Thursday, June 15, 2017

Nothing to Say



The year is almost half-over, and I haven’t written anything for my blog.  What gives? 

I can explain in two words: Donald Trump.

Despite my many reservations and its many flaws, in my own mind, I still though of the United States as the greatest country on Earth.  No more.  The greatest country on Earth does not make someone like Donald Trump its head of state. 

On election night 2016, Trump’s achieving the presidency, in the words of a friend, “felt like a death in the family.”  It was the death of my confidence in the American people to make reasonable choices. 

The fact that so many voters — albeit not a majority — could look at the 2016 campaign and see Trump as presidential material is unfathomable to me.  If anyone saw this boorish bully on the campaign trail as someone who ought to be entrusted with the nuclear launch codes, we have no common point of reference for any kind of conversation.  That’s one reason why I haven’t been using my blog to articulate my opposition to Trump: his unfitness for the office of president ought to have been self-evident.  If you can’t see that, I have nothing to say to you.

I’m disappointed in the mainstream media, which turned the insubstantial issue of Hillary Clinton’s e-mails into a full-blown crisis that did much to cost her the election


And I’m especially disappointed in those ultra-liberals who could see “no difference” between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton and chose either to vote for a third-party candidate or sit out the election altogether.  If you could see no difference between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump during the 2016 elections — if you believe that a President Hillary Clinton’s administration would be under investigation for collusion with Russia or something like it — I have nothing to say to you.  However, I’m sure that a Republican-controlled Congress would have been perpetually investigating President Hillary Clinton, whether circumstances warranted it or not, because Republicans like to use investigations as a political weapon, to keep their opponents on an unsure footing. 

I thought that the ultra-left had learned its lesson during the 2000 election, when they regarded Al Gore as insufficiently progressive and split the vote enough for the decidedly non-progressive George W. Bush to win.  But it happened again. Because the Democratic presidential nominee insufficiently championed the appropriate progressive causes, those on the ultra-left enabled the election of a president determined to roll back those causes.  And it will probably happen several times in the future.  If a progressive can’t see the absurdity and futility of that position, I also have nothing to say to them. 


And above all, Trump’s election proves that eloquence and reason ultimately don’t carry the day, so why bother engaging in them?  It will be interesting to see where the United States — and, indeed, the planet — will be four years from now.  Maybe I’ll feel like breaking my silence before then, maybe not.  Until then, I’ll have nothing to say. 

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Forsetti’s Justice: ‘The Dark Rigidity of Fundamentalist Rural America’

From AlterNet:




As the aftermath of the election of Donald Trump is being sorted out, a common theme keeps cropping up from all sides: “Democrats failed to understand white, working-class, fly-over America.”

Trump supporters are saying this. Progressive pundits are saying this. Talking heads across all forms of the media are saying this. Even some Democratic leaders are saying this. It doesn’t matter how many people say it, it is complete bullshit. It is an intellectual/linguistic sleight of hand meant to throw attention away from the real problem. The real problem isn’t east coast elites who don’t understand or care about rural America. The real problem is rural America doesn’t understand the causes of their own situations and fears and they have shown no interest in finding out. They don’t want to know why they feel the way they do or why they are struggling because they don’t want to admit it is in large part because of choices they’ve made and horrible things they’ve allowed themselves to believe.



Read the entire article.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

The Infernal Circle


I don’t want to put a picture of this guy’s
successor on my blog.
I’m hesitant about posting anything political on Thanksgiving. After all, this is a day when I and many others believe that we Americans should take a break from our fractious political disputes and focus on what unites us as a nation.   

But I am one of those liberals who has been utterly thunderstruck by the unexpected election of Donald Trump.  Never having held elected office or military command before, and infusing his speeches with hateful vulgarities, Trump, I thought, was obviously unfit and unsuited to the highest office in the country, if not the world.  So, I’m absolutely gobsmacked that so many voters — enough to win Trump the Electoral College, albeit not the popular vote — didn’t agree with me about the obviousness of his unsuitability for the office.  I’m sure that many conservatives will say that I am blinded to Trump’s worthiness for the office by my blinkered liberalism that’s insulated from the virtues of small-town America (evidenced by my use of the foreign slang term “gobsmacked”), but that is a discussion for another day.

However, I was listening to the radio today, which played Trump’s Thanksgiving Day address to the people he will soon be governing.  In it, Trump said that he hopes to bring “real prosperity” to the American people.  The underlying message of this statement is that the last eight years under President Barack Obama were not particularly prosperous. 

Hearing Trump say this, I was reminded of the economic calamity that happened on President George W. Bush’s watch, the worst since the Great Depression 80 years ago.  President Obama was able to bring this country out of that fiscal hole, but the ensuing economic prosperity hasn’t been felt by everyone.  This sense of people being left out of the economic recovery was obviously what Trump was implying by his remarks.  But the main reason for the country’s perceived lack of shared fortune, I submit, is because the congressional Republicans fought Obama’s plans for economic revival every step of the way.

Obama had several plans for refurbishing the country’s infrastructure, plans which would have put many more Americans back to work and would have thereby boosted the economy.  But the Republicans stymied or blocked most of those plans on the argument that the deficit needed to be reversed before any such plans could be passed.  This argument brought back memories of the budget surplus left to George W. Bush by Bill Clinton, a surplus that Bush quickly squandered via his tax cuts, the majority of which benefited wealthier Americans.  The deficit was largely created by the Republicans, and I always thought that they had great chutzpah for citing it as the reason for blocking Obama’s plans for economic recovery. 


This is a phenomenon in politics: If the economy does significantly well under a president, that president will get the credit for the economy, whether that president truly deserves the credit or not.  And if the economy does significantly poorly under a president, that president will get the blame for the economy, whether that president truly deserves the blame or not.  For example, Ronald Reagan (he of the sunny persona) was widely credited for America’s economic revival of the 1980s.  Reagan’s new prosperity was largely thanks to deficit spending, but the president and his Republican allies were able to deflect the credit onto his tax cuts instead.  So was cemented the great Republican shibboleth of tax cuts spurring the economy, which isn’t necessarily true, as Kansas under Republican governor Sam Brownback has recently proven. 

Congressional Republicans during the Obama administration knew that if the economy improved too well under the first African American president, he would get the credit, which would redound to the rival Democratic Party.  So, Republicans — putting political party before country — did everything they could to hinder or thwart Obama’s economic plans.  And as a consequence, the economy — despite a record number of months of continued job growth — improved only haltingly.  The Republicans’ strategy appears to have worked: rather than remembering that Democratic measures dug the American economy out of its Republican-created hole, a decisive number of voters only blamed Obama for not improving the economy quickly enough and elected a member of the hole-creating rival party to succeed him. 

Once Trump is in office, expect congressional Republicans to become born-again deficit spenders to improve the economy with infrastructure projects of their own, along with extra tax cuts.  If these plans succeed, Trump will get the credit for boosting the economy — boosting, in turn, the Republican Party’s fortunes.  Another result will be that the deficit worsens.  Consequently, when another Democrat inevitably gets elected sometime down the road, expect the congressional Republicans to once again use the deep deficit as a way to block any Democratic plans to improve the economy, and once again, expect the resulting underperformance by the economy to work to the Republicans’ political advantage.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Neil Buchanan: ‘The Cruel “Crooked” Caricature That Doomed Hillary Clinton’


From Newsweek:


It is impossible to overstate the significance of this year’s election. The consequences for America and the world are profound, and we are only beginning to come to grips with what might come next. As we do so, it is important to learn and remember the key lessons from this terrible election campaign.
Unfortunately, liberals and media types are already engaging in the worst kind of post-election recriminations. Suddenly, we are being treated to 20/20 hindsight about Hillary Clinton’s supposedly “flawed candidacy,” even though the swing of only a few thousand votes in a couple of key states would have resulted in her winning the presidency.
Had she won the electoral vote, of course, there would surely have been no stories about how brilliantly Clinton navigated the treacherous political terrain of 2016, but rather more snark about how she should have done better

Read the entire article.