Political Ideas

Jan
04

Yes, Positivity, Pangloss, Partisanship, Propaganda, and Populism

Eight years ago Yes! Magazine published a political platform of progressive policies, along with polling showing strong majority support for each proposal. Now, eight years later, we can show almost total failure to advance any of the proposals, most of which were focused on the U.S. federal government.

Where there have been any small successes, they have mostly come at the state or local level or outside the United States. New York State just took a step toward free college and Washington State toward shutting down fossil fuels while everyone was watching Donald Trump's twitter feed. Most of the world's nations are working on a new treaty to ban nuclear weapons from the earth, while Obama's government has invested heavily in new nukes and (far more offensively, I'm told) Trump has tweeted about them.

The general federal-level failure in the United States is very clearly because the U.S. government in Washington D.C. is a financially corrupted and anti-democratic structure, and because the U.S. public is generally disinclined to hold it accountable. The United States enjoys remarkably less activism than many other countries, and suffers as a result.

A huge reason for the activism shortage is partisan loyalty. Of that minority of people who will do anything at all, many will only make demands of or protest members of one political party. For the other party all is forgiven. And most policy positions are utterly expendable at the slightest shift in the party line. Witness the current Democratic fever for believing the CIA on faith and desiring hostility toward Russia.

Jan
02

Fantasies About Russia Could Doom Opposition to Trump

Tag: Impeachment, Political Ideas

To many Democrats for whom killing a million people in Iraq just didn't rise to the level of an impeachable offense, and who considered Obama's bombing of eight nations and the creation of the drone murder program to be praiseworthy, Trump will be impeachable on Day 1.

Indeed Trump should be impeached on Day 1, but the same Democrats who found the one nominee who could lose to Trump will find the one argument for impeachment that can explode in their own faces. Here's a "progressive" Democrat:

"In his dalliance with Vladimir Putin, Trump’s actions are skirting treason. ... By undermining further investigation or sanctions against the Russian manipulation of the 2016 election, Trump as president would be giving aid and comfort to Russian interference with American democracy."

There's a bit of a nod there -- in the word "investigations" -- to the lack of any evidence that Russia manipulated any U.S. election, yet that manipulation is stated as fact, and a failure to support further sanctions as punishment for it becomes "aid and comfort." What level of punishment exactly constitutes the absence of aid and comfort? And how does that level of punishment compare with the level likely to produce war or nuclear holocaust? Who knows.

Failure to sufficiently punish a foreign government, even for an actual proven offense, has never been a high crime and misdemeanor. The United States is in fact bound by the Hague Convention of 1899, the Kellogg-Briand Pact, and the United Nations Charter to take any such dispute to arbitration and to settle it by pacific means. But that would require producing some evidence rather than mere allegations. Lawless "punishment" is much easier.

But further evidence can emerge to counter the claim. The lack of evidence for the claim can weigh ever more heavily on public opinion. And the dangers of creating further hostility with Russia can enter the consciousness of additional people.

Meanwhile, we have a man planning to be president later this month whose business dealings clearly violate the U.S. Constitution in terms of not only foreign but also domestic corruption. That's a perfectly overwhelming case for impeachment and removal from office that doesn't require opposing a single incident of mass murder or offending a single Pentagon contractor.

Beyond that, Trump is becoming president after election day intimidation, the partisan-based removal of voters from the rolls, and opposition to attempting to count paper ballots where they existed. He's arriving with the stated policies of unconstitutionally discriminating against Muslims, murdering families, stealing oil, torturing, and proliferating nuclear weapons.

In other words, Donald Trump will be from Day 1 an impeachable president, and Democrats will have already spent months building their campaign around the one thing that won't work. Imagine what will happen after all their hearings and press conferences, when their supporters find out that they aren't even accusing Vladimir Putin of hacking into election machines, that in fact they are accusing unknown individuals of hacking into Democrats' emails, and that they are then vaguely speculating that those individuals could have been sources for WikiLeaks, thereby informing the U.S. public of what was quite obvious and ought to have been widely reported for the good of the U.S. government, namely that the DNC rigged its primary.

By the time the Democrats beat themselves to the floor with this charade, more facts will likely have come out regarding WikiLeaks' actual source(s), and more hostility will likely have been stirred up with Russia. The war hawks have already got Trump talking up nuclear escalation.

Luckily there is an ace in the hole. There is something else that Democrats will be eager to hold Trump accountable for. And give Trump a month and he'll produce it. I'm referring, of course, to that greatest fear of Our Beloved Founding Fathers, the ultimate high crime and misdemeanor: the presidential sex scandal.

Dec
30

Russians, By Fling -- To the tune of "Russians" by Sting

Tag: Culture and Society, Peace and War, Political Ideas

In Liberal America, there's a growing feeling of hysteria

Conditioned to accept whatever's claimed

As long as it's Donald and the Russians blamed

Mr. Putin says he'll be friends with you

I don't subscribe to this point of view

It would be such an ignorant thing to do

If the Russians hate their children too

 

How can I risk my little boy with Oppenheimer's deadly toy

There is no monopoly in common sense

On either side of all the missile defense

We share the same biology

Regardless of ideology

Believe me when I say to you

The Russians hacked your cell phone too

 

There is no historical precedent

To put a stooge in the office of the President

There's no such thing as a winnable war

It's a lie we don't reject anymore

Obama says we will protect you

I don't subscribe to this point of view

Believe me when I say to you

I know the Russians hate their children too

 

We share the same biology

Regardless of ideology

What might kill us, me, and you

Is if the Russians hate their children too

Dec
29

Va State Senator Creigh Deeds Says He Has No Intention of Supporting Any Muslim Registry

Tag: Political Ideas
I emailed my Virginia state senator Creigh Deeds:   As a constituent I urge you to join state legislators and governors from around the United States and issue a public statement opposing a Muslim registry and mass deportations. Please let me know that you have done so. Thank you. He wrote back:   Dear David,   Thank you for your email. I have no intention of establishing any religious registry or of supporting any such establishment. As the Congress clearly preempts any state authority with respect to immigration, border security or foreign policy, I do not plan to issue any public statements respecting those issues. I appreciate your advocacy.   Sincerely,   Creigh   [emphasis added]

My email was a test run of a website that will soon be flooding state legislators around the United States with the same request.

Dec
22

Yes, Dubya, Now I Miss You

Tag: Impeachment, Peace and War, Political Ideas

When George W. Bush made the case for attacking and destroying the nation of Iraq, he made claims that, if true, would have justified nothing. And he proposed as evidence for those claims fraudulent, implausible, and even ridiculous pieces of information. But he was expected to produce evidence. There was no assumption that he should simply be taken on faith.

Those standards are gone.

The common wisdom that Vladimir Putin hacked into Democratic and Republican emails and fed the Democratic ones to WikiLeaks which delegitimized an otherwise legitimate election, is not based on any public evidence, and none is asked for by most believers.

The premise that possessing weapons justifies being attacked was patently absurd in 2003. The U.S. openly possessed all the weapons it claimed Iraq had. The premise that (further) exposing a rigged primary harms, rather than facilitating, election integrity, is strictly nuts in 2016. WikiLeaks and any source(s) deserve our thanks.

But the standard of evidence has been altered. It's certainly possible the Russian government hacked the emails. It's even possible that Russia was the source for WikiLeaks, and that Julian Assange and Craig Murray are deluded or lying, that Bill Binney is mistaken, and that all the anomalies in the claims of Russian hacking can be explained away. But the expectation that some sort of evidence should be produced no longer exists.

Dec
18

Monday Morning Bernie Backing

Tag: Elections, Peace and War, Political Ideas

The growing push to defeat Trump by any of the following means:

Taking the CIA's warmongering on faith and blaming Vladimir Putin for everything, Accusing the FBI, Pressing for majority rule despite the electoral college, Protesting voters being stripped from the rolls, Objecting to intimidation at the polls, Trying to undo the blocking of votes by those lacking IDs, Remedying broken and insufficient and unverifiable machines, Counting paper ballots where they exist, Threatening impeachment over Trump's unconstitutional presents and emoluments from foreign nations unless he sells his foreign businesses, Arguing for disqualification on the ground of mental illness, Praying and fantasizing,

would be far more energized and popular if the "defeated" candidate were Bernie Sanders, who -- judging by all existing polling (and theorizing what his general election campaign would have looked like) -- would almost certainly not have been defeated by any means in the first place.

Dec
15

Think Politicians Are Trying to Scare You? You're Not Paranoid.

Tag: Political Ideas

Part I. Personal

Wednesday evening I answered the phone, and a man pretending to work for the local sheriff's department asked me to identify myself, told me that the call would be recorded because it might be used against me in a court of law, and ordered me to get a pen and paper. He spoke fast and unclearly and with lots of strange background noises. He claimed that I had failed to appear for jury duty and I would be arrested if I didn't do what he said. (I'd received no notice of jury duty.)

I ignored obvious signs that this guy was a fraud. He was not calling from a local number. He couldn't pronounce the name of my street. I had to ask him four times before he told me his supposed name, which he didn't seem totally sure of. He was extremely hostile while claiming to have no choice about behaving that way. And when questioned on things he said, he offered explanations, but the explanations made no sense. He said that because he was required to treat me as a criminal I had to tell him my cell phone number. What? He said I could pay a fine and would get it back the next day, but I couldn't pay wish cash or check or credit card because the sheriff's department considered it inappropriate to use a form of payment that included personal information. What? Personalized cash?

I waited through all this patent nonsense (including him doubling the amount of the fine, apparently under the impression that he'd hooked a true sucker) until the guy said I could not come to the sheriff's department to clear things up but would have to go withdraw the money from the bank (which was, of course, closed for the night, and ATMs have limits). Then I'd have to use the money to buy some kind of card at a grocery store. As soon as he said that, I called 911 on my other phone and asked their advice. They told me to hang up on the guy, and they said it with an air of tired annoyance. My wife, who's better informed than I, then told me there'd been a news report about this scam.

Dec
12

If Phil Ochs Were Alive, Though I'd Not Wish It on Him

Tag: Political Ideas

I cried when they mocked Donna BrazileTears ran down my spineAnd I cried when Joe Biden stepped asideAs though I'd lost a father of mineBut Chelsea Manning got what was comingShe got what he asked for this timeSo love me, love me, love me, i'm a liberal

I go to white BLM ralliesI arrive in my new hybrid carI back GLBTQ in the ArmyI love all immigrants from afarBut don't talk about revolutionThat's going a little bit too farSo love me, love me, love me, i'm a liberal

I cheered when Hillary was chosenMy faith in the system restoredI'm in favor of affordable collegeFor those who stand out from the hoardI love humanitarian bombingsAnd canvassing votes door-to-doorSo love me, love me, love me, i'm a liberal

The people who voted for DonaldShould all hang their heads in shameI can't understand how their minds workThe facts can't deny climate changeBut anonymous CIA sourcesAre doubted only by the deeply derangedSo love me, love me, love me, i'm a liberal

I watch MSNBC dailyI've learned to take every viewYou know, I've demonized Vladimir PutinAnd I'm ready to come after youIn defending our sacred electionsThere's no one more red, white and blueSo love me, love me, love me, i'm a liberal

I vote for the Democtratic PartyThey want Presidents to be strongExcept for Republican presidentsWhose whole inclination is wrongI'll send all the money you ask forBut don't ask me to come on alongSo love me, love me, love me, i'm a liberal

Once i was young and impulsiveI wore every conceivable pinEven went to the socialist meetingsLearned all the old union hymnsBut i've grown older and wiserAnd that's why i'm turning you inSo love me, love me, love me, i'm a liberal

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