Engineering the Apocalypse

endofdayssatan big Monster Legacy

Republicans find it difficult to believe that human activity can affect earth’s climate. They have their own reasons for this point of view, which seem to depend more on economics than science. They argue that puny humans are like fleas to forces as great as the ones that run the cosmos. (Well tell that to the sea birds who are feeding their babies plastic pellets.) But apparently, Evangelicals have more power at their command than the average human. They believe they can engineer the apocalypse.

So when Evangelicals (not all, some) try to move the pace of world events along more briskly in order to hurry along the “end times” as depicted in Revelations, they are happy to believe that certain Christian humans can speed up the pace of the universe and make the Rapture and the Millennium happen now – predetermination be damned. Suddenly puny humans are not depicted as quite so helpless.

No wonder Evangelicals are all smiles now that Trump has moved the American Embassy to Jerusalem. Palestinians have no role in the events leading up to the “end times”. However, Israel, according to whoever authored Revelations (of course, with divine input), has an enormous role to play in the end times. Even though Jews who refuse to convert will not survive, the establishment of a Jewish state in Jerusalem is key to the apocalypse, which follows the saving of the saved, the 2ndcoming of the Messiah, and the 1000 years of theocracy that precede the apocalypse on the “end of days” timeline.

An article in the Daily Beast examines this particular corner of the Evangelical movement. Apparently these beliefs have been held to be secrets, although Michele Bachmann used to go on about “the Rapture” with a big old stoned-looking rapturous smile on her face as her party shut down the government. Secrecy is hardly an issue, though, when the timeline of events leading up to the return of the Messiah and subsequent events are available for anyone to see in the Bible and in the 497,000 hits on this topic which result from an internet search.

According to Candida Moss, writing on 5/19/2018 in the DailyBeast this particular set/sect of Evangelicals believes that Hitler did Christians a favor when he killed the Jews in the Holocaust because the backlash against his actions gave the world the state of Israel, an important step towards the end of days. (Except, I always believed that Christians, who follow the examples of Jesus, could never be this self-absorbed.)

I remember some awe expressed in religious circles when the EU was formed – another prerequisite met on the way to the Rapture. Evangelicals are certain that they will be taken up to heaven right then and there, before mass destruction is even on the menu. There are a few pesky details about the number of nations who have to be in the EU to meet the requirements for the end of days. There is a bit of a debate about whether the number has been met. Did Brexit mess up the grand design of the Evangelicals?

These fairly extreme Evangelicals are, sadly for us, quite political because, in order to tamper with world events, they need governments to help. They apparently believe that Donald Trump will help speed up the 2ndcoming because he has promised to do just that. They have fed Donald their “party line” and he buys it. No wonder he is not worried about climate change. He may also be waiting for the Rapture.

rapture2 big King of the Net

Surely God will bring us the end times before climate change can rob God of his dramatic finale. Donald understands show business. He seems willing to help speed up the milestone events that will lead to those end days, the days that Evangelicals say will favor them above all others. This time they think they are the “chosen ones”. And they seem to have made Donald an honorary Evangelical.

However, we wonder, can Evangelicals make the end arrive faster by having humans engineer the steps on the pathway to apocalypse, or do they have to occur organically? If human activity cannot cause climate change how can human scheming hasten the end the Lord has designed? If you see Evangelicals piling on to events that seem unrelated to them, check your Bible. We’re very close apparently. This sounds like a conspiracy theory but it might be an actual, although wacky, strategy.

I don’t know about you but I have never wanted to live in a theocracy, so I am fairly certain where I will be heading come the Millennium. If these people, with their Evangelical privilege, are correct about their place in the Christian hegemony I will be more than happy to miss that spectacle.

This video explores some of the other relationships between Evangelicals and Trump:

Women, Trump, Religion, Money

 

EB Evangelicals filmstr

You may wonder why Evangelicals don’t oppose 45, whose “sins” are coming home to roost and lowering the tone of our national discourse. But you don’t have to travel too far in your thinking to understand that Trump’s misogyny is tailor-made for furthering the policies of fundamentalist Christians. Iowa just passed a law that makes it a crime to have an abortion after 6 weeks. So far no one has overturned this law which violates the intent of Roe v Wade, a law with Supreme Court clout behind it. Perhaps this is true because Trump is packing Federal courts with conservatives as quickly as Congress can confirm them.

Evangelicals and Trump seem to agree that women are the root of much of the evil in American society. When women went to work families fell apart, they claim. Many conservatives feel that the demise of the nuclear family changed the entire tenor of American society and not for the better. They blame the disruptions to the nuclear family on educating women for careers that take their focus away from preserving close families. They also blame this statistical piece of data about fewer nuclear families on women’s liberation and feminism, birth control and legal abortion. But the true roots of this story, at least for these originalists, are in the Garden of Eden. Women led men into the original sin.

Some Evangelicals tend to also be white supremacists (these days) who bemoan the lack of large white families, the dearth of women who are baby factories turning out white infants to keep America white. I don’t know if you have been reading David Brooks in the NYT’s. While I would never identify Brooks as a white supremacist, he does feel that American values and our whole national psyche suffered as families lost strength. He places a lot of the blame on technology but behind his Luddite arguments are the missing elements that supposedly gave America, once upon a time, it’s sense of community. Those missing elements are moms and religion (the role of the church in community life). When women went to work, white women stopped having babies, that is the crux of the matter for Evangelicals, for white supremacists, and perhaps, in a different way, even for David Brooks.

Beyond that there is, of course, a religious belief that abortion is wrong, that God doesn’t like it and that it is probably a mortal sin, even though mortal sin is more a Catholic thing than an evangelical thing. Many believe that if they let women abort babies they are dooming their immortal soul and will never be accepted in Paradise when they leave this life. So they dictate what others can do because they feel they must for both reasons of faith and to insure their passage into heaven.

Lately Evangelicals have decided that life is so sacred that it is wrong to use birth control. Just as some schools are moving back to preaching abstinence; women are being burdened with a message that links abortion and birth control. Evangelicals seems to be saying to women, if you don’t want babies don’t be promiscuous; if you get pregnant, regardless of the circumstances, have the baby. Most of this enormous burden of judgmental religiosity is coming from men, who are responsible for every baby ever born and for the circumstances under which they are conceived (at least most of the time). Allowing this message to have power over women’s lives sends them spiraling backwards to pre-contraception days.

Donald Trump lives deep in the old Madonna-whore complex. Wives are placed on a pedestal and treated like queens (for a while at least) and other women who like their sexuality, or who exploit their sexuality, or who are exploited for their sexuality are Donald’s whores. He may also treat them well for a while, but they are not supposed to have children by him and they are definitely not squired about for public consumption. If they did get pregnant, which could happen because his pleasure comes without protection, I assume an abortion would suddenly gain favor.

And so, not totally by surprise we find this article at salon.com

https://www.salon.com/2018/05/17/is-donald-trump-literally-selling-off-womens-human-rights-for-personal-profit/

“The slow drip-drip of revelations about exactly how deep Donald Trump was in with the Russians comes out on top of a veritable sea of corruption stories flooding out of the White House. But one scandal that’s getting less attention might end up having more dramatic impacts in the long run. It could end up drastically undermining women’s rights to get abortions, to prevent unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases, and even to protect themselves from cancer. New evidence suggests that Trump is, in effect, selling off women’s rights to religious fundamentalists, and personally profiting from doing so.”

It is certainly true that women’s rights have moved far down on the list of media priorities. There are so many attacks on various aspects of American traditions, laws, and practices that we mostly feel like victims of whiplash. Sleaze sells better than outrage. With hush money changing hands and Stormy Daniels piquing interest or moral judgment, and lawyers dominating our news cycles women’s issues, never of great interest to anyone other than women, have fallen by the wayside. (Although, of course, the treatment of Stormy Daniels, et al, is a women’s issue.)

“It’s not unusual, especially in the era of dark money, for special interests to buy off candidates by spending lavishly on campaigns. But with the SBA List’s hotel choice and questions about the Trump-inauguration money’s final destination, there’s strong reason to worry that Trump is simply profiting directly from influence-peddling. What anti-choice activists appear to be getting in exchange is terrifying: An all-out assault on legal abortion and affordable contraception that could roll back decades of progress for women’s autonomy and reproductive health,” says Amanda Marcotte, the author of the article.

Not all women enjoy child-rearing, at least not if it is all they are allowed to do. Women tend to be born with brains as functional as those of men. When women’s brains are solely concerned with healthy baby meals and children’s literature, songs and play activities it can make a grown human woman feel brain dead. I am not saying women don’t love their children. It would be great if all of the women who thrive on child-rearing could concentrate on that pleasure. I am saying that there are women who do not find fulfillment in raising children as their sole profession. In fact there are women who become depressed if they do not have a job to do out in the world away from their family for at least part of the day. There are women who go mad if they cannot create and study and read and exercise their minds just as they exercise their bodies. Much of Freud’s oeuvrewas based on the mental states of women who were suppressed in one way or another. Limiting human endeavors can have profound effects on anyone. There is scientific data about this if only these people valued science.

What will women’s lives be like when 45 is finished with us all? Will we be under the supervision of fundamentalist religious leaders as we see in other parts of the world? We can certainly see the relevance of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale and why it has returned as a popular mini-series on TV. The battle was already lost for at least 4 years when Trump was elected. We resist but we worry. Will that be enough? And 45 is being handsomely paid to help take rights away from women? That just adds insult to injury.

See new developments 5/18/2018:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Be Best and Melania Trump

 

MELANIA_TRUMP_big star tribuneMelania Trump does not seem to crave the limelight. She seems a bit timid. She seems aware that every time she pokes her nose out in public, the press, which salon.com has taken to calling “the chattering class” – truth and insult wrapped in a Trumpian-style nickname – the press will write something about her. Because she is married to Donald Trump, at odds with most of the press, what people will write will not necessarily be kind. Many question how someone married to a bully can launch a campaign against bullies. But perhaps this is actually a matter of who would be better? Melanie may not want to leave her husband, although we see that as a sort of “Stockholm syndrome”. But she was a fierce protector of her young son, Baron. She refused to live in DC until he finished his school year in NYC. She may also have had more selfish reasons for staying away in the early, most chaotic days of the new administration. After all she is most likely fully aware of what her husband is like when he is starting a new “venture”. Who knows what really goes on in a marriage. There may have been some of the renowned negotiation skill involved. Perhaps Trump is not the only member of this marriage with negotiation skills.

While it is true that Be Best can be bashed as grammatically-challenged, or as Eastern European dialect, I also think that the abruptness of the title, and its seeming lack of clarity and content may have been built-in to give programs for children who elect to use the slogan an opportunity to plump it out with pronouns of their choice. I made a very simple video to illustrate my point.

 

The press pointed out that the First Lady may have plagiarized the materials used by the Obama administration, but perhaps Melania does not share her husband’s contempt for everything Obama. Perhaps she admires Michelle Obama.

Here are links to some articles that announced, responded to, or poked fun at Melania’s Be Best initiative:

https://www.whitehouse.gov/bebest/

https://www.newyorker.com/culture/culture-desk/the-childlike-strangeness-of-melania-trumps-be-best-campaign

https://www.townandcountrymag.com/society/politics/a20508248/melania-trump-be-best-campaign-booklet-copied-obama/

 

Only time will tell if this campaign offers positive outcomes for America’s  children. Melania was admitted to the hospital for minor surgery shortly after her announcement. Best wishes for her quick recovery.

How Far Will Dems Go?

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Democrats knew that the 2016 election was an election we really could not afford to lose. We knew that losing would have existential repercussions for the party, the way the American future would play out, and even for American democracy itself. We let ourselves be divided and that would only have worked out fine in the old America. This is not that America. How far will Dems go to fix the balance of power in America?

We knew what the Republicans had been doing to “fix” elections, although we had no clue that Russian assistance would be enlisted. We lamented the Citizens United and related decisions that have flooded elections with corporate money and influence, and offered “creative” ways for the wealthiest Americans to have an outsize influence through PAC’s and 501(c)s, or nonprofits. We know that Conservatives want to extend this financial influence on elections to churches and that there is legislation already written to do just that.

We have watched Conservatives turn the courts (Federal and Supreme) into partisan bodies that would uphold their assault on previous court decisions. We knew about their assaults on abortion clinics, their insistence that America follow their Fundamentalist Christian rules and ban abortions by overturning Roe v Wade, and their refusal to accept that women’s bodies should be controlled by women. Stuffing courts with Conservatives would help in this regard and in many other places the Republican Party wanted to go. They played with the voting rules in the Senate, they obstructed in the House, and they refused to confirm Obama’s legal appointment to the Supreme Court when Judge Alito died an untimely death. Now they are having a field day confirming fairly young, unqualified people to as many lifetime court positions as they can, while they can, and crying foul if Democrats use the same procedures to slow down confirmations that the Republicans previously found so useful.

We have noted all the voter suppression techniques such as extreme gerrymandering that made it almost impossible to elect anyone except a Republican in some Congressional districts (enough to turn Congress red?). We were shocked when the Supremes removed the pre-clearance requirements from the Voting Rights Act which allowed states to change voter laws in ways that negatively affected minority voters more than white voters. We were incredulous when the GOP claimed that they were not being racist; they just wanted to suppress Democrat votes. (It suddenly became the fashion to drop the “-ic” from the word Democratic when using the party name as an adjective because it connected the Democrats too closely to our form of government.) (It also became fashionable to stress that our government is actually a republic as this made the Republican Party the truest representative of American governance.)

We knew all this but all we did was whine, complain, call attention to these behaviors, fight among ourselves, and appear weak. We seemed not to understand that these bad behaviors were symptoms of a party that was making a serious power play. Reactions of Dems fell far short of any effective strategy of resistance. Dems were all talk, little action through all the Obama years. We relied on Obama’s popularity and his elegant statesmanship to win the day, although we all were privy to the hateful undertones in the nation.

We heard the GOP talking points, over and over. We knew the Republicans wanted to use a “tough love” approach to end social programs – no help with food for the poor, no public healthcare, no support for the disabled, no social security for seniors, no housing for the poor, no public schools. America could not afford to have a heart, apparently. They reminded us that none of these things are functions of the federal government according to our founding documents and they insisted these programs should end. States could provide for these needs if they wished (although the right knew the states could not afford to do this). Or they could be privatized.

The GOP saw the resentment building in the workers whose factories had fled, or whose livelihoods had become obsolete because of environmental damage, and they invited them aboard the bandwagon by agreeing that taxes were being used to give aid to people who did not deserve it. Soon it became as if we had all decided to eliminate social goals from our national agenda instead of just being a decision reached within the conservative web of right-wing organizations, foundations, and think tanks centered around wealthy Republicans donors like the Kochs.

Democrats spoke out against this rather Darwinistic view of society but they seemed powerless against the aggressive strategies on the right, the loudest voices in the land at the time. Dems relied on “regular order” and a moderate stance to eventually “break the fever” on the right. Dems appeared to be almost intimidated by the Tea Party’s seemingly overwhelming power over the Republican Party. This could be partially because Democrats are lovers of grassroots politics, and also due to their failure to see the connection of the Tea Party to the white supremacy that was simmering in right wing teapots. Dems did nothing but talk, believing all this would run its course. When people pointed out that the right was mounting a kind of bloodless coup, those people were labeled as extremists.

It was becoming clear that there was a Constitutional argument being fomented. Conservatives decided that America had moved too far from our forefathers’ intentions. They wanted to go all Fundamentalist on American governance – back to the basics. On the left this was seen as unrealistic. It could be seen as an expedient argument used by Republicans to pull out the old states’ rights drumbeat that they had used so successfully (when they were the Democratic Party) to end Reconstruction in the South after the Civil War.

Giving in to this states’ rights stance allowed the racist treatment of Americans of African Descent to continue into the 1960’s (and even to this day) and allowed the defeated Confederacy to nurse their resentment, and their white supremacist attitudes – to continue to see themselves as righteous rebels. This is the rebellion that is still affecting us now. It is the true reason for the rabid defense of the NRA and the encouragement of militia movements. These Republicans/Conservatives planned either to take over the American government from within, or without (rebellion) if necessary. Right now they are doing pretty well with their “from within” set of tools.

The Democrats were not even considering a new war. We were taken somewhat by surprise. Try to find a Dem militia, but I warn you it will prove to be difficult to impossible. However, Democrats also were finding nothing in the Constitution to help them against this organized rebellion that used tactics which were not strictly against established custom and law, but which certainly challenged the spirit of American customs and laws. Democrats did not see that the Republicans could win all by simply killing the Democratic Party and turning America into a single-party government. Such an action is not against our founding documents since parties did not exist when America was born. (Although it did not take long for parties to form.)

There is so much more to the GOP strategy and we have been witnesses to all of it. For example, there was the skewing of the media until some of it was not news at all but merely propaganda, which happened right before our eyes. It was allowed because of how much we treasure everyone’s right to free speech. Perhaps we could have argued sooner that people had the right to say what they wanted to but did not have the right to pass off lies and conspiracy theories as facts or news. We did not react strongly enough in the face of this onslaught. How many governments have been overturned because some of the people in power wanted to stay the course and believed they would eventually win the day; they believed justice was on their side and would prevail?

The Democrats let the Republican Party demonize our best people. Email server unorthodoxy seems a bit tame compared to behaviors power-mad Republicans excuse now. I am guilty here also because I thought America was ready for a female President. I did not think it would be fair to eliminate a woman who had been unfairly tainted (as all powerful women are these days). I refused to see how seriously she had been damaged. Maybe Progressive promises would have been the perfect counterpart to regressive rhetoric. We might have been better off fighting fire with fire. The middle road held too little appeal and too many people bought what the Republican Party was selling. None of this should strip away the guilt of liberals who would not vote against Trump and the Republicans. Still, once the Republicans were left with Trump we may have been “royally” screwed no matter what.

How convinced are the Democrats that their policies will make a more live-able future than what Republicans have to offer? How far are we willing to go to make it so? If our hopes for a blue wave in 2018 are dashed, what’s next? If it looks like our Democracy really will become an autocracy will we resist more aggressively, or slide down into a dictatorship and live quietly underground until it dies, as all dictatorships eventually do? These are terrible decisions to be faced with and yet they may have to be made with no formal forum in which to design a deliberate plan. I do not feel a “fighting” spirit uniting the Democrats yet, in case the resistance is ineffective. Although the majority of Americans lean left we could soon find ourselves living out the Conservative Way. I have no idea what we will do if elections don’t work. We may regret, for a long, long time,  that we did not get our act together in 2016.

 

 

 

 

 

No Government for Old Guys

rudy and trump big the hill

Are these two old New Yorkers for real? Do they want to make us feel stupid? Are they trying to turn a real payoff to a porn star into a caper movie? The possibly demented real estate developer who walks a fine line between what is legal and what is not, the talk of NYC for many years, is played by, you guessed it, Donald Trump. The ex-Governor and aging lawyer, with an opinion about everything and a platform that he should refrain from using; a man who sounds like a character from the Godfather, is being played by Rudy Giuliani.

These two old guys find themselves in the White House, in charge of America, no less. What could go wrong? You will see them on the media, almost never together, manipulating public opinion to hide the past of that real estate “mogul” turned President of America. What does he have to hide: his shyster finances and business dealings; his enormous taste for women who worked for Playboy owner, Hugh Hefner; his dealings in countries that are not exactly friends of America; his taste for Russian banks?

We hear the somewhat incoherent lawyer (is he senile or just pretending), who has not practiced law in years, muddying the waters. By the time he is done with us we won’t know if a crime has been committed or not and, poof, the entire situation will suddenly seem to disappear. They are a pair of street-wise New Yorkers straight out of the 1950’s with sad hair and portly figures and tough guy New York accents who think they have a plan to fool America, to dazzle us with fast patter and a jaw-dropping mix of lies, half-truths, misinformation, truths, and lies again. They have pretty good timing for two old coots, one saying something, and the other denying it and vice versa. Moviegoers will be shaking their heads to see if their brains are still in their skulls.

The real estate developer, now the American President, leaves his crony to deal with the improbable details of the porn star payoff. He is suddenly involved with killing an important anti-nuke deal that no one wants him to kill and helping a possible merger of a divided nation that should probably not happen. He knows how to look too busy and too important to deal with his off-the-wall lawyer. There are plots within plots. But the ex-Governor may have to be fired and the plot will thicken still more. Is this really a comedy? Some of it may have once seemed like it was important, but our stars are very good at convincing us that these legal matters hardly matter in the grand scheme of things.

We should not even worry about the spy story line where the President may have had help getting elected from a man, played by Putin in Russia, who would like to see the end of American democracy and would like to see Russian world hegemony. We will be told that there are no spies. Russia did not hack the American election. The wild verbosity of the ex-Governor/lawyer may be able to help his old buddy with this problem too. If the two wily old men can discredit the Justice Department, the media, the intelligence services, and the special prosecutor all will be well. It sounds like a tall order but these two are excellent at the art of distraction and razzle-dazzle. We are all spellbound or horrified, hard to tell which. How will this all end? Is this still a comedy?

NYT’s video on Giuliani and Trump – 5/9/2018

Sinclair Tries to Be Subtle

Sinclair from right big Newsmax.com

Sinclair Broadcasting aka Sinclair Communications is keeping a somewhat lower profile these days, at least in our local markets. After the Deadspin video showing newscasters in all but one of Sinclair’s locally owned stations reading the exact same “fake” pledge everyone suddenly realized that our local news stations had , in some cases, truly become outlets for Washington propaganda. Some people even call Sinclair news Trump TV. Local news presenters had to intone in unison that their Sinclair-owned station would offer “real” news, and also, in the same pledge, had to imply that most other stations offer “fake” news, although the truth of the matter is exactly the opposite. The statement was, most believed, a masterful use of irony. It was disturbing to see that local news people we have liked and who we have trusted to give us factual information were now being forced to peddle propaganda. There was such a strong national reaction to the video that Sinclair may be trying to be subtle for awhile.

It is possible that some of our local news people are right wingers and do not mind stories that suit their politics, but they never took this tone before. They prided themselves on offering news that could be considered nonpartisan, yet informative. Generally there are not many national news stories broadcast on the local news. After all it is called local news. I never knew the personal politics of our news reporters and usually this was not apparent from their approach to the news. But now the political bent of our broadcasters does matter. If stories are presented so that they consistently glorify one political party over another that is propaganda.

At first the skewed news was quite blatant and it was easy to see that people were trying to make Trump’s behavior look more Presidential. Boris Epshteyn had begun appearing on news about the White House, but when he popped up offering a news story about the President on our local news his appearance was incongruent enough to drop the jaws of people who were paying attention. When he proved to be too obvious as a bogus news reporter Sinclair, inexplicably, substituted Sebastian Gorka, as if we have flamboyant reporters with Russian accents on our local news every night. Clearly, if they wanted to inject a steady diet of propaganda, they needed to be a bit more subtle about who narrated their “must run” stories.

frazaojonesrtfb big media matters

Michelle Macalusa proved to be able to fly under-the-radar for most news viewers. She could pass for someone local, even in all of Sinclair’s 193 markets, most likely. Now you had to pay more attention to the content of the news to observe the skew. For some reason even the mild-mannered Michelle Macalusa has now been replaced. Michelle has been replaced by Kristine Frazao (see photo above), who Sinclair hired away from RT News (Russia TV). The story I saw the other night on my local news was not noticeably propagandistic. However, it ignored  all the national chaos about Michael Cohen, Stormy Daniels, Robert Mueller, the Federal Court in the Southern District of New York and instead told the story about the upcoming meeting with Kim Jong-un to negotiate denuclearization, which is a story that makes Trump look more Presidential. (Denuclearization is not what Kim Jong-un says the meeting is about.) So it seems that Sinclair is learning subtlety, or it would seem to be so if Kristine Frazao wasn’t a journalist who interviewed Alex Jones of Infowars fame over twenty times, and if the North Korea story was not designed to praise our own dear leader.

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Perhaps you have never noticed how Conservatives like to think of themselves as the truest American patriots as opposed to those on the left who I guess are “fake” patriots. Conservatives love to wrap themselves and all their ideas in the American flag as if symbol proves the worth of the substance. I find that many right-wing-expressed policies border on un-American and un-Constitutional and that is not just me. There is an entire resistance movement that believes the same thing. Claiming that our flag belongs to one political group more than another is to steal our flag for use as an emotional strategy in a war between ideologies that the right wing hopes to win.

In my TV local market two network channels are owned by Sinclair. These were our most popular local channels. One is on NBC and the other on CBS. These channels are using new graphics obviously designed by Sinclair and sent as “must run” graphics. Every tagline on the news (almost every tagline) has an American flag waving on the far right hand side of the line (see photo above). Surely people will say that I am being ridiculous. However it is entirely possible that these graphics are a patriotic dog whistle. It sends me running back to ABC local news, owned by a Conservative media group that is, so far, not invasive.

 

Perhaps I am just a crank, but I don’t think so. I do feel a bit isolated on this subject since there is no local hue and cry about Sinclair’s involvement here. I hope, though, that people will keep both eyes and minds open as we approach the elections in 2018. If the number of ads Sinclair is running to push its own programming (Full Measure and Daily Mail) can be taken as a sign, then we are likely to begin seeing an explosion of right-wing political ads on behalf of incumbent Congressional conservatives and even conservative judges very soon.

 

 

Trust and Peace in Korea

Moon jae in and Kim Jong un big vox

After the stories we get, all too infrequently, out of North Korea – after the prison camps, the cult of “Dear Leader” that citizens are initiated into at birth – after the famine and the fear that the slightest misstep could bring imprisonment with torture and hard labor or even death – after all that and more, if you were a citizen of South Korea how would you feel about the possibility of ending Korea’s decades-long separation? Do you trust your new President with his goofy, light-hearted smile to stand up to a man who learned how to rule from his father Kim Jung-il a man who ruled by emotional whim, sometimes acting beneficent and sometimes vicious, paranoid and cruel. Kim Jong-un seems to govern in that same bipolar style. Would you want to cozy up to a guy who just threatened to bomb half the known world out of existence?

Do we hope that the spirit of Dennis Rodman is motivating Kim Jong-un to find his “Hangover” happy place as an adopted American frat boy? Does he hope to share Western pleasures with his people? Does he want sanctions lifted and an economy that can flourish as a serious leader of dependent people might? Will North Korea become more like South Korea or vice versa? Did the welcome his delegation received at the Olympics warm the cockles of his previously impervious heart? Does he wish to rebrand his nation from the “Hermit Kingdom” to something new? Perhaps seeing how far out ahead South Korea has managed to go in terms of modernity, technology, and prosperity he either wants to haul South Korea back to a harsher, simpler lifestyle or get some of that prosperity for his own nation. North Korea has always seemed to eschew modernity and critique the depravity of developed nations, America in particular, as being soft, self-indulgent and greedy. Perhaps this has just been a way to rationalize the advantages of starvation and strife.

No – if I were a South Korean citizen I would be quite leery of any abrupt attempt to reconcile North and South Korea. I would want to know exactly how such a relationship would function. Would a certain degree of détente still apply? Would Kim Jong-un and Moon Jae-in form some kind of coalition government? Would it just be a matter of loosening control along the DMZ? Both leaders seem to want the American military presence in South Korea to go away but if I were a South Korean I think I would say, “not so fast.” What is bringing on this new impulse to reunite the Korean people given the danger inherent in such move? What does South Korea have to gain from this reunion beyond squishy nostalgia for a past that would, perhaps, be difficult to recapture.

Was the collapse at the North Korean nuclear test site worse than we thought, making some move towards reconciliation a distraction to appease Kim Jong-un’s own people? What happened when the “Dear Leader” went to China on that slow train? Was he ordered to go hat in hand? Or did he go on his own to discuss his next moves with President Xi Jinping? The problem with secrecy is that it makes people wonder why such secrecy is necessary. What is being hidden? In this case we have had glimpses that what is being hidden is so terrible that it would raise outcries around the world if the truth of it were known. It gives me shivers to think that the South Koreans would want anything at all to do with this young man who knows how to smile so beguilingly while ordering death for dissenters or imagined dissenters.

President Moon Jae-in of South Korea is a liberal, he leans to the left. He even was imprisoned once in South Korea for activism. He wants to stimulate the South Korean economy and generate jobs. Corporate families like Samsung have disproportionate privilege and influence in South Korea. He would like to spread this power out, allow more businesses to share the wealth. And he would like to see a reconciliation on the Korean peninsula. He would like, as we would, to end the threat of nuclear war, which would certainly have negative effects on South Korea which might be subject to nuclear fallout or find itself in the margin of error of foreign retaliation. Kim Jong-un could be playing South Korea and Trump by meaning what he says but not telling everything. Nations that keep secrets can do that. Could he agree to not use nukes but never bring up bio-weapons if negotiations did not go there. Does he have a sincere desire to rejoin the world or is this all a power ploy? Hard to be a “player” and then expect public opinion to turn around on a dime and accept you when you suddenly act all sincere; hard not to suspect this could be a trick. Is President Moon Jae-in seeing what he wants to see? Is he correct to open his country up to a man who could still be a monster? I would not want to be the President of South Korea who has to make this decision. But if he is right he will be remembered fondly forever.

Double click on the picture; it’s a video.

https://nyti.ms/2vOfbp8

And then we put Trump into this mix which already has so much potential for duplicity. Trump wants a Nobel Peace prize. He has his people chanting “Nobel, Nobel” at his rallies. Peace is a good thing. None of us is happy when a possibly unstable leader of a secretive nation is threatening to nuke us all. We can sympathize with the people in a divided nation who wish to make their country whole again. Perhaps two unstable men can produce a stable and peaceful outcome much as two negatives can make a positive. It shouldn’t matter who brings peace as long as the peace is real. I am having difficulty accepting that such a flawed President as ours could leave us any legacy that will not have to be overturned as soon as we come to our senses. Part of me loves peace so much it will even accept 45 as the prince of peace, but part of me wishes that this was happening in any other administration. I will get over myself. Peace is peace and each little bit of it that is negotiated in this contentious world of ours is valuable. But can we expect one cruel leader, one hopeful liberal, and one old-reprobate-white- supremacist-con man to produce a truly trustworthy and lasting peace. It is a tough stew to swallow.

This is a view from the cheap seats.