Posts tagged ‘Racism’

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.

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:

 

Denial in Full Display

Nicolle Wallace interviewed Jeb Bush on his campaign and as I noted in my last blog, his choice for president.  But what I found so striking in that neither one of them have a clue (st least on display) on how the party got so far off track and how Donald Trump took them over. They get the anger, they just don’t get their responsibility for it. Jeb Bush was partly right in describing the environment we are in (anger) and “this larger life character partially created by him and partially created by media coverage of him,” but he missed what the anger was about. He then blamed the momentum stop on Nicky Halley endorsing Marco Rubio and the Pope coming to Mexico and talking about immigrants.  Really sad.

But then we get to the real issue.  Jeb points out that Donald Trump is not a real conservative.  Nicolle points out that he tried to make that case “and nobody cared.” Jeb responded:

Jeb Bush:  The here and now is this presidential.  The conservative cause is not just about a presidential race.  It is about core beliefs which if implemented properly will lead people to a better life. I think outside this hot presidential campaign this message resonates.  It is still important and It still resonates around the country.

Nicolle Wallace:  The people who voted for you twice picked Trump.  I mean he won Florida overwhelmingly.  Did we.. it can’ be all on Trump.  Our voters wanted something else.  Did we stop talking to them, did we stop understanding them?

Okay I am going to stop right here.  First of all Jeb is oblivious to economic inequality brought about by small government, little regulation, and tax cuts for the wealthy.  What he cannot accept is that conservatism has been recognized by the base as serving the wealthy and have turned to Donald Trump.  Nicolle exposes her own searching on this subject as a Republican with the question, did we stop talking to them?  The “we” is revealing in her own bias here (which she readily admits) and the fact that she is still trying to understand this while in denial that conservatism does not work for the base.  If they had listened to them, they would have had to chuck many conservative ideas and that was unthinkable.

Jeb Bush:  No I don’t think so.  I think the difference is people don’t believe anything anyone says any more. I don’t even know if anyone heard what I said.  That’s the point.  They wanted their voice heard, they still do. They are angry for legitimate reasons.  They latched onto the big horse, all of which is logical to me in retrospect.

Nicolle Wallace:  So how did we get here, we are now in a party…

Jeb Bush:  This is the environment of reality TV.  It is a cultural…

Okay, Jeb goes on to there was nothing he could have done, even with 20-20 hindsight, which I find also truly self-serving.  He notes that we are in the Kardashian world where truth and facts don’t matter.  It is showmanship over substance with a base that is angry.

Following this segment of the interview the panel jumped in.  The only really penetrating insight was from Eugene Robinson (no surprise here*):

Eugene:  I think this is a revealing interview. He blames the Pope? He blames the Pope for stepping on one news cycle (Nicolle saying No in the background)?  There is a certain inability to grasp what happened.  Where he doesn’t go, he says well it is logical, they went for the big dog, people were disaffected, but the one thing he doesn’t seem to be able to take a look at is the conservative message he was delivering.  He seems to believe in that very deeply and he doesn’t seem to be dealing with the fact that people heard it but they went for something different.

Nicolle defending:  His belief is that he, and his ideas was overwhelmed by a force of nature and Donald Trump.  You know this conversation is the conversation that we have when cameras are falling.

Actually, and I will help Nicolle here. What happened was two things.  Eugene nailed one of them, they offered the base nothing but old failed conservative dogma.  One might ask why Nicolle did not go there.  She could have asked where were the new Republican ideas (there aren’t any)? She could have asked what those core conservative beliefs were that make up conservatism and ask why they have not helped people angry about not being helped.  She might remind him when he goes, it’s Obama’s fault, that they are rejecting Republicans,  This speaks volumes about both’s denial to the answers to these questions

The other thing going on here is the “force of nature”.  How could you have a base reject rational argument and facts about Donald Trump?  Why could you do nothing about that?  The answer is the other thing they are in denial about, and that is they created that mindless base I call the White Mob. Nicolle could have asked if Republicans themselves are responsible for the Kardashian environment.  She did not because I don’t think she has seen or will admit seeing that element of the party becoming the party itself. 

Neither Jeb nor Nicolle  see how they enabled a Donald Trump when he served their Party’s interests with birtherism and racism.  They never challenged the lies and miss information campaign.  Why not call Republicans to task for ignoring science?  We have a whole Republican Party who lies or misstates our economic picture (who again ruined the economy, and who has mostly brought it back at least by our usual measures?) and created a propaganda machine that spews out misinformation when the facts are inconvenient to their ideology?  

They got half their Party believing President Obama is a Muslim and was born in Kenya. Where are the death panels? Where is the indictment of Hillary for Benghazi?  You might even go way back and ask where those weapons of mass destruction are?  Oh, don’t forget torture works and Mexicans are amassed at the border.  Flow down works?  How? They have been lying about so many things for so long and using race, xenophobia, and nativism to keep the base in fear and confused.  No wonder, as Jeb said, “people don’t believe anything anyone says any more.”  Yeah, that is a real problem, but they created it.

What you have here is very simple, but if Republicans faced it, conservatism would have to be redefined.  As it is presently configured, conservatism helps no one but the wealthy to maintain the status quo.  To recognize that and address it would require a whole rethinking of their whole ideological edifice and their hate of big government**.  Second, by trying to twist reality to fit their conservative ideology, their lies and the use of racism, nativism, and xenophobia created a base ruled by fear politics living in a fact free zone.  In other words.  Conservatives committed suicide instead of changing.  Neither Nicolle nor Jeb see this and maybe never will. Once you do, you have to rethink your whole ideology and I don’t think they are up to it.

*I am not sure what Brian Williams brings to the panel and heading up every focused news event.  He reports, but never asks penetrating questions so his interviews never challenge.  When Rachel is around him, she seems to check her brain at the door.  We are left with Eugene to save us.

**I addressed this in another blog (Change) to point out that: “But the real motivation for establishment Republicans is for those that have to keep things exactly as they are, favoring them. They don’t want little government, they want government that favors them. They don’t want fewer regulations, but regulations that favors them. They do want smaller taxes, but only for them. The rest of you have to pay up for the stuff government does that helps them.”

Change

I was perusing through the paper this morning and the dominant theme was change and how most of the unrest we see, whether racial or social, is at its very heart about the fear of change.  I mean, think about it.  We evolved in a planet where things were fairly static for the human experience.  Societies basically were static until they became untenable and then a new power structure exerted itself, but these changes occurred over centuries.  Now things are changing at rapidly accelerating rates.  And people are freaking out.

There was a delightful article (Among the Little Englanders) about the vote for Brexit (70%) in a small town in southern England mainly populated by older white people:

This is a part of England that most English people — and almost all foreigners — ignore. That’s why so many of us were surprised by the referendum’s result. This is a nation that feels left behind — by political parties, by globalization, by immigration, by the new social customs. It’s a nation afraid of the future, one that never came to terms with Europe and its strange habits in the first place.

And as the author tells us, “Nostalgia for a self-sufficient, cozy Little England that is long gone.”

Back here in America there was an op-ed explaining how the evangelicals are justifying Donald Trump (The Evangelicals and the Great Trump Hope).  But change is scaring them to death which allows them to overlook his flaws:

When Barack Obama was elected president in 2008, white Christians (Catholics and Protestants) constituted a majority (54 percent) of the country; today, that number has slipped to 45 percent. Over this same period, support for gay marriage — a key issue for evangelicals — moved from only four in 10 to solid majority territory, and the Supreme Court cleared the way for gay and lesbian couples to marry in all 50 states. The Supreme Court itself symbolized these changes, losing its last remaining Protestant justice, John Paul Stevens, in 2010.

Mr. Trump’s ascendancy has turned the 2016 election into a referendum on the death of white Christian America, with the candidate appealing strongly to those who are most grieving this loss. 

It only takes a small leap to see how this is applying to the great racial unrest today and the push back from the likes of Rudy Giuliani who claims this is all Black Lives Matter’s fault and people should respect police.  Oh Rudy, if it were just that simple.  Clearly debatable, but not for me, electing a black President scared the bejesus out of many people who now see a world not dominated by white Protestants/Catholics.  How dare those uppity blacks stand up for their fair share of power!  So many of us think the backlash has empowered the racists to act out.

We live in a world where Global Warming is denied because it threatens the natural order of things, where globalization presents new challenges, ideas, and people of color.  Technology brings constant change and requires a learning mind* in our new economy.  And people are afraid of what that means for them.  There are two ways to deal with it, embrace and control it, or try to turn back the clock.

It the is no surprise that conservatives want to turn back the clock.  Therefore it is no surprise that Republicans use this change as a vehicle to incite fear, racism, and regression.  For the base I guess they think the world won’t still evolve around them.  But the real motivation for establishment Republicans is for those that have to keep things exactly as they are, favoring them.  They don’t want little government, they want government that favors them.  They don’t want fewer regulations, but regulations that favors them.  They do want smaller taxes, but only for them.  The rest of you have to pay up for the stuff government does that helps them.

So what we have this election is a choice between a fantasy world where change does not happen and reality can be ignored, and change is happening and we need to embrace it and control it to benefit the majority of people.  Republicans across the board are in denial, whether it is a belief in antiquated economic ideas that only benefit the rich, or in supporting a snake oil salesman who can sell them bringing back the America of old (also a fantasy state).  In the evolution of the human being, there were those who kept us safe by advising caution and going slow, and those who were adventurous and tried new things.  Today those who want us to go slow and be cautious have turned into going nowhere and keeping the world safe for only those already safe.

Everything you see out there is really a reflection of this simple dynamic working itself out.  From racial tensions, to facing a changing environment and economy, it is really about those favored by the current system resisting change that is happening anyway.  Eventually the pie will be cut up differently. That has always been the case, but today change is happening at the speed of sound and fear and ignorance are easily stoked to ignore reality with false promises.  That is really what this election is about, no matter how flawed the candidates.  One will deal with change and one will deny it and promise tomorrow will be like yesterday.  It is a false promise.

*Learning mind – Young people get this, but the old don’t.  You can’t stand still.  A skill today is an antique tomorrow.  So jobs evolve rapidly as the skill sets change, so must we.  So we have to educate ourselves and grow our entire lives.  When you are forty, most of the stuff you learned at twenty will be obsolete.  For many, this scares them to death.  For the rest of us, it is an exciting adventure.

Republican Denial

I have spent a lot of cyber ink in this space pointing out the Democrat’s denial about what the Bernie movement is telling them.  It is an important message for their very survival, but the Republican’s denial about Trump leaves the Democrat’s denial in its wake.  Here is what you hear these days from Republicans in shell shock about Trump:  “He will ruin the party and we need to replace him with anyone, preferrably Rubio, Cruz, or Kasich.”  I listened to one serious and earnest Republican delegate to the convention talk about how they could unbound themselves from voting for him to give them a replacement.  I question their arguments on this one, but the real denial is that one of the “other guys” would be acceptable.   

Look at it from the Republican point of view.  Although they deny it, or at least have not faced up to it, the White Mob that supports Trump is their creation.  They have happily backed lies and half truths about policy, along with code for racism and discrimination to stoke the White Mob’s excitement when it served their purpose.  Now here is simply a fact.  Republican economic policies are totally focused on the wealthy and in fact further undercut white middle class (well, anything below the 1%).  That has not been lost on the White Mob, hence their rejection of the “other guys” and the selection of Trump. So there are two things going on here, a creation of an uniformed and irrational base, and economic policies that do not address their problems.

The denial the Republicans refuse to face is that while the White Mob is racist and xenophobic, they are right about one thing, Republican economics has not worked for them.  It is a message similar to the one being given to the Democrats albeit from a more rational crowd, that politics as usual, and money in politics, has failed.  Republicans seem to want to double down on their economic ideas with a “traditional” Republican that the base has rejected.  So if they nominate one and throw Trump out, there will be real riots in Cleveland.  And if they don’t, and stay with Trump, they will lose and lose big, especially in down ballot races.  It is lose-lose and they have yet to look in the mirror.

The real issue is that they have no new ideas.  They strongly believe in conservatism which translates to small government, low taxes, and little regulation, and none of it relates to the world we live in.  Instead of small government we need smart government.  Instead of low taxes we need resonable taxes considering what we want government to do.  Instead of little regulation, we need smart regulations.  Republicans have never dealt with the fact that small government means cutting the very programs the White Mob depends on (and so do most of the other 99%).  It doesn’t address how we rebuild our infrastructure or create an economy for tomorrow.  They have never dealt with the fact that low taxes means wealth accumulation for the few and that flow down does not operate.  They have never dealt with the fact that every time they unleash the market place with few regulations, disasters follow.

So they are in giant denial.  They think they just need to restore a real Republican and things will go back to normal, but their normal is only okay for the 1%.  The White Mob is giving them a giant lesson in their politics of lies, distortion, xenophobia, and racism, along with a wake up call about who their economic ideas really appeal to.  In contrast, while Democrats are also in denial, their denial is about how they have been co-opted by the system to expect very little in the way of change and call it progress.  But at least the change they do fight for is to help the 99%.  It will be interesting to see how this all plays out over the next 4 1/2 months.  Happy Saturday

“We Need to Focus on the Real Issues Out There”

Yes Republicans are quite frustrated with Trump’s blatant racist remarks about the judge in the Trump University trial.  It probably would be okay if he had used code.  But Mitch McConnell decried this misdirection when they could be focusing on “the poor employment numbers”.  Okay, I will be your friendly conservative representative talking about this without any of the usual code:

Reporter Pain in the Ass:  Congressman Blowhard, what are the issues you are running on?

Congressman Blowhard:  Well did you see those employment numbers last month.  Holy mackerel.  That Obama Administration is running us into the ground.  We need to elect Republicans to get our economy going again.

Reporter Pain in the Ass:  Just exactly what are you Republicans proposing as new ideas to get the economy running again?

Congressman Blowhard:  Oh my goodness young lady (they are all good looking young women who can get their attention), we will apply conservative principles to gut government spending, cut taxes to the wealthy, get rid of excessive government regulations, and get rid of those minimum wage laws that are costing jobs!

Reporter Pain in the Ass:  But Congressman, did we not do that during George Bush’s administration when the economy crashed and how does cutting taxes for the wealthy help the economy?

Congressman Blowhard:  My dear young lady, ignore George Bush and that Republican Congress.  We don’t talk about that. They don’t count.  You have to do all these things at the same time for it to work. You know, conservatism on steroids. And in answer to you last question, those wealthy are the job creators. Hell girl, cut their government stipend and how are they going to afford me.

Reporter Pain in the Ass:  But flow down has never worked, many of those regulations you want to get rid of protect workers and our environment, and how does reducing the minimum wage help workers.

Congressman Blowhard:  Oh for God’s Sake, we don’t care about workers.  Workers don’t create jobs, corporations do.  And to get more workers working we lower wages so we can compete with those heathens in China.  Oh and on those regulations, only stupid people get hurt on the job and the environment can take care of itself.  Focus girl, we are working to maximize profits for shareholders.  They are people too.

Reporter Pain in the Ass:  One last question Congressman, with the infrastructure degrading wouldn’t some government spending actually help the economy?

Congressman Blowhard:  Focus Girl!  Cutting government spending will give us more money to off load to the wealthy and besides all those freeloaders (kids and old people) on Social Security, Food Stamps, and Medicare/Medicaid will then have to get jobs and the economy will take off.  We will be getting Government off their backs.  We had slave labor before and it worked fine till those feds interfered.  I hate big government.

Reporter Pain in the Ass:  Congressman, just one follow up.  Where are the new ideas?

Congressman Blowhard:  Sorry, I got to get back to the House to vote on mobilizing the National Guard to protect our  bathrooms to ensure transgenders are not violating our freedom to hate them.  State’s Rights!

And Here at Home …

I don’t have to look very far afield to find our own home grown racism and sense of entitlement.  I live about 45 miles east of Sacramento in a white conservative community* that can be down right scary when you consider the level of ignorance that abounds.  But we do have a lot of poor people and that may be our saving grace.  Growing up with someone who has a lot less makes you at least aware and maybe tolerate of the differences.  Not so about 20 miles to my west in a community called El Dorado Hills.

We actually live in El Dorado Hills back in the late 70s and early 80s.  Now it has become yuppieville.  It is home to basically white, rich, and conservative.  It is a place where everyone is in a hurry and everyone is special and entitled.  You don’t see a lot of smiles or eye contact in yuppieville just get out of my way, I am special.  Well the local high school, Oakridge, had a girl’s basketball game the other night and the fans (mostly students) provided us with this (Sacramento Bee):

Racial taunts and body-shaming insults directed at McClatchy High School girls basketball players during a recent playoff game at Oak Ridge High School in El Dorado Hills continue to anger parents from the Sacramento school.

…the taunts came from the Oak Ridge student section during the Feb. 25 game in which Oak Ridge defeated McClatchy, the defending CIF State Division I champion, 40-33 in the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs.  The taunts included chants of “soy sauce,” “go back to Fiji” and references to “small eyes,” Kumamoto said. In addition, students delivered insults that were not racial, but still hurtful.  “We have one player with a heavier build, and every time she came in they would yell, ‘Outback Steakhouse,’ ” he said. “They would yell, ‘You’re ugly.’ ”

…Aaron Palm, Oak Ridge High’s interim principal, said Wednesday that school and district officials were aware of inappropriate behavior, although he said the racial comments are believed to have come from only one person, whom school officials have not been able to identify.

Of course it wasn’t just one student as the other team will testify to.  But this is a community where everyone is special and rules are for everyone else.  These are the parents from hell, where everyone is above average and it must be someone else’s fault.  I know because I know several teachers in the school district.  Political pressure on the principal is immense.  All in all, it represents some of the best and worst of America.  Oh, and isn’t local control great?

How could you solve this?  I think the answer is quite simple, diversity, economic and racial. One thing we do have a lot of data on is that when people grow up in diverse societies, they develop empathy.  There for the grace of God go I.  Or if they were Christians who actually practiced Christianity (the brave few), the golden rule might apply.  But they have neither and the lack of diversity coupled with their sense of entitlement (money they (students) did not earn), allows them to degrade their fellow human beings.

So no, it is not just ignorant hick from the sticks who can act out his racism by sucker punching a black man escorted from a Trump rally.  It is also a product of our increasing lack of diversity in many of our communities where economic inequality allows us to wall ourselves off from humanity and then make fun of them, well, because they are not special like us.

*Just as an aside, when my son was about 8 or 9, my wife and I took him to an Oakland A’s fan (he has been hooked ever since).  I am a mass transit kind of guy so we drove to Berkley and then took BART to the Coliseum.  The train was full of black, brown, yellow, gray, you name it.  On top of that it was the day of the gay pride parade in SF, so the train was also full of gays, and there was a lesbian couple and one with a lizard on her shoulder.  His eyes were the size of saucers.  He had grown up in a lily white community.  But then like me, he came to love that diversity, all the panache and difference that makes this nation great.  It is probably what makes him a great counselor in a high school today. Celebrate our differences people, they are our strength.

Troubling Thoughts

Last night on The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell, Lawrence kind of nailed it on the Trump phenomenon.  A man who is a consummate liar, who says one thing then another, has a good chance of being president:

Lawrence wonders if our education system is failing to teach people how to think or know history. I wonder the same thing. But of course the top contenders for the Republican Party are all against common core* which is critical to bringing our education into the 21st century. But then he had another guest, Isabel Wilkerson, on to talk about race.  I guess Bernie got in trouble with his remarks about race in the debate Sunday night

It was, according to some, dated and a stereotypical view of blacks especially using the term Ghetto.  I understood him perfectly or at least what he was trying to convey since I too am from his era, but as Isabel tried to point out, black experience is much more profound than our stereotypical view of blacks in the Ghetto and being poor (she pointed out that only 26% of blacks are in fact below the poverty line).  They were both disturbed, as I am, of the videos of black people being pushed and shoved at a Trump rally.  It was like we were back in the 60s trying to integrate schools in the South and there was this uncontrolled hate spewing out.  As they and I thought, aren’t we as a people passed all this?

Apparently not if you watch a Trump rally and that says something about racism and the fact that maybe we have not come very far.  Institutionalized racism doesn’t quite capture it.  There is still something deep in the humane psyche that is very dark and troubling.  Isabel and Lawrence were unsuccessful at explaining it to me, as I think they are as troubled as I am that it is possible to so degrade and hate our fellow-man.  It is something I have never experienced**.  But it is something maybe we all ought to think on.  One thing is for sure.  Donald Trump has shown us our dark side.

* From the NYT:

He (Donald Trump) hates the Common Core State Standards. They are, he says, a “total disaster,” and he promises to abolish them upon assuming the presidency, because education “has to be at a local level.”

This is revealing, and not just because it shows Mr. Trump’s ignorance of how American education actually works. He is promising to solve a problem that doesn’t exist by using power the president doesn’t have. His plan may also have the unintended effect of stultifying American greatness.

The president can’t end the Common Core, because the federal government didn’t create the Common Core. Governors and state boards of education developed and voluntarily adopted the standards in reading, language and math. Some states subsequently un-adopted them, as is their right. When Congress passed a new version of the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act last year, it prohibited the secretary of education from requiring or even encouraging states to adopt any uniform standards, Common Core or otherwise.

Mr. Trump has another claim about education: that America’s weak educational results will be improved by returning power to local school districts. That’s a notion, widely held, that is at odds with research, common sense and the education agenda of every president, Republican and Democrat, for the past 40 years.

**Even during the Vietnam War that I was part of, I could never hate the other side because somewhere in there in a common humane condition.  Sure there are evil people in the world that deserve our hate, but not a race, not a people, not a religion.  I do not understand how you can think this way.  Maybe that is a flaw in my character.  I have no idea how to irradiate it but to simply not tolerate it anywhere.

What is Really Going On in America

I watched a collage of Trump rallies where the crowd cheered gross violations of our most cherished document, our Constitution.  The Donald championed censorship, torture, racism, xenophobia, and minority persecution.  When a black protester was ushered out, the crowd threaten her with violence and the Donald egged them on.  In other instances people were marched out for their color or religion.  Then he told them he would punch them. Then he told them not to be violent, but if they were he would testify for them at their trial.  I am not exaggerating.  All those things were either explicit or implicit in the things he said.  Nazi Germany in the 1930’s was on full display and the people there thought they were fighting to get their America back. Patriotism run amok  I guess the America they want back is the one where women did not have the vote and blacks were routinely lynched.

And that is an America that the other Republicans told us Friday they would vote for if they could not unseat the Donald.  This is the Party of Lincoln, Eisenhower, and Reagan?  So what happened and how did we turn into a racist, nativist mob?  Well it started in the Goldwater years when the conservatives decided to take over America.  So they create conservative think tanks and media outlets to push the message.  And what really happened was that the message became an ideology, a faith-based ideology that can not be challenged by fact or reason.  That takes a long story and makes it very short.  It is a story of the death of government by rational debate and compromise and the birth of government define by conservative ideology and litmus tests.

Oh, and yes Democrats had a hand in it, but not like you think.  Their part in this was to go along with the right as it moved ever right, trying to compromise with ideology, and not recognizing that their compromises were just capitulations to a right that had no intent to compromise.  And when they did wake up, government had ground to a halt.  Dysfunctional government was everywhere where even simple things required a super majority to pass, so nothing passed and problems stayed unaddressed.

So out in the country people detected dysfunctional government but failed, with the help of corporate news media, to understand the root cause, obstructionist Republicans.  But there was other trouble brewing.  Democrats finally elected a President promising change with the Bush years over, and he hit a brick wall.  Democrats, when they had the chance, were too timid.  On the conservative side boldness was everywhere, but their problem is that the ideology they prayed to only benefited the wealthy.  So both Republicans and Democrats who were disappointed in government were looking for alternatives to the establishment that was getting nothing done.

But there is a big difference.  Democrats saw the economic and political inequality in our system and provided paths to deal with it, one in an incremental fashion of practicality, and one with a vision and revolutionary change to crash through the real road block, Congress.  On the Republican side, they doubled down on their ideology with scapegoating and nativism to hold on to failed ideas.  And that, boys and girls, is what is going on and how we got here.

Oh, there is one other thing to take into account.  The economy and what used to make it work is no longer viable.  Where we used to worry about high interest rates and inflation, now we are more subject to deflation and depression.  And most economists/politicians have not come to grips with that and still try solutions based upon the high interests and inflation instead of recognizing in a world with the level of economic inequality we have, demand cannot be sustained and inflation is non-existent and low interest rates are normal.

In other words, old assumptions simply don’t work, either in our economy or in our politics.  And somehow in this, we have lost the real meaning of the Constitution.  That real meaning is a balance of power, where rational argument and debate finally sway the balance.  We now have one Party, the Republicans, who have no tolerance except for their own ideas and will sabotage government if their ideas do not prevail.  We have an angry mob of the Republican base who has been fed lies and propaganda about hating government, science, and the press, and blaming someone else for their fate.

In other words we live in very dangerous times and the very soul of Democracy is at stake.  Maybe at some point we will quit smiling at Donald Trump and Republican antics and realize they are the real threat to everything we believe in.

Black Oscars

Black actors (and some white ones) are quite upset that the Oscar nominations were lilly white.  Some are even saying they are going to boycott the Oscars.  Okay … There probably were actors of color who were deserving of a nomination, if you think it is really a horse race about best actor.  Most of it is really political in the sense of who is in and who is out in the entertainment world.  No one ever said this was an objective measure of the best performances. It is an exercise in enhancing movie attendance.

Certainly there probably should have been some performances by people of color that should have been on the list, but do we really want to turn this into a measure of how many blacks, Asians, Indians, whatever got the nomination?  I know plenty of white actors and directors who have been deserving through the years and never got the nomination.  Do we want a quota system where the whispered question every year is did he/she get the nomination because of their color or their performance.  Think this through people.