We the People – Hypnotized

Watching DT choose his cabinet is sort of like rubbernecking at a terrible accident. You want to turn away but you can’t. You are hypnotized. All that past-its-prime testosterone on display, my, my. And American women actually thought it might be time to elect a woman President. Well our new president elect (not my president) is making it very clear that this is a male, excuse me, white male, dominated world. That makes the spectacle somehow even more fascinating. Watching the kiss-my-ring-courtiers-in-the-anteroom action at Trump tower made me think that I was back in a time dominated by white male kings.

Will this be a cabinet of serpents or of chess players? Probably both types of strategists will be represented in this crew of actors who are distinctly non-political, at least in the sense that we have no knowledge of how they will behave in our American political arena. That is what has us hypnotized. Are we watching the death throes of our American Democracy/Republic? Are we watching a sell-out to Russia? Are we watching savvy businessmen who can put the American economy back on top of the heap? Will there be any rules about what they can or cannot do as they supposedly are somewhat constrained by the American people and the Constitution, or will it be total unfettered Capitalism run amok? Are our American documents resilient enough to make it through to the other side of this onslaught or will we finally be only the Plutocracy we seem to have been headed towards all along?

Yes it is all astonishing, and because we have no idea how this will go, we are somewhat convinced that a wait-and-see attitude might be best. But our brains are screaming that this cannot turn out well. Letting this crew get their hands on American government will turn us into a nation we hardly recognize. Letting these admittedly very successful, but very intolerant and opinionated people control our fate will not bode well for “we the people.” After all, DT has already told us he does not respect us because we are not successful.

Can we shake ourselves out of our torpor? Can we come out of the tabloid trance induced by our daily news? Perhaps we could start with flash mobs, and work our way up to organized demonstrations that will at least register on the Washington Richter Scale. If we come out in large enough numbers then it might get through to the world that we do not all feel comfortable with our new administration and we wish to be heard. I am as bad as everyone else as I will not be putting together any demonstrations any time soon. It’s very cold here.

(Side note) At least it feels like the Republicans we used to love to oppose in Congress are also just a bunch of annoying fleas to these “he-men” that surround Trump. (Yes I know there are women but only in posts that are traditionally considered feminine.) So although these guys in Congress talk about repealing Obamacare and turning Medicare into a voucher program and privatizing Social Security we have no clue if the new King and his court are even paying any attention to these peons who are so excited to be finally in charge of remaking America in the Conservative image. Does DT have the same agenda as the Republicans? They seem to think so, but I have my doubts.

It is all so engrossing, and yet allowing ourselves to be onlookers is dangerous when our daily lives could be so deeply affected by what our “emperor” decides. Will it be too late once the president elect becomes the actual president?

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles – Book

We live in a time when civility and charm seem difficult to find and tempers are on a short fuse. Even a trip to the grocery store can seem like negotiating a mine field of human hostility. People disconnect from fellow shoppers and single-mindedly rush to get items crossed off their errand list. All they long for is to get home to their personal sanctuary. In times like these, Amor Towles is just the antidote required to inspire introspection and self-evaluation. Perhaps he will even help us change the way we relate to the world. A Gentleman in Moscow, although just a fiction story, makes a point that could transform us all.

Our gentleman in Moscow, Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov, recipient of the Order of Saint Andrew, Member of the Jockey Club, Master of the Hunt, is 33 years old when we first meet him in 1922. He is a man caught between two ages in Russian history so disparate as to induce whiplash. He is an aristocrat who returns, to his peril, to Russia from Paris in 1918, which if you know your history, is just after the Russian Revolution when Russian society gets turned over like a compost pile. What was on the bottom is now on the top and what was on the top is now, for the most part, either dead or in Siberia.

But Count Rostov is such a benign style of aristocrat that he manages to wend his way through the anger and revolutionary righteousness of the new Communist state, not completely unscathed, but as a permanent resident of a luxurious Russian hotel right near the center of Moscow. Rostov has never held a job, has never been a worker, but he is trained by his former lifestyle to have skills that are quite useful to have. He is a great judge of human interaction and he knows how to arrange people at a state dinner or in a well-run restaurant so that any strife is defused and affairs run smoothly. Besides this talent he is charming and amenable and flexible in the face of change. His good nature is adaptable but he is not a chameleon; he is always himself.

Count Rostov’s punishment for coming back to Russia at exactly the wrong time is that he is imprisoned in the lovely Metropole Hotel where he has been living for four years. When asked by the tribunal why he came back he says he missed the climate and they all shake their heads in understanding. He has to give up a large suite of rooms with excellent views that he has been occupying and move into servant’s quarters in the attic. If you think that once sentence has been passed this tale will turn gloomy and scary then you have not yet met our Alexander. He’s in a hotel. Things happen. You may find that you have to “suspend your disbelief” a bit but it will be well worth it.

Amor Towles, author of Rules of Civility writes like times that are past and gone, like one who is on earth to remind us of slower times when people were kinder and more (heaven forbid) socially correct. It was a balm to my spirit to read A Gentleman in Moscow at this particularly pugilistic moment in the history of our nation.

This is the Dark Side

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This is the dark side of the internet. This is where the trolls live and the conspiracy theorists and the authors of fake news. The writing is often dramatic with lots of “documentation” offered and perhaps illusions to organizations of myth and history which we imagine no longer exist, such as the Knights Templar. These folks demonize politicians and people who are rich and famous. They like to create graphic images of them as Satan, suggesting that they worship Lucifer. Do they believe what they write? Do they actually think Nancy Pelosi is Lucifer on some days and Hillary Clinton is Lucifer on others? I doubt it but they hope their readers will believe, and some actually do become converts.

Comments were made on my articles about Hillary which began to refer to things that I did not really understand. They accused her of child abuse, they talked about how “dark” she is, they hinted that she performed criminal acts. These sly comments hinting that Hillary Clinton is some kind of monster began to appear before 2016 voting started, during early voting and even up to and including election day. I have no idea how much of an effect these conspiratorial whispers had on the election.

Recently the malignant messages came to a head in the attack on a pizza shop in Washington, D. C. where a guy with a gun entered the establishment with the intention of breaking up a secret pedophilia ring involving Hillary Clinton that was supposedly being run from secret spaces under the pizza shop. Who started this rumor? An article appeared in The Daily Beast on Monday, December 5, 2016 which describes these events.

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/12/06/pizzagate-is-the-satanic-panic-of-our-age-but-this-time-the-president-s-men-believe-it.html

A colleague on tremr.com also wrote about this:

https://www.tremr.com/the-normalizing-of-tyranny

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After reading this eye opening article I began to remember the many references to Lucifer that I had been seeing on the Right and the word Illuminati being used as a shortcut to a larger body of thoughts and ideas, but I thought the conspiracy theory ended there. Apparently this stuff goes way beyond the academic and posits a theory that there is an enormous pedophilia ring and child slavery trafficking operation that has engulfed almost all of our politicians, and in fact politicians and famous people around the globe.

This activity has been practiced, according to some, by every American President except Reagan, Carter, and perhaps Nixon. A shadow government has resulted from these nefarious activities which allows financiers and others who know of and have proof of these activities to hold our government leaders (and even EU leaders) under their control, to make them do their bidding for fear of exposure. So all the while I was saying that Hillary Clinton is hardly nefarious, this conspiracy theory nonsense was enthralling readers on the internet and possibly affecting the outcome of the election. Even the infamous Alex Jones got in on this one, or was, perhaps, the prime mover

http://anonhq.com/heres-various-politicians-said-shadow-government/

http://www.wanttoknow.info/shadowgovernment

http://www.infowars.com/shadow-government-in-charge-of-clintons-investigation/

http://www.thelastamericanvagabond.com/podcast/pizzagate-shadow-government/

Am I naïve or sane? If this crap these writers are pedaling is in any way true then our planet is doomed. I choose not to believe a word of it; it’s obviously a conspiracy theory. Who makes this stuff up though? General Flynn’s son just got fired for blogging about this bizarre tale but I don’t think he authored the theory; I think he was just repeating what he had read on another site. Why do people make this stuff up? I suppose the answers seem fairly obvious (create fear, get attention, influence events).

Pedophilia and child trafficking are very real though, and it is impossible to ignore the fact that if there is a “product” (in this case a young human being) then there must be a market for that “product”. Who are the people who create a market for trafficking such as this? I assume that all of our political class is not involved in this. That’s the part I believe is fake. But, will this particular twisted vice ever be eradicated?

I’m writing about something I find loathsome and that I know very little about but I am worried because this stuff seems to go way beyond a pizza parlor in Washington D. C. and therefore I think it should be on our radar.

 

 

What the Democratic Party Should Do, Part 2

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From the New York Times

I have been thinking a lot about what the Democratic Party and the Progressives should do next. I include both groups and everyone else on the left because I think we need all hands on deck and because every time I mention the Democratic Party someone schools me on how corrupt and depraved the party is these days with just as many ties to Wall Street and billionaires as are found on the Right. In spite of all the lectures it will entail I will, henceforth, talk about all of us on the left as the Democratic Party for the sake of brevity. Of course if we can’t really agree that the Party is even a viable and inspirational force these day then perhaps that shows us where we need to begin.

How do we make the Democratic Party a party that people can respect and feel proud to belong to, contribute to, and vote for in elections? Are the days of poverty programs over and should humanitarian benefits that provide for citizens when they are old, or sick, or unemployed become a thing of the past? Perhaps without a robust industrial sector we are not an affluent enough nation to set aside dollars for people who are less fortunate than us? Perhaps we do not pay enough taxes these days to be able to afford programs where our government redistributes our tax dollars back to us in the form of retirement benefits or health care or payments if we become disabled or unemployed.

Programs for People

It has been explained to us that it is actually today’s young workers who pay the benefits of today’s seniors, just as our benefits paid for our parents. If there are fewer jobs and the jobs young people have pay less than people made in the past then is there still enough to go around? Perhaps Social Security could be redesigned rather than privatized as the Republicans would like. Health care is not paid for in quite the same way, but we have our government deduct extra tax dollars from our pay checks while we are working to pay for most of our health care when we no longer work. Once again costs are apparently exceeding our contributions. These are programs that people like and that offer real benefits to the tax payers/citizens in our republic/democracy. As a Democrat I have always been proud that we support these kinds of benefits for we the people.

And there are many other platforms and policies that Democrats back which still seem important in order to set a society apart as one that is highly developed, educated, and enlightened. These are the kinds of things that prove a government is absolutely a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. Take away all of our social programs and what is left for our government to do – wage war and support business. Our government would then become a government of the wealthy, by the wealthy, and for the wealthy. We are almost there now.

The Party of the Workers

The fact that Americans no longer go off, almost without exception, to work in factories has been a game changer for the Democratic Party. We used to be the party of the working man/woman. Unions and the Democrats were close allies against bosses and wealthy business owners. If workers joined the Democrats their numbers and solidarity gave them clout against the wealthy owner classes. When Republicans tried to take away all government regulation on business and commerce, we the people could dial them back a bit and stave off the worst abuses of unfettered capitalism.

Dems Have Lost Their Worker Mojo

Times have changed in more ways than just where Americans go to work these days. The Democrats have lost their mojo. Workers have had to practically go begging for jobs, and although we have the current push to buck up salaries through passing minimum wage levels that at least cover the bare essentials required by working families to maintain their homes, afford transportation, and eat and buy clothing, it does not feel the same as when the people joined unions and negotiated fairly splendid wages.

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The Republicans make a big stink about how the government is getting too big and it is not the business of government to determine the minimum wage for the whole nation, given the differing conditions across the states. But with few factory jobs and with many states passing “right to work” laws which eat away at the power of unions to negotiate for their members, the government is the only entity workers can fall back on right now to make sure employers provide a decent wage that meets our current standards of living. Employers have been hit hard by recession and changing markets in America also. They have been known to pay more attention to their bottom line than the needs of their workers. Better to generate plenty of profit and then worry about your employees. Pay yourself first can be carried to extremes without some protections.

Given that the workers no longer require a dedicated party to support labor. Given that there is no longer a matrix of unions for workers to use as a vehicle for negotiating with both employers and government. (Unions still exist but as sort of obsolete institutions, much like medieval guilds, comforting but basically nonfunctional, although public service sector workers still have functioning unions.) Given that retail, which has shown the most growth in offering employment, has never been unionized. Given all of these changes it is no wonder the Democrats have lost their footing and are not quite sure how to redefine themselves.

“Identity Politics”

Identity politics is a newly coined type of politics, meaning politics that backs minority groups within our culture that are vocal and that often find themselves up against the reactionary stances of the right in America. Democrats have become the party that backs minorities and defends civil rights of all kinds (even for people who live in America but did not arrive through the proper channels). The left strives for equal opportunity and tolerance of diversity, goals which many feel are exclusionary.

White people are already feeling the pinch of so many minorities groups which clamor for attention (taking attention away from the white folks who, many feel, are the rightful owners of America because the original settlers of America were overwhelmingly white.) Race superiority enters through this door, although some simply never pictured any America other than a white America, and for the latter this becomes a matter of possession as opposed to superiority. People want white tax dollars to go for the needs of white people and not any deadbeat white people either. However, many Americans think that their tax dollars are going to people who just don’t want to work, or people who refuse to work for one reason or another. Lots of commenters are saying that the Democrats need to stop using arguments from “identity politics” to sway minority voters to vote left because then we lose those white worker votes that used to make the Democrats so strong. They argue that we need to fight for things that would improve the lives of all Americans and no longer differentiate between groups of Americans.

 

Democrats, Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

I offered my suggestions in my last article and I asked people to offer their ideas. I got no substantive answers. To repeat my suggestions: use the Democrat organizations that already exist and hold conventions, forums, convocations which make use of speakers but also provide opportunities for attendees to interact. Encourage people who are not already party leaders to speak and get used to speaking in front of groups; train them to develop interviewing skills so they are not shy about talking to the media; get them to sit down and share their viewpoints on important topics for American governance and society and to hash out differences and give the Democrats new ways to talk to Americans that are more progressive, practical, and also aspirational than what we have offered in the past. Spend some money on this. Pay the way for people who cannot afford to attend. Put together some scholarships to send promising people to study politics or law in college. Make an investment in messaging that will work in a post-industrial age and deepen the bench on the left.

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Joy Reid’s Fifty State Strategy

This morning I read the article by Joy Reid (don’t you just love Joy Reid?) on The Daily Beast website and I found her ideas offered a solution to that huge amount of red we saw on the election maps in 2016. I remember noticing in 2010 or 2011 that Republicans were making a push to control state governments and that they had succeeded in 23 states. By 2012 the number of red states was 30. And as we know, by 2016, it was higher than that. It was the Koch brothers’ strategy to spend lots of money on local and state elections and even to use ALEC to send prewritten laws to legislatures which were often passed without revision.

I knew that the Republicans were pushing small government and state’s rights and I was not feeling it. I felt it would create a United States that looked more like Europe than America with each state passing its own laws and no uniformity on things like educational standards and job requirements and job safety rules and environmental laws. I also did not like to see wealthy corporate Conservatives playing power games that leapfrogged democratic practices. With Supreme Court decisions like Citizens United allowing rich donors to spend as many dollars as they wished to influence politics things were looking pretty grim in terms of stopping the momentum of these powerful guys, even if some of the little people saw what they were up to.

Joy Reid suggests that rather than fight these guys we should follow their lead and get right down into the grassroots of politics in each of the fifty states and spend our money to find and elect promising left leaning local people. She feels that state’s right is an area where we might compromise, offering more autonomy to the individual states.

“But there’s something else Democrats ought to be focused on as they prepare for the long, dark years ahead. It involves trading in a bit of the beloved Hamilton for a dash more of the less morally appealing Thomas Jefferson and embracing what the Yale scholar Heather Gerken has called “progressive federalism.”

“For decades, conservatives have argued against the heavy hand of Washington on the states; embracing the idea of each state as a kind of mini-country, only loosely overseen by the federal government. Liberals have argued the opposite—that without a strong central governing hand, the states would devolve into a disaggregated mess where Americans’ rights, opportunities and even their health and life expectancy vary wildly from New York to Mississippi, with the results heavily freighted by race.”

“Take Obamacare: loathed by Red America even when their families use it. Just the concept of a federal mandate rankles their spirits so thoroughly they’d risk losing their insurance, their health and even Medicare and Medicaid just to be rid of it. The mythical idea of “selling insurance across state lines” is a nonsensical answer to the lack of healthcare, as is the exhortation for people to simply rely on the emergency room. But for nearly half the country, those indignities are preferable to submitting to federal authority of any kind.”

“Democrats need to make that case, forcefully, to voters in their states. They need to recruit strong candidates who can advocate for strong state and local governments that will defend working men and women of every racial, ethnic and religious group—their healthcare, their civil rights, their right to vote, their air, water and land—from the gang of billionaires about to take over Washington.

Focusing on the states would also finally force the Democratic Party to put real resources and muscle into statewide and midterm elections, massive voter registration, and defense against disenfranchisement and voter ID. By the 2020 Census, they may finally regain enough power to draw the federal districts that determine congressional outcomes.

A federalist approach—balancing defense of beloved New Deal and Great Society programs with a sharp focus on the states—would at long last allow Democrats to build a bench of qualified and tested candidates—including those drawn from the strongest and most loyal voter base of the party: people of color, and specifically women of color. By the time 2020 rolls around, many of these political leaders will have shown that they can deliver real results for people in their states. That’s a much more organic way of choosing a presidential nominee than throwing names of sitting senators at The Washington Post and seeing if they stick.”

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/12/03/the-best-way-to-stop-trump-is-at-the-local-level.htm

There is more detail in this article which is well worth reading.

Combination Plan

I see no reason why these two plans offered by two Democrats, albeit one quite a bit more influential than the other, would not work well in tandem. No reason these two ideas couldn’t both inform the strategy on the left as we prepare for the next election, a midterm election. We could make a lot of progress in two years, but we must be organized, work together, and begin soon.

 

 

Democrats New Playbook

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Not my President

Donald Trump may not be my President but he is the President of America and I am an American so my disavowal means little to nothing in the grand scheme of things. It does, however, make me feel better so I repeat it like a mantra. As for those of us who find a Trump Presidency unacceptable, perhaps it is because of policy statements that sound more like a roster of awful –isms, which most of us never expected to hear in mainstream American speeches. We knew these ideas still lived but they lived at the fringes of American culture. So we hear arguments in the press about whether the racism is real, or the nativism, or the fascism. We are told that the misogyny has been exaggerated, that freedom of the press is not under attack, that Neo-Nazis and White Supremacists are not getting ready to take their places in the President’s cabinet and in the West Wing of the White House. We are led to believe that we are being too dramatic. Will we have an anomaly like the Secret Service protecting Steve Bannon, the Breitbart guy? Why is the press trying to moderate the unimaginable? What should be in the Democrats new playbook?

Signing Petitions

Democrats and Progressives, and even apparently Greens, feel that as Americans they should resist this particular Presidential choice and never allow this person to become our actual President. That sounds like a battle worth undertaking to me. But what will our strategies be? Signing petitions and writing small grassroots checks may be good first steps and we should certainly keep sending in those petitions, calling our Congress people and talking loud and often so everyone knows we’re still out here. But we don’t have much of a voice in Congress right now so I’m guessing our petitions just give these cynical legislators something to laugh about. Still many times the court of public opinion has succeeded by drowning the opposition in paper.

Social Media

I belong to a few pro-Democrat groups on Facebook and these folks are passionate and very much angry and grieving. It is comforting to be among people who agree with my points of view and even to read some of the posts where people vent in language that is way less than socially acceptable. Few trolls get by the sponsors of the sites so mostly you are swimming in friendly company. But is this really activism or just venting?

I get a lot of email from groups that are trying to encourage us to organize and talk to each other and perhaps stage demonstrations and other appropriate activism at the local level. Some are trying to organize busloads of people to go to Washington to demonstrate at the Inauguration. Once DT is inaugurated our choices become more long range in certain ways and more short range in others. Long range, we plan how to win back the American voters. Short range we fight back Congressional action by Congressional action and we do the same against Presidential actions.

How well will such activism be tolerated? Look what is happening to the Dakota Pipeline people and they are only fighting for one essential thing – fresh water. We do not have a history in this country of fighting back if we face possible violence or imprisonment. Lots of implications for quality of daily life if we do stage massive demonstrations, lots of implications if we do not. In the first case the suffering is immediate and perhaps short term, in the second case (if we do not demonstrate) the suffering may be long term and irreversible.) Could it come to Civil War?

The Clash of the Titans

If you look into the plethora of organizations that exist on each end of the political spectrum it is a bit intimidating, especially given the connection of each group with the Koch brothers on the right and, some claim, George Soros on the left. DT did not appear out of nowhere. He may not have been the heir apparent but he is the heir expedient. How do we the people get to make any headway against these American “big men”? Are these opposing kleptocrats already locked in a battle that makes the American people basically irrelevant?

The Koch brothers are the wealthy backers on the right. Here is a diagram of the groups they back or have backed.

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By Robert Maguire – http://www.opensecrets.org/news/assets_c/2014/01/flow%20final-11708.html%5Bdead link], CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=30598829

If you want to see this information in list form then follow this link:

http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/Koch_Family_Foundations

I have seen lists even longer than this, but you will get the idea.

 

On the side of the Democrats we have the enemy of the right wing, George Soros who is involved in an astonishingly large number of groups on the left:

 

democracy-alliance-network

http://freebeacon.com/politics/the-vast-left-wing-conspiracy-explained-in-one-chart/

(Of course, if you can read this chart you are amazing but it you copy it and zoom it you can see the details.)

 

(The list of organizations on the left is longer but it also has notes with each entry.)

http://www.discoverthenetworks.org/viewSubCategory.asp?id=1237

 

 

Is this a situation sort of equivalent to the Greeks and their gods on Mount Olympus? Perhaps we could just tell improbable stories about their doings and get on with our lives pretending that what we believe still matters.

Two Interesting Gambits

We could possibly unseat DT by recounting votes in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania and if this works we will have to thank Jill Stein for it. If the votes prove to be way out of kilter then perhaps the electors will switch their votes to Hillary.

The other, possibly equally unlikely, option could be that enough electors who are allowed to vote their conscience but in modern times usually don’t change their minds on December 19th and cast their votes for Hillary. I personally love both of these options but the press says we are dreaming if we think either of these moves will change the outcome of the election. I’m not real fond of most of the press right now so I don’t mind hoping that they are proven wrong once again in this most strange election.

Taking a Few Pages from the Republican Playbook

I’m thinking that, while it is nice to have a TV channel like Fox News cheering for your party 24/7, Democrats are not really interested in broadcasting fake news, so that page of the playbook is probably out. We do have our own Talk Radio shows but since they do not wish to play on people’s hate or fear or jealousy it is difficult to whip up the drama necessary to get folks to listen to you nonstop and Democrats don’t really go in much for brainwashing. So that very effective Republican tactic is also probably off the table.

What Republicans also did very well was to use their many organizations to hold conventions, forums and meetings where they honed their big picture policies (although they were not as good at filling in the details.) They gave party members ample opportunities to speak in public and feel comfortable with it. They boiled their message down to talking points which everyone could memorize, internalize and use ad nauseum in the media. They taught their members to deflect uncomfortable questions by demonizing their opponent (and they told them how to do that) or by reiterating those omnipresent talking points. If you notice Republicans are all very glib and that’s because they do not express individual ideas and thoughts; they toe the party line.

Democrats have organizations. Instead of taking more small donations from grassroots members it is time to spend some money on those very same loyal followers and future bench deepeners. Give some scholarships to young people who want to study politics at schools where they will learn why the left is more suited to run a Democracy than the right is. Hold conventions, forums, and meetings and invite people interested in becoming active in the Democratic or Progressive movements to attend and participate. Pay their way if they cannot afford to go. Nurture future Democrats and teach them how to get a message to the nation that makes it clear why the Democrats are better for America in the present and in the future.

If you have a plan for what Democrats should do next write about it. Give details, please.

 

 

Donald Trump and the Republicans

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I haven’t said much about Donald Trump winning the 2016 election because I don’t know what to say. During his primary rallies, I did discuss what a Trump Presidency might be like. I was really hoping people would not go “there”, but when I saw lawn after lawn and truck bumper after truck bumper with Trump/Pence signs and no signs for Hillary Clinton I began to realize that Hillary fans were laying low.

I wrote many articles in favor of Hillary, but unfortunately no one reads my blog. I did not get a lawn sign, though, until the last month before the election. I felt intimidated by Donald Trump’s casual approach to violence and the way he loved to incite his followers to express their passion for him. I felt very alone with most of my family deciding that Trump would be fine and most of my friends feeling that Bernie got gypped.

I really do not have the slightest idea what Donald Trump will be like as a President. He may be the President of America, but he is not my President. I think he is ruled by adulation. If he feels his audience slipping away he will do what he must to win it back. He does behave predictably in that his reactions to all things are personal and emotional, but he is not ideological. He makes a policy statement one day and reverses it the next.

When I read the Elena Ferrante quartet of books about Naples, Italy I was strongly affected by her descriptions of how Fascism remained a factor throughout Italy long after World War II. I guess I thought, beat Mussolini, beat Fascism. But that was not true. There were many tough guys still around who got their way through intimidation, bullying, and baseball bats. That’s how I recognized Donald Trump immediately as soon as he spoke at his first public rally. That’s when I began to worry about his ability to sell himself and his willingness to use any means necessary to get his way.

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I had studied what the Republicans were up to for the past 6 years. They were the enemy I knew. I didn’t like what they were up to. They were planning to pare back the Constitution to 1787, get rid of 200+ years of law and tradition (except the parts that matched their ideology). They have broad plans to benefit the rich and make the poor get off their duffs, but they offer no specifics.

I did not want the Republicans to get control of all three branches of government. They were too radical, they had too many nuts running around shooting off their mouths. They stopped our government until they could win a national election. They cheated and used unfair and perhaps unconstitutional practices to try to make it likely that they would win.

I can’t imagine that Donald Trump was part of their plan, but he did win them the coveted office of the President and he won them the right to appoint at least one Conservative to the Supreme Court. And I wouldn’t be surprised if pressure was brought to get some Liberals to leave the court. But they may have more than they bargained for in Donald Trump. He has to win and if Congress tries to corner him into doing anything he doesn’t want to do or makes him feel that he is not winning, he will find a way to exert his rather frightening authority to get his way. Is he the kind of bully who incites violence but also fears it? Maybe. Another thing we don’t know.

My friends and family are smug and thrilled and they believe that the right person won which is difficult for me to live with. My best course of action is to wait and see what happens. The cast of characters is already making me very nervous, but Donald Trump will not take over completely until after the holidays. Will the Republicans find the strength to resist him if he gets too extreme? Will the people rise up in the depths of winter and cry out against things that our democracy should consider unjust? I think the Donald will probably have his way with us. Our best bet is to become what a Facebook group member suggested – Dumbledore’s Army. Find a hidden Room of Requirement and train up new Democrats. Hash out great policies and reforms and get ourselves a deep bench. Then, if there is any American democracy left when everyone is done with what Donald and the Republicans have in store for them, perhaps we can try some of the real reforms our government needs.

http://thearmchairobserver.com/donald-trump-deranged/

http://thearmchairobserver.com/donald-trump-deranged-details/

http://thearmchairobserver.com/the-bully-vs-the-wonk-debates/

http://thearmchairobserver.com/donald-trumps-way-back-foreign-policy/

http://thearmchairobserver.com/i-blame-donald-trump/

http://thearmchairobserver.com/trump-demographics/

http://thearmchairobserver.com/will-we-duke-it-out-in-streets/

http://thearmchairobserver.com/stopping-donald-trump/

http://thearmchairobserver.com/why-we-cant-elect-donald-trump-or-any/

 

Erasing the Sixties

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The “military-industrial complex” is finally poised to wipe out the Sixties. Almost half of America stayed “straight” while the rest of the world grooved to a new beat in the sixties. Change was in the air.

We wanted peace, not war. Our guys were in Vietnam, fighting a war that was not our business although it was sold as a war against the spread of Communism. Since an all-out war on Russia was too risky we fought them in Vietnam, a tiny nation. It was an awful war, as all wars are, but even more difficult because of the terrain and the temperatures and a style of guerilla, hit-and-run warfare we were not prepared for. We responded with Agent Orange and napalm and learned that chemical warfare should be considered unacceptable forever after.

America, for once, found a voice of dissent. We wanted out of this war. But we were divided. Some Americans were hawks even in the Sixties who felt that America, when provoked must respond with military force. There were probably even cynics who believed that war always helped boost the American economy. For some people everything is about money. Many Americans supported the war because they are Americans, they are patriotic, and they had sons, daughters, husbands, fathers in Vietnam fighting this bizarre and deadly war.

We were experiencing a fairly new hostility to the very institutions at the foundations of the American economy. It was just hitting home that our democracy was not quite as democratic as we would like nor were our opportunities quite as equal as we would like. Some Americans began to suspect that the powerful people were stacking the deck in their favor and that our money was going to people who were already powerful and rich. The rich and powerful wanted a national government that was in the control of those who believed that we needed a strong military (possibly putting us in line to be permanently at war), and those who felt that if our laws favored industry the American economy would also be the strongest economy in the world. These folks believed that a strong military-industrial complex would keep America dominant on the world stage.

The other half of America railed against the “establishment” and wrote about change, talked about change, and demonstrated for change. This half of America even tried to live in the changed America they hoped was emerging. The straighter half of America grew long sideburns, wore bell bottoms and went off the work every day. They did not even understand what the “change” chants were all about. They felt that the counterculture was unreal, nonsensical, and possibly treasonous.

These were the days when pressure from people both black and white led to the Civil Rights Act signed in 1965. Passing a law never cures a society’s ills like magic. You can make people act in certain ways, but you cannot make them feel certain things. But this law represented the kind of humanitarian changes that resulted from the idealistic and, some believed, airy-fairy view that was currency in the counterculture. Learning to accept the diverse nature of America’s people was very much a part of “hippie” philosophy. In cities we saw more racial mixing than occurred in earlier decades. Concern about poorer Americans became an issue that should not only be addressed by churches, but also by the American government.

And we had the pill, the birth control pill which gave women the freedom to control their own futures. They could enjoy physical intimacy without having to accept that this would almost inevitably produce an offspring, either planned or unplanned. Women were already a fixture in the workplace, but now you could choose to pursue a serious career, like a man could. Women talked and talked in consciousness raising groups all over America. It gave women a heady sense that they were not just appendages of men. They were half of the human race and they were not feeling at all submissive. Why were they given brains that worked so well if they were not intended to share in their culture and contribute to their culture?

There were always establishment forces who hated these movements that began in the Sixties. Richard Nixon embodied that snide, entrenched opposition to all things “new age”. The side wars between John Lennon and Richard Nixon are perfect representations of how ridiculous and petty his resistance and his fear often seemed. Although John Lennon lived the “revolution” he had too many personal problems to be a real threat. He was essentially an artist, someone who could inspire a counterculture war, but not lead it.

The “establishment” hated the counterculture. Many of the laws, policies, and programs that Republicans hate most have roots in the Sixties. The Great Society may not have arisen fully formed in the Sixties but you can see counterculture concerns all over it. The Great Society gave rise to “big government”. Even environmentalism tended to split along the lines established in the Sixties.

The same decade also gave America a culture split between the Hawks and the Doves. Imperialism, colonialism, American interference in foreign government, regime change were all “old” philosophies of arrogant nations according to the members of the counterculture. These strategies for control of others were now considered wrong and unsuited to the ideals of a democratic nation. But not by everyone. The Republicans did not soften their foreign policy stances. They felt that if America did not remain number one in every arena then America would no longer exist as a nation. We would give up dreams of empire and become just another less-than-spectacular nation among many.

Conservatives have always been wary of social programs. No social program could be passed without ways to make it onerous built in. People who needed help must always be punished for their failure to compete and survive. We do not even know how social programs would have fared if they were offered without blame and without layers and layers of bureaucracy. Can you have both accountability and simplicity or is that something that will always be a paradox?

Many of the people who fell for the things that were broadcast incessantly on Talk Radio and Fox News are the same people who never joined the counterculture. They considered it a passing fancy. They had families to support and they had to work hard to do that but they also had a carrot in front of them. It was the carrot of prosperity, of a legacy for their families, of their own little dynasty that lived and worked nearby, of a retirement of leisure and time to pursue all of the pleasures they had deferred, the carrot of safety and peace. Then the dream began to collapse, one factory at a time, one child leaving home at a time, one pension at a time, one housing bubble at a time.

Is the counterculture to blame for their loss? Is this those damn hippies again? No matter. They look to the very same establishment that shafted them to lift them back up. And we all get President Trump. These “straight shooters” think they have elected a new Ronald Reagan. I believe that a President Trump will more closely resemble a Richard Nixon.

Will the Sixties really die, or will the movement just go underground training new young people in the use of the “force” so we can clean up the mean mess when the fever finally burns out? We might have to bide our time for a bit and see what shakes out but we will stay in touch.