Thursday, November 10, 2016

Somebody's President

Here we are, the day after. Everyone still breathing? Good. Some of the hysteria has begun to die down, although I must admit it seems like the nation is still one whisker away from freaking right the fuck out. The protests last night warmed this old patriot’s heart. It was like the Boston Tea Party,  but with less civil disobedience and more I-Phones.  Of course, the corporate media focused on the one idiot who thought that burning the American flag on CNN would be a great background for a protest selfie, thereby undermining any respect the nascent anti-Trump street protest movement might have garnered from the public at large.  Circle that firing squad, lefties!

Speaking of CNN,  I was walking through the kitchen at work this morning and was treated to the spectacle of  a slightly manic  Chris Cuomo interviewing a preternaturally calm Rudy Giuliani about the plans for the first 100 days of Pussygrabber’s administration. Someone was making a smoothie so I couldn’t hear what Rudy was saying, but it dawned on me with considerable sadness that this would not be the last time I see America’s Mayor on CNN holding forth about mass deportation and denying climate change, rather he and the rest of the Basket of Deplorables (Gingrich, Christie, Palen),  would be our constant companions on our upcoming  4 year journey to Mount Doom. As depressing a sight as I have ever seen. Little known fact: I was with Rudy Giuliani on 9/11. By “with him” I mean he was cowering in the basement of 100 Church Street as the second plane hit the Trade Center, as I was walking out the front door. We parted ways soon after. I walked back to Brooklyn after the second tower hit the ground, and he walked into the history books, lauded for something I don’t think he quite deserved. But I digress.

 For years I have tried not to get bogged down in the unseemly battle between the alt-right Republicans and the corporate Democrats. While it wasn’t that hard to pick a side, it was pretty tough to lustily cheer for my team. Without beating the dead horse too soundly, I really thought that the Democrats had turned the corner when Bernie started picking up states in the primaries. I was shocked at his success, and dare I say it, optimistic? Of course, like all things too good to be true, it didn’t last. Bernie was run out of town by Sheriff Wasserman-Schultz, and later trotted around by the Clinton campaign, siphoning off the anger that should have been directed at the DNC for casting him aside. I don’t blame Bernie. If Clinton had won he stood to gain a position where he could have exercised immense influence, well, as long as he didn’t push for anything TOO crazy. With a Trump victory, Bernie goes back to the Senate and back to a role at which he excels, being a pain in the ass. Here’s hoping he gives Paul Ryan and Trump a case of hemorrhoids so bad they can’t sit down until 2020.

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

It's Mourning in America

The Patriot is not surprised. Racism, America’s original sin, staged a coup this election, aided and abetted by the upper middle-class, who decided that aligning themselves with the KKK was preferable to the unseemliness of confronting their own complicity in the subjugation of women and minorities.  In all fairness, it should be noted that 53% of well-educated white women also cast their votes for President Pussygrabber, thereby demonstrating that privilege and class trump, (ahem),   gender and feminism as motivation for selecting a president.

Of course, there is plenty of blame to go around. The Patriot reserves special ire for the DNC and the feckless moderate democrats, who talk a good game when it comes to matters of freedom in the bedroom, but reveal themselves to be fairly conservative when provided with an actually progressive candidate like Bernie Sanders.  Whether Bernie would have won against Trump is an open question. I believe he would have, others think not, but I sure would have preferred to go down swinging rather than have the hopes of my children dashed on the rocks of a bland, mediocre candidate like Hillary Clinton.

The magnitude of this loss is still seeping in. This morning I contemplated an FBI under the control of a paranoid, demented Rudy Giuliani, and a Department of Justice under the control of Chris Christie. To say nothing of the fate of a Supreme Court to which Trump may have up to four appointments.  What else? He has already named prominent climate change denier Myron Ebell of the Competitive Enterprise Institute to lead his transition work at the EPA and fossil fuel lobbyist Mike McKenna for the Department of Energy. Worse to come, I’m sure.

While backlash racism accounted for a large  part of that heretofore hidden Trump vote, (really a latent anti-Obama vote), additional blame can be laid at the feet of the Democratic Party, who long ago abandoned the interests of the white working class (hell, the entire working class), to focus on  cultivating their relationships with Goldman Sachs and Wall Street. As Thomas Frank wrote in an excellent article in the Guardian  this morning, “Maybe it’s time to consider whether there’s something about shrill self-righteousness, shouted from a position of high social status, that turns people away.” Yes, do look into that, Democratic leaders.

Bernie knew. He so clearly defined the problem and offered a real solution that the party elites couldn’t possibly accept. Turn away from elitism and embrace the working class. They couldn’t swallow it and that’s why they destroyed him. Red-baited him from the left. Clinton couldn’t even bring herself to support a $15 an hour minimum wage for Christ’s sake. There was more anti-Bernie rhetoric coming from moderate Democrats than there was from Republicans. I spoke to more than one Trump voter who said if Bernie was running they would have voted for him. He understood them. He cared about them. She cared about getting elected. The general election was over the minute she became the nominee.

I don’t know what’s in store for us over the next four years. My hope is that the turgid nature of our political system will wear Trump down like it does to everyone else who takes office with grand ideas, only to be confronted with the reality that governing is really, really hard. Running a country is not like running a corporation. You need to be able to forge consensus to get anything done.  Maybe he decides after one term that his talents are better used elsewhere. We can only hope.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Millionaire Tax Relief

Julian Assange has been released from a British prison and is now giving interviews from the splendid estate where he is confined under what his lawyer describes as “mansion arrest.” He is, as he should be, unrepentant and feisty, pledging more document releases and legal battles. If only the Democrats in the White House and Congress had one tenth the backbone of a Julian Assange the poor in this country might stand a fighting chance.

Unfortunately, such strength is in short supply down in DC, where the Democrats capitulated late last night, passing Obama’s millionaire tax relief bill after token opposition from the so-called “liberal” caucus. Arguments have been made by the “less liberal” caucus that this bill was a necessity to ensure that unemployment insurance could be extended, but no matter how much lipstick you slather on that pig, it’s still a pig. This bill creates no jobs and, with its supposedly temporary payroll tax holiday, basically guarantees that the social security trust fund will become insolvent. Republicans are not stupid. Mean, arrogant, batshit crazy, yes, but stupid, no. They know that starving Social Security now will make it all that much easier to sell a gullible public on the idea that there is an urgent need for “reform”, which would likely take the form of privatized accounts with the certainty of Wall Street involvement.

Some Democrats recognize the danger. From the Times:

“Representative Jerrold Nadler, Democrat of New York, said he feared the one-year cut in the Social Security payroll tax, to 4.2 percent from 6.2 percent on income up to $106,800, would weaken Social Security because Republicans would insist on it being made permanent, and Democrats would relent. “We know that politically once you make that tax cut it will be impossible to restore it,” Mr. Nadler said.”

It’s interesting, and a little pathetic, that Nadler takes it for a given that the Democrats will roll over on the issue of restoring the tax, but he’s probably correct. Certainly there’s nothing in the recent actions of Congress or the Administration that would lead one to believe they’re spoiling for a fight. On anything.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Keeping an Eye on Things

 Sorry folks, I’ve been a little off this week. I’ve been fighting a cold that’s taken some zing out of my stinger and I’ve been running around after work a bit lately. It doesn’t mean I’ve given up being outraged and disgusted, but my body has been permitting a little less outrage these past few days.

With the help of Michael Moore and some other members of the Hollywood set, Julian Assange was granted bail yesterday, yet he continues to sit in prison so the government can appeal the judges ruling. So it goes.  If that poor bastard gets out of prison before the US Government indicts him and hauls him off to Gitmo he should consider himself lucky. Meanwhile, Wikileaks keeps churning out the hits. Cable after cable proving that the cynical leftists were essentially right about, well, almost everything. Yet the administration is pissed off because someone turned over their rock and shined a light on the snakes underneath. Amazing. This government has extended the Bush administration’s full frontal assault on civil liberties without apology. Wikileaks is just their big fat chicken flying home to roost for the holidays. Michael Moore in his letter explaining why he contributed to Assange’s bail fund said, “Openness, transparency -- these are among the few weapons the citizenry has to protect itself from the powerful and the corrupt.” Is it any surprise that the powerful and corrupt are calling for show trials and executions? Nah.

Moore goes on to aptly describe what I think is the real benefit to having Wikileaks out there firing rhetorical missiles into the heartland-the possibility for future government restraint.

“Might WikiLeaks cause some unintended harm to diplomatic negotiations and U.S. interests around the world? Perhaps. But that's the price you pay when you and your government take us into a war based on a lie. Your punishment for misbehaving is that someone has to turn on all the lights in the room so that we can see what you're up to. You simply can't be trusted. So every cable, every email you write is now fair game. Sorry, but you brought this upon yourself. No one can hide from the truth now. No one can plot the next Big Lie if they know that they might be exposed.”

I agree that the government needs to be exposed, but unlike Moore I’m not entirely convinced that they’ll change their ways overnight, certainly not without a constant parade of Private Mannings and Julian Assanges holding the torch up to their misdeeds. Repressive governments are like vampires. Once you turn the lights out they’ll come slinking back in the dark to resume sucking your blood. They can’t help it. It’s their nature, the poor dears.

Remember people, whether you accept the paradigm or not, there is a class war going on in this country. It’s the wealthy and powerful against the rest of us, just like it’s always been. You don’t have to take my word for it.  Here’s the unvarnished opinion of the incoming chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, Spencer Bachus, R-Ala., who told the Birmingham news that "in Washington, the view is that the banks are to be regulated, and my view is that Washington and the regulators are there to serve the banks."

At least he's intellectually honest. That must count for something.

Monday, December 13, 2010

A Taxing Plan

Obama’s capitulation on tax breaks for the rich has finally gotten some of the mainstream Democrats pissed off to the point where they are articulating sentiments heretofore unheard in the polite company of the two party system. Here’s one unhappy Obama voter: 

“At this point, only 3 kinds of people think their vote counts for anything: 1) the absurdly naive, 2) the authoritarian cheerleader, and 3) the perpetually stupid. Pick your category.”

That bit of cynical wisdom comes from a comment made on responding to an article by former Labor Secretary Robert Reich, which concluded that anyone who still sees government as our last bulwark against privilege and power is aghast at Obama's tax deal.

Nevertheless, the unwashed masses actually support the tax plan, probably because they aren’t mentally tying that 2% payroll tax holiday to the cat food they’re going to be eating when social security goes belly-up. Well, live for the moment has always been the American way.

The government giveth and the government taketh away. Citizens in New York won’t see that much in savings even with the tax cut. The $67 to $178 a month you'll be saving will just go to things like fare hikes and parking meters. One financial planner opined that, "It sounds like you'll be able to live a better life—but when you work it out, it doesn't create any new disposable income." The dirty secret about taxes is that you will never, ever get a real break. The less money the feds have to give to the states, the more local taxes will rise to meet local expenses. It’s a shell game, and you are the nut.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Way Over Yonder in the Monarchy

Things are starting to heat up in Europe. Last night Prince Charles and his wife were taking the Rolls out for a spin when they were set upon by a mob of socialists and anarchists with pitchforks. The crowd was chanting “off with their heads” and “Tory Scum” while smashing the car’s windows and attempting to drag the royal personages into the street to administer a little mob justice. A commenter at the NY Times noted that this might be the first attack on members of the Royal Family on the streets of London since George III's carriage was attacked en route to the opening of Parliament in October 1795. You remember George the III; he was King at the time of the American Revolution. Plus ca change.

The look of utter shock on the royal faces was pretty telling. It was the same startled look of privileged people everywhere who are confronted with agitated serfs. In their heart of hearts the uber-rich and powerful believe that poor and working class people owe them a free life of luxury. Thus, the incredible consternation when they realize the people would just as soon string them up as look at them.  Let’s hope the privileged have many more such shocking surprises in their near future.

The attempted regicide occurred after a day of pitched battles between students and police on the streets of London. It is unfortunate that the attack on the royals has diverted some attention from the fact that England appears to be convulsed in chaos, largely brought on by the government’s attempts to restore the economy on the backs of the workers and students. The students, quite rightly, see the writing on the wall and realize that if the government isn’t stopped now, England will start to resemble the United States, with no healthcare and unattainably expensive higher education. Another commenter on the Times web site hit the nail on the head:

“Why shouldn't the students attack Prince Charles's limousine, paid for no doubt by tax money that could be used to subsidize higher education tuition? English students don't want their educational system becoming Americanized: available to those with money, a heavy if not impossible burden for those who don't.”

Back here in the colonies, the silence has been deafening. We’re all too busy staring at our little screens and venting our frustrations on Facebook to be bothered to get out in the streets and fight for our due. The government is well aware of citizen apathy and takes full advantage thereof. Yesterday I heard a Republican, Jim DeMint float a proposal to make unemployment insurance into a loan, rather than an entitlement, to be paid back with interest and administered by Wall Street.  You would think that in a country with 10% unemployment this would elicit howls of protest from the citizenry. You would think, but you would be wrong.

The only thing that gives me a glimmer of hope, just a glimmer mind you, is that the comments on the last few articles in the Times about the European protests are brimming with barely contained anger at the government. With the Obama tax sellout and the coming evisceration of the social safety net, it feels like we’re sitting on a big pile of gunpowder.  I just wonder who is going to light the match.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Free Speech Under Fire

One of the most valuable things to come out of the Wikileaks brouhaha is that average citizen can finally observe the lengths to which the Unites States government will go to squelch speech that doesn’t agree with the sanctioned narrative. Usually the government uses dirty tricks against someone they’ve defined as a pain in the ass, well outside of the media glare. Tactics like destroying someone’s reputation and sending them down the road to financial ruin have typically been reserved for the more marginal left wing activists, who were unlikely to garner much sympathy from the general public in any event. Here, we have an intelligent, charismatic anarchist who cleans up well and looks good on television-a totalitarian government’s worst nightmare. As a consequence, they were forced to use their biggest guns, and fire them in full view of the media.

Obama’s government, (let’s not lose sight of that salient fact), has thus far exerted pressure on Mastercard, Visa, Paypal, Twitter, the Swiss Banking and legal institutions and the mainstream media, sufficient to drive Wikileaks to the brink of nonexistence, all because it was doing what journalists are supposed to do-report the news. I seem to remember learning way back in civics class that a free press was a vital component of a free society.  The fact that most of the media outlets in this country have abdicated any pretense that they are still practicing anything resembling investigative journalism, seems to have given the government the idea that they are free to squash dissent with cavalier impunity.

Even I was taken aback by Lieberman’s call to investigate whether criminal charges could be brought against the NY Times for publishing the Wikileaks cables, but I guess that is part of the whole plan to re-frame the debate. Two weeks ago, Wikipedia was regularly described in the media as “whistleblowers”. Over the past week, news organizations Reuters, NBC, and the Associated Press have formally decided to stop identifying WikiLeaks as a "whistleblower" organization. Clearly, the media is attempting to turn public opinion to the government’s view of Wikipedia, that is, that they are cyber terrorists.

From the Atlantic: “Gawker's Ryan Tate thinks it is telling that the three news outlets amended their style guidelines to fit with the White House's official characterization of the leaks. "What a coincidence!" he marvels. Tate is also skeptical of the AP's claim that "a website that specializes in displaying leaked information" is a clearer and more accurate designation. "[That] rolls right off the tongue," Tate scoffs.”

Language is power. If you can frame the issue with your language, you’ve won more than half the battle in the court of public opinion. Here, the government has pressed the bankers and the media into service to achieve its totalitarian aim to stifle dissent. This should be resisted firmly by every patriot worthy of the name.