes under threat of violence. And especially if they happen to have cultures--regardless what anyone else may think of them--which are thousands of years old versus the couple hundred that the US is.

Well, ok, but a bunch of folks from that area attacked the US on 9-11 and they should be rooted out. So the US went into Afghanistan to get a bunch of Saudis in an organization run by a Yemeni and Egyptian. The locals who protected them were mostly Pakistani and were originally trained by the US to beat up on the Russians 20 years prior. Although, everyone there knew how to beat the big boys already. And there is a very long track record of outsiders failing miserably when coming in to bring freedom or whatever to the goat-herders and poppy farmers of the region.

What could possibly go wrong?

Ok, then make up a bullshit excuse to do the same to our old buddies in Iraq again. Take the lid off a simmering millennium-plus old blood feud between religious sects. Great idea!

Spreading the shit out of freedom, instead, has resulted in the spreading the shit out of Islamic fanaticism in response. The US isn't really getting the benefit of the oil in the region; and doesn't really need it anymore either. The only winners are the same old war-mongers and materiel suppliers that always seem to do well when hospitals filled with volunteer healers and their maimed patients get blown to bits. OOps!

It seems the only reason to still be involved at this point is to save face. But I have a hard time understanding how face is saved by blowing up the faces of doctors, staff, and people whose faces are already half-blown off.

The US has proved long ago incapable of having any useful effect on the people of the region. Or any other region. At least through military action. The Cold War was not won by force. It was won by American blue jeans, The Beatles, and a Polish Pope.

The US wins not by force of arms, but by being a force for good and by having good friends in high places. By the use of hearts and minds. Not bullets and bombs. The US beat Hitler and Hirohito a long time ago now through a massive amount of might which has not been brought to bear since. But more importantly, the US sustained that military victory through sustained good works. In an ADHD culture, that's just not possible.

The answer is, we have no purpose in the world. We don't even serve our own interests anymore. We bombed it to smoldering ashes in a volunteer hospital.
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