Monday, May 23, 2016

Post US Election: Where Not To Move To in Europe?

So maybe you're thinkin'...." hmmm... given America's steady slippery rightward slide of the last several decades, the crowning glory of which is this year's US election, maybe old reliable Liberal Europe is the place to be."...   Ahhh .. not so much.  Scroll down to this map of "political tendencies" reflected in the most recent Euro elections.  Hmmm.. Spain. Portugal. Italy. Greece ... those states looking a bit more kindhearted, non?  Of course their respective experiences with fascism were different than those of the rest of Europe, the lingering memory more recent.

Here's the interesting bit about the New Right Wingers in Austria, and everywhere for that matter:  their candidates claim that being able to make statements and voice opinions that are "no longer taboo" (according to the BBC) is – Hurray! – striking a blow for Freedom of Speech! How Trumpish!  That this supposed "Free Speech" is but a Dog Whistle of bigotry and racism appealing to voters angry about societal changes and pressures they don't understand or accept their part in creating gets little press or analysis.  What does it say about Western democratic society that expressions promoting violence, hate, resentment, inequality, ignorance and blind fear of The Other, and blatantly anti-Christian sentiments are no longer taboo?   These are the opinions voters claim their candidates have "freed" them to voice.  And a media greedy for clicks and profits, too cowardly to actually analyze why the public finds all this so sensational, provides them with no end of platforms from which to blow that Dog Whistle til the hounds of fascism are all safely home at last.

How is this emblematic of civilized society?  Some say Rome fell in part because it lost its sense of identity, what it originally stood for, that its government became a sham, a mere showcase for ideals it no longer put into practice. An anti-Republic of haves and have-nots.   If  those who fail to study history are bound to repeat it, is anyone still cracking the books? Apparently not the media, not in Austria.  Nor in the US as Trump supporter numbers aren't far behind the Austrians.

The Dean of Boys in my old high school, Mister Drulis, was a massive presence. Looming over the hallways, his job to ensure each student was where he was supposed to be. And laggards beware.  Though we mocked him mercilessly, his voice got you moving in a hurry, always the same embarrassing question, and after all these years his voice and that question seem to echo more and more often in my head:

 "What are we doing here, People?"

Feel the Bern.

Rise of nationalism in Europe graphic

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Was the Revolution Televised? Did We Miss it?

Gil Scott Heron.... always right on.... More so now than ever..

Repeat refrain:  "This ain't really a life, ain't really a life, ain't really a nothin' but a movie"..

Saturday, May 7, 2016

A Thing of Beauteous Wonder

Miles below the world of human political madness, this thing of amazing beauty and elegance sails the deep water ocean known as the Enigma Seamount. That we can observe such things is yet another gift of science.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Smell Like Fish To You?

Is there something to the difference in crowd support and primary votes beyond the exclusion of Independents from many primaries? Do we need to ask ourselves:

Is Something Rotten in Denmark?  

I've just discovered this show on youtube, Redacted Tonight. Very funny while making some important points. Because we seek comic relief doesn't mean we don't take it seriously. But, hey, you gotta laugh, and that guy (above) makes me laugh.

So, what about those primary exit polls? No one really pays more than fleeting attention to them. Maybe we should attend them more closely, says Richard Charnin in today's NY Times online. Apparently this year's ballot/poll discrepancies are.. ahem.. quite a bit larger than normal.

Below is a response comment from his editorial page article about Bernie's effect on the Hillary campaign. Copied directly.

[RLS is a trusted commenter Virginia 40 minutes ago]
"The Editorial Board should be calling for a recount in some of the states. The probability that Sanders' vote share in the unadjusted exit polls has been GREATER than the recorded vote in 21 of 23 primaries is 1 in 30,000 according to Richard Charnin, a mathematician and author of two books on election fraud

The margin of error for exit polls is between 1% and 2.5%. The larger discrepancies (an exit poll was not taken in Arizona):

Georgia - 12.2%
Virginia- 4.3%
Massachusetts - 8.0%
Alabama -14.0%
Tennessee - 8.3%
Arkansas - 5.2%
Texas - 9.3%Michigan - 4.6%
Mississippi - 9.9%
Illinois - 4.1%
Missouri - 3.9%
Ohio - 10.0%
New York - 11.6%

Charnin’s blog posts on the April 26 states, New York, Wisconsin, Arizona, Michigan, March 15 states, and Super Tuesday states:

Election fraud is real. A group of citizen observers told Chicago Board of Elections officials at an April 5 meeting that BOE [Board of Elections] employees changed hand-counted tallies to match the recorded vote. This took place during an audit of 5% of the electronic machines as required by law in Illinois. One of the audit observers testifies at the 24-31 minute mark:

Election Board Scandal: 21 Bernie Votes Were Erased and 49 Hillary Votes Added to Audit Tally, Group Declares [Video]

RLS is a trusted commenter Virginia 
Why exit polls matter:

"Why should we care about exit poll results?

"When properly conducted, exit polls should predict election results with a high degree of reliability. Unlike telephone opinion polls that ask people which candidate they intend to vote for several days before the election, exit polls are surveys of voters conducted after they have cast their votes at their polling places.

"Around the world, exit polls have been used to verify the integrity of elections. The United States has funded exit polls in Eastern Europe to detect fraud. Discrepancies between exit polls and the official vote count have been used to successfully overturn election results in Ukraine, Serbia, and Georgia.

"Are exit polls data better than other polling data?

"Exit polls, properly conducted, can remove most sources of polling error. Unlike telephone polls, an exit poll will not be skewed by the fact that some groups of people tend not to be home in the evening or don’t own a landline telephone. Exit polls are not confounded by speculation about who will actually show up to vote, or by voters who decide to change their mind in the final moments. Rather, they identify the entire voting population in representative precincts and survey respondents immediately upon leaving the polling place about their votes."

Well, that's something, isn't it?

Is anyone going to check this out? Who's in charge of such things? If there's any truth to this, we are, as a nation, quite possibly doomed. That is, more doomed than Trump's candidacy spells doom.  Perhaps it's naive of us to believe otherwise. And yet we are appalled by the thought that the system could really be this corrupted. That we'e nothing but a nation of suckers still too comfortable to rebel in any meaningful way.

I've just finished watching a series on Netflix: "Occupied", a Norwegian tv series from the unfailingly interesting and adventurous production company Yellow Bird Productions. The premise is a Russian invasion of Norway, backed by the EU and condoned by the US, in order to prevent Norway from instituting an innovative green energy program that, if adopted by all, could save the planet (and their economy in the bargain). It's an interesting "fictitious" study of the insidiousness that can mask a nation's incremental compromise with evil, how easy for good people to fall prey to gradual erosion of human liberty until fascism  (the corporate state) reigns. 

What was that Sinclair Lewis book from the mid-twentieth century? "It Can't Happen Here".  Oh yeah, I remember... (from Wiki, the plot):

"In 1936 Senator Berzelius "Buzz" Windrip, a charismatic and power-hungry politician, wins the election as President of the United States on a populist platform, promising to restore the country to prosperity and greatness..... Portraying himself as a champion of traditional American values, Windrip easily defeats his opponents, Senator Walt Trowbridge and President Franklin Delano Roosevelt [the socialistic New Deal Dem]. Though having previously foreshadowed some authoritarian measures in order to reorganize the United States government, Windrip rapidly outlaws dissent, incarcerates political enemies in concentration camps, and trains and arms a paramilitary force called the Minute Men, who terrorize citizens and enforce the policies of Windrip and his "corporatist" regime. One of his first acts as president is to eliminate the influence of the United States Congress...."

Not to worry, folks. That's just fiction. It can't happen here. Not here. As Dylan reminded us long ago: We have God on our side.

Monday, May 2, 2016

A Little Perspective on Pennsylvania's Primary


From a comment on the NY Times site recently:

 James Dusel says:
"The elephant in the room is something we all tread so delicately around, namely that the church social set of the African American community has sold its soul and its vote all too cheaply to a couple [the Clintons] that has wreaked considerable damage upon their community. Martin Luther King would be appalled at the ease with which Mr. Clinton seduced that community in the first place and the entitlement with which Mrs. Clinton enjoys its continued devotion. All too often King's name is invoked as a benevolent saint from the distant past rather than as the democratic socialist he came to be in his later years. In 1966 King said this to his associates: "Now this means that we are treading in difficult waters, because it really means that we are saying there is something wrong with capitalism. There must be a better distribution of wealth, and maybe America needs to move toward a democratic socialism." That was in 1966, when income inequality in the nation was in no way comparable to the horrid inequality of the present day. This theme found even more explicit expression in "The evils of capitalism are as real as the evils of militarism and evils of racism". And again, "Call it democracy, or call it democratic socialism, but there must be a better distribution of wealth within this country for all God's children." King saw that the struggle must proceed on all fronts: against racism, of course, but also, and equally against militarism, and finally against the egregious income inequality engendered by capitalism. Were King still with us, there would be little doubt with which candidate he would ally himself. He would certainly not stand with the candidate who surrounds herself with Wall Street profiteers, war criminals, those who follow solely for the sake expected advancement, and those who confuse the most audacious influence peddling scheme in America's history for the Promised Land."

Yeah, what he said...

Here's a wonderful comment from Yanis Varoufakis sitting in Heathrow recently and reflecting on the difference between traveling as a government minister after having traveled with the hoi polloi most of his life:

“how readily I could forget that which my leftwing mind had always known: that nothing succeeds in reproducing itself better than a false sense of entitlement.”

I'll wager his level of self awareness in this regard is the exception . I recall an old TV show intro: "Would YOU like to be queen for a day?!"

Wull, yeah.