Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Is China or Russia more dangerous?

Tuesday, February 21st, 2017

When considering Russia’s brutal oligarchy v. China’s fascist capitalism, it’s hard to decide which one is worse. Trump seems to have a bromance with Putin and has long attacked China, but lately he seems to be waffling on both (although the bromance might get him or his administration in trouble). The split personality of his waffling is baffling too because some in his administration are talking about more sanctions against Russia. Moreover, the original tirade against the one-China policy has become a recognition of it. If, after this waffling, will he still keep his campaign promises: Be a friend of Russia and an enemy of China? The former seems in doubt after firing Flynn.

The waffling is strange because up until now Trump seems to checking off items on a list of campaign promises, even if they’re completely crazy, harmful to the country, and insulting to millions of people. Immigration? California farmers, even those who voted for Trump, are wondering where they’ll find the cheap labor needed to harvest their crops. The Muslim ban seems stymied, and his only response so far is to blast the judicial system like any tin-horn dictator would do. And many ICE cases not related to his unconscionable and unconstitutional Muslim ban are still ripping apart families.

Trump is a family man who doesn’t seem to care about any family except his own. He’ll stoop to blasting Nordstrom for daughter Ivanka when she’s in the White House and supposedly not working in her business anymore. He’ll also support Kellyanne Conway who should be brought up on charges for hawking Ivanka’s products. One son-in-law is in the White House (nepotism), while the other wants to buy the Marlins. Maybe Trump will send his family out to harvest the crops for the California farmers. Might be good for them to see what real work entails!

But back to China v. Russia. Which one is more dangerous? I can’t choose—I find the leadership and power structure of both countries despicable. The Chinese have adopted the most polluting, ruthless, and oppressive form of capitalism imaginable. They’re no longer communists but extreme fascist capitalists, willing to silence or murder anyone who goes against China Inc. The Russians can’t make anything worthwhile, but that doesn’t bother the oligarchy. Putin, the mafia don, makes sure that only the anointed (AKA sycophants to the Russian mob boss) get rich and any opposition is killed, from people running against him in their fake democracy to members of the press.

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The ugly stench of censorship…

Thursday, February 16th, 2017

One parallel with 1930’s Germany that jumps out for any sane observer of today’s toxic political environment is censorship. This runs the gamut of a mob shouting down a speaker (they should have let the guy in Berkeley speak his mind so everyone could see what a bigot, hater, and idiot he is), to the statement from Stephen Bannon AKA Goebbels’s spawn that the media is the opposition. The latter, and Kellyanne Conway’s statement about “alternative facts” and blast that everyone in the media who criticizes Trump should be fired are only a step away from fascist censorship in this country.

Another example was Fox forcing the lumber company to edit their Super Bowl ad, something that company paid to produce. Why not run it instead of silencing debate? Let people express and discuss the merits of the ad. I suspect that Trump or his cronies pressured Fox to apply censorship. I’ve seen right-wing and insulting ads in the NY Times. They make money off them whether controversial or not, and Fox just made the real ad go viral on YouTube anyway. What did they accomplish?

The Fox example doesn’t even make sense. With respect to Trump’s Putin comment, which basically equated Russia to the U.S. for oppressive actions, Bill O’Reilly called Putin a murderer. Why didn’t Fox censor O’Reilly if Trump is such a friend of the despotic Putin? When censorship isn’t applied evenly, you have to question its application at least. Some censorship is justified, of course—the movie rankings X, R, PG-13, and so forth are a type of censorship, and it’s justified so that parents can make their own determination about whether their kids should see the movie. Excluding erotica and porn from public libraries might be justified too, but I’d hate to be on a panel that determines whether a book falls into one of those categories. I remember the case of some nut in Lexington, MA objecting to his children reading about modern families—maybe he’s moved out of the state by now to Texas.

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The progressive imperative, part two…

Tuesday, February 7th, 2017

In a previous post I outlined some things progressives need to work on. How do we do that? Many Dems are still in denial about the 2017 presidential election—pointing the finger of blame at the wrong persons for the most part—but the losses two years after Mr. Obama became president, the Gingrich Revolution, have become insignificant compared to 2017. Hundreds of Dem legislative positions were lost to the GOP at all levels—national, state, and local. The presidency, two houses of Congress, and the Supreme Court are now controlled by the Republicans. Either true progressives have to take over the Democratic Party, or they’ll have to establish a viable third party. Either one will take time, motivation, and considerable energy. Now that the ABC’s of the new American Reich (“Adolph” Trump, Stephen Bannon, and Kellyanne Conway) have shown their true fascist proclivities in Il Duce’s first weeks in office, this progressive imperative has become all the more important.

Faux-liberals have to and will be denounced—their numbers are legion in national, state, and local governments (some current Dem members of Congress should be shaking in their boots). These are people who cozy up to the rich, make false promises to get elected, and become sycophants of the elites. We don’t need more politicians who are beholding to Wall Street and multinationals. We need politicians who truly care about ordinary people and work hard for them. Becoming part of the national oligarchy should never be the goal of the true progressive. All goals can be summarized in one statement: make things better for all citizens, not just the privileged few.

To follow that one mantra, progressives need to elect progressives—true progressives. More grassroots efforts like those that characterized the Sanders campaign are needed. These will be difficult because progressive voters are discouraged, and rightly so. They have had to do battle with conservatives, Trumpers, faux-liberals, and the rich elites. It’s hard to run the marathon corresponding to years and years of political activism, but that staying power is required now to turn things around. I challenge all true progressives to do what they can. Do-nothing attitudes and non-productive actions will only make things worse, especially if the latter are just non-productive whining and wringing hands about losing the 2017 election.

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Irish Stew #60…

Monday, January 30th, 2017

[Note from Steve: Lots of mini-comments, mostly related to Mr. Trump. Don’t worry—I’m not responding to every tweet!]

International

Welcome to fascist America! That’s what needs to be on the Statue of Liberty now, thanks to Il Duce Trump’s most recent executive order which led to the detainment of Muslim travelers in the nation’s airports. This decree from a small-minded and arrogant SOB is as unconstitutional as it is unconscionable and represents a blatant pandering to his bigoted and hateful followers.

In the dragnet, Muslims who have helped the U.S. military, CIA, and state department in their fight against terrorism, Muslims who are war refugees who have legal visas after 2+ years of extreme vetting, parents visiting their children in the U.S. who have visited them many times before, and others were detained, some forced to sign papers allowing DHS to return them to their place of origin, action which mostly likely puts their lives in danger at the hands of the true terrorists. Others are left in limbo with no place to call home. Still others who have already immigrated and are contributing here in America shouldn’t leave the country, even to Canada, for fear of not being able to return. The stay granted by a federal judge in Brooklyn seems to affect only green card holders. That’s not enough!

What’s next? Muslim-Americans being required to wear crescent patches? Internment camps? Goose-stepping troops marching down Pennsylvania Avenue and in front of Trump Tower? The parallels with 1930’s Germany are scary!

“Build the Wall!” Trump’s campaign slogan is a sophism. Most claims coming out of his big mouth are sophisms. His executive orders are sophisms and carefully worded to hide his administrations racism and bigotry. American taxpayers will have to build the wall, not Mexico. Illegal immigrants will tunnel around it or come in on temporary visas, as the majority already do, most staying as good workers who do jobs Americans won’t do, raise their children to be responsible members of immigrant America, and stay out of trouble. The wall will do nothing more than another pandering to Trump’s bigoted and hateful supporters.

America’s greatness lies in its immigrant tradition. Building the wall is the least intelligent thing we can do for immigration reform. And intelligent people know that. The president of Mexico knows that, which is why he blew Mr. Trump off, among other reasons. Why waste time talking to a psycho?

Europe’s turn to the right. French and German progressives and many others are feeling the heat. Mr. Trump was the first, but he might not be the last as the world turns to right-wing demagogues. now called “populists” in the new doublespeak (see the next item). I’m the first to acknowledge that conservatism has its place—change for change’s sake can never be a sound governmental policy. Every action has at least one reaction and careful consideration must be given to whether a policy change will create unintended consequences and have negative impacts—that requires logic and reason driving careful analysis, not ideological and illogical rants.

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The progressive imperative…

Tuesday, January 17th, 2017

I imagine many people are yearning for Bernie Sanders right now—yearn for the Bern! If you were a Clinton supporter, admit it: she failed you. If you were a Trump supporter, you might have considered Sanders because his message about trade agreements hurting America’s working classes was similar to Trump’s, although his alternative had its genesis in his genuine concern for people and not Il Duce’s faux-concern just to get votes (HRC’s was false too, but she would have made a better president than Il Duce, but Sanders would have made a great president).

Sanders warned HRC about those battleground states—he knew the anger and frustration their citizens had with the status quo, a political establishment that continually failed them—but HRC didn’t listen. Apparently Il Duce and his goose-stepping minions did. Past history now. The question now is: how do progressives stand up to President Trump and move forward with a progressive agenda?

First, progressives have to realize that they weren’t well represented by establishment liberals in the Dem party. Part of that realization has to be that being liberal can mean not being progressive. HRC and her supporters liked the status quo—that’s not being progressive! HRC was also a one-percenter; so were many of her backers like George Soros, who claims to support progressive causes but should even be considered a faux-liberal. Most of Clinton’s rich backers have nothing in common with people in the struggling middle class and poor—they’re completely out of touch with our reality. Like Soros, they have no idea what it means to be a salaried worker dependent on a job (or jobs) to continue their daily struggle that often leaves them in retrograde motion. The income gap between one-percenters and the rest of us increases day by day, month by month, and year by year. Sanders understands that; the Clintons no longer do; and the Trumps, Bushes, and other GOP VIPs never will.

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Irish Stew #59…

Monday, January 9th, 2017

International

Classic Putin? His refusal to expel U.S. diplomats in response to Obama’s retaliation for Russian hacking and inviting the diplomats’ kids to a Christmas party made me wonder if a bare-chested Putin would ride in to the party on a reindeer sporting the rest of Santa’s costume. Even without the latter, Putin’s response makes Putin look like a PR genius (can I hire his PR people for my books?) and Obama look like a chump. McCain rightly states that Putin is a murdering thug, though, and certainly not on Santa’s “nice list,” so maybe Trump’s chump for SecState won’t be approved by the Senate. Trump is swimming in dangerous waters! No one likes Putin except Trump and the narcissistic despot himself.

I’ve been very careful to separate the sleazy practices at the DNC exposed by the Russian hackers from the criminal actions of the hackers and the man who commands them, Vladimir Putin. Obama is right to say that we should be on the same page about Putin’s nefarious attempts to undermine the American election, now established by U.S. intelligence leaders—Putin is the enemy here. But I’m not alone in wondering if Obama and other Dems would give a rat’s ass about this if it had been the RNC that was hacked, or if HRC had won. Those who would say HRC lost because of the hack in spite of the findings from the intelligence community, and the continue to blame the FBI director, should just move on. Trump won, figure out why, and never let it happen again. Moreover, let’s work our butts off to keep this psycho Il Duce from destroying the world!

The art of the deal? To many one-percenters, war is a business. Either Trump wants to pander to these ghouls, or he wants a piece of the action. The U.S. sells more arms to the rest of the world than any other country and, of course, the Pentagon still wants their new and improved toys too. People get rich off war. Il Duce Trump, not content with the endowment Nature gave him, wants to extend it by forging new swords to brandish internationally. “Let’s have another arms race,” he says, “because we’ll have bigger and better bombs.” (OK, I couldn’t find the direct quote, but that’s the idea!). We have a recipe for disaster on an international scale. At the very least, I can see international conflagrations occurring as more bodies, Americans and others, are poured into the maws of Mars. Insane!

National

What’s with deifying Elizabeth Warren? This faux-progressive is becoming Mother Teresa and Joan of Arc for all HRC’s liberal faux-progressives licking their wounds after the presidential election. I can imagine “liberal Catholics” (now there’s an oxymoron!) proposing her for sainthood. Just remember, ye true progressives across the land, she campaigned for HRC in Massachusetts and elsewhere in the primaries instead of Bernie Sanders. Remember that guy, the one who could have beaten Il Duce Trump? Warren and the rest of HRC’s sleaze-team got what they deserved. And Warren is part of that crowd! She just announced she will run in 2018. I’m hoping there’s a true Massachusetts progressive candidate who will run against this faux-progressive in the primary.

Healthcare. Mitch McConnell says the first item on the agenda for the new Congress is to end the Affordable Care Act AKA Obamacare. McConnell, Ryan, and others in the GOP are already talking about slashing Medicare and Social Security, and Medicaid is on the way out. Do the American people really want to turn back the clock to when health insurance meant insurance that you would die young? When insurance companies dropped you as soon as you contracted something serious? When millions of people’s insurance reduced to emergency visits to ERs?

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Irish Stew #58…

Monday, January 2nd, 2017

[Double billing today…don’t get used to it, but 2017 is starting out with a lot of news to comment on. Don’t be shy. Your comments are always welcome, even rants. Just keep them clean!]

International

Russia and Syria declare ceasefire. How nice of them! Who’s speaking for the rebels? We have an international refugee crisis in the area; Aleppo, Palmyra, and other cities are completely destroyed and their populations dead; and Assad and Putin are patting each other on the back and chortling about how many rebels they’ve killed. Maybe ISIS will regroup and refocus and go after Assad—he deserves it!

Team Assad/Putin are closing in on Stalin’s record for murders, and Papa Joe had a lot more years under his belt. If there’s a Devil, he has some good assistants who work despotic hand in skeletal hand with the Grim Reaper. So little time…so many people to kill!

Say goodbye to the two-state solution. Netanyahu doesn’t want it, Trump doesn’t want it, and the Arabs don’t want it because it works against their campaign to destroy Israel. The main problem in the Middle East? Everyone wants a scapegoat. Secondary problem? Saudi Arabia! Even with low oil prices, the Saudi royalty are still living the rich life. When their people reach the level of the long-suffering Palestinians, maybe something will change. By then Netanyahu might be begging for his life!

National

Media and public senility. Loss of short term memory, they say, is one indication of senility. Whether senility or just plain stupidity, the American media and public have become so focused on the Russian hackers that the big issue has been forgotten. Did Russian hackers help Donald Trump or hurt HRC? There’s a difference, folks, and not recognizing it is part of that senility or stupidity too!

Not to minimize cyberwarfare crimes perpetrated by pimp Putin’s hacker-whores, let’s deal with reality: there were sleazy crimes committed by HRC and her followers once Mr. Sanders entered the primaries, and they continued all the way through them, the convention, and the 2016 election. Here’s a Bishop Berkeley-like question: if illegalities are committed by a candidate, campaign, and political party, does it matter who exposed them?

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Food for thought…

Tuesday, December 27th, 2016

There’s a lot of non-productive whining and misdirected finger pointing by defeated Dems still going on, considering that an arrogant HRC campaign simply dropped the ball, as well as non-justified chest thumping by certain knuckle-dragging GOP members, considering Trump had almost 3 million fewer votes than HRC. Both sides were ready to use the Electoral College to their advantage. Now one side abhors it and the other lauds the wisdom of the Founding Fathers for creating it. Those old colonists weren’t stupid, but many fixtures of U.S. representative democracy, like representative democracy everywhere, are flawed or out-of-date or just plain wrong.

That said, I thought I’d have fun reminding readers of this blog about a famous sci-fi master’s take on “democratic institutions.” Unlike John Galt’s overbearing and over-verbose multipage oration in Atlas Shrugged (parodied in The Midas Bomb), the old revolutionary Bernardo de la Paz’s speech in Heinlein’s The Moon is a Harsh Mistress mixes a lot of keen observation about human nature and plain common sense to express in a few pages some interesting ideas. Heinlein, like a few sci-fi writers (but not yours truly), has been considered a Libertarian (Hogan, Niven, and Pournelle are others). The ideas expressed in these pages would never be in that third party’s platform, though.

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Capitalism loves fascism…

Tuesday, December 20th, 2016

The title is the easiest and most profound explanation for why the NYSE is doing so well. It’s also the eight-hundred-pound gorilla in the pundits’ room that they don’t want to mention. The reverse is also true, of course: fascism loves capitalism. They can be Satan’s two partners for leading us down the road to a despotic government. That’s a yellow-brick road that isn’t gold but old, dry cow pies; it starts with the Roman Empire and before, passes through 1930s’ Berlin, and leads to too many world capitals today.

Don’t get me wrong. Controlled and regulated capitalism in cooperation with government services that take care of people, defend them against enemies, foreign and domestic, protect natural resources and wonders and the environment in general, and work to maintain the health of its citizens, services corporate America doesn’t give a rat’s ass about, makes for a strong partnership and a healthy democracy. Creativity and ingenuity are byproducts of capitalistic-induced rewards for good hard work and industrious production—these are needed to keep an economy healthy, but healthy and happy people are needed too.

History has too many proofs to the meta-theorem of the title and its inverse. The Nazi fanatics and German industrialists were willing partners in the Third Reich’s juggernaut—greed and power took precedence over human rights. More recently the Chinese have created the perfect capitalistic/fascistic marriage. Putin started with fascism, but has created an oligarchy in Russia—an oligarchy is a special shared-power fascism. In both the Chinese and Russian cases, fascism was installed and capitalism is the young bride. On the flip side, Europe is trending toward fascism now, while here in the U.S., Trump’s choices also reflect the trend—three ex-generals in the cabinet paired with the CEO of Exxon/Mobil as SecState.

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Irish Stew #57…

Monday, December 19th, 2016

International

Let’s go to war! Cyber warfare, of course. Maybe Obama actually said to Putin, “We can do stuff to you,” but he’s been like a turtle swimming in molasses with his actions against the Russian despot. And it’s not just Putin’s hackers. We should declare cyber warfare against all hackers. The bozos who stole more than 1 billion plus users’ info from Yahoo (obviously not just U.S. users are represented) and are selling it on the dark web should be tracked down and thrown in jail. Edward Snowden should be kidnapped in Russia and brought back to a firing squad. X Manning (I don’t know what to call her/him, so I’ll use X) should join him.

Screwing around with idle threats, Mr. President, will not clean up the internet. Stop this now, or it will only get worse. If it comes to turning power plants off or creating run-away nuclear facilities or crashing multiple commercial planes, it’s too late. Let’s get NATO involved too, because this war is international and Europe is threatened, although they might be too complacent to realize it.

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