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Words or something

by Drew J Jones Sat Jan 21st, 2017 at 05:16:16 PM EST

I remember the moment David Gregory said on MSNBC to the interviewee, "Ohio has gone for Obama," and thinking, "Oh my god, this is going to happen."  Jen and I were sitting in our dumpy little studio apartment in Alexandria.  I had the window cracked open, chain-smoking, in hopes of not alerting the landlord (since we weren't supposed to smoke in the apartments but I didn't want to have to take the elevator down 16 floors every five minutes).  They called Virginia, where I lived at the time (EuroTrib's own MareckNYC a part of the crew who made that happen), and Florida, where I'm from.  Being a liberal white guy from the South, with all its history, I could not have been prouder.  I remember Olbermann getting choked up as he said, "Barack Obama has been elected the next president of the United States of America."

I remember seeing this cartoon by Tom Toles in the Washington Post, on my way on the Metro through Southeast DC -- the heart of the black working class in America -- to the Census Bureau, and seeing the looks on the faces of black Americans, many of whom probably thought that day would never come.


That morning, along with the cartoon, I read an article about a man from the east side of the Anacostia in the WaPo, who visited the grave of his aunt on election night.  They were both politically-minded, and she'd told him his whole life that America was too racist, too closed, to ever elect a black man to that office.  She never lived to see that night.  Even as a kid he pushed back at her.  "It's going to happen," he said.  Because he believed in the fundamental decency of people.

The reporter followed him to the cemetery on election night, and he stood over her grave, crying, and said to her, "I told you."  

"I told you it would happen."

Display:
Words matter, and that is partly why Trump has been such a disaster even before he took office and made a single Presidential decision.  Other people will pay the price, some perhaps, with their lives; but it will never be the Donald's fault. For him words matter only in the moment, to get the reaction he wants, to be disowned later, if that suits his purpose. It was the fault of the listeners for having taken him seriously.  Losers. And now half of the USA is complicit and the other half worried it cannot escape complicity. And the world holds its breath:

"And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
    Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born? "

                        - WB Yeats
                     THE SECOND COMING

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat Jan 21st, 2017 at 08:43:35 PM EST
Other people will pay the price, some perhaps, with their lives;

Starting with the million of people who voted themselves out of healthcare coverage.

Trump Takes First Whack At Obamacare

In one of his first official acts as President, Donald Trump issued an executive order taking his first swing at Obamacare. The order, signed in the Oval Office this evening, directs the federal government "to minimize the unwarranted economic and regulatory burdens" of the Affordable Care Act. But beyond its general emphasis on easing the burden and giving the states more flexibility, it doesn't offer specific guidance or direction.
by Bernard on Sat Jan 21st, 2017 at 09:05:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Calling them losers is unhelpful, imho. Is it their fault?
They are products of an uncaring environment that taught them to be who they are, their discontent fanned by epithets that feed into their already inflamed inferiority complex with perceived contempt from 'libruls'.
Words matter indeed.
If better educated they would not be opponents!

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sun Jan 22nd, 2017 at 01:43:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In Trumpland if you believe a sales spiel and buy into a dud investment to are a loser, and deservedly so.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Jan 22nd, 2017 at 02:03:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ah, now I understand. Excuse my carp!

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Mon Jan 23rd, 2017 at 12:29:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
True, but its best to let those particular losers figure that out for themselves - which they will do soon enough and probably sooner if they are not being attacked for their choice. Given the choices on offer I have real trouble blaming them. Given the choice between a clown who at least said he cared about them and another elitist who never gave them the time of day and deplored their beliefs they chose the clown. You cannot say it was an easy choice for many.


"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Jan 24th, 2017 at 03:47:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
How are they going to learn?  For 30 years these people have swallowed z steady diet of Faux News and the like, made possible not just by Rethuglican money but by the flat refusal of the DLC, founded and led by the Clintstones and their allies, to raise any challenge because that might interfere with their triangulation policy (which will go down as one of history's great fails, provided we have a future and there is history in it).  How is that to be corrected?  The fascists are already dismantling education, science, the Internet, and what remains of independent news.  How is anyone to learn?
by rifek on Wed Jan 25th, 2017 at 06:27:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Disillusionment can be a painful instructor.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Jan 31st, 2017 at 05:23:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by Bernard on Sat Jan 21st, 2017 at 08:59:44 PM EST
The Ministry of Truth is already on the rampage:

Trump's team defends 'alternative facts' after widespread protests

Trump's press secretary, Sean Spicer, used his first White House briefing to shout at journalists about what he incorrectly termed "deliberately false reporting" on Trump's inauguration, declaring: "We're going to hold the press accountable."

"This was the largest audience ever to witness an inauguration, period," said Spicer, in one of several statements contradicted by photographs and transit data. "These attempts to lessen the enthusiasm of the inauguration are shameful and wrong."

Kellyanne Conway, a senior White House aide, told NBC's Meet the Press on Sunday Spicer had merely been offering "alternative facts", a phrase that was received with widespread astonishment.

by Bernard on Mon Jan 23rd, 2017 at 08:06:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Fast becoming a meme:

by Bernard on Tue Jan 24th, 2017 at 10:59:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by das monde on Sun Jan 22nd, 2017 at 04:01:30 AM EST
Beware of Plato! He describes what he wants to happen. Even with the defeats and invasions the Athenians kept a functioning democracy working for Athens into the era of the Roman Empire. Plato's ideal is the philosopher king and Plato privileges that king with the gift of 'the noble lie' - a high minded sounding label for ordinary lies and propaganda. It is sad that Socrates is preserved mostly in Plato's dialogues.
 

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Jan 22nd, 2017 at 05:26:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So Plato wrote a successful manual.
by das monde on Sun Jan 22nd, 2017 at 11:35:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Not really, no. He ended up getting run out of town on a rail for being a general nuisance.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sun Jan 22nd, 2017 at 11:39:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Given the political realities of his time, he doesn't seem to have done too badly, and at least he articulated a philosophy of how a ruler should govern that was not dictated by brute force alone.  I think it can be just as misleading for us to apply our standards to his time as it is to apply his standards to ours.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Jan 22nd, 2017 at 11:54:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Maybe so. I just remember reading most of the Republic in school, and even then being annoyed at the blatant leaps of logic and general poor and highly motivated reasoning.

But I guess political theory and general reasoning are also technologies that have progressed over the last couple of thousand years.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sun Jan 22nd, 2017 at 12:17:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Same here. I picked philosophy in high school in 1973 with an excellent teacher who did the Apology. He was a Communist. When Sadat's deadline for his peace  offer expired (see Kipnis' book for details) and the war broke out, he was taken into custody, and replaced by another teacher who switched to the Republic...
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Sun Jan 22nd, 2017 at 07:38:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Perhaps he did both. What us the source for Plato being driven from Athens? I have never before heard this and found nothing about Plato being ostracized, which was the most common method of banishment in ancient Athens? But then I am hardly a classicist.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Jan 22nd, 2017 at 05:24:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]


Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.
by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sun Jan 22nd, 2017 at 06:10:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ah, yes! That was where Plato learned the virtue of being a philosopher KING. He made the mistake of criticizing the Tyrant and was lucky to escape with his life. I hadn't known of this episode.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Jan 24th, 2017 at 04:55:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by Bernard on Sun Jan 22nd, 2017 at 11:42:56 AM EST
I have always had a complicated attitude towards Barack Obama. I cannot help liking the man, but I have always feared he would not do what was needed by the time. During the primaries in '08 I didn't trust his vague "Hope and Change" rhetoric and was maddened by his lack of specifics. I did not support him until after he had secured the nomination. Then, as with Clinton this year, I decided I might as well support him as he was certainly better than the alternatives. The selection of Palin as VP sealed that deal for me.

I saw his presidency as a once in a century opportunity to fundamentally remake the US Government into an instrument for good. I still believe the opportunity was there. Sanders has shown that the opening is there. But this was not what Obama would ever have done. He was a status quo candidate in a change election. But he was sufficiently different and better than had been G. W. Bush that most didn't care. I still held out hope until the summer of '09, when I had to accept that his admiration of the financial sector leaders made what was needed impossible.

The Obama Presidency was, IMO, better than any since the '60s, but that was not enough. Obama is a Neo-Liberal and supporter of the economic status quo - at a time when the financial sector has achieved wealth and influence unprecedented since the '20s. Its self aggrandizement had been at the expense of much of what had been 'middle class' families through NAFTA and laws that rewarded 'offshoring' and exacerbated the pain that practice produced.

My criticism is that a different approach in '09 could have succeeded in reforming the country and locking in place a new New Deal for the next half century, but Obama decided not to take that route. I should have realized this from his cabinet choices. To do that Obama would have had to keep his campaign organization alive and put forth a legislative agenda that would further mobilize support and GAIN seats in the 2010 by election.

But Obama described his own campaign organization to a supporter after the election as a 'weapon of mass destruction' that needed to be dismantled before it did damage. The 'damage' that it could have done would have been what Sanders demonstrated is possible, had Obama risen to the occasion. But that was not what Obama wanted.

Instead, critical problems remained unaddressed, we saw party politics foist a widely disliked candidate onto the Democratic Party as their Presidential Candidate, Clinton campaigned in ways that even Obama has tacitly criticized, and she lost - no matter how closely. Thus we got Trump. Now we have to hope that our form of government will survive and there is more grounds for doubting that than we have ever seen. That too is part of Obama's legacy.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Jan 22nd, 2017 at 05:55:49 PM EST
No one on this planet has addressed the transition to a post-labor economy, so it's going to be nasty violence, just like every other phase-change. This goes far beyond the office of the president of the US. Selfishly I wanted Clinton not because she was going to address this (quite the opposite), but she would have bought me four years of relative peace during my relatively short lifespan. Obama filled that role for me. He did better for some, worse for others.

What mostly worries me isn't America's cultural baggage, as bad as it is, but most of us are now surplus population. Where is the power to push back  relative to the labor movements of the 19th and 20th centuries?

Traditionally men with no prospects gets shunted into wars to die, and there is still plenty of that around the world and within the US. Domestically we have make-work in the form of disprivileged minorities being abused by the state by only slightly more privileged white people working for the legal system. Now in the internet era we've added online harassment as a form of work and identity. With the world economy organized as it is, this is our reality.

It comes back to the same questions some have asked since the 19th century if not earlier - can humans move beyond status seeking? Can we move beyond empire logic and hierarchical social systems?

you are the media you consume.

by MillMan (millguy at gmail) on Sun Jan 22nd, 2017 at 07:01:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I hope so Millman, sure do.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Mon Jan 23rd, 2017 at 12:31:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Can we move beyond hierarchical social order and states organized as extractive, exploitative  empires IS the real question. Many current corporate forms of organization show that this is possible. Some nations have shown encouraging developments. Iceland for one. I believe it is possible. The questions is will we, and will we in the USA? Optimism is a necessary choice here.
 

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Jan 23rd, 2017 at 07:02:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's entirely possible. This is the only ride I get, so I have to throw in with the optimism as well.

you are the media you consume.

by MillMan (millguy at gmail) on Tue Jan 24th, 2017 at 05:34:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Whether a post-labor economy is a paradise or a Hellish graveyard for 99% of the current world population depends entirely on how 'we, the people' view things. There are few if any known technical barriers to continuing the current pace of production while simultaneously building down the population by perhaps 20% a generation for a dozen generations or so.

A significant build down may be necessary due to reduced carrying capacity. Even if ultimate sea level rises are limited to 30-40 meters a significant portion of existing land, much of it highly productive at present, will be submerged for millennia. And whether peak sea level is achieved in 100, 1,000 years or longer the problems will remain similar.

However the time we have available to adapt will vary widely. That is why our response needs to be front loaded. That looks unlikely for the next few years in the USA. Too bad for the coastline of the USA, especially the Atlantic Coast. Even suffering a 10 meter rise by 2100 will be catastrophic for all existing port cities. In my gut I cannot believe it can be held to 2 or 3 meters, as is currently assumed. Linear assumption in a non-linear world.

Much of the problem involves our species having great difficulty dealing with threats that are decades away, let alone centuries. But there is no non-anthropocentric reason why our species should survive. Yet somehow I feel it will - if only to wreak greater devastation.

Economically, the problems center entirely around the presumptions over what rules should govern distribution of the wealth produced. John Stuart Mill understood that basic fact. And that is where the real struggle will center. Our current model of capitalism is incompatible with the long term survival of a society of our complexity, given the finite resources of our planet. It should be technically easy to produce all needed goods and services for a population a tenth of the current size. And it may prove impossible to do the same for a population twice the current size. I believe we have experienced the last doubling, but that we just don't yet realize that this is the case.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Jan 24th, 2017 at 10:53:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Obama was, more than anything, a Good Company Man.

Remember, the job of presidents and prime ministers is marketing, not policy. He's such a personable, funny, charmer he certainly managed to make America feel less terrible about itself while the economic rape and pillage continued.

The last president who wasn't a neoliberal monster was - arguably - Carter. Since then we've seen election after election in the US - and elsewhere - where neoliberal orthodoxy is the only item on the menu, and the greed and selfishness of a handful of billionaires is the sole determinant of policy.

No matter what the leader looks like, no matter what colour he/she is, no matter what gender, the US will remain a fascist single party plutocracy for the foreseeable future.

Genuine change candidates - like Sanders - aren't allowed to win. Pretend change candidates - Clinton, possibly even Warren - will always be so compromised they won't deliver real change.

Or if they're on the right, they'll promise industrial populism while delivering the usual toxic mix of lower corporate taxes combined with a weakened nation state that refuses to spend its money on the welfare of citizens.

At this point our best hope on the left is probably alien intervention.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Jan 23rd, 2017 at 05:50:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, at least you have not lost all hope. (grin)

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Jan 23rd, 2017 at 07:04:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Carter clung staunchly to his standards of decency and basic humanity and paid a huge price for so doing. He was the victim of events and, arguably, of treasonous conspiracy by Reagan supporters undermining his position while president by negotiating with the Iranians and promising them a better deal from Reagan. Carter displayed the greatest personal integrity of any US President I have known but is not widely acknowledged for that.

Religious right wingers always complained that we needed a President with strong religious values. We got one in Carter and Carter took seriously the core teachings of Jesus and tried his best to follow them. As a reward he was hated by so many of those supposed Christians.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Jan 24th, 2017 at 05:14:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by das monde on Tue Jan 24th, 2017 at 12:52:17 AM EST
Hah! We are ahead of you. We have even better words... Ireland already has a Trump Hotel and Golf Course at Doonbeg complete with a great wall he is going to have to build to keep the Atlantic Ocean (and the Mexicans) out.


Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Jan 24th, 2017 at 02:21:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The tragedy of No Drama Obama was that the drama was always there and never went away.

Schengen is toast!
by epochepoque on Tue Jan 24th, 2017 at 07:50:19 PM EST


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