Archive for the 'Americans are stupid!' Category

May 22 2016

The invisible hand kills people

Besides all the other things that are at stake in this current Presidential election; trivial things like the survival of the United States as a democracy and survival of a free press, is also trying to put a nail in the coffin of those folks who believe that the "market solves all things" and regulation is bad for business.

Marketplace, which is a great economics program on NPR ran a story on Thursday about the effects of the free market run amok:

Three years ago, I sat beside the bed of Zhang Runxiang as the 42-year-old lay dying of uterine cancer. She and dozens of others in Liuchong village, a tiny hamlet in central China's Hubei province, have petitioned China’s government and complained on state-run television that they’ve had been poisoned by Dasheng chemical, a company that manufactures phosphate fertilizer on a hill above the village.

Two days after I visited Zhang, she died.

She is buried on a hillside above the village. Spring rain from low, dark clouds overhead soak the terraced plots of bright yellow rapeseed surrounding her grave.

“She was a good person — very outgoing,” said Zhang's friend Xu Huiping.

Xu stands with an umbrella, bowing to her friend’s tomb. The two belonged to the same village farming collective. Xu walks across the hillside to the next hill — nothing grows on top of this one.

“This is where they dumped phosphogypsum," Xu said, kicking a layer of gray ash underneath a thin layer of topsoil. "You see the gray ash underneath the topsoil here? That’s why nothing will ever grow here.”

 

The entire story is a classic case of the government failing to do its job and failing to hold a business accountable for its bad business and environmental practices.  The ordinary people are the ones who suffer-in this case literally hundreds of them condemned to die by cancer. And when they have tried to raise the issue to authorities, they have found themselves threatened, evidently with impunity, by the owner of the business himself.  Money counts, but doing what is right? Not so much.

Marketplace contacted Dasheng Chemical owner Zhong Shoubin. He refused to be interviewed. Marketplace also contacted several local officials. None of them answered our interview requests.

“Personally, I think that Dasheng Chemical obtained a free pass from the provincial government and the environmental protection bureau,” said Li Jun, former village chief of Liuchong.

Li said he was fired because he allowed too many of his villagers to petition in Beijing. Marketplace spoke to him in 2013, while he took care of his father, who was dying of cancer.

“As the former leader of this village, I feel ashamed," said Li. "Our villagers are telling the truth, and I’ve appealed to my superiors many times, but nothing has ever been done to stop the pollution.”

Interview requests to both the Hubei provincial government and China’s ministry of environmental protection went unanswered.

Listen to the entire story at the link here. It's tragic, completely avoidable, and a warning of what hell our Galtian overlords with their new patron saint, He, Trump, want for the rest of us.

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May 20 2016

Thank God it’s Friday!

As a part of the conference I am hosting I had to go to a social event last night. After a couple of large hefeweizens, a member of our group brought up the subject of the demon that is Donald Trump. Like throwing chum in the water, I took the bait. To my great regret.

One thing that really stuck in my head was when I pointed out that Trump proposes to default on US debt. The ardent  moron's, supporter's response? "Yea well at least he will do something about the huge debt!" And this was from someone I think of as fairly intelligent. Yet, he could not make the distinction of the difference between the idea of lowering the public debt (good) and defaulting on  US debt bonds  ( really, really, bad).

This is what we are dealing with today in America. It is scary and its also very dangerous.

When I got home, I had several more of these:

56054

And when I went to sleep, I dreamt about these:

What kind of girl do you like best

I suspect that next year I will be working on this.

 

2 responses so far

May 10 2016

Pour yourself a drink.

And watch ALL of this interview with Jon Stewart. It is awesome-especially his well crafted dissection of the talking yam, Donald Trump, and the worthless souls who support him.

In fact pour yourself two drinks-and watch the whole thing:

 

6 responses so far

May 03 2016

People always let you down.

Especially people of the "Fox News Viewer" persuasion.

I admit it. I am astounded American politics is where it is today. I mean really, Donald Trump is probably going to be the GOP nominee? Really?

If you read any of my posts from earlier in the year-you will know that I expected the Donald to be going down in flames by now if not already gone. That, it seems, was a mistake. I gave Republican voters more credit than they deserved. I assumed that eventually, they would see through him and he would stand revealed as the worthless charlatan he is-and the nominating process would have moved on to another criminal candidate.

Today, I am here to tell you I was wrong.

Now please don't misunderstand me, Donald Trump is a hideous human being and in no way whatsoever deserving of a place on Pennsylvania Ave. And I hope , fervently, that he will never get there. However, I had more faith in the people than this. Surely they cannot be that stupid?

Evidently they can be.

Let's consult with the blog's political correspondent, Charlie Pierce:

It had been a while since I'd been to see the increasingly normalized donkey show that is a Trump rally. The rough edges have been smoothed out a tad, although the events in California last week showed pretty conclusively that they're not entirely gone. The warm-up acts on Sunday included a local minister, who offered a prayer. A Vietnam vet led the Pledge of Allegiance. A former Miss Indiana sang the National Anthem. An overripe state representative called the Affordable Care Act, "the worst law ever passed in this country." (Providing 15 million Americans with affordable health care is worse than the Fugitive Slave Act? Where do they find these people?) And a campaign aide named Stephen Miller wound some stems and burned some barns. He bellowed out a litany of all the Others who have been jiving the good people of Terre Haute out of their country for year after year.

"They don't care about you," Miller thundered. "Donald Trump cares about you!" Jesus, somebody buy this guy a nice armband for his birthday.

For himself, He, Trump hasn't moved very far out of the comfort zone that has surrounded him since he first ascended to the top of the polls. The stump speech is still a paean to his own greatness as demonstrated by his poll numbers—NBC has him 15 points ahead in Indiana as of Sunday, which really would be the end—and now he has a string of primary victories with which to buttress his limitless self-regard. "Lyin' Ted" has been joined by "Crooked Hillary" in his menagerie of imaginary villains. (Pivot toward the general!) "The government in Iraq is so crooked, maybe we should send Hillary over there to run it."

The stump speech still winds around itself two and three times and it still remains basically a tautological knot. The country has problems. He can solve them because he is He, Trump, and you're not, and neither are those other losers. The difference is that his typical audience is less the free-floating bag of grievances they once were. They now carry themselves as dedicated supporters. They don't care how many times in one speech he talks about the trade deficit. They cheer every time he mentions knuckling China. He is winning. They are winning. That's what matters.

"The Washington Post has a big article right here," he said. "The time has come to admit that Republican voters want Donald Trump as their nominee." And then, as the applause rises again, he spreads his arms and unleashes the very encyclopedia model of a shit-eating grin. He's probably talking about a piece last week in which Philip Bump—who is not the entire Washington Post—found some establishment Republicans who resignedly are signing on with The Great Accommodation. But nobody in the Indiana Theater cares. It was one more fight that they all won. His fait is accompli now, and so is theirs.

"If I win," he said, "it's a mandate. It's a mandate for genius."

Throughout the speech, if you can call it a speech, it was hard not to wonder about the people in the hall, especially when He, Trump told the crowd that, "Lyin' Ted will always let you down." Now that his support has solidified and proven durable all over the country, there are a lot of people whose investment in him is now total. 

I wondered about Kris out on the sidewalk, who has followed He, Trump around the country because he liked what He, Trump said about closing borders to cut off the heroin that killed his child. That is a heavy burden to carry and a heavy burden to place on a candidate, even a candidate who has asked to carry it, which Trump certainly has not done. He is riding on a wave of pain that he never has felt. He is riding on a wave of anxiety he never has encountered. Beyond their love of him, there is no indication that he is as deeply aware of what has powered his rise as the people whose fear, and doubt, and, yes, hatred has powered his rise. Their job is still to wait in line, cheer on cue, and give him the devotion that he has earned because, after all, he is He, Trump, and they're not, and that will never change.

This is your democracy America. You are pissing it away royally. Trump and the millions of thugs people who following him, will lead you to oblivion. That you are too stupid to realize it is the great mystery of our age.

 

 

The analogies to Jesus Christ Superstar are obvious. Only , unlike Christ, Trump is not on the side of the angels.

4 responses so far

Apr 30 2016

16 years in to the new century

And we have nothing to show for it. The great spiral downward of the United States of America continues.

Charles Pierce is one of my favorite writers. He pulls no punches in latest masterpiece of great writing to tell us how Donald Trump is the visible symbol of our failure as a country:

The first decade of the twenty-first century gave us a great deal to forget. It began with an extended mess of a presidential election that ended with the unprecedented interference of a politicized Supreme Court. It was marked early on by an unthinkable attack on the American mainland. At this point, we forgot everything we already knew. We knew from our long involvement in the Middle East where the sources of the rage were. We forgot. We knew from Vietnam the perils of involving the country in a land war in Asia. We forgot. We knew from Nuremberg and from Tokyo what were war crimes and what were not. We forgot that we had virtually invented the concept of a war crime. We forgot. In all cases, we forgot because we chose to forget. We chose to believe that forgetting gave us real power and that memory made us weak. We even forgot how well we knew that was a lie.?

Pierce is echoing my feelings directly. "I watch the presidential campaign this year, and I watch how the country has abandoned self-government and the idea of a political commonwealth, and I see a country that is voluntarily taking upon itself my father's disease. A vagabond country, making itself a stranger to itself, a permanent refugee country, unmoored from its history."

It is some great writing. You should be reading him every day, but particularly this day.

Remember, this passage said to the people of a tattered and bleeding nation. Bind up the wounds. Take care of him who has borne the battle, and his widow and orphan, too. Achieve a just and lasting peace between yourselves and all nations. But first, remember how this misery came to pass. Remember what we are capable of doing to one another if we lose faith in every institution of self-government, especially those into which we are supposed to channel our passions to constructive purpose. Remember, Lincoln said in this speech, which was his last warning to the nation he'd preserved. Remember that we can be killers. Remember that, and you can be strong and powerful enough to not allow it to happen again.

The late historian Michael Kammen likened even the newest Americans to Fortinbras in Hamlet, who declares that he has "some rights of memory in this kingdom." Even the immigrants most lately arrived can, Kammen argued, "have an imaginative and meaningful relationship to the determinative aspects of American history." In the campaign now ongoing, we see successful candidates running against the very notion of what Kammen was talking about. When Trump chants his mantra—"Make America Great Again"—the rest of the slogan is unsaid but obvious. The implied conclusion is "…Before All of Them Wrecked It." And that is what has been selling, all year long, because while the struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting, there is no guarantee that either struggle will end in triumph.

 

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Apr 28 2016

Running with the devil…….

If you have been following my sparse postings lately ( and judging by the hit counter, you haven't) you will know that I am no fan of the junior Senator from the less than great state of Texas, Ted Cruz. In my lifetime, I have seldom seem an individual more vile, self serving, selfish bastard in American politics-and that is saying a lot. Especially when consider the long history of vile, self serving bastards we have had in American politics over the last 240 years.

Ted Cruz

myopic self-righteous, power hungry asshole who won't listen to anyone or change his views no matter the circumstances.

That guy you're dating is a total Ted Cruz. Run for the hills before he defunds your abortion savings account.

by wonkette2016 October 01, 2013

If a bus ran him over on the road, I would really have to think hard about running over to help him, or giving the bus driver a 100 dollars for performing a public service. Even the father of the underworld is wondering about this guy:

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My Canadian Counterpart, whose writing I dearly miss ( and I wish was commenting on this election) had him sized up pretty well back in 2013:

I've never met Ted Cruz, so I can't say as an absolute certainty that he's a psychopathic retard. But because he's a Republican and a Tea Partier, he can't honestly object to either characterization, since both are such a central part of his political base. 

Republicans and Teapers get awfully pissy when I say things like that, but I'm hardly the one that's been in the trenches finding new and ever more self-defeating ways to turn superstition and stupidity into conservative virtues. 

Even before the advent of the Tea Party, supposedly conservative politicians have equated self-promoting ignorance as folksiness, which explains the non-sexual appeal of Sarah Palin perfectly. Christ, when I try to explain to reasonable, intelligent people why I hold conservative positions, I have to bend over backwards to demonstrate that I'm not a fucking yahoo. And that's exhausting because people like Ted Cruz have made it their life's mission to make it exhausting. ………….

But people with normal cognitive functions – including most rational Republicans – have come to loathe Cruz with the power of a thousand suns.

I don't want to see Cruz turned into Robert Taft, the serious conservative that wasn't given a chance. He needs to be Alf Landon, the guy who got beaten within an inch of his fucking life.

 

 

And those are just the printable sentiments I have for him. Under the influence of Scotch I have a whole different view point.

So imagine my surprise when I read that even people who are supposed to be on his side, truly hate the guy. And he really may be spending his summers in the 7th circle of hell:

Much of the discussion – and laughs – focused on Boehner’s views on the current presidential candidates. Segueing into the topic, Kennedy asked Boehner to be frank given that the event was not being broadcasted, and the former Speaker responded in kind. When specifically asked his opinions on Ted Cruz, Boehner made a face, drawing laughter from the crowd.

“Lucifer in the flesh,” the former speaker said. “I have Democrat friends and Republican friends. I get along with almost everyone, but I have never worked with a more miserable son of a bitch in my life.”

On which, Mr Boehner and I are in complete agreement. Wow. Vindication from an very unlikely source.

So given that Satan's image picked a running mate, just the day after he was mathematically eliminated from having a realistic shot at enough delegates to win the nomination, what does Mr. Boehner's pronouncement make Carly Fiorina?

'

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Mar 13 2016

A convenient dodge

The forces of He, Trump conspired to tear apart a piece of Chicago, last night. Never mind that Trump has spent months and months stoking up his crazed supporters to be just this violent-somehow in the minds of many Americans it is the media's fault. Which is how we get such brilliant tidbits of local wisdom like this:

yeah, it's Chicago. Thug City

Not that the Democrats would instigate anything. Chicago politics. A Rahm & BHO special.

If the MSM can inflame it they will.

The media gave rise to Donald Trump simply because he's interesting. The news media have been forced into a 24 hour news cycle that needs to entertain as much or more than provide information. It’s all about ratings and advertising… Nothing better than a cat fight no??

 

It's an interesting point of view and I am quite sure the writers of those phrases have gotten a lot of mileage out of trite little sentences like those. At a minimum, it makes them feel better and it gives them someone to blame. There is just one major problem.

That point of view is 100 percent wrong.

It's wrong for a bunch of reasons and when one gives voice to it, they are showing a real lack of understanding of how news works in the 21st Century. It also shows a complete disregard for the history of journalism and how we got here to where we are today. As I said, its really a convenient dodge to avoid having to admit the truth. Namely, that it was people just like themselves that gave rise to Trump and the sooner they accept responsibility for that societal failure, the better off the rest of us will be. To borrow a phrase from 2012-you built this.

There is no Main Stream Media. Let me repeat that for the learning impaired, THERE IS NO MAIN STREAM MEDIA and there has not been for about 20 years. The term main stream media is just plain flawed. Lets replace it with a more accurate terms. 1) News outlets, 2) crossover outlets and 3) opinion outlets.  The marketplace of news expanded and enabled by the internet, is an immensely diverse place.  Its more like a giant COSTCO. You can get anything in this market. Its up to you the shopper to make intelligent choices. Or not so intelligent choices. Each news product being sold or posted has its strengths and its weaknesses.  Some outlets have quality. Many do not.

Since the dawn of the television age there have been three developments that have forever destroyed the idea of a monolithic news media, liberally biased. The first major development was the tearing down of the "firewall" that existed between News directorates and the corporate end of the broadcasting business. Now in the 50's and 60's there were a limited number of channels and there was a clear division between news and entertainment. The three broadcast networks did news because they understood that as custodians of publicly granted airwaves they owed a public service. Also too-there was still a great number of news reporters who had cut their teeth in print and radio and were committed to a certain set of journalistic standards. Even then there were outliers such as Hearst Papers, but they were few and far between and public opinion combined with a lawsuit or two could usually put them in their place. The key element of journalism, on the whole,  in the period from the 50's to the end of the 70's was the recognition of the idea that producing quality reporting was end to itself-regardless of cost. The quality of the story was what mattered, not the company bottom line or the audience level which, it was assumed would come if you produced a quality product.

This viewpoint began dying in the late 70's and the sickness spread in the 80's due to a number of reasons. One was the deregulation fever that swept the country under Reagan. The number of broadcast outlets increased as cable came online. A key development was the beginning of 24 hour cable news, which meant that speed to the screen became one of the key benchmarks by which is news outlet was judged. It had been that way earlier in TV, however technology, prior to the 80's had kind of acted as an "editor" if you will. The time lag also allowed real editors to correct misinformation and get copy right. All that went out the window in the age of CNN.

The final nail in the journalistic coffin was the advent of the internet, smartphones and the world wide web.  The latter gave rise to blogs and to social media. Suddenly, anyone could be a reporter or an opinion maker. Special training in the skills of writing and editing were no longer required.Coupled with that development was the creation of a news network that was "news" in name only. Its real mission, as Jon Stewart later pointed out to his audience and anyone else who would listen,  was to be a 24 hour a day propaganda delivery system. Thus the "crossover" outlet was created. A network whose business model was to lure advertisers, and to espouse a particular point of view. After a shaky start in 1996, the network took off in the administration of George Bush and pretty much left the "news" part of the business behind.  Because Fox was successful from a money standpoint, other networks like MSNBC followed their business model.

One other point about technology. Smartphones and social media meant that people took in their news in smaller and smaller chunks. The goal for many outlets was click bait.  Reading for content became to many Americans, something they no longer had time for-or they were no longer smart enough to do. Another ugly development in the early 2000's was the advent of news fabricators like Andrew Breitbart. Now it was acceptable to make up the news if it did not meet the criteria of what one wished to report. 

By the end of 2010 the whole mess had become a sad shadow of the journalistic world Edward R. Murrow had created.

So what does all of this have to do with the advent of Trump?

I'm glad you asked. While it is true that the quality of journalism has declined due to technology and the rise of a certain category of fact free blogs, mostly on the conservative side-but also on the left, and it has created a less discerning electorate; it would be wrong to cite that as a reason for Trump's rise to demagogic heights. The role of certain media outlets is merely a symptom of a much bigger disease.

First of all, the "blame it on the media" crowd ignores the reality of the Trump phenomenon. Like it or not-the fact that Trump has been able to make the hideous statements that he has made-and pay no political price for it at the ballot box- is news. And this turn of events has long term implications for the American political system. The news outlets have an obligation to report it. Some outlets do it well and a lot of others do it poorly. Some fan like Fox  the flames.

But the news media is not the ones making Trump successful. They don't have that power. Only voters do and when they vote for Trump they are squandering that power in a manner the Republican party has been fostering for a very long time. A very specific subset of the American people created Trump and they have no one to blame but themselves. They laid the foundations of Trump's no nothing beliefs back during the Bush administration with the "dissent is treason" lines regarding opposition to the Iraq war. They amplified in 2008 when many of them behaved like thugs at Sarah Palin's rallies and not one person in a leadership position stood up to brand it as the criminality it was.

From that point in time, it just went careening over a cliff. As John Cole pointed out in a rebuke to a National Review  worthless piece of shit columnist Charles Cooke:

Either they are too stupid to recognize it, or they don’t want to take the blame, or some combination of both, but they built Trump. It was decades of these stupid mother fuckers shouting about Obama being a secret Muslim or Hillary murdered Vince Foster and Dan Burton shooting a fucking watermelon to prove it to another melon based theory about Mexicans having calves the size of cantaloupes and women wanting to abort babies for shits and giggles and sending rock salt to Olympia Snowe and claiming there is no global climate change because LOOK RIGHT FUCKING HERE I HAVE A SNOWBALL IN FEBRUARY or convincing America that welfare and food stamps only go to young bucks buying t-bone steaks or welfare queens with big screen tv’s or that public transportation is totalitarianism or that the main cost cutting technique of health care reform will be Death Panels or that prison makes you gay or that man and dinosaurs lived together in harmony or that women can magically abort pregnancies created by rape or that scientists are genetically creating human/mice superbrains or that agribusiness is using aborted fetuses in soda or that if gay people marry pretty soon people will be marrying dogs or that Presidents Lincoln and Washington used electronic surveillance and actually writing, promoting, and believing a fucking book that said liberalism is fascism and running this person as a Vice Presidential candidate to claiming with no scientific evidence that vaccines cause autism.

My bad. That last one is a Democrat. Fuck you, Robert Kennedy, you fucking stain on our party and your family name.

But that list is real. I didn’t make any of it up. And that’s just a list of things they BELIEVE IN, and not a comprehensive list of the stupid shit they’ve actually done or the vile things they have said. That’s just too depressing to actually tabulate.

 

That, despite its profanity ( which I actually think helps make the point), is a pretty good summary of the descent of the modern GOP into madness over the last 20 years. And again, these points would never have gotten as much traction as they did, had there not been fertile ground to plant the seed in. The seeds of anti-intellectualism found purchase because a great many people stopped learning.

I am always amazed, that for people who claim to love the free market so much, conservatives never understand this particular reality. If the stupidities put forth by outlets like Fox News, the reprehensible dregs of the Liars Club-assholes like the not so dearly departed Breitbart, John Hinderaker, William Jacobsonworthless whore Michelle Malkin and the rest were not well received by a large audience, they would stop publishing them. If one or two of them actually got nailed in a multi-million dollar lawsuit ( as the estate of Breitbart has) it might make them think twice. One has only to read the slime that passes for their comment sections to know that is not the case. The media, with the exception of Fox is biased towards sensationalism and scandal-but it is the consumer ( yes that is you) who makes that possible.  A large number of people have joined the anti-intellectual bandwagon that the GOP has used to propel itself to electoral victories in areas where stupid people tend to thrive.
 

Could the "media" be better as a whole? Sure it can-but it does not have to be now because it's doing perfectly fine in the garbage pit that is American electoral discourse. That doesn't mean there are not quality news outlets still out there-but one has to be diligent about finding them. And few Americans these days  seem to have the knowledge or abilities to do so.

What about MSNBC or Daily Kos? It happens on the left too!

When someone says that, I know they have no real curiosity whatsoever. The facts just don't support the statement. Only one party is jumping like lemmings over the side of a cliff:

Yes, both parties have become more polarized, but one more than the other. Republicans are more conservative than they have been in over 100 years, have fewer moderates than Democrats, and have changed more, political science research shows — and it’s only getting worse.

While 54 percent of Republicans told Pew last month that their party’s leaders in Washington should be more conservative, most Democrats — 57 percent — say their leaders should be more moderate. Just 35 percent of Democrats say the party should be more liberal.

“While the Democrats may have moved from their 40-yard line to their 25, the Republicans have gone from their 40 to somewhere behind their goal post,” Norm Ornstein of the conservative American Enterprise Institute and Thomas Mann of the Brookings Institution wrote in a Washington Post Op-Ed on congressional dysfunction titled “Let’s Just Say It: The Republicans Are the Problem.”

The current GOP is now well to the right of George H.W. Bush, Ronald Reagan and even Richard Nixon.

 

Blaming the "media" is not just cop out by the folks who do it, it is a failure of people to accept responsibilities for their own actions. We The People-we created Trump by not participating in our democracy and by not being more selective in our choice of elected officials. In the aggregate, The United States of America has a selfish and ill-informed electorate that makes bad choices. And the results are on display this year for all the world to see.

The media didn't do it.

We did.

As the news industry evolves toward a new era, we could do far worse than looking to Ed Murrow again for guidance. Murrow believed that "to be persuasive, we must be believable; to be believable we must be credible; to be credible we must be truthful." The hard fact is that truth doesn't come tailor-made for any one ideology or political party. More examples of independence and character might be what it takes for the news industry to again be trusted as the honest brokers of American politics.

 

Tomorrow: How to be a better news consumer like me. laugh

2 responses so far

Feb 29 2016

Overcome by events

I was going to write a nice non-political post tonight. But tomorrow is Super Tuesday (AKA SEC Primary) and I thought I would remind all present of something they need to know:

IF YOU LIVE IN ONE OF THOSE STATES, GET OFF YOUR ASS AND VOTE!

While I think it matters who you vote for, be sure you get out to vote.

Otherwise, this is who will be deciding your party's nominee for you:

gSJTR4f

I'm sure she has redeeming qualities and all, but it would appear political savvy is not her strong suit.

And if you need more convincing, this broadcast from John Oliver should seal the deal for you. I preempted my other post just to make sure you see it. It is worth your time.

 

 

"Donald Trump is America's back mole"

 

Now go vote!

CcMCvLNW0AAeRY9

3 responses so far

Feb 21 2016

Whistling past the graveyard….

After almost 24 hours of travel back from the Whining States of America, I am back in definitely not sunny Germany. A week in Shopping Mall and  then a week out west. The second week was very frustrating from a work standpoint and makes me very, very, uncertain as to whether I have made the right career choices in my post Navy life. My now whacked out sleep cycle has me awake at 5 AM on a Sunday morning when I should be sleeping.

And to add to my apprehension, more than a little bit, was the time I spent back in the USA watching the insane competition for the highest elected office in the land. Regardless of your political affiliation you should be very, very concerned about what it says for the direction of the country.

Let's start with the fact that the construct of our system leaves a whole lot of qualified candidates unable to gain access to the arena in the first place. This is true on both the Republican side and the Democratic side-but for different reasons. On the Democratic side, the lack of victories at state and local levels, coupled with its leadership in Congress hanging on long past its "sell by" date,  has led to a bench that is not very deep and that situation is not likely to improve in the immediate future. On the GOP side, they have a lot of people available, but the ideological purge of the past ten years coupled with the dumbing down of the Republican electorate by its tea party crazed loons,  has made it virtually impossible for a reasonable man (or woman) candidate to gain much electoral traction.

And certainly we saw that in the recent election results, particularly New Hampshire and South Carolina.

Last night, South Carolina Republican voters turned their back on the two "moderate" candidates in the race. ( Lets be clear:Ben Carson is just a lunatic, hanging on only to burnish his credentials for Fox News). I put the term moderate in quotation marks because despite the folksiness of John Kasich or Jeb! Bush- their actual record on being reasonable is questionable.For example, one should never forget that Kasich was the father of REDUX retirement.

But they do come off as moderate when contrasted to the top three candidates, Trump , Cruz and Rubio-all of whom have spent the past three months arguing who is more able to cut taxes on the rich, carpet bomb the Middle East into a Christian conversion, flood the streets with even more guns,  and make America a corrupt third world plutocracy. All three are very scary and probably the worst thing about them ,  is that none of them projects a viable way to create a sustainable path forward for a country that is increasingly falling behind in both its abilities to take care of its own people,  and compete in a diverse world economy. Trump says nothing specific about what he would do, just repeating,  "Its going to be great". ( Trump will do whatever he wants and really cares little about the views of the average voter-whom he regards as rubes). Cruz and Rubio are both vying to be the next Reagan-without really understanding who Reagan really was. 

On the Democratic side, the outlook is even bleaker. Hillary is trying to position herself as the epic "first woman President" without understanding how much her past really hurts her.  On the other hand, Sanders is whipping up a lot of enthusiasm about fixing some really bad problems with America. He is the only candidate pointing out how much the average American gets screwed by the system. The problem is, for all his great rhetoric, much of what he seeks to achieve is not able to be passed by the current and likely future Congress. So while it sounds good,  and is definitely tapping into a movement of economic apprehension, I can see no way it translates into electoral victory in November. Even if Sanders were to win, the Congress would still be filled with obstructionists and the gridlock of the last eight years will continue. One could say the same thing about Hillary.

Of course, if Trump wins, the same thing could be said on his side. Congress will not be willing to go along with much of his agenda. That said, I am still greatly in doubt as to whether he can win the nomination. If Cruz or Rubio win, however, they will have no problem passing their vindictive agenda will both explode the Federal deficit and crush the average working American.

By the way, I am always amazed at the fact that these two goons get a lot of support from the very people who will be most victimized by the policies they support. I believe this happens because many Americans see themselves as self-reliant and waiting for their millions to come rolling in. They really don't think bad things can happen to them, even though in most cases, when you peel the onion back,  they have been greatly assisted by the government they profess to despise, or they have been the beneficiaries of someone else's money. Self-reliant, my ass. A question needs to be asked, why do working class, low and middle income families, continue to support a party that gives little to no benefit to them?

The Presidential race does not tell the entire story, however, of the peril the United States is in. The real terror comes when you look at the structure that supports the Presidential races, namely state and local contests. When you pull the string on what has happened there, you become genuinely afraid for the future of the United States.

The presidency is extremely important, of course. But there are also thousands of critically important offices all the way down the ballot. And the vast majority — 70 percent of state legislatures, more than 60 percent of governors, 55 percent of attorneys general and secretaries of state — are in Republicans hands. And, of course, Republicans control both chambers of Congress. Indeed, even the House infighting reflects, in some ways, the health of the GOP coalition. Republicans are confident they won't lose power in the House and are hungry for a vigorous argument about how best to use the power they have.

Not only have Republicans won most elections, but they have a perfectly reasonable plan for trying to recapture the White House. But Democrats have nothing at all in the works to redress their crippling weakness down the ballot. Democrats aren't even talking about how to improve on their weak points, because by and large they don't even admit that they exist.

One of the things that I think a lot of the young idealists "Feeling the Bern", have not come to grips with is, the oligarchs who are driving much of conservative ambitions these days, long ago abandoned the idea of getting their agenda in place from the White House. They have worked instead, to marginalize the Presidency and even the Congress- preferring to impose their Hegelian hell on us through the power of State legislatures. If you want a vision of the real future of the United States and your economic well being, you need only look  to the states of Kansas, Wisconsin, or even, South Carolina.

Essentially every state on the map contains overlapping circles of rich people who don't want to pay taxes and business owners who don't want to comply with labor, public health, and environmental regulations. In states like Texas or South Carolina, where this agenda nicely complements a robust social conservatism, the GOP offers that up and wins with it. But in a Maryland or a New Jersey, the party of business manages to throw up candidates who either lack hard-edged socially conservative views or else successfully downplay them as irrelevant in the context of blue-state governance.

One other factor political idealists are forgetting at great peril, is the destructive effect of the apathy of half the electorate that cannot be bothered to vote."The biggest mistake Democrats risk making again is imagining that polls showing voter disgust with Republicans, and a weak stable of Republican presidential candidates, guarantees an easy White House win; except that neither case accounts for the disparate voter turnout in Iowa and New Hampshire."  700,000 people turned out for the South Carolina primary. But remember this is against a total electorate of 2,888,768. South Carolina does not require voters to register by party affiliation-but even assuming a 65%-35% GOP vs Democratic split, that means almost a million people did not vote. That is a scary thought.

It is noteworthy that among one candidate’s supporters, 20 percent said if their hero is not the nominee, they will sit out the general election. With Republican voters already outpacing Democrats, and one faction willing to repeat the 2010 disaster that let the Koch brothers put the tea party in control of Congress, Republicans now have two very easy paths to the White House. It is something that Democrats and Republicans alike are aware of and if the left were not so arrogant and dysfunctional they just might know it too.


What we have now in America is a situation where a minority percentage of sometimes deranged, religiously motivated, economic extremists are able to impose their will on the majority of the population. The agenda they support is very dangerous, more dangerous than the external foreign policy threats to the United States,  in my opinion. South Carolinians just voted for a candidates whose expressed desire is cut off health insurance for 22 million people while cutting taxes for people making millions by an additional $500,000 per year. They seek to engage the country in a series of never ending wars in far off lands, with no real path to stability,  much less victory. If their vision for America succeeds, the Middle Class and the poor will be economically euthanized. Make no mistake about that. As an American I find that prospect very, very, disturbing. How can we believe in an America like this?

A basic philosophy of selfishness is being inculcated into our politics. It will render us incapable of reacting when our democratic patrimony is swindled out from under us. There are thieves abroad in the land, making off with the blessings of the political commonwealth, and their most basic alibi is that it never existed in the first place. Once we accept that as our true history, the future is pretty much lost.

 

2 responses so far

Feb 13 2016

The prodigal son returns

I'm back in shopping mall this week for a variety of reasons. Had some medical stuff done, did some stuff related to the S.O. Permanent Residence Card, and checked on my house.

I also got to sit through rounds of American political commercials as the clock ticks down to the Alabama primary on March 1st.

Take for example this hum dinger of a commercial, designed to appeal to the most stupid among Alabama citizenry.

 

Yea, I'll bet you approved this message, you bible banging freak. Where were your Christian principles when the governor of Alabama was fucking his own citizens out of health insurance?

Christians persecuted? Not in Shopping Mall I can assure you. Just drive up and down Whitesburg Drive. Count the number of churches and note their size. Nobody is getting persecuted here-unless they are not Christian.

We'll skip the number of invocations of the holy of holies, the 2nd Amendment. My pork loving Senator is running them every hour on the hour.

Take this worthless piece of advertising.

 

 

Fuck you fat boy! If I didn't hate Shelby before-this commercial gave me a good reason to. No one ever said prayer would not help-they said that it also  must be accompanied by actions, like limiting the ability of wackos to get guns they have no business having.

This is, without a doubt, the most debased election in America that I have seen in my adult life. Trump? Cruz? Rubio? Heirs to the mantles of great Presidents? Even the Democratic side lacks stature-to our shame. (But they are at least not near as extreme as the current Republican front runners).

How did we get to this state of affairs?

It did not just happen overnight. It came with preparation. It took a lot of dumbing down of America, facilitated by guys like this asshole and jerks like this man along with not so dearly departed Breitbart, all working in concert with Fox News to foster a feeling of disgruntlement and fear. They orchestrated the conservative reaction to the election of President Obama,doing the bidding of wealthy patrons like the Koch Brothers who feel that God gave them some sort of "right" to debase the country. Over time it became a self reinforcing universe, where facts became irrelevant and discussion became impossible.

“Trump is something that could not happen in a nation that could read. This is the full-flower of post-literate politics. There are still individual Americans who can read, a fact for which writers should say daily prayers of gratitude. There are even communities of sort, and not only ladies’ pinot parties loosely organized around ’50 Shades of Grey. Conservatives are great readers, which is why the overwhelmingly left-leaning world of New York City publishing constantly is looking forward to the next offering from Mark Levin or Bill O’Reilly, whose works produce literary profit sufficient to subsidize the careers of any number of poets and high-minded novelists. But we are not a nation that reads, or a nation that shares a living tradition of serious contemporary literature, fiction or nonfiction.”

Williamson continues, pointing to the devolving literary habits of Americans over time. “The American Founders,” he writes, “could have a conversation among themselves because they had in the main all consumed the same library of Greek and Roman classics, British and Continental literature ranging from fiction to political economy, legal literature, and the like. This did not ensure agreement or like-mindedness…What it ensured was literate and enlightened argument.” Nothing to disagree with there. But that “enlightened” culture died a long time ago, and it was in any case rooted in plunder and oppression.

 

This is the world that Breitbart, worthless slime he, and his ilk created. Now they are angry they cannot control the creatures they created.

 "In politics, an absurdity is not a handicap."-Napoleon Bonaparte.

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