Archive for the ‘Critical Thinking’ Category.

Free Speech – What a Quandry

Freedom of speech is a principal pillar of a free government: When this support is taken away, the constitution of a free society is dissolved,

Who knew free speech would be so hard? The ACLU took major criticism after fighting for the White Nationalists to march downtown and the result was a death. Here is from Vox.com which kind of lays out the issues:

In the days before the Unite the Right rally, it became clear that Charlottesville would be a gathering point for both right-wing rallygoers and left-wing counterprotesters. The city of Charlottesville attempted to defuse the situation by moving the Unite the Right rally away from its original location — Lee Square, in downtown Charlottesville, featuring the statue of Robert E. Lee that was the ostensible cause of the rally — to a location farther away from the center of the city.

The city argued it was trying to prevent confrontation. But to free-speech activists — including the ACLU of Virginia — it was a pretty standard attempt to use a rally permit to marginalize unpopular speech. So the organizers of the rally sued, with the ACLU’s support, and won the right to keep the rally downtown.

…With more “alt-right” rallies planned for the weeks after Charlottesville, and mounting pressure on the ACLU to stop “defending Nazis,” the ACLU’s California affiliates issued a statement on Wednesday declaring, “We review each request for help on a case-by-case basis, but take the clear position that the First Amendment does not protect people who incite or engage in violence. If white supremacists march into our towns armed to the teeth and with the intent to harm people, they are not engaging in activity protected by the United States Constitution.”

Is that the right answer? I can think of speech against, say a President Trump, that the government could define as leading to revolt and therefore illegal and no protected. So then you ask, is the Declaration of Independence covered? Remember that that document was a justification for Revolutionary War with Britain. From the Vox article cited:

To be specific, government can prevent speech in the case of an “emergency” — when it’s clear that there’s no other way to prevent or protect against violence. But for more than a century, the courts have wrestled with what responsibility someone has when their speech results in violence — and when it’s okay to outlaw the former to prevent the latter.

Okay, these folks were carrying guns, clubs, and prepared for battle. Then we have another right that might be in play:

 “The cases acknowledging an individual right to bear arms are very recent,” White points out. After decades of maintaining that the Second Amendment applies to groups of people (a “well-organized militia”) instead of individuals seeking to own and carry guns, the Supreme Court sided with the “individual right” in the 2008 case Heller v. District of Columbia. That puts it “like 50 years behind where the First Amendment is,” White says, in terms of case law about what that right actually means: who it refers to, when it applies, and what if any “emergencies” justify the government curtailing it.

Yikes. We know that protecting the speech of what most of us consider abhorrent speech is necessary, but that also protects us from our government when we want to criticize them. But what if the speech is violates our Constitution. Clearly trying to deny the rights of anyone but white people is totally antithetical to our Constitution and basic values. Yet what if the Congress passed an Amendment against say flag burning. By the above metric were used, could my right for free speech be curtailed if I wanted to criticized that or even the Supreme’s ruling about individual rights to bear arms?

If you think there is an easy answer here, you are wrong. But how do you define probable violence? The Vox piece does a good job of pointing out the problems here. But then they offer this:

 From a leftist perspective, there’s more to violence than physical aggression — it’s also violent to promote ideas that see other groups of people as less than human, marginalize them, or prevent them from speaking. Those are the people who believe that “hate speech” either isn’t protected as free speech, or that it shouldn’t be — because in the case of “hate speech,” speech and violence are the same thing.

I would argue that this may be the way forward. I can think that say Republicans are totally wrong and in the process of destroying our country. I should have the right to shout that from the roof tops. But I cannot and should not describe them as subhuman or not deserving of the same rights as I do. My argument should not evolve around the personal, but on policies. Oh, and calling them morons, unless you are wondering, is not hate speech.  The morons still get all the rights of you and I.

I am not sure where this is going, because as vox.com points out, even my hate speech criteria has its problems. I guess from an ACLU point of view, they have to decide which cases to take and not take. Do you want to defend racists marching with guns, or a college professor who is being censored for his views. I would spend my limited resources on the latter. It is a terribly important thing to sort out and we have not really even scratched the surface yet.  And we are not really talking about it, except for us bleeding heart liberals.

 

Another Say What Moment or WTF

There was an op-ed piece in the NYT from a Republican now repenting his vote for Trump (I Voted For Trump and I Sorely Regret It). It is interesting reading because the reality of Trump has a least dawned on one diehard, but the question in my mind and apparently in many readers mind is that you did not see who he was in the campaign, which the writer, Julius Krein, seemed to gloss over:

Julius Krein writes like a well educated thoughtful person who appears to have been very much involved in analyzing Trump’s long campaign for the Presidency. As such it is hard to believe that he is only now coming to the conclusion that Trump is unqualified and too irresponsible to serve as President. Trumps repeated pandering to a Republican racist base during the campaign can hardly be viewed as “merely Bidenesque gaffes” (in my opinion) by anyone paying attention and willing to do a little research in to Trump’s past. How can anyone of sound mind attribute 45’s eight year long obsession with the birther movement as “merely a “Bidenesque” gaffe. Trump is and always has been a racist. Many who voted for him understood that.

It is interesting to read this to see how the disenfranchised Right thinks and what they were hoping for from Trump. But here is the line that gives me the most pause:

Far from making America great again, Mr. Trump has betrayed the foundations of our common citizenship. And his actions are jeopardizing any prospect of enacting an agenda that might restore the promise of American life.

And exactly what do Republicans have to offer to “restore the promise of American life”? I haven’t a clue. The one candidate that got this was Bernie Sanders who identified economic inequality as the root of all our problems (and the systems and laws that acerbates it). Mr. Krein tells us:

…Mr. Trump eschewed strict ideologies and directly addressed themes that the more conventional candidates of both parties preferred to ignore. Rather than recite paeans to American enterprise, he acknowledged that our “information economy” has delivered little wage or productivity growth. He was willing to criticize the bipartisan consensus on trade and pointed out the devastating effects of deindustrialization felt in many communities. He forthrightly addressed the foreign policy failures of both parties, such as the debacles in Iraq and Libya, and rejected the utopian rhetoric of “democracy promotion.” He talked about the issue of widening income inequality — almost unheard of for a Republican candidate — and didn’t pretend that simply cutting taxes or shrinking government would solve the problem.

Okay, but what policies did he propose? None (well not quite true, build a wall, hate immigrants, hate Muslims, trash everything, and be nasty) and Mr. Krein tells us that most politicians are vague about their exact policies. Hillary wasn’t. But there is a more fundamental problem. Smaller government, less regulation on business, unfettered market place, how do any of these do anything but accelerate economic inequality?

Then, after the election, I founded a quarterly journal, American Affairs, largely to question elements of what is often called the neoliberal policy consensus — totally open borders for capital and labor; transferring power from national governments to transnational technocracies; unfettered markets; and democracy promotion as the sole premise of foreign policy. In other words, the disappointing legacy we inherited from the Bushes and the Clintons that helped pave the way to Mr. Trump’s election.

Now I can agree with some of his points, but anything Republican, given their ideology, is not going to get you there and Trump was obviously pandering to Krein’s wishes with no game plan on how to get there. And of course he was a moral degenerate who demonstrated his failure to grasp the fundamental ideology of our democracy. Like the rubes in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan, they got that something was fundamental wrong with establishment politics, but they failed to grasp the moral depravity of the man they elected. Hard to figure that out when he was lying non-stop, inciting violence, saying racist things, and trying to tear at the fundamentals of our democracy, three branches of government and the free press all during the campaign

Here is the thing Democrats need to take away here. The Establishment is fundamentally flawed and there is a yearning in the country for fundamental changes to our economic system that hands out power to the wealthy and elects people who support the status quo. Bernie was that candidate. The Democratic establishment did him in, and we are where we are because of it. But again here are Mr. Krein’s words that tells about the mistake we make on both sides:

But many of us thought even this might be a positive if it forced him to focus on “making deals” rather than on Washington’s usual ideological posturing.

Deal making is not going to hack it. If Mr. Krein understood the Republicans he would have known they will never compromise their ideology that is what is accelerating economic inequality. See what happened on healthcare. Their ideology prevents solutions. Hillary made the same mistake believing that nonsense that voters just want us to get along. That is not they way they vote. She was going to be a deal maker. Did we learn nothing from Barack’s failure to make deals as the Right ate his lunch? What is required is a new way, from ground up, and government is the only entity that can make these changes. So we have to change government.

Probably what was so amazing is how bad the country wants this vision of the future that as Mr. Krein could do, overlook reality and only see the goals Trump touted, and not the nonsense that made up the path. Nothing is going to change and Democrats are never going to be successful until they finally get what Bernie was selling, that the rules we have set up for trade,

Wall Street, taxes, intellectual property, are flawed and need to be fixed. People want a secure future in an evolving economy. That demands investment in our country and our people, while developing a strong safety net. That is the way forward, not electing someone who can make deals, The deals are only to made with the devils that got us here. They will take us no where.

So if Democrats/Progressives read Mr. Krein’s piece, they should not wallow in I told you so. They need to recognize that Mr. Krein recognized the dysfunction of our present economic system as many Americans did, and foolishly voted for Mr. Trump as their only choice. Hillary would have maintain the status quo and we would not see the damage today, but 2020 without real change would have been another moment for another Trump. It is time for a whole new vision, and Bernie already gave it to us. If we see more establishment Democrats too closely tied to the power structure and Wall Street, it will be the demise of the party, and maybe the country. The writing is on the wall and the lettering is large and bold.

Waking Up

I guess you saw where Senator Corker, R-Tenn, said that Donald Trump was a peril to the country:

“The president has not yet been able to demonstrate the stability, nor some of the competence, that he needs to demonstrate in order for him to be successful — and our nation and our world needs for him to be successful, whether you are Republican or Democrat.”

“He also recently has not demonstrated that he understands the character of this nation. He has not demonstrated that he understands what has made this nation great and what it is today. And he’s got to demonstrate the characteristics of a president who understands that. Without the things I just mentioned happening, our nation is going to go through great peril.”

Well Bob, it is never going to happen and maybe it is time to recognize that and do something about it. Then there is Mitt Romney this morning:

Whether he intended to or not, what he communicated caused racists to rejoice, minorities to weep, and the vast heart of America to mourn. His apologists strain to explain that he didn’t mean what we heard. But what we heard is now the reality, and unless it is addressed by the president as such, with unprecedented candor and strength, there may commence an unraveling of our national fabric.

 …The potential consequences are severe in the extreme. Accordingly, the president must take remedial action in the extreme. He should address the American people, acknowledge that he was wrong, apologize. State forcefully and unequivocally that racists are 100% to blame for the murder and violence in Charlottesville. Testify that there is no conceivable comparison or moral equivalency between the Nazis–who brutally murdered millions of Jews and who hundreds of thousands of Americans gave their lives to defeat–and the counter-protestors who were outraged to see fools parading the Nazi flag, Nazi armband and Nazi salute. And once and for all, he must definitively repudiate the support of David Duke and his ilk and call for every American to banish racists and haters from any and every association.

 This is a defining moment for President Trump. But much more than that, it is a moment that will define America in the hearts of our children. They are watching, our soldiers are watching, the world is watching. Mr. President, act now for the good of the country.

Of course he won’t because on Tuesday he spoke what he really believes. Same as on Thursday when he tweeted that morally repugnant and untrue story of General Pershing in the Philippines. Yes Mitt, this is a defining moment for Republicans, for our moral integrity, and for our democracy. But Trump, the Village Idiot, has already failed that test over and over. Republicans are starting maybe to wake up to this Faustian bargain. But I have my doubts. Here is from a survey yesterday about whether the nation buys the two sides are responsible bull shit (not to mention the statue misdirection):

The majority of the voting rabble in the Republican Party think Trump is right and are oblivious to the reality of what went on there. That maybe why Republican Senators and Congress members will not take action against this demented man. We will soon find out whether they care more about their job than the good of the United States of America.

I experience this moral denial first hand in a Facebook exchange which I described in an earlier post. It went on and on with so many misdirections it was hard to focus on the main issue, if you don’t see the fallacy of the moral equivalency argument, you are the problem. Trump supporters are truly blinded by the light and they try to just tire you out. I was not going to just give up because that is how we got the moron President in the first place. But it backs up what the poll shows, they are blind to the damage this man is doing to the very basis of our democracy. What was sad was all the other readers went silent and did not want the uncomfortable confrontation.  That is how we got where we are today.

When I posted this in the thread, my Facebook protagonist was offended and could not see that this is the argument in it’s simplest terms:

I think we knew who Donald Trump was before he was elected, with the birther lies, then his blatant racism during the campaign, lack of knowledge of history or workings of our government, incitement of violence, attack on our basic institutions (judiciary and free press) and morally depraved (grab her pussy). Yet those GOPers put him in office and hoped for the best.

Well the worst has happened and the damage he is doing to the nation may be irreparable. Maybe they are waking up because Trump is never going to say he is sorry, or learn anything. It will just get worse and worse and Republicans fail to act hoping for their agenda. So here we are, with a real moral test of the nation and Mitt Romney nailed it. The only thing they have wrong is still hoping Trump can somehow change course or get a better or controlled message. What was it Einstein was purported to say, “Stupidity is doing the same thing over and over, and expecting a different result.”

Update:  Trump is purported to be pushing out Bannon.  My thought here is nothing changes.  Maybe the generals will be able to cage him better, but he is who he is and Tuesday was not Bannon, but Trump.  And make no mistake, the Republican Party and their base may just go to war.  We live with an unhinged president, and an unhinged Republican party that controls all levers of power in government.  We truly live in dangerous times.

I ‘m Sorry, But…

We all know the problem here. The “but” says I am not sorry and there is justification for what I did, you are wrong. Either you are sorry or you are not. Okay, then we have,

“There are two sides to a story. I thought what took place was a horrible moment for the country, but there are two sides to a story,” He is really say it was not a horrible moment and both sides are at fault. “You had a group on one side that was bad and you had a group on the other side that was also very violent. No one wants to say that, but I’ll say it right now: You had a group on the other side that came charging in without a permit and they were very, very violent.”

See they are both morally equivalent. Now let’s look away and move on. That is what he is saying. He is saying racists and neo-Nazis have the same moral equivalency to people who stand for what our Declaration of Independence states in clear language. Donald Trump is telling us that their ideas have the same validity. I thought we fought a war against that. Actually several. Somehow in his warped brain, neo-Nazis and racists have valid arguments too. Not if you are an American who read and understands the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and history. Oh, and don’t fall for the statue argument. Most the statues do not reflect pride in the South. They were erected in the late 19th century to resurrect white supremacy.

Probably what is most amazing about this defining moment is that Republicans have found no way to really censure President Trump. While they condemn racism and white supremacy, which is just hot air, they do not hold the President accountable, and in effect, enable him and his racism. I got into a Facebook discussion yesterday when one person took issue with my calling Donald Trump a white nationalist. Here is the comment:

That must be it. I wonder if Jesse Jackson knew that he was a white nationalist when he introduced him at the Rainbow Push Coalition. Jackson praised him for 30 years of helping the African American Community and for reaching out and being inclusive.

Now I took the approach that I am not sure what Jesse Jackson’s view has to do with current events*. It might have changed. But here is what we should be focusing on, another enabler for Donald Trump. Somehow he is not a fault. He is not a bad person. I did not make a mistake with my vote. Now the comment itself is insupportable. Donald Trump is enabling white racism and neo-nazis. He sent them a message that they have legitimate ideas. The proof is in their response. This person is an apologist for Donald Trump, and make no mistake, if you enable racism and hate, you are part of racism and hate. If Donald Trump can not see that there is no moral equivalency between the two sides, then he is a white racist. He has no moral center.

But the real point I want to make here is that it time to confront enablers of Donald Trump. We have a President who is enabling the rise of ideas that we thought we had we had put behind us. This will tear the nation apart and lead to violence and the acting out against minorities. It is time to stand up to friends, Facebook, whoever, and not let this enabling stand. We have to stand up and call these people out, not hold hands.

But I cannot say this as eloquently as Heather Heyer’s mother, Susan Bro, did this morning at her funeral and I will leave you with her words. But I will warn you one thing. If I hear any enabling of the shit that came out of Donald Trump’s mouth, I will challenge you. No more holding hands and getting along when getting along is enabling hate, racism, and violence. This is just wrong. We need to hold Donald Trump accountable.

You need to find in your heart that small spark of accountability. Let’s have the uncomfortable dialogue. It ain’t easy sitting down and say why are you upset. It ain’t easy sitting down and going well I think this way and I don’t agree with you, but I am going to respectfully listen to what you have to say. We are not going to sit around and shake hands and go Kumbuya and I am sorry but it is not all about forgiveness. I know that that is not a popular trend.

But the truth is we are all going to have our differences, we are all going to be angry with each other, but let’s channel that anger not into hate, not into violence, not into fear, but let’s channel that anger into righteous action and that is how you are going to make my child’s death worthwhile. I would rather have my child, but by golly if I have to give her up we are going to make it count.

I will try to do my part.

*”What does Jessie Jackson, an ambulance chaser (black causes) have to do with Donald Trump or with the facts of today that we can see before our very eyes. He made racist attacks on Hispanics, Muslims, and blacks during his campaign. He incited violence. Watch the video, Google it, I am not doing your work for you. His dad was a member of the Klu Klux Klan, and his real-estate dealings were cited over and over for discrimination. So again what hell does Jessie Jackson have to do with anything? Oh, and why is Steve Bannon one of his top advisors?”

We Elected a Racist Moron For President

From the NYT:

President Trump on Tuesday insisted that he did nothing wrong when he initially declined to specifically condemn Nazi and white supremacist groups, asserting that “before I make a statement, I like to know the facts.”

Say what? Here is the man who as far as we can tell lies and gets thing wrong more than any other President, and he likes to know the facts? Really? Did he know the facts when he claimed Mexican undocumented workers were all criminals, that Mexico would pay for the wall, or that illegal immigration was at record lows? Did he know the facts when he decried the rising murder rate when it is decreasing? Did he know the facts before he put in place a Muslim ban that violated the Constitution and did not target countries where previous attacks had come from? Did he know the facts before he declared global warming a hoax? One could go on and on. What a sack of shit he is. But wait, there is more.

In a long, tense exchange with reporters at Trump Tower, the president also criticized “alt-left” groups that he claimed were “very, very violent” when they sought to confront the nationalist and Nazi groups that had gathered in Charlottesville, Virginia to protest the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee from a park. He said there is “blame on both sides.”

Let’s see if I have this right. The alt-left did not show up with guns, right? The alt-left does not want to take rights away from those who are not white, or practices hate speech, right? The alt-left had prayer circles, did the alt-right? Did the alt-left march on Charlottesville or was that the alt-right? Can we really say that the alt-left, willing to confront neo-nazis, are the same as the neo-nazis? Really? We should condemn violence on both sides and respect their right to protest, but one side is selling hate and racism? One group was there to intimidate and deny our basic freedoms and the other group was there to confront them so there was no free ride. They are not the same you moron.

“Many of those people were there to protest the taking down of the statue of Robert E. Lee,” Mr. Trump said. “This week, it is Robert E. Lee and this week, Stonewall Jackson. Is it George Washington next? You have to ask yourself, where does it stop?”

Now as NY Magazine characterized this: “’You had some very bad people in that group. But you also had some very fine people,’ Trump said of those who came to Charlottesville to defend the honor of men who committed treason in defense of chattel slavery.” I think that about captures the failure of his logic. Robert E. Lee committed treason, led an armed insurrection of our country, and tried to abrogate our Constitution in the defense of slavery. George Washington may have owned slaves, but that was not treason or illegal. It was part of who we were then, sad as that is to say.

“You had some very bad people in that group. You also had some very fine people on both sides,”

Every met a “fine” racist. Ever met a “fine neo-Nazi? I wish I was making this up. I wish this was fake new, but this is who our President is. Did I thank the people of Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan enough again? You fucking idiots.

Several pundits have noted that the Donald can’t say anything bad about the white nationalists because he is too dependent on his base. I don’t think that is it at all. He doesn’t want to say anything bad because he believes what he said. He has been and is a racist white nationalist. And for those people who are racist morons, I apologize. Putting you in the same category as Donald Trump really did go too far. I apologize.

What Happened to Us?

That really is the critical question. I sit here this morning reading various pieces about the white supremacists who came to Charlottesville to cause violence and I wonder how did we get here? How did we get a President who is a white nationalist and could not bring himself to condemn them? How did America lose what makes us great, our embracing of diversity? We elected Barack Obama twice and almost elected a woman, and we thought we were putting racism and the fear of diversity behind us, and all of a sudden we are back in the 1950s. How did the very values within our own Constitution and the lessons and great sacrifice of WWII just get forgotten and tossed out by the voters when the elected Donald Trump who legitimized white nationalism?

I have been struggling with that question now for some time. The election of Donald Trump was unfathomable. How do people still defend him when we see who he is? Well probably for the same reason they voted for him when it was plainly obvious who he was during the campaign. After George Bush, who may I add is no Donald Trump, I thought we learned our lesson about conservatism and ignorance. But they made a quick comeback and the national memory turned out to be short termed.

I have some ideas about how we failed and how we are failing the vision of the Founders:

  • When Democrats had the three branches of government, they grossly underestimated the obstructionism and moral depravity of the Republicans where making a President fail regardless of what it did to the country was the goal
  • Both Parties were too tied up with, oh dare I say it, elites or the party establishment, far to wedded to Wall Street and the economic status quo so nothing changed
  • Critical thinking and science had been under attack for years as conservatives tried to create a false reality that supported their ideology, whether that was flow down, immigration is the problem, fear the debt, or all government is bad
  • Election of a black president who many of us thought was the sign we have moved on, not recognizing he terrified a large part of our population, who never admitted their inherent racism, and believed all kinds of nonsense about him

So we entered a period where government was highly ineffective and seemed to be untethered totally from Main Street, reliable sources of news and facts were being attacked and undermined, and the progress we were making socially was used as a club to blame our economic woes upon. Those economic woes came from the uncertainty that many now feel in their lives due to how corporations were moving into the global market place and leaving Americans behind, the reality of secure job loss, automation, and the environment was ripe for mob rule, fear politics, and an outsider who promised to fix it all.

What I cannot come to grips with is how anyone could not see through Donald Trump or what he represented. That is the part that is so hard to deal with. I have no problem understanding how Republicans fell in line to support him. After sabotaging the country during the Obama administration, it was clear that it was and is all about power and how to get it. Their ideology is flexible to that anyway. But the American people should have been asking questions about an obvious sexual predator (grab her pussy), pathological liar (how many Pinocchios again), who incited violence, had trouble disavowing white supremacists, and made promises like building the wall that Mexico would pay for, and bringing back coal jobs with no plan on how to do anything. He was going to tear down everything we have done (Obamacare, Iran nuclear deal, trade agreements, EPA) with no plan to fix or replace them. How could they be so stupid to select someone who was going to tear down our democracy and reject our fundamental beliefs because they didn’t get listened to? More importantly how could the nation fall so far so fast?

I guess more fundamentally how can you not understand our basic fundamental beliefs enshrined in the Declaration of Independence and then elect a man so antithetical to those basic values when he advertised exactly who he was. The one and only thing that makes us exceptional is that we were a place where people can come and based upon their own drive and initiative, secure for themselves and their families a future, where tolerance and diversity are our strength? And then they elected someone who eschews all of this and openly ran against diversity and tolerance. How can that be?

Well they did it. I don’t say we because the majority of us did not vote for this abomination as a president. So the question is, how do we fix it before it is too late? First, like any alcoholic, we have admit we have a problem. Republicans can’t seem to bring themselves to this revelation. And the only fix is to take to the streets and resist, and then get the vote out in 2018. Donald may fall of his own weight with the help of Robert Mueller, or the Republican Party may be too depraved to respond to the inevitable findings. But we would have another overly religious and self-righteous man in the White House who also eschews diversity and lives in the fantasy land of Republican ideology. We have to get organized and vote. If the events this weekend did not tell you how far we have fallen, then you are sleep walking through the wreckage.

The President and His Remarks

Blah, Blah, Blah…Blah, Blah, Blah.  The President had his chance and if you are surprised by his failure to condemn white supremacists and to try to paint this as some kind of both sides do it argument, you were asleep at what he did in his campaign and what he is quietly doing now.  During his campaign he pandered to violence, and labeling “those” people, and refused to separate himself from white nationalists.  Now he has an avowed white nationalist in his administration.  He dropped the government support of the Texas law suit to protect voter rights.  He has redirected the Attorney General to refocus on white affirmative action as though whites are suffering badly.  He has appointed a panel to find voter fraud which is a thinly veiled way to further suppress votes. He directed Homeland Security to redirect funds toward looking at domestic terrorism to islamic terrorism.  His actions are those of a white nationalist pure and simple.

Now he comes out and tries to amend his statement and actually mentioned neo-nazis and white supremacists, but there was still code in there to let them know he is spewing words and not to worry.  There was still a soft pedaled all groups (i.e. those crazy people who were resisting hate groups). He disavowed violence, but not the groups, just the violence of the groups.  Right, racism has no place in America, and then never connected the dots to white nationalism. And ask yourself this, where is the action by this administration to do something about these groups, hate, and the rights of minorities?  Where are the policies? He was forced to say something and he got the words he had to say in, but there was nothing there.  Hot air so he can hold on to his base.

And note that Republicans disavowed Trumps words, say all the right things, but do not go after to him.  They continue to enable.  President Trump is scum of the earth that has practiced hate speech using his twitter and we expect anything different?  Note he started his speech by how he saved the economy, which was already doing fine, and miss-led on what he has accomplished and what was already happening anyway.

Now he will move on and nothing changes unless we do something about him.  As for the Republicans and impeachment, don’t hold your breath.  This is not a surprise and to act surprised is an act of massive hypocrisy. Let’s not pretend that anything has changed.  But maybe the rest of us got a wakeup call.

Say What?

I was perusing the articles about the white supremists yesterday and how we have alternate facts these days and I keep coming upon these identity political terms. I have no idea what they mean except to muddy the facts and issues. Here is one example:

Erick-Woods Ericson: "As a conservative, I see both the social justice warrior alt-left and the white supremacist alt-right as two sides of the same coin. Both would punish others for wrongthink. Both see the other side not as opponents, but as evil that can justifiably be silenced. Both have risen in recent years as a response to the crumbling of Western civilization’s certainties."

I know who the alt-right are* and so do all Republicans. They are represented by the Steve Bannons of the world, but then there is that equivalency thing with the alt-left. Who is the alt-left? Do they push racism and division, white nationalism? Or is he talking about Bernie Sanders? Okay so I looked it up: "An alternative political movement that seeks to unite those who feel underrepresented or marginalized by current mainstream political channels, who seek to adhere to left-wing policies while rejecting what they deem the regressive left agenda; 'Identity Politics.'"

Okay, that would be me, but I don't want to beat anyone up, carry a gun, suppress my fellow-man, or rage against sexual diversity. How are these two equivalent? Oh sure, you can find some left-wing fruit cake who wants to fight the right-wing fruit cakes, but is there a left-wing militia? Are they marching in the streets to deny others rights? There is no equivalency here. It's a dodge to not understand the depth of the dysfunction of the Republican party. It is a way to cloud the real issues with labels/identity instead of dealing directly with the issues themselves. See, both are intolerant therefore both parties have their issues, mine isn't so bad. Well actually one is intolerant of intolerance of the other and that is a whole other thing.

Now on the identity politics, Frank Bruni wrote a really interesting op-ed this morning about how our identity, white, black, gay, straight, poor, rich, etc., is somehow seen as legitimizing our views on some issue and delegitimizing others:

I’m a white man, so you should listen to absolutely nothing I say, at least on matters of social justice. I have no standing. No way to relate. My color and gender nullify me, and it gets worse: I grew up in the suburbs. Dad made six figures. We had a backyard pool. From the 10th through 12th grades, I attended private school. So the only proper way for me to check my privilege is to realize that it blinds me to others’ struggles and should gag me during discussions about the right responses to them.

Then he points how how other writers and thinkers are attacked because they do not have the right identity to legitimize their experience and their comments. He is fair in his assessment that whites have for too long held sway in arguments, but to disregard their content because they have not earned some merit badge of color or disadvantage simply further divides us. My favorite example of this was when Bernie Sanders was giving a campaign speech and was interrupted by Black Lives Matter because his message of economic inequality did not recognize their experience of systemic racism. Bernie initially argued that creating a fair economic system will also deal with this systemic racism, but that was not enough. He needed planks in his platform that specifically addressed systematic racism as an issue.

This is identity politics and while there is systemic racism, and maybe a message of economic inequality should include how to deal with more entrenched inequality of systemic racism, Black Lives Matters lost the battle by attacking the very person who could help them. They disregarded the legitimacy of his argument because he did not have the experience of a black person. But the message has to be inclusive, not fragmented to various interest groups. Certainly your race, life experiences, economic status, sexual orientation inform your understanding of an issue. But they also blind you to others if you believe that empathy can only be obtained if you walk in their shoes. It is the anecdotal. How many times have I listened to a conservative tell me that they have seen how lazy some person is and that explains why the poor are poor. That is their experience so it must be universal.

FDR was a wealthy aristocrat. Yet he understood and led one of the greatest social revolutions of our times. He did that because he was not surrounded by an elite, but those with experiences from all walks of life. He did that because he was married to a wonderful woman who was his eyes and ears in the greater society and the suffering going on there. He was surrounded by a wealth of experience that was formed into one reality and one set of policies. My point is simple here. Quit the labeling. Identity politics is just another form of labeling so you do not have to think deeply about the actual facts and their complexities. Because of your experience you know everything there is to know. Bull shit. You may actually be blinded by your identity.

Note one other thing about identity politics, it is about multiple realities**. But there is only one reality, just as there is only one set of real facts. We have to take the experiences of one subgroup as part of the whole, not a separate stand alone reality. This is not to say those that are from an identity group do not have valid insights, it is to say they may not see the big picture, being not only informed by their identity, but blinded by it.

Maybe I am an old fool, but I like to think that there is one thread that connects all of us, our humanity, and it goes deeper than the color of our skin, the amount of money we have, our sexual identity, or even the country we come from. I like to think that the Declaration of Independence captured that humanness: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are create equal with certain inalienable rights, among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." Note that the alt-right denies this basic truth, or alters if to be "all white men…". In order to achieve this there are many, many tradeoffs. If your liberty tramples on someone else's, there has to be a balance. In order to get there we have to take into account the experiences of all of us. But ideas should not be watered down by labels, or validated by identity. They stand on their own merits and must be challenged with other ideas, not labels. We have a long way to go.

*"The alt-right, or alternative right, is a loosely defined group of people with far-right ideologies who reject mainstream conservatism in favor of white nationalism, principally in the United States, but also to a lesser degree in Canada and Europe." In other words, people who reject the basis of our government and equal rights unless you are only talking about white people.

**One way to think about this is when Rachel Maddow and Meaghan McCain were talking gun control. I wrote about this here. Meaghan's experiences were of the gated community crowd and what is the problem with guns to protect yourself, and the counter experience in a Chicago neighborhood devastated by gun violence. But there is only one reality. Rich people in gated communities are clueless about the problems of gun violence in the inner cities. Their alternate reality about guns exacerbates the problem.

Free Speech Versus Hate Speech

Well a sign of our times is the Neo-Nazi/White Nationalist face off in Charlottesville Virginia in a protest to removing a Robert E. Lee Statue. Oh, did I mention the Ku Klux Klan? Wait, there was a militia marching with their weapons. They are all clashing with counter protestors. Welcome to Trump’s America. Also note that as of this morning, Breitbart is not reporting it, I guess because their continuous legitimizing of hate has now broken out. It is the Alt-Right under one banner. And it is the people who elected Donald Trump. And why is a hate monger like Steve Bannon in the White House?

We are going to see a further rise of violence and white nationalism, because that is how Donald Trump won the election, by goading and legitimizing those hates. So in one part of our country we are turning on each other and finding ways to hate each other. That is the America middle America brought us because we did not understand their pain. They wanted change. How’s that change working?

And make no mistake, the Alt-Right is not exercising their free speech rights, they are engaging in hate speech. There are limits. I am appalled that our greatest strength, our diversity and tolerance, is now under attack and that is clearly legitimized by one person, Donald Trump. The man is not just a disgrace to America, but to the human race. And now we see the fruits of stupid people casting stupid votes.

I would like to expand on that, stupid, ignorant votes. The conventional wisdom is that when Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan (roughly just 80,000 votes) went Trump, because he was the only one who spoke to their pain. Horse shit. The word is pander to their pain and they stupidly fell for it. It was ignorance at work. Sure, even I thought Hillary did not bring real understanding of the increasing economic inequality, and was part of a Democratic elite too tied to the status quo and Wall Street. But Donald Trump was a racist liar. That is not an opinion, he displayed it in every campaign rally he spoke at.

So Hillary did not pander to them, and in fact did not even think they were worth listening too, but the Donald did. And what he promised them was a total fantasy, that he would bring back manufacturing and coal. But how? They never asked that. He is a business man and will run government smartly. Really? That is another stupid and uniformed belief that government is anything like business, nor should it be. It is not to maximize profits, it is to protect us and invest in our futures. So without any plans for the future, describing a reality that does not exist, exhibiting misogynistic, racist, white nationalist tendencies, they voted for him. They are fucking idiots. Now we have the rise of white nationalism, and hate everywhere. We may talk ourselves into several wars, and trust me, the economy is going to crash.

So do you think the Democratic Party should pander to their stupidity and racism? I don’t think so. Don’t move to the middle if that is what moving to middle means. Certainly they have problems and they should be addressed in a more holistic manner in policies to deal with economic inequality. Hillary would have been so much better for them, even with all her faults. But they were mad as hell and stupid as a block of wood. And now we live with what they delivered to us. I tell you who is mad as hell…

So I am doing my part. This is what stupidity and ignorance bring us. We should not pander to it, but educate it, shun it when it won’t be educated, and be a Party and a people who stands for diversity and equal rights, including fixing our economic system so it works for all of us. Hillary did not get that the system is fatally flawed, but she might have eventually, and certainly steered a course that would not give rise to hate, and further violence. We would not be having a legitimized alt-right today.

We are in such dangerous times, both from the bluster abroad and the rise of armed alt-right here at home. This is squarely on Donald Trump. What we need to do as a People and as a Party is to reject both and show a level of intolerance to the hates and fears that sparks all this violence. Republicans continue to pander and enable what we are seeing. Democrats need to firmly reject all of it. Oh sure, we will get statements of horror from Republicans, but Donald Trump is who they enabled. And now the fate of the nation lies in the hands of Republicans in Congress who could do something about him. So far, we have seen what they are made of.

UPDATE: President Trump on Saturday issued a vague condemnation of violence in Charlottesville in a televised statement from New Jersey.

“We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry, and violence on many sides,” Trump said.

On both sides? Maybe someone ought to show him video of his own speeches. Or maybe someone ought to explain to him what the alt-Right is all about, hate, fear, and violence, not to mention intolerance. The Kettle calling the Pot black. What would President Obama have said, or for that matter, President Bush? Oh have we have fallen.

Bernie Responded: https://twitter.com/SenSanders/status/896486900416077825

Oh and here is real leadership and pointing the finger at white supremacy and neo-nazis:

 

Holy Mackerel, or Republicans are Evil

I don’t know what to tell you. I started this blog to write about policy and the failed logic of conservatives and some Democrats and now I am reduced to trying to explain insanity. Oh, and I would have titled this particular blog Holy Shit, but I am trying to clean up my language. I listen to the news now and must say holy shit at least 50 times a day. Oh what I would give for a slow news day.

I have spoken of the fire and fury and then the doubling down, the myriad of contradictory messages coming out of the government, but the one that got me the most was the Village Idiot’s comments about the 755 State Department employees told to go home, actually thanking Vald:

“I want to thank him because we’re trying to cut down our payroll, and as far as I’m concerned I’m very thankful that he let go a large number of people because now we have a smaller payroll,” Trump said. “There’s no real reason for them to go back. I greatly appreciate the fact that we’ve been able to cut our payroll of the United States. We’re going to save a lot of money.”

So people who have dedicated their lives to foreign service are just dead weight on a payroll? Now you know how he really feels just about all Americans, they are a means to an end and when they are no longer necessary, kiss your ass goodbye. If you did not think there was Russian collusion or some kind of a Russian hold on the Village Idiot, this should give you pause.

Republicans are living out a self-fulfilling prophesy. They claim government is incompetent and now, by cracky, they have instituted one that makes incompetent look absolutely first-rate. I have said many times, and been accused of hyperbole, that Republicans are evil. But step back for a moment and think about it. The Village Idiot is not an aberration, but the result of a long campaign to dumb down and lie to the American people. Then they are shocked, shocked I tell you at the monster they have created. Then when he got elected, they all fell in line.  How’s that for evil?

The critical evidence in their evilness was the failure to repeal and replace Obamacare. They only needed 50 votes in the Senate and lo and behold, some of them figured out they had no solutions for the replace part of the replace and the repeal, and at least for some, was too cruel (and maybe career ending which is the only thing most politicians respond to). In fact Republicans have no workable solutions for almost any of our critical challenges we face today. They never had to have any as they opposed Obama and became ever more ideological, and now their ideology is a dead-end with no space to turn around. The difficult problems like economic inequality, global warming, failing infrastructure, education costs going through the roof, and loss of high paying middle class jobs are not solved “by the miracle of the market place”.

But we are faced with an increasingly insane* approach to North Korea which could kill millions and destroy much of the world’s economy, and no approach on the “nonexistent” global warming, both will have dire consequences for it now turns out, us, and our children, and we have insanity and evilness at the helm. Had we elected the establishment Hillary and a few progressive Democrats, both situations would have been in good hands.

And all of this makes no mention of a federal budget or the debt ceiling crisis looming. Once again ideology is going to get in the way. The Republicans will scream deficit, deficit, deficit and they will not authorize any more debt, except we already incurred it when they voted for things so now what they are doing is welshing on paying their bills. An it has become an article of faith with many Americans that debt is just bad and we should balance the budget. There is an element of truth herein controling our debt, but in general both are wrong and I have written copiously about why they are wrong so I won’t go into it again.

So they are poised to destroy America as a leader in the world, maybe start WWIII, do nothing about global warming that will destroy much of the world as we know it, destroy our economic standing in the world, and have no workable solutions for any of our domestic challenges except less government and cutting taxes, and you wonder why I know they are evil? They enabled everything we see before us. The people who pride themselves in believing hard work and discipline is all that is required to succeed, have been selling us a free ride for the last 50 years and nothing is free. Government leveling the playing field and making investments in our future, not our rich is what it is going to take. That would be heresy in Republican land.

One final thought. I watched the Village Idiot claim that Manafort is a nice man, but basically who knows. He knows. He put him in charge of everything for two months. He now knows that the government has the goods on collusion and illegal financial dealing and he is trying to distance himself, with the defense, “I had no idea.” It won’t wash which is why we should be very afraid about North Korea. It is the ultimate subject changer. Have a lovely weekend. I am stocking up on survival rations. That would be wine and lamb. Oh, and some beer and wings when I play my DVD recordings of all ball games. I already have a generator.

*You know I do have one crazy thought. While North Korea is crazy and unpredictable, maybe if they see that Trump is the same way, they might actually fear him. Then again they might actually engage him in a war. We will see.