Friday, July 24, 2015

Benedict Arnold was a War Hero Too

The American General Benedict Arnold was a war hero, who fought bravely and effectively on the side of the American revolutionaries – until he changed sides and plotted to betray his forces to the British.  Now, in the United States, his name is synonymous with betrayal. Nobody in this country would call Benedict Arnold a hero, or allow his previous service to immunize him from any criticism.

Consider then John McCain.  Certainly his joining to fight in Vietnam showed bravery and patriotism, although unlike Benedict Arnold, he displayed a remarkable lack of skill as a warrior.  He had great trouble keeping his planes in the air – which is a bad thing for a pilot – and the reports are that his incompetence very nearly destroyed an entire aircraft carrier.  ‘War Hero’ or not, criticizing this is surely fair game?  Shall he be immunized from all criticism because of his ‘War Hero’ record?

I note that the noncombatant George W. Bush and his supporters had no trouble making fun of John Kerry’s alleged lack of skill in commanding patrol boats in Vietnam.  How did Bush get away with that?  Does the simple act of volunteering for dangerous duty automatically makes one a ‘hero’ – regardless of how incompetent in battle one is?  Should anyone who criticizes John Kerry (or any other soldier) be widely declared to be politically finished, and forced to apologize not just to John Kerry, but to all military veterans and active duty personnel?  Rubbish, right?

The entire episode of Trump insulting McCain is yet more political theater.  It’s how the establishment beats down anyone that might oppose them in anything other than empty rhetoric.  If Trump had been on the side of his fellow oligarchs, and McCain someone like Ralph Nader or Pat Buchanan, it would likely not even had made the news.  It certainly would not have been pounded on like it is.

Consider Hillary Clinton.  She has committed Gaffe after gaffe, at least as many as Trump, but she’s a proven servant of the oligarchy, so she gets away with it.  Consider her astonishingly bad record as Secretary of State: she spent a lot of time in office finding new ways to sell out the national interest for cash (with her husband’s speaking tours serving to launder much of her winnings).  When she could be bothered to do anything other than cash in, she was the primary driving force bethind the invasion of Libya.  Now Muammar Gaddafi was not a saint, but lately he had made nice with the US, helping to fight Islamic extremism.  Under his rule, Libya had the highest standard of living in Africa.  So of course Hillary orchestrated an invasion, and now Libya is a failed state and a breeding ground for Islamic terrorists.

When Gaddafi was captured by the rebels, he was tortured (apparently sodomized with a knife) and then killed.  So what was Hillary’s reaction to this brutal death, and to her trashing of a nation with which we had no quarrel?  “We came, we saw, he died” was her giggling epitaph.  And people say that Trump is toxic?  Excuse me?  How many nations has Trump destroyed?

After McCain came back from Vietnam, the betrayals began.  It started with him abandoning his crippled wife for a rich floozy, but from there it has included doing everything possible to prevent the enforcement of the laws against illegal immigration.  The single most important thing that any government can do is protect the populace from foreign invasion: in selling out the national interest to the cheap labor lobby, this is treason at least as great as that of Benedict Arnold.  And it goes on.  Giving trillions of dollars of public money to Wall Street.  Signing off on trade agreements – NAFTA, MFN for China, Obamatrade, etc. – that have hollowed out the nation’s industrial base, and that soon look to destroy America’s sovereignty as unaccountable corporate lawyers meeting in secret are allowed to over-rule our laws.  Squandering our military assets in endless pointless wars, and then shafting the veterans by cutting VA funding.  And so on.

During his 2008 campaign John McCain starting singing “Bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran” – I mean, whatever one thinks of Iran, at the time we were not at war with them.  For a US senator and presidential candidate to start singing this in public is, dare I say it? Crazy.  And yet, while his opponents did use it against him, McCain nevertheless was not ‘finished’ and continues to be treated as a serious person.

OK Trump didn’t choose his words well, but I don’t think that he owes McCain any apologies.  I think that McCain owes the entire nation an apology for having sold us out over the years.

There is one ray of hope here.  The media pile-on over a single gaffe is supposed to destroy a candidate.  However, Trump is not backing down, and a substantial fraction of the population isn’t buying the whole ‘Trump is finished’ meme.  A common reaction seems to be something like ‘hey I don’t care what Trump said about McCain I want the border sealed and the illegal immigrants arrested and sent back to their own countries’. 

The American people not thinking the way that the corporate press is telling them to think!  The American people keeping their eyes on the prize and refusing to be distracted by ephemera!  I still think that we are probably doomed, but whatever happens to the Trump campaign, this is a refreshing development.

Do not care about minor gaffes blown out of proportion.  Do not let traitors to the republic like John McCain get away with their treason just because they are ‘war heros.’  Focus on the issues.  Focus on the important.  And when evaluating a politician, always always look at the record.

Friday, July 10, 2015

A Bully can Tolerate no Successful Challenge to Their Authority

This is an old meme.  The schoolyard bully rules through fear – once a single person stands up to them and avoids punishment, the bully’s power is gone.  So with states: Montesquieu has written that for a despotism there can be no cracks in the fa├žade of invincible central authority: let there be one unbowed challenger to the order and it all comes crashing down.

An excellent example is the old Soviet Union.  A rigid dictatorship, where any criticism of the status quo was met with overwhelming force.  It looked like the Soviet Union would last forever – and then Michael Gorbachev allowed some dissent, and it all turned into dust.

In the United States we now face a similar issue.  They say that the United States is a nation of immigrants, but this is a meaningless statement.  Every nation on the face of this planet is peopled by immigrants and the descendants of immigrants, and many more recently than the United States.  Until 1970 the United States enforced the laws against illegal immigration, and thus, illegal immigration was until then utterly negligible.  Legal immigration was similarly low: yes there was a small (yes, SMALL) surge in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, which nevertheless drove wages down and profits up, but it was eventually closed down by progressives.  In the 1940’s, 1950’s and 1960’s there was hardly any immigration into the United States, and wages shot up and profits fell.  How terrible.

The United States is not special because it is a ‘nation of immigrants’.  It is (or used to be) special because, relative to its resources and developed capital, it has so few immigrants and descendants of immigrants.

But the rich want their cheap labor.  They want the United States to be like India, a miserably impoviershed land where most people slave away for sub-poverty wages and the rich live in private skyscrapers.  So the rich have opened the floodgates to the overpopulated third world.  Post-1970 immigration has already increased the population of the United States by about 100 million, and the pace is accelerating.  Wages are going down, rents are going up, and the lack of water in California is a harbinger that the days of Americans having abundant resources are coming to a close.

However, the rich don’t want any discussion of this.  Therefore they have used their power to intimidate anyone from speaking out.  Say that you are against Mexican nationals coming across the border: you must hate legal immigrants!  You must be a racist!  You must hate people of Latin American ancestry!  You must be a xenophobe, extreme far-right, a Nazi!  You can’t say that!

Certainly the rich have no problem enforcing the laws against trespassing on their vast estates and country clubs.  The rich have no problem carefully screening the children in their local public schools to make sure that no poor American ‘in search of a better life’ enrolls their kids there.  They only object to the average American having the same rights. 

The rich demand that Americans sacrifice all that they have achieved to make room for an endlessly swelling tide of third-world refugees.  Yet, the rich themselves offer to make no sacrifice at all, and indeed, look to make a lot of money.

There is little so disgusting as a rich person pushing policies that will make them even richer, at the expense of making everyone else poorer, and then claiming the moral high ground. 

So how do the rich get away with it?  Obviously by buying the legislature and the media and the universities, but also through bullying.  Anyone speaking truth about this will be hammered down and made an example of.

Thus it is that post-1970 immigration has doubled California’s population from 20 to 40 million, but nothing can be said by anyone about how this affects traffic congestion or the availability of fresh water.  Hundreds of thousands of medically unscreened children from countries with endemic diseases are brought in and distributed to (non-wealthy!) public school, and suddenly diseases that are rare or unknown in the United States break out – and we can’t talk about that.  (It must be an act of God).  American engineers are being forced to train their replacements from India – oh poor job prospects must be because automation is reducing the need for labor.  All rubbish.

No, there can be no deviation from this script.  Nobody dares to speak out, in fear of retaliation.

And now comes Donald Trump.  He dares.  And this makes him a deadly threat to the rich and powerful and their desire to turn the United States into yet another overpopulated third-world sweatshop. 

The elites want Trump crushed.  Not deflected, not settling for third in the Republican primary, but crushed.  If he is allowed to continue on his course unbroken, he might change the entire terms of the debate.  Sure he’s a billionaire, but he’s only one billionaire.  Massive forces will be brought to bear on him.  He will be variously slandered, ignored, ridiculed, harassed, sued, you name it.  Because this is a big deal.  It’s the biggest deal of the campaign. It’s the biggest deal in politics in a generation – perhaps, the biggest political deal in this nation’s history ever.  Because it's about whether there will even be a  recognizable nation left in a century or so.

What’s done is done: even if the border were sealed today, demographic momentum would increase the population of the United States to at least 400 million.  The old days of American exceptionalism and abundant resources will be gone forever, but that’s still not so many people that you can’t adapt and have a decent standard of living.  But the alternative is to shoot up to a billion and beyond, and become like India: where half the children are growing up chronically malnourished.  It can happen here, and if nothing is done to change policy, it will.  If you are under 20, you will live to see it.  Whatever your age, your grandchildren will live to see it.

We need to get past the idea that politics is about ideas and position papers and personalities and how well someone comports themselves on a stage.  I wouldn’t watch any debates at all: they mean nothing.  Barack Obama was a wonderful speechmaker: all of it was a lie.  Hillary Clinton has some wonderful position papers on how she’s going to boost the middle class: all rot.  Don’t bother.

Care only about the record.  The record is clear that Clinton and Jeb and Rubio and Walker are going to stab you in the back.  Period.  Trump is a little more dicey: he doesn’t have a record of stabbing you in the back, but he also doesn't have a record of following through. 

Still.  Normally I would shy away from the importance of symbolism in politics (Santorum is actually better than Trump on immigration overall - notice how he's been ignored in the media?), but here I make an exception.  What is important is if Donald Trump can brave the firestorm of attacks and make it possible to talk sensibly about population policy again.  The odds are still against him, but if anyone has the ego and resources to pull this off, he does.  I urge that you support him, and more importantly, to do so publicly and without shame.  Forgive him his eccentric personal style: you are not voting for best actor, but for your interests.  Don’t worry if he makes the occasional gaffe. If the person standing up for your interests is on the crude side, and the person who’s going to stab you in the back is smooth and suave, well, who’s your daddy?

A modern liberal will cheerfully march into hell if only they are led by someone that the New York Times declares to be respectable.  Don’t make that mistake.

Trump for President.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Trump and Bernie – The Elites Worry About Losing Control of the Narrative

The United States is an oligarchy.  No two ways about it, a handful of incredibly rich people run things.  An excellent example is Congress’ recent voting for corporate-centric trade agreements that they hadn’t read.  (The TPP could be read by individual members in a secret vault, but most didn’t bother.  The other two pending trade agreements are apparently so toxic that nobody other than the corporate lobbyists who wrote them were allowed to see them under any conditions).

The only reason for an elected representative to vote to enable legislation that they have not read, is that they have been paid to do so – and thus, what’s in the legislation is irrelevant.

Now the United States still has the pretense of a democratic process, but the elites keep it under tight control.  They use their power and influence to make certain that all candidates for major political offices are vetted by them.  Obama vs. Romney, Clinton vs. Jeb, it’s heads they win, tails we lose.

Candidates are free so say anything they want – they just have to meet privately with their wealthy patrons and make assurances that they don’t mean any of it.  A classic example is Obama, campaigning for the presidency, publicly attacking corporate trade agreements like NAFTA, while pledging in private that he was cool with it and if elected would continue to toe the oligarchy line.  After the election, we can see which promises Obama broke and which he kept. 

A current example is of course Hilary Clinton – a bloodthirsty whore to big money, who views elected office as simply a means of selling out the national interest for money.  Her tenure as secretary of state is almost unparalleled in its vileness, making deals with all manner of foreign interests in exchange for various cash payments to her hubby.  Meanwhile back at the state department, her signature achievement was attacking Libya, arming Islamic nutjobs, and turning what was the most prosperous nation in Africa and an ally against Islamic terrorism into a failed state that is likely soon to be a major hotbed of terrorism.  Way to go Hilary!

But not to worry, the rich have Hilary’s back.  She is widely lauded in the corporate press as ‘supremely qualified’, and her absolutely worthless Potemkin-liberal media campaign is covered as if it were reality and not the empty propaganda that it so obviously is. 

But now along comes Bernie Sanders, and he threatens to upend this.  It’s not that he is a ‘socialist’, or that his rhetoric is unashamedly populist – so is Obama’s and Hilary’s.  It’s that his voting record suggests that he means it!  And that cannot be allowed to stand.

In places this is becoming hysterical.  Grass-roots union types are getting tired of carrying water for people like Clinton and Obama, who talk pretty and then stab them in the back.  So here comes the president of the AFL-CIO (who makes about $300,000 per year, probably not including benefits, for going along to get along and supporting the corporate line) saying that only he can endorse a candidate - no fair you little grass-roots people not falling into line for Hilary like you have been told!

Could it be possible – could the American public actually rebel and refuse to vote for someone who talks like Eleanor Roosevelt but governs like Marie Antoinette?  Could the American people care more about a politician's record than their empty campaign promises? That can’t stand!  So what to do?

Well obviously, the first thing is to keep hammering home that Hilary Clinton’s nomination is ‘inevitable’, and trash Sanders as ‘quixotic’.  Keep pushing the meme that a vote for Bernie is a vote for someone like Jeb or Rubio – though in reality these latter are no more anti-worker than saint Hilary.

But the rich must be worried.  Even a strong showing against a corporate whore could break the narrative, could possibly lead to a real defeat of wealthy interests later on.  And that will never do.  The opposition to the oligarchy must be discredited, or at least deflected into harmless outlets (see: gay marriage, or the Confederate flag). 

The oligarchy might try out some safe Clinton alternatives, like maybe O’Malley, to act as a corporate-approved understudy in case the good ship Clinton capsizes. [Breaking update!  O'Malley released his first campaign ads: attacking Bernie Sanders!   Perhaps if he helps take Sanders down he will be rewarded with the vice presidential slot). But mostly they will want to destroy Sanders.  Of course, they are not going to shoot him – that only happens in the movies.  No, they will try to destroy him politically. 

The first move is the one that worked so well against Ralph Nader – marginalize him, claim that he’s only running to feed his own ego, that voting for Bernie is ‘throwing your vote away.’  Make people feel embarrassed to publicly support him, make it all a ‘lesser of two evils’ ploy – a vote for Bernie is a vote for Jeb!  (Although in reality a vote for Bernie is a vote for Bernie.  A vote for Hilary is a vote for Jeb – because on issues of substance, Hilary is Jeb).

Normally this technique can’t fail.  Countless random internet blogs do not have five percent of the power of the coordinated tightly-scripted mass media.  The independent bloggers blog their tiny blogs in bits and pieces, and spend more time attacking each other than the real enemy.  They cancel each other out (I know, I’m guilty of this as well.  But one does what one can).  Meanwhile the corporate press screams the same message over and over, hammered into your brain from a thousand media outlets, and it becomes the standard view by default.

But perhaps people are so pissed off that even this tried-and-true technique won’t work.  Well, time to take Bernie down more directly.

One old favorite is the technique of selective enforcement.  Comb through their records, follow them 24/7, tap their phones, anything to find some dirt.  An illicit affair, a few hundred bucks of campaign funds accidently spent on personal use.   Make a big deal of it, hammer home the idea that these people are disgraced, and in the public eye, eventually they are.  Eliot Spitzer and John Edwards didn’t do anything that more corporate-friendly politicians did, but these latter don’t get investigated, or pilloried in public for their sins. 

Oh sure, Bill Clinton hit a speed bump with Monica Lewinski (that was a rare failure: he’s likely guilty of much worse, like rape, but the elites would never investigate one of their most faithful servants) – but not to worry, having powerful friends means never having to say you’re sorry.  Bill was quickly rehabilitated and continues to be portrayed as a serious senior statesman even as his speaking engagements act as a cash conduit for the bribes his wife collects.

You would have to be a secular saint to emerge from such tight scrutiny of your private life.  But perhaps Bernie has no skeletons in his closet?  It’s possible.  But then there is the Howard Dean approach.  You take one mis-step, one minor gaffe, and you blow it up all out of proportion.  Hammer, hammer, hammer, emphasize that everyone now thinks that your victim is ridiculous – or really, only make up the report that everyone thinks that your victim is ridiculous – and with time and repetition the pretense becomes the reality.

Howard Dean was mostly establishment, but he had a bit too much of an independent streak (he used to joke about being from the Democratic wing of the Democratic party), so the decision was made to take him down.  There was an incident in a gym where he was trying to fire up his supporters.  From all accounts the people attending thought it was all perfectly reasonable.  But the press showed it out of context and made him into a nutjob screamer – and repeated this over and over, until his political career was destroyed

Meanwhile the gaffes of the corporate toadies are mostly unreported, and even if they do get covered in the mainstream press, it’s limited, and not allowed to affect the narrative that corporate toady X is a serious person.  For example, Hilary Clinton’s campaign recently physically lassoed members of the press with ropes to herd them where they wanted them to be.  Sure, it gets a little coverage in the DrudgeReport, and some minor right-wing publications will harp on it for a bit, but overall the message is big deal, so what, it happens, move on.

Can you imagine what would happen if Bernie Sanders ordered something like that?  There would be no end to it.  It would be headline news for weeks.  It’s all that would ever be reported about Bernie ever again.   Bernie would be prosecuted for kidnapping, or violating someone’s rights, or he’d be sued by people with anonymous wealthy backers who let them hire the best lawyers.  Everyone would just know that Bernie was clearly unbalanced and not fit for office.

If you have powerful friends, there is almost no limit to the mis-steps that you can get away with.  If you have powerful enemies, they will sling mud at you time and again, and it only needs to stick once….

And now there is Donald Trump!  Saying that Obamatrade is treason!  Saying that uncontrolled immigration is driving American wages down!  That a lot of illegal immigrants are rapists and drug dealers!  That if elected he will build a wall and enforce the law!
Wow.  Now that REALLY can’t be allowed to stand.  At least Bernie is on the corporate-friendly side as regards cheap-labor immigration policy (useful idiots may be idiots, but they are nonetheless useful), and in the past Bernie has folded when the corporate pressure got too high.  But Trump!  He speaks truth without shame!  No ‘we are all a nation of immigrants’ nonsense, he says that a nation without a border is not a nation! 

It’s not just that Trump might win the election – it’s that he might change the terms of the debate!  People might stop apologizing for wanting to limit immigration!  The elites could lose control of the narrative!  People might start blaming California’s water shortage on post-1970 immigration instead of ‘climate change’!  They might start connecting the dots between falling wages and massive forced population increases!  We might go back to the restrictionist times of the 1940’s, 50’s and 60’s, when wages boomed and profits shrank!  The horror!  The horror!

Expect an establishment firestorm aimed squarely at The Donald.  He will be vilified, sued, investigated, his businesses attacked, anything to break him.

Sometimes it takes an ego.  Only a maniac like Teddy Roosevelt could have taken on and broken up the trusts.  One must forgive Trump if he does not come across as cool and sophisticated.  Such a person could never stand up to what’s headed Trumps’ way.  The odds are against even someone as psychologically strong as The Donald, but if Trump manages to weather this onslaught and not fold, I will move that the United Nations declare his ego to be a world cultural treasure.

So what can you do?  Show some courage!  Vote for Bernie Sanders or Donald Trump.  Do so proudly and publicly and without apology.  Don’t care what you read about them in the corporate press.  Don't care if Bernie once wrote something tacky 50 years ago in an obscure school newspaper.  Don't care if Trump is sued by the Hispanic racists of "La Raza".  If enough of us do this, why, we might even have a real democracy someday.  Wouldn’t that be a thing?