il Duce Trump

Amazing isn’t it? The more audacious he is the more ardent his followers become. I know at least one – a woman that I know through a friend of mine. Sez she: “Trump is the best thing to happen to America in a long time.” Actually, forever. We’ve never had fascist that has resonated so well with the radical right of this country. We’ve never seen a Donald Trump because we’ve never before tolerated one to get this far. He is categorically the closest thing to a Benito Mussolini type fascist we’ve ever seen.

From a WaPo op/ed penned by Dana Milbank (Dec 8):

Trump’s chin-out toughness, sweeping right-hand gestures and talk of his “huge” successes and his “stupid” opponents all evoke the Italian dictator’s style. Monday’s breathtaking announcement that he would block all Muslims from entering the United States has many pointing out the obvious fascist overtones.

Milbank isn’t alone in his worry. Ted Koppel took the unusual approach to appear on Fox News the other day with this barb:

Well… the fact of the matter is that he and Benito Mussolini have this sort of arrogant approach in which they say very little in terms of substance, but the manner in which they say it gets the crowds excited.

Back to the woman who thinks that Trump is god’s gift. I pointed out his well-known racist remarks and asked her if that was a reason to worry. “No,” sez she. “He’s no more a racist than anyone else.” HUH? Then I ran across an op/ed by Josh Marshall on the Talking Points website.

I continue to believe that Trump’s embrace of racism, anti-Mexican immigrant bigotry and Islamophobia is largely opportunistic. My only hesitation in calling it cynical is that I think Trump may be the type who, once he finds something convenient to say, then starts to believe it.

Opportunistic racism. I was gobsmacked. That’s like saying you’ll sell your soul for a beer. Hate for fiat however misdirected, may seem logical for one driven for power. Machiavelli (another Italian) pointed this out in his treatise The Prince:

Men judge generally more by the eye than by the hand, for everyone can see and few can feel. Every one sees what you appear to be, few really know what you are.

So, in other words, we can say anything to get ahead, so long as the illusion of the eye is maintained. Yep. Sounds about right. And it comports well with the one from Mussolini himself:

You must always be doing things and obviously succeeding. The hard part is to keep people always at the window because of the spectacle you put on for them. And you must do this for years.

Il Duce Donald.

Barry Goldwater Was Right

I recall my dad’s quips about Barry Goldwater – laced with profanity and superlative, he had some pretty harsh things to say about a man he though betrayed the country. My dad wasn’t what you’d call a hardcore Republican, but he definitely sympathized with “the cause.” Which is weird because my dad was also an atheist. But I digress. Imagine my surprise as I grew into adulthood to find that although Barry wasn’t the more statesmanlike of statesmen, he had some pretty insightful things to say about the Radical Right.

A set of them comes from a speech he gave in 1981, summarized in the New York Times, September 16, 1981. In this first clip, he despairs over the Radical Right’s unwillingness to compromise. Tell me if you think this sounds familiar:

There is no position on which people are so immovable as their religious beliefs. There is no more powerful ally one can claim in a debate than Jesus Christ, or God, or Allah, or whatever one calls this supreme being. But like any powerful weapon, the use of God’s name on one’s behalf should be used sparingly. The religious factions that are growing throughout our land are not using their religious clout with wisdom.

In the same speech, he goes on to decry how they control the political dialog:

I’m frankly sick and tired of the political preachers across this country telling me as a citizen that if I want to be a moral person, I must believe in “A,” “B,” “C” and “D.” Just who do they think they are? And from where do they presume to claim the right to dictate their moral beliefs to me?

This is 1981, mind you; the very apex of the movement that Jerry Falwell dubbed the “Moral Majority” and that Pat Robertson tried to appropriate for his own presidential bid in 1988. Although Falwell and Robertson did not have compatible views on Christianity, they were in lock step where governance was concerned. They envisioned a CHRISTIAN United States of America. That’s probably why Goldwater rankled at the pressure he and other “old school” Republicans had to endure for political and financial support.

I’m sure that as he saw the closing years approach, Goldwater became somewhat bitter about how he was thrown aside by the Radical Right. That bitterness comes out in this well-trod, oft-cited Goldwater gem from John Dean’s book Conservatives Without Conscience (2006):

Mark my word, if and when these preachers get control of the [Republican] party, and they’re sure trying to do so, it’s going to be a terrible damn problem. Frankly, these people frighten me. Politics and governing demand compromise. But these Christians believe they are acting in the name of God, so they can’t and won’t compromise. I know, I’ve tried to deal with them.

Yet, there’s a better, more prophetic view from an interview published in the Washington Post, July 29, 1994.

When you say “radical right” today, I think of these moneymaking ventures by fellows like Pat Robertson and others who are trying to take the Republican Party away from the Republican Party, and make a religious organization out of it. If that ever happens, kiss politics goodbye.

Given all of the evidence – the vitriol that has surrounded Obama since Day One of his administration, the hateful things that the Radical Right has committed against Hillary Clinton and other Democrats (and even several Republicans) that the soul of the Republican Party is no longer has the best interest of America and for Americans?

The Latest GOP Furor

I have always wondered how so many Germans could fall for Hitler’s hateful drivel. After watching GOP presidential candidates, and in particular, Herr Donald, now I understand. Now I know. It’s shocking how a highly evolved society like America can devolve into such utter hateful ideas. They can’t win on pure ideology: Trickle Down obviously does not work. The Christian divide is only making things worse (e.g., Gays, Abortion, Education). Obamacare has proven to be a better alternative over what Americans had before. The science for Global Warming and Climate Change is accepted by everyone except the GOP/Tea Party. The Hitler gambit is the only option. In Germany, they blamed the Jews. Now they want to blame Muslims.

Lessons from Greece: Austerity and Trickle Down Economics Do Not Work

There are pundits who use Greece as an example of how not to run a country. I’ll use Germany on how not to make lasting unions.

Germany’s financial institutions – the lenders, investors, regulators, negotiators, and politicos – are the ones driving the lesson of austerity. It’s been a hard lesson for Greek politicians. But it’s been a painful one for the common Greek people.

The Greek economy has gone through the shredder – contracting by a stunning 25% since austerity measures have been put into place seven years ago. This has not helped Greeks repay their debt and it has actually made things a lot worse. It’s true that Greeks have a poor record on tax collection and that tax reform is probably long overdue, but at this point of the game, how do you squeeze water out of a rock?

Yet, even as the pain of poverty laps up around the legs of the common Greek worker, the Germans have demanded even more austerity measures than before – and this was during earlier negotiations. This is why we’re at the Grexit scenario – a full or partial departure of a valuable NATO partner.

What does a “Grexit” mean to us? According to some folks who keep eyes on global strategy issues, Greece is already sliding closer to Russia, which is bad for NATO. If you care at all about global military strategy – something bad for NATO means that it’s probably bad for US.

Americans should also take heed that austerity doesn’t work, trickle-down economics doesn’t work (period), and unrest follows when things get bad enough.

What does austerity do? It shrinks payrolls, reduces worker benefits, and in the case such as Greece – it tends to eliminate good paying jobs. And what happens when you shrink payrolls, reduce worker benefits, and eliminate jobs? Economies tend to not grow.

What does trickle-down economics do? For the common worker – nothing. But it does ensure steady cash flows to the wealthy. Do the wealthy spend money? Sure. But as our own experience has shown us, the outflows are no nearly enough to bolster real economic growth.

Is it any surprise that Greeks have revolted over the thought of handing over BILLIONS of Euros to creditors in the form of interest payments? The Greeks have rejected Euro bank polices that would chain common workers to decades of debt repayment. More power to the Grecian people – they’ve figured it out.  And they’ve put a name to their suffering and it is German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The list of credits should also include the cadre of heartless “profit at any cost” financiers who are squarely responsible for everything that happens next.

In the U.S., we have a name to put to our lackluster economy and horribly distorted distribution of wealth and it is every Republican, Tea Partier, and Libertarian who has put their name of government shutdowns and forced budget sequestration. Like the Germans, the GOP has repelled civil policy-making and, thus, repelled civil negotiations with the workers of America.

Americans have learned, as have the Greeks, that the ideology of austerity and trickle-down economics is bad for economies, bad for workers, and bad for civil society. Austerity and trickle down economics do not work – they’ve never worked. It’s time that we stop believing that they ever will.

The Artful Blogger

Clayton Thomas Kelly is back in the news. In May 2014, Kelly was involved with a nefarious cabal of political thugs who wanted to replace Mississippi Senator Thad Cochran (R) with Tea Party favorite State Sen Chris McDaniel. June 14, 2015 he was sentenced for 2.5 years for a stunt that reveals much about the Tea Party and the Neocons who run it.

I say nefarious on account that what this little group pulled was not only socially unacceptable, it was illegal.

Court records and news outlets have reported that Clayton Kelly (28), who labored under the name “Constitutional Clayton”, was an ambitious blogger who wanted to get noticed. Kelly got the attention he dreampt about. He connected with a handful of McDaniel’s ardent supporters and was commissioned to break into a nursing home and shoot video of Thad Cochran’s ailing wife who was suffering from dementia – all in an effort to spin up a rumor that Cochran had a mistress.

Why, you ask, would anyone want pull a stupid stunt like this? Enter Richard Sager – school teacher, raging Tea Party boy – and John Bert (aka John Mary) – a former radio talk show host and local Tea Party leader. Apparently, John Bert was the main inspirator, along with cohorts Mark Mayfield (who committed suicide after his arrest in the case) and Elaine Vechorik, a died-in-the-wool fan of McDaniel’s. Richard Sager was the handler.

As of today, there are still some lingering questions about Chris McDaniel’s involvement. Apparently, McDaniel’s campaign manager, Melanie Sojourner, knew about Kelly’s arrest well before the story broke.

If you want details, check out the sources:

The Clarion-Ledger, Jun 16 ’15: Cochran Photo Case Messages: “Chris not happy. Delete everything” 

The Clarion-Ledger, Jun 16 ’15: Kelly gets 2.5 years in Cochran photo case

Talking Points Memo, May 21 ’14: Meet The Blogger Who Risked it all For A Mississippi Tea Party Candidate

Slate, May 18 ’14: Arrest of Blogger for Taking Pictures of Senator’s Ill Wife Rattles Republican Party

Post Election Perspective

Source: Yahoo
Source: Yahoo

I held off making any remarks about the various political races because – well, to be honest – there was enough opinion floating about on both sides, it just seemed unnecessary.

But now that the election is over with – the yard signs are coming down, the banners are being rolled up – I have new concerns and observations.

Until Obama, no party – democrat OR republican – shouted “You lie!” during a State of the Union Speech. Until Obama, no party used more filibusters during a single Congress than during the previous 100 years. Until Obama, no party ever threatened to refuse to extend the debt ceiling – regardless of which party the president belonged to.

One of the problems that the Republicans had with criticizing Obama for his previous 4 years is that the American people KNEW that the GOP/Tea Party resisted working with him on ANYTHING. We remember what Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell said, even before Obama took office, that the number one goal of the GOP was to prevent Obama from getting a second term.

What did we end up with? Fixes for the economy came slowly. We failed to lower the deficit – in fact, it got worse and that (in my book) is due to GOP foot dragging that retarded economic growth, thus federal tax revenues. The consequence of these failures resulted in moribund employment growth, more foreclosures, more misery. The tactic to keep Obama to one term caused more pain on the American people – especially minorities.

The fact that we are now recovering is a testament to how much Obama actually accomplished in spite of the concerted GOP/Tea Party resistance. And boy, did they put up a fight. But here’s the thing – despite the billions that the GOP/Tea Party spent, despite the steams of ads, punditry, and posturing – they lost. And they lost big. Obama not only soundly won the electoral college, he also won the popular vote. Moreover, the democrats are stronger in both Senate and House. Here’s something though that the GOP strategists must be shocked about: Democrats won solid majorities in both houses of the California Assembly – in fact, at the time of this writing – it appears that the Dems are going to end up with supermajorities in both houses. The last time a single party held a supermajority in both houses of the California legislature was in 1933, when the Republicans controlled the legislature. Democrats held a supermajority in both houses back in 1883.

Maybe had the GOP tried to work with Obama, the economy would be buzzing along and most Americans wouldn’t be blaming them for all the pain they caused.

Just sayin. By the way, “Hooray, for our side!”


Apeshit Teabagging Nitwits

Cuss words. “The quality or state of being profane.” See also desecration or disrespect toward an object of religious veneration. One utterance can be a single word, a general expression or gesture. The Chinese tend to be more poetic than Americans or their European cousins, dashing insulting haiku in rude and vulgar strains. Blasphemy is handy for damning one person or his whole frakking family. And here’s a conundrum – why is it that profanity from a man is more acceptable than from a woman? Shit man… equality!

In polite cultures, profanity can involve taboo words. Over the course of time, some words that were originally considered profane have become much less offensive. Meanwhile, some formerly common words have worked their way into profanity. Still others, like racial or ethnic epithets, is considered hate speech generally not tolerated by society, unless you have a screw loose for purity.

Anyhow, there is poetry found profanity – even American. I think of it as folk poetry laced into American heritage like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.  Common, but also very much a part of the cultural fabric. And its absence is pretentious and unnatural.

There is an etymological a pattern to cussing. Like my dad (and his father), anything and anybody can be a “sonovabitch.”  The poetry of cussing requires that the user know how to intensify his feeling with certain adjectives. If “sonuvabitch” is treated as a root, then you can plainly see the transformation:

A friend in an amusing situation may be called “that damn sonovabitch” or just “that sonovabitch” followed by a loud guffaw.  An acquaintance that you know nothing about except for an amusing situation may be labeled “that goddamn sonovabitch” or “that damn sonovabitch” depending upon the given situation.

A person with whom the community holds a general disregard may be “that stupid goddamn dumass sonovabitch” or simply “dumbass sonovabitch.” A person who has earned some measure of infamy may be labeled “that fucking goddamn stupid sonovabitch” or “fucking stupid sonovabitch” or “stupid fucking sonovabitch” depending on the user’s mood and object of notoriety.

The next level of language engenders levels of personal irritation especially when theses words are added to the mix: “socialist,” “democrat,” and (my favorite of late), “liberal.” which may or may not be combined with variations of “Shit for brains socialist,” “Shithead democrat,” or “dumbass liberal” depending upon the intended purpose and prose, and our all time favorite: the Libtard.

Of course, this socialist liberal may retort with his own poetry in uttering something along the lines of “most of these apeshit teabagging nitwits wouldn’t know a serious fucking issue if it came up and bit them in their goddamned stupid asses.”

By the way, the whole point of this exercise is to display my general disdain for all things TP. I have yet to meet one that grasps the mere comprehension of (a) true socialism nor (b) the meaning of liberalism.  And THEY think Obama is their problem?