Saturday, November 26, 2016

Via Con Dios, Comrade

A towering historic figure and one of my personal heroes, has passed away, and with him an era of history, the waning of true independent nationalism. I am heartbroken, and that such a true symbol of The People should have died in 2016, a year of such immeasurable loss, seems fitting.  The words come to mind: "He should have died hereafter..."  I weep for a world without his brilliance and vision, his tenacious example of leadership, and constancy of responsibility for the poor.  Rest in Peace, Fidel.

Some commenters from the Times today below...


 Washington 5 hours ago

Lots of people are going to rag on Cuba, but I've got a slightly different perspective - Cuba represents a different way forward. While other Marxist-Leninist countries have reformed and failed, like the Soviet Union, or reformed and turned basically state-capitalist, like China, only Cuba has remained pretty much entirely socialist. And the thing that scares the owning class, I think, is that they're not a total failure.
You've got this little colonial backwater of an island that was built on slavery and a single cash crop, released from imperial control over a hundred years after the United States, fell promptly into U.S. influence, suffered repeated puppet governments and highly exploitative agricultural practices, and following a socialist revolution, it now has the highest standard of living in the Caribbean, one of the highest in Latin America, is the only country in the world to be highly developed in a sustainable manner, has relatively successful universal medical and educational programs (at all levels), eliminated extreme poverty in ways even the U.S. has not, maintained the second largest international military presence during the Cold War, has sent more medical aid workers worldwide than the UN, the World Health Organization, or all the G8 countries combined, and has survived half a century of economic warfare from the world's preeminent military and economic superpower (not to mention repelling a U.S.-backed invasion in '61).


 Coombs 5 hours ago

I'm not alone in remembering the images of Fidel in the mountains of Cuba fighting Batista. I was 8 or 9, he immediately became my hero, he still is. He fought against the tyranny of the gangsters who ran the casinos and brothels of Cuba. He was sure the US would applaud his ousting of the crooks. the United States turned against him. He introduced free medical care. He improved education,the literacy rate in cuba is probably higher than that of the US.

Philip S. Wenz

 is a trusted commenter Corvallis, Oregon 4 hours ago

When I went to Cuba I observed that there is no poverty there. The people are poor, compared to Americans, but no one is an economic outcast. Everyone has food, shelter, medical care and a free education. Let the US live up to that standard, and then we can brag about our moral high ground.


 NYC 4 hours ago

Fidel Castro is a Cuban nationalist and for that reason he was the enemy of the United States who much prefer foreign countries to have a pro-American leader that's willing to oppress its people for the benefit of the US. We see this in US overthrow of democratic Iran, Libya and numerous 3rd world nations.

Had Washington not try to occupy Cuba for the last 6 decades, Cuba probably will be a Scandinavian or France like country. Maybe not as wealthy but definitely middle class with small income gap courtesy of its industrious populace.

I hope Raul Castro and the Cuban people hold fast and continue Fidel's legacy of national sovereignty and equality.
 Houston 3 hours ago
American leaders have long confused the nationalist agenda as represented by Fidel Castro with communism, just as they did with Ho Chi Minh in Vietnam, the nationalist movement in the Philippines in 1900, and similar such engagements in Central/South America; this was also true but not well-recognized in China at the beginning of the 20th century. The desire for global leadership by US government since the 1890's was reflected in the Monroe Doctrine in the Western Hemisphere, and by the Open Door Policy in Asia. Our policies since the 1920's relied on the "oh, look, over there...a squirrel!" type of deflection by using a grossly inflated 'fear' of Communism to cloak our real motives of global domination. Fidel Castro understood this completely, and originally worked US policy to his great advantage. Unfortunately, he became so enamored with power and dictatorship that his countrymen suffered for his ego. But he retained great popularity within his country; the people of Cuba did not forget the horrors of US-led dictatorship under Batista; American citizens either did not know, or chose not to know, about those manipulations, in Cuba and throughout South America as well as globally as mentioned. Castro was not a hero to Americans, but he was to a great many Cubans and South Americans for a long time...a great example of the saying that "all politics are local".
 Zika 6 hours ago
Viva la Revolucion! For millions of the oppressed, Castro was a symbol of hope. He defied the largest and most powerful empire for over 50 years, only 90 miles off its shore.
They tried, over and over, to destroy the revolution in Cuba, but they could never kill it - or him.
Fidel may have passed on, but the ideal of liberation from the horrors of capitalism will never die. Working men and women of the world will have victory one day.

“Nobody should be under the illusion that the people of this dignified and selfless country will renounce the glory, the rights or the spiritual wealth they have gained with the development of education, science and culture,” Mr. Castro wrote.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Mystery Solved?

Eureka! The origin of Donald's received hair wisdom. And it's none other than his Mum, the very same gal who, while prioritizing coiffure tips managed to forget to teach him to play well with others. You can NOT make this stuff up, people.

And can we just stop with all this circuitous maddening fear of offending stuff and start calling fascists fascists and Nazis Nazis when they insist on occupying the public limelight? THAT GOES FOR the NIHILISTS  that elected this bozo TOO. They're not rebels, they're NIHILISTS.

"Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities."  -Voltaire, philosopher (21 Nov 1694-1778)

Saturday, November 19, 2016

That's Right, Fuck 2016

Time For A Little History Lesson?

Think you know how all this happened? Sure you had nothing to do with it? If you can manage to read this entire piece by George Monbiot, written for The Guardian last spring, and can't discover your own culpability somewhere in his analysis, you're probably still part of the problem.

Because those who fail to study history are bound to repeat it.

Neoliberalism – the ideology at the root of all our problems

Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher at the White House.
Really? You thought this would be a good thing?
Imagine if the people of the Soviet Union had never heard of communism. The ideology that dominates our lives has, for most of us, no name. Mention it in conversation and you’ll be rewarded with a shrug. Even if your listeners have heard the term before, they will struggle to define it. Neoliberalism: do you know what it is?
Its anonymity is both a symptom and cause of its power. It has played a major role in a remarkable variety of crises: the financial meltdown of 2007‑8, the offshoring of wealth and power, of which the Panama Papers offer us merely a glimpse, the slow collapse of public health and education, resurgent child poverty, the epidemic of loneliness, the collapse of ecosystems, the rise of Donald Trump. But we respond to these crises as if they emerge in isolation, apparently unaware that they have all been either catalysed or exacerbated by the same coherent philosophy; a philosophy that has – or had – a name. What greater power can there be than to operate namelessly?
So pervasive has neoliberalism become that we seldom even recognise it as an ideology. We appear to accept the proposition that this utopian, millenarian faith describes a neutral force; a kind of biological law, like Darwin’s theory of evolution. But the philosophy arose as a conscious attempt to reshape human life and shift the locus of power.
Neoliberalism sees competition as the defining characteristic of human relations. It redefines citizens as consumers, whose democratic choices are best exercised by buying and selling, a process that rewards merit and punishes inefficiency. It maintains that “the market” delivers benefits that could never be achieved by planning.
Attempts to limit competition are treated as inimical to liberty. Tax and regulation should be minimised, public services should be privatised. The organisation of labour and collective bargaining by trade unions are portrayed as market distortions that impede the formation of a natural hierarchy of winners and losers. Inequality is recast as virtuous: a reward for utility and a generator of wealth, which trickles down to enrich everyone. Efforts to create a more equal society are both counterproductive and morally corrosive. The market ensures that everyone gets what they deserve.
We internalise and reproduce its creeds. The rich persuade themselves that they acquired their wealth through merit, ignoring the advantages – such as education, inheritance and class – that may have helped to secure it. The poor begin to blame themselves for their failures, even when they can do little to change their circumstances.
Never mind structural unemployment: if you don’t have a job it’s because you are unenterprising. Never mind the impossible costs of housing: if your credit card is maxed out, you’re feckless and improvident. Never mind that your children no longer have a school playing field: if they get fat, it’s your fault. In a world governed by competition, those who fall behind become defined and self-defined as losers.
Among the results, as Paul Verhaeghe documents in his book What About Me?are epidemics of self-harm, eating disorders, depression, loneliness, performance anxiety and social phobia. Perhaps it’s unsurprising that Britain, in which neoliberal ideology has been most rigorously applied, is the loneliness capital of Europe. We are all neoliberals now.
The term neoliberalism was coined at a meeting in Paris in 1938. Among the delegates were two men who came to define the ideology, Ludwig von Mises and Friedrich Hayek. Both exiles from Austria, they saw social democracy, exemplified by Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal and the gradual development of Britain’s welfare state, as manifestations of a collectivism that occupied the same spectrum as nazism and communism.
In The Road to Serfdom, published in 1944, Hayek argued that government planning, by crushing individualism, would lead inexorably to totalitarian control. Like Mises’s book BureaucracyThe Road to Serfdom was widely read. It came to the attention of some very wealthy people, who saw in the philosophy an opportunity to free themselves from regulation and tax. When, in 1947, Hayek founded the first organisation that would spread the doctrine of neoliberalism – the Mont Pelerin Society – it was supported financially by millionaires and their foundations.
With their help, he began to create what Daniel Stedman Jones describes in Masters of the Universe as “a kind of neoliberal international”: a transatlantic network of academics, businessmen, journalists and activists. The movement’s rich backers funded a series of thinktanks which would refine and promote the ideology. Among them were the American Enterprise Institutethe Heritage Foundationthe Cato Institutethe Institute of Economic Affairsthe Centre for Policy Studies and the Adam Smith Institute. They also financed academic positions and departments, particularly at the universities of Chicago and Virginia.
As it evolved, neoliberalism became more strident. Hayek’s view that governments should regulate competition to prevent monopolies from forming gave way – among American apostles such as Milton Friedman – to the belief that monopoly power could be seen as a reward for efficiency.
Something else happened during this transition: the movement lost its name. In 1951, Friedman was happy to describe himself as a neoliberal. But soon after that, the term began to disappear. Stranger still, even as the ideology became crisper and the movement more coherent, the lost name was not replaced by any common alternative.
At first, despite its lavish funding, neoliberalism remained at the margins. The postwar consensus was almost universal: John Maynard Keynes’s economic prescriptions were widely applied, full employment and the relief of poverty were common goals in the US and much of western Europe, top rates of tax were high and governments sought social outcomes without embarrassment, developing new public services and safety nets.
But in the 1970s, when Keynesian policies began to fall apart and economic crises struck on both sides of the Atlantic, neoliberal ideas began to enter the mainstream. As Friedman remarked, “when the time came that you had to change ... there was an alternative ready there to be picked up”. With the help of sympathetic journalists and political advisers, elements of neoliberalism, especially its prescriptions for monetary policy, were adopted by Jimmy Carter’s administration in the US and Jim Callaghan’s government in Britain.
After Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan took power, the rest of the package soon followed: massive tax cuts for the rich, the crushing of trade unions, deregulation, privatisation, outsourcing and competition in public services. Through the IMF, the World Bank, the Maastricht treaty and the World Trade Organisation, neoliberal policies were imposed – often without democratic consent – on much of the world. Most remarkable was its adoption among parties that once belonged to the left: Labour and the Democrats, for example. As Stedman Jones notes, “it is hard to think of another utopia to have been as fully realised.”
It may seem strange that a doctrine promising choice and freedom should have been promoted with the slogan “there is no alternative”. But, as Hayek remarkedon a visit to Pinochet’s Chile – one of the first nations in which the programme was comprehensively applied – “my personal preference leans toward a liberal dictatorship rather than toward a democratic government devoid of liberalism”. The freedom that neoliberalism offers, which sounds so beguiling when expressed in general terms, turns out to mean freedom for the pike, not for the minnows.
Freedom from trade unions and collective bargaining means the freedom to suppress wages. Freedom from regulation means the freedom to poison rivers, endanger workers, charge iniquitous rates of interest and design exotic financial instruments. Freedom from tax means freedom from the distribution of wealth that lifts people out of poverty.
Naomi Klein
Naomi Klein documented that neoliberals advocated the use of crises to impose unpopular policies while people were distracted. Photograph: Anya Chibis for the Guardian
As Naomi Klein documents in The Shock Doctrine, neoliberal theorists advocated the use of crises to impose unpopular policies while people were distracted: for example, in the aftermath of Pinochet’s coup, the Iraq war and Hurricane Katrina, which Friedman described as “an opportunity to radically reform the educational system” in New Orleans.
Where neoliberal policies cannot be imposed domestically, they are imposed internationally, through trade treaties incorporating “investor-state dispute settlement”: offshore tribunals in which corporations can press for the removal of social and environmental protections. When parliaments have voted to restrict sales of cigarettes, protect water supplies from mining companies, freeze energy bills or prevent pharmaceutical firms from ripping off the state, corporations have sued, often successfully. Democracy is reduced to theatre.
Another paradox of neoliberalism is that universal competition relies upon universal quantification and comparison. The result is that workers, job-seekers and public services of every kind are subject to a pettifogging, stifling regime of assessment and monitoring, designed to identify the winners and punish the losers. The doctrine that Von Mises proposed would free us from the bureaucratic nightmare of central planning has instead created one.
Neoliberalism was not conceived as a self-serving racket, but it rapidly became one. Economic growth has been markedly slower in the neoliberal era (since 1980 in Britain and the US) than it was in the preceding decades; but not for the very rich. Inequality in the distribution of both income and wealth, after 60 years of decline, rose rapidly in this era, due to the smashing of trade unions, tax reductions, rising rents, privatisation and deregulation.
The privatisation or marketisation of public services such as energy, water, trains, health, education, roads and prisons has enabled corporations to set up tollbooths in front of essential assets and charge rent, either to citizens or to government, for their use. Rent is another term for unearned income. When you pay an inflated price for a train ticket, only part of the fare compensates the operators for the money they spend on fuel, wages, rolling stock and other outlays. The rest reflects the fact that they have you over a barrel.
Carlos Slim
In Mexico, Carlos Slim was granted control of almost all phone services and soon became the world’s richest man. Photograph: Henry Romero/Reuters
Those who own and run the UK’s privatised or semi-privatised services make stupendous fortunes by investing little and charging much. In Russia and India, oligarchs acquired state assets through firesales. In Mexico, Carlos Slim was granted control of almost all landline and mobile phone services and soon became the world’s richest man.
Financialisation, as Andrew Sayer notes in Why We Can’t Afford the Rich, has had a similar impact. “Like rent,” he argues, “interest is ... unearned income that accrues without any effort”. As the poor become poorer and the rich become richer, the rich acquire increasing control over another crucial asset: money. Interest payments, overwhelmingly, are a transfer of money from the poor to the rich. As property prices and the withdrawal of state funding load people with debt (think of the switch from student grants to student loans), the banks and their executives clean up.
Sayer argues that the past four decades have been characterised by a transfer of wealth not only from the poor to the rich, but within the ranks of the wealthy: from those who make their money by producing new goods or services to those who make their money by controlling existing assets and harvesting rent, interest or capital gains. Earned income has been supplanted by unearned income.
Neoliberal policies are everywhere beset by market failures. Not only are the banks too big to fail, but so are the corporations now charged with delivering public services. As Tony Judt pointed out in Ill Fares the Land, Hayek forgot that vital national services cannot be allowed to collapse, which means that competition cannot run its course. Business takes the profits, the state keeps the risk.
The greater the failure, the more extreme the ideology becomes. Governments use neoliberal crises as both excuse and opportunity to cut taxes, privatise remaining public services, rip holes in the social safety net, deregulate corporations and re-regulate citizens. The self-hating state now sinks its teeth into every organ of the public sector.
Perhaps the most dangerous impact of neoliberalism is not the economic crises it has caused, but the political crisis. As the domain of the state is reduced, our ability to change the course of our lives through voting also contracts. Instead, neoliberal theory asserts, people can exercise choice through spending. But some have more to spend than others: in the great consumer or shareholder democracy, votes are not equally distributed. The result is a disempowerment of the poor and middle. As parties of the right and former left adopt similar neoliberal policies, disempowerment turns to disenfranchisement. Large numbers of people have been shed from politics.
Donald Trump
Slogans, symbols and sensation … Donald Trump. Photograph: Aaron Josefczyk/Reuters
Chris Hedges remarks that “fascist movements build their base not from the politically active but the politically inactive, the ‘losers’ who feel, often correctly, they have no voice or role to play in the political establishment”. When political debate no longer speaks to us, people become responsive instead to slogans, symbols and sensation. To the admirers of Trump, for example, facts and arguments appear irrelevant.
Judt explained that when the thick mesh of interactions between people and the state has been reduced to nothing but authority and obedience, the only remaining force that binds us is state power. The totalitarianism Hayek feared is more likely to emerge when governments, having lost the moral authority that arises from the delivery of public services, are reduced to “cajoling, threatening and ultimately coercing people to obey them”.
Like communism, neoliberalism is the God that failed. But the zombie doctrine staggers on, and one of the reasons is its anonymity. Or rather, a cluster of anonymities.
The invisible doctrine of the invisible hand is promoted by invisible backers. Slowly, very slowly, we have begun to discover the names of a few of them. We find that the Institute of Economic Affairs, which has argued forcefully in the media against the further regulation of the tobacco industry, has been secretly funded by British American Tobacco since 1963. We discover that Charles and David Koch, two of the richest men in the world, founded the institute that set up the Tea Party movement. We find that Charles Koch, in establishing one of his thinktanks, noted that “in order to avoid undesirable criticism, how the organisation is controlled and directed should not be widely advertised”.
The words used by neoliberalism often conceal more than they elucidate. “The market” sounds like a natural system that might bear upon us equally, like gravity or atmospheric pressure. But it is fraught with power relations. What “the market wants” tends to mean what corporations and their bosses want. “Investment”, as Sayer notes, means two quite different things. One is the funding of productive and socially useful activities, the other is the purchase of existing assets to milk them for rent, interest, dividends and capital gains. Using the same word for different activities “camouflages the sources of wealth”, leading us to confuse wealth extraction with wealth creation.
A century ago, the nouveau riche were disparaged by those who had inherited their money. Entrepreneurs sought social acceptance by passing themselves off as rentiers. Today, the relationship has been reversed: the rentiers and inheritors style themselves entre preneurs. They claim to have earned their unearned income.
These anonymities and confusions mesh with the namelessness and placelessness of modern capitalism: the franchise model which ensures that workers do not know for whom they toil; the companies registered through a network of offshore secrecy regimes so complex that even the police cannot discover the beneficial owners; the tax arrangements that bamboozle governments; the financial products no one understands.
The anonymity of neoliberalism is fiercely guarded. Those who are influenced by Hayek, Mises and Friedman tend to reject the term, maintaining – with some justice – that it is used today only pejoratively. But they offer us no substitute. Some describe themselves as classical liberals or libertarians, but these descriptions are both misleading and curiously self-effacing, as they suggest that there is nothing novel about The Road to SerfdomBureaucracy or Friedman’s classic work, Capitalism and Freedom.
For all that, there is something admirable about the neoliberal project, at least in its early stages. It was a distinctive, innovative philosophy promoted by a coherent network of thinkers and activists with a clear plan of action. It was patient and persistent. The Road to Serfdom became the path to power.
Neoliberalism’s triumph also reflects the failure of the left. When laissez-faire economics led to catastrophe in 1929, Keynes devised a comprehensive economic theory to replace it. When Keynesian demand management hit the buffers in the 70s, there was an alternative ready. But when neoliberalism fell apart in 2008 there was ... nothing. This is why the zombie walks. The left and centre have produced no new general framework of economic thought for 80 years.
Every invocation of Lord Keynes is an admission of failure. To propose Keynesian solutions to the crises of the 21st century is to ignore three obvious problems. It is hard to mobilise people around old ideas; the flaws exposed in the 70s have not gone away; and, most importantly, they have nothing to say about our gravest predicament: the environmental crisis. Keynesianism works by stimulating consumer demand to promote economic growth. Consumer demand and economic growth are the motors of environmental destruction.
What the history of both Keynesianism and neoliberalism show is that it’s not enough to oppose a broken system. A coherent alternative has to be proposed. For Labour, the Democrats and the wider left, the central task should be to develop an economic Apollo programme, a conscious attempt to design a new system, tailored to the demands of the 21st century.
 George Monbiot’s How Did We Get into This Mess? is published this month by Verso. To order a copy for £12.99 (RRP £16.99) ) go to or call 0330 333 6846. Free UK p&p over £10, online orders only. Phone orders min p&p of £1.99.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Will Democrats Learn Their Lesson This Time?

"When a political party is demolished, the principal responsibility belongs to one entity: the party that got crushed. It’s the job of the party and the candidate, and nobody else, to persuade the citizenry to support them and find ways to do that. Last night, the Democrats failed, resoundingly, to do that, and any autopsy or liberal think piece or pro-Clinton pundit commentary that does not start and finish with their own behavior is one that is inherently worthless."

From today's The Intercept here .  Well worth reading (The Intercept is always a step ahead of everyone) as we move into the surreality of Trumpworld.

Friday, November 11, 2016

"The Luxury of White Denial"

Below is a new article commenting on the "surprised white voter" written by my friend Delthea, recently posted on her website. It's just too good not to repost the whole thing. She's one of my favorite writers, gifted, original, engaging and true, don't know why she isn't writing speeches for some candidate worthy of her talents. Plus her sly cultural references totally crack me up. But make no mistake, the lady knows from whence she speaks. 

White Folk Meet White Folk

by thedamnedsaint
White Folk really don't deal well when white folk disappoint them. I expect to be disappointed by white folk so when they do, it doesn't really faze me. And on those occasions when they don't, it's a red letter day for me and they actually make me happy. But when white folk disappoint white folk, Oh My God! That is a world ender! I don't think I have ever seen so many sad and shocked faces, heard so much wailing and gnashing of teeth, and of course all the "whys?" and "How-could-this-happens?" as I have in the last 48 hours. It's like white folk had never met white folk before.
Of course white folk voted for Donald Trump and in numbers sufficient to elect him President of the United States. Why does this surprise anyone? Is it because we have a black president? Hasn’t everyone been watching how our black president has been treated? How his family has been treated? No, he hasn’t been shot, but that is not because people don’t want to shoot him but because the Secret Service has been doing its job and doing it well.
Is there some belief that bigotry stopped some time in the last 8 years? If so, can someone please explain to me The Tea Party, Alex Jones, Voter Suppression, the hatred of the name #BlackLivesMatter, and why shooting unarmed black people by the police doesn’t get anyone fired?
Poor white folk blaming non-white folk for what rich white folk to do them, as well as believing anything rich white folk tell them, has been going on ever since the 17th century when rich white folk noticed poor white folk and non-white folk were forming alliances. Rich white folk thought they had to buy the allegiance of poor white folk or watch their fortunes be taken from them. They came up with a currency of cruelty named by W.E.B. Dubois as the Psychological Wages of Whiteness. Whiteness itself became a thing of value that made all white people simply due to the color of their skin better than anyone who was not white. So valuable was this wage that all kinds of racial rules and regulations were set up to protect whiteness from any taint or blemish even by one drop. So precious was this thing called whiteness that even the institutions of society were called upon to uphold its rightness and protect its existence from all enemies foreign or domestic. Soon whiteness was permeating every aspect, every corner of society until whiteness was a fundamental to being American as breathing the air here, and in some ways just as visible.
Over time, we have eradicated and eliminated the more overt aspects of the primacy of whiteness (also known as White Supremacy) in our daily lives: Race slavery and Jim Crow, American Indian Boarding Schools, Anti-Asian immigration laws.
But by the time de jure White Supremacy was done away; de facto supremacy was firmly entrenched in the American way of life, living in the institutions of society and the norms of the culture. Racism without effort was found to be far more appealing and effective than any misogyny law or restricted hotel.
In the norms and institutions lived the ideas and ideology of supremacy. People didn’t really have to explain it, people just sort of knew. White folk are above other folk. Why, isn’t it obvious? White folk are deserving of the benefit of the doubt in all they do, the assumption of innocence, and when they fail, second, third and fourth chances, as many chances as necessary. Thus, white people treat each other with both a sort of sight and a sort of blindness. They tend to see the good in each other and not the bad, the help offered in society’s institutions and norms but not the harm they do. This brings us to the day after the election of Donald Trump.
White folk, most if not all of whom pride themselves on the black friends they have, the volunteer work they do with immigrant communities, all the marches and vigils and Cornel West and Tim Wise speeches they attend were feeling pretty good election day morning. They had watched Ted Talks and Fora TV and were feeling pretty confident that herstory would be made. They knew racism was real and racists existed, and that racists supported Trump. They watched PBS and listened to NPR and the hardcore among them had actually been in a Die-In for Black Lives Matter. But there weren’t THAT many racists. After all, the white people they knew, while they might tell a bigoted jokes or express a disturbing idea, were all decent people deep down, not like a REAL racists like David Duke.
Well it turns out, when good people tell racist jokes, it’s because they are racist. When they talk about knowing how those people are, they mean it. And while these people may never wear a sheet or burn a cross, they will vote for a fascist. Welcome to the full effects of your privilege ladies and gentleman, the luxury of white denial.
So have a good cry white folk. It’s hard when a good dream dies. So get some rest, get some sleep and wake up and face the bright white day. White supremacy is real and all around you. In fact, you’re soaking in it.
thedamnedsaint | November 10, 2016 at 5:21 pm | Categories: Uncategorized | URL:

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Lest Truth Be the First Casualty

From today's New Yorker online, and many thanks to Ben for sending this and David Remnick for being a brave journalist while the major media cower in fear and willful ignorance.


The electorate has, in its plurality, decided to live in Trump’s world.
The electorate has, in its plurality, decided to live in Trump’s world. Source Photograph by Joe Raedle / Getty

The election of Donald Trump to the Presidency is nothing less than a tragedy for the American republic, a tragedy for the Constitution, and a triumph for the forces, at home and abroad, of nativism, authoritarianism, misogyny, and racism. Trump’s shocking victory, his ascension to the Presidency, is a sickening event in the history of the United States and liberal democracy. On January 20, 2017, we will bid farewell to the first African-American President—a man of integrity, dignity, and generous spirit—and witness the inauguration of a con who did little to spurn endorsement by forces of xenophobia and white supremacy. It is impossible to react to this moment with anything less than revulsion and profound anxiety.

There are, inevitably, miseries to come: an increasingly reactionary Supreme Court; an emboldened right-wing Congress; a President whose disdain for women and minorities, civil liberties and scientific fact, to say nothing of simple decency, has been repeatedly demonstrated. Trump is vulgarity unbounded, a knowledge-free national leader who will not only set markets tumbling but will strike fear into the hearts of the vulnerable, the weak, and, above all, the many varieties of Other whom he has so deeply insulted. The African-American Other. The Hispanic Other. The female Other. The Jewish and Muslim Other. The most hopeful way to look at this grievous event—and it’s a stretch—is that this election and the years to follow will be a test of the strength, or the fragility, of American institutions. It will be a test of our seriousness and resolve.

Early on Election Day, the polls held out cause for concern, but they provided sufficiently promising news for Democrats in states like Pennsylvania, Michigan, North Carolina, and even Florida that there was every reason to think about celebrating the fulfillment of Seneca Falls, the election of the first woman to the White House. Potential victories in states like Georgia disappeared, little more than a week ago, with the F.B.I. director’s heedless and damaging letter to Congress about reopening his investigation and the reappearance of damaging buzzwords like “e-mails,” “Anthony Weiner,” and “fifteen-year-old girl.” But the odds were still with Hillary Clinton.
All along, Trump seemed like a twisted caricature of every rotten reflex of the radical right. That he has prevailed, that he has won this election, is a crushing blow to the spirit; it is an event that will likely cast the country into a period of economic, political, and social uncertainty that we cannot yet imagine. That the electorate has, in its plurality, decided to live in Trump’s world of vanity, hate, arrogance, untruth, and recklessness, his disdain for democratic norms, is a fact that will lead, inevitably, to all manner of national decline and suffering.

In the coming days, commentators will attempt to normalize this event. They will try to soothe their readers and viewers with thoughts about the “innate wisdom” and “essential decency” of the American people. They will downplay the virulence of the nationalism displayed, the cruel decision to elevate a man who rides in a gold-plated airliner but who has staked his claim with the populist rhetoric of blood and soil. George Orwell, the most fearless of commentators, was right to point out that public opinion is no more innately wise than humans are innately kind. People can behave foolishly, recklessly, self-destructively in the aggregate just as they can individually. Sometimes all they require is a leader of cunning, a demagogue who reads the waves of resentment and rides them to a popular victory. “The point is that the relative freedom which we enjoy depends of public opinion,” Orwell wrote in his essay “Freedom of the Park.” “The law is no protection. Governments make laws, but whether they are carried out, and how the police behave, depends on the general temper in the country. If large numbers of people are interested in freedom of speech, there will be freedom of speech, even if the law forbids it; if public opinion is sluggish, inconvenient minorities will be persecuted, even if laws exist to protect them.”

Trump ran his campaign sensing the feeling of dispossession and anxiety among millions of voters—white voters, in the main. And many of those voters—not all, but many—followed Trump because they saw that this slick performer, once a relative cipher when it came to politics, a marginal self-promoting buffoon in the jokescape of eighties and nineties New York, was more than willing to assume their resentments, their fury, their sense of a new world that conspired against their interests. That he was a billionaire of low repute did not dissuade them any more than pro-Brexit voters in Britain were dissuaded by the cynicism of Boris Johnson and so many others. The Democratic electorate might have taken comfort in the fact that the nation had recovered substantially, if unevenly, from the Great Recession in many ways—unemployment is down to 4.9 per cent—but it led them, it led us, to grossly underestimate reality. The Democratic electorate also believed that, with the election of an African-American President and the rise of marriage equality and other such markers, the culture wars were coming to a close. Trump began his campaign declaring Mexican immigrants to be “rapists”; he closed it with an anti-Semitic ad evoking “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion”; his own behavior made a mockery of the dignity of women and women’s bodies. And, when criticized for any of it, he batted it all away as “political correctness.” Surely such a cruel and retrograde figure could succeed among some voters, but how could he win? Surely, Breitbart News, a site of vile conspiracies, could not become for millions a source of news and mainstream opinion. And yet Trump, who may have set out on his campaign merely as a branding exercise, sooner or later recognized that he could embody and manipulate these dark forces. The fact that “traditional” Republicans, from George H. W. Bush to Mitt Romney, announced their distaste for Trump only seemed to deepen his emotional support.

The commentators, in their attempt to normalize this tragedy, will also find ways to discount the bumbling and destructive behavior of the F.B.I., the malign interference of Russian intelligence, the free pass—the hours of uninterrupted, unmediated coverage of his rallies—provided to Trump by cable television, particularly in the early months of his campaign. We will be asked to count on the stability of American institutions, the tendency of even the most radical politicians to rein themselves in when admitted to office. Liberals will be admonished as smug, disconnected from suffering, as if so many Democratic voters were unacquainted with poverty, struggle, and misfortune. There is no reason to believe this palaver. There is no reason to believe that Trump and his band of associates—Chris Christie, Rudolph Giuliani, Mike Pence, and, yes, Paul Ryan—are in any mood to govern as Republicans within the traditional boundaries of decency. Trump was not elected on a platform of decency, fairness, moderation, compromise, and the rule of law; he was elected, in the main, on a platform of resentment. Fascism is not our future—it cannot be; we cannot allow it to be so—but this is surely the way fascism can begin.

Hillary Clinton was a flawed candidate but a resilient, intelligent, and competent leader, who never overcame her image among millions of voters as untrustworthy and entitled. Some of this was the result of her ingrown instinct for suspicion, developed over the years after one bogus “scandal” after another. And yet, somehow, no matter how long and committed her earnest public service, she was less trusted than Trump, a flim-flam man who cheated his customers, investors, and contractors; a hollow man whose countless statements and behavior reflect a human being of dismal qualities—greedy, mendacious, and bigoted. His level of egotism is rarely exhibited outside of a clinical environment.

For eight years, the country has lived with Barack Obama as its President. Too often, we tried to diminish the racism and resentment that bubbled under the cyber-surface. But the information loop had been shattered. On Facebook, articles in the traditional, fact-based press look the same as articles from the conspiratorial alt-right media. Spokesmen for the unspeakable now have access to huge audiences. This was the cauldron, with so much misogynistic language, that helped to demean and destroy Clinton. The alt-right press was the purveyor of constant lies, propaganda, and conspiracy theories that Trump used as the oxygen of his campaign. Steve Bannon, a pivotal figure at Breitbart, was his propagandist and campaign manager.

It is all a dismal picture. Late last night, as the results were coming in from the last states, a friend called me full of sadness, full of anxiety about conflict, about war. Why not leave the country? But despair is no answer. To combat authoritarianism, to call out lies, to struggle honorably and fiercely in the name of American ideals—that is what is left to do. That is all there is to do.

God help us all to find the courage required to defend the principles we purport to believe in.