Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Politics to be Considered Soon

I've been very, very busy these past few weeks. I hope to find some time soon to read up on politics. The Trump-Clinton-Sanders race has overshadowed many other campaigns and issues locally, nationally, and internationally. So I plan to post what I can find out about these.
I saw the Roots remake last night. Very good. (I've never seen the original Roots.)

Monday, May 30, 2016

A Day of Remembrance

On the difference between Memorial Day and Veterans' Day.

An illustrated recounting of the first Decoration Day.

3 June update: Hawaiians fought in the Civil War.

Kunstler: The Fat Lady Always Sings Twice.

Kunstler: The Fat Lady Always Sings Twice.

That was the week Hillary began to look like the candidate who fell off a truck wearing a Nixon mask. Email-gate is taking on the odor of Watergate — the main ingredient of which was not the dopey crime itself but the stonewalling around it. The State Department Inspector General’s report saying definitively, no, she was not “allowed” to use a private, unsecured email server validated Donald Trump’s juvenile name-calling of “Crooked Hillary.”

We may never hear the end of that now (if Trump is actually nominated). And, of course, there lurks the Godzilla-sized skeleton in her closet of the still-unreleased Goldman Sachs speech transcripts, the clamor over which is sure to grow. Meanwhile the specter of the California primary looms, a not inconceivable loss to Bernie Sanders. And onto the convention in Philly which I contend will be even more fractious and violent than the 1968 fiasco in Chicago.

I’ll say it again: Hillary is a horse that ain’t gonna finish. The Democrats better be prepared to haul Uncle Joe out of the closet, fluff up his transplanted hair, wax his dentures, give him a few Vitamin B-12 shots, and stick a harpoon in his fist for the autumn run against the White Whale (if Trump is actually nominated).

The Republican convention in Cleveland is apt to be as bloody and violent a spectacle too (if Trump is actually nominated), with Black Lives Matters cadres having already promised to put on a show for global television and their Latino counterparts marching with Mexican Flags and cute signs saying: Trump: Chingate tu madre, perhaps garnished with the sobriquet pendejo. In such a situation, Trump has enormous potential to make things worse with his childish snap-backs. Hubert Humphrey in 1968 at least had the good sense to keep his mouth shut about the moiling multitudes out on Michigan Avenue inveighing against him.

The Vietnam War was a grave debacle, and it especially pissed off the young men subject to being drafted to fight in it, but the woof and warp of American life was otherwise intact. Blue collar workers still pulled in high wages in the Big Three auto plants, and women had not yet declared war on men, and the airwaves weren’t pornified, and there were still people in government with moral authority who loudly opposed official policy. The sobering martyrdoms of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy sanctified the opposition to the status quo. Even Hubert Humphrey himself, a thoughtful man underneath his Rotarian clown mask, began to turn away from Lyndon Johnson’s war hawks.

Nixon won. He surely benefited most not so much from the war issue and the riots in the streets as from the mass defection of Southern states from the long-entrenched domination of the Democratic Party — directly due to Johnson’s dismantling of the old Jim Crow laws. As a personality, Nixon was as much a pendejo as Donald Trump, but no one doubted his ability to run the machinery of government, if not the way they wanted to run it.

One difference today is that the two supposedly leading candidates, Hillary and Trump, are broadly loathed and mocked by people of all ages, not just disaffected youth. Trump appears to actually know so little about the major problems the country faces — energy, trade, the animus of foreigners — that he would be literally helpless in crisis. Hillary would enter the White House more mistrusted than Tricky Dick, and more starkly wired into the parasitical elites draining the body politic of its precious bodily fluids — in the immortal words of Doctor Strangelove.

Though it appears that Trump has consolidated the delegate vote needed for nomination, something tells me that a move is yet afoot to knock the gold ring out of his grubby fingers. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan is playing it very cagey and you can imagine that current party stalwarts and office-holders all over the land are wringing their hands over being asked to follow Trump into some dark night of the American soul. Paul Ryan must know that a coup at the convention is still conceivable and that the action inside the hall will be as violent as the street-fighting outside.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

DJ Honda

Various Tweets

If you can read Spanish, read this (24 Nov. 2015: La Jornada, "Carlos Slim y su biografía política."

Johnson-Weld 2016

As busy as ever but I watched part of the Libertarian convention yesterday and this morning on C-SPAN. Lots of colorful speeches, questions, and general debates. They finally settled on a presidential ticket. Your Libertarian candidates for 2016 are:

Gary Johnson and William Weld.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

More On Venezuela

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Magazine Covers: Then and Now.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Both Matt and Elizabeth Bruenig are off Twitter.


Kunstler: Lower Away!

Another Kunstler column on the presidential race. At least you know where he always stood with Hillary.

Kunstler: Lower Away!

The Untanning

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Maybe when I have time later I can explore this more:

(Mark Ames has had a problem with Ron Paul for years. But his mention of Bernie means maybe he's not totally in the tank for him.)


Thursday, May 12, 2016

Political News

Mother Jones: "Texas Republicans Inch Closer to Secession." Oh my, grab the smelling salts.

In 1998, Mother Jones had a brief, superficial overview of the major American secession movements, starting with--Texas. It mentioned Hawaiian sovereignty, and quoted Dr. Kekuni Blaisdell.


From half a year ago, Rod Dreher predicting "Our Trump-ish, Cruz-y Future":

Neither Trump nor Cruz is electable. It’s looking like the only GOP candidate who might have the power to stop them is Marco Rubio, of all people. If he can’t do it, Republican Party bigs may have to hold their noses and back Cruz as the only way of stopping Trump.

It wasn’t long ago that Republicans were excited about the 2016 race, looking out over all the strong candidates in the field. That was before the Summer of Trump.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Last night, while trying to post, I got a 502 error notice. That's never happened before. Maybe the website's servers were overloaded. Anyway, Ted Cruz hints he might restart his campaign if he wins the Nebraska primary. Cruz went after Trump hard for several months, but I remember when he kissed up to him, when Trump was regarded as a novelty, in hopes of being named his running mate.

Monday, May 09, 2016

Kunstler: Trumptopia.

Kunstler: Trumptopia.

For years, it was easy to see the political storm clouds gather over Europe with its fractious coalitions and its ancient babble of conflicts. Marine Le Pen’s Daddy, severe old Jean-Marie, was on the scene in France decades before Donald Trump ascended to glory on the noxious clouds of America’s crapified culture, attended by heavenly hosts of Kardashian angels and the cherub Honey BooBoo.

For all the strains in recent American life, the two-party system had seemed as solid as the granite towers of the Brooklyn Bridge. Not even the estimable Teddy Roosevelt could blow up the system when he tried in 1912 — though his Progressive (“Bull Moose”) Party carried California, Pennsylvania, and Minnesota, and he far out-polled the incumbent Republican President Taft, who garnered a measly 8 electoral votes (Democrat Woodrow Wilson won). Ross Perot made an impact in 1992 — he certainly had a good point about NAFTA and “the giant sucking sound” of jobs draining out of the USA. But his popinjay manner didn’t go over so well, and at the critical moment in the general election he lost his nerve and withdrew, only to foolishly re-enter weeks later. Then there was the Ralph Nader in 2000, whose egoistic crusade arguably put George W. Bush in the White House.

Since then, the country see-sawed between the long tenures of two Deep State errand boys from each major party, putting both parties in such a bad odor that Trump now rises on their mephitic fumes. Which raises the question, of course: what exactly is this Deep State? Answer: A leviathan of symbiotic rackets producing maximum incompetence affecting adversely the majority of citizens. It’s a blood-sucking beast of a hundred-thousand heads draining the USA of its dwindling vitality, lying about its intentions while it advertises the pietistic certainties of the Left and superstitious shibboleths of the Right, leaving a smoking hole in the middle where the practical problems of everyday life used to be worked out by practical means.

The Deep State is also the sum of unintended consequences and diminishing returns of a late-stage, bureaucratic, techno-industrial economy cannibalizing itself to stay alive. One obvious conclusion is that this economy has got to change before there is nothing left to eat, and no political figure on the scene, including Trump and Bernie Sanders, has a plausible vision of where this takes us. Both really just assume that the engine keeps chugging down the track of ever more material wealth that can be distributed differently. The truth is, there will be a lot less material wealth of the kind we’re used to, and a lot less capital representation in the things we call “money.” [Emphasis mine.--P.Z.] In fact, the scene at hand today is just a spectacle of the shrewdest and biggest rodents scarfing up the table-scraps of a 200-year-long banquet.

Hillary Clinton, of course, is the Deep State incarnate, which is the real reason so few citizens trust her. Every poor schnook getting shaken down for a $90,000 appendectomy bill looks at Hillary and knows exactly what she represents. Every 25-year-old jobless, couch-surfing millennial carrying fifty-grand in college debt sees the face of the Deep State in her self-satisfied demi-smile. Mainly, she has gulled the diversity pimps — because they are wards of the Deep State — and women, because it’s Mommy’s “turn” to direct the Deep State. Writer, financier, and Deep State rogue operative Jim Rickards [Link added by me.--P.Z.] keeps insisting that Uncle Joe Biden will end up as the Democratic nominee. (He said so in a Tweet just the other day). You have to wonder what this guy knows. Don’t suppose that Uncle Joe is the knight on a white horse you’ve been waiting for. After all, he’s vice-president of the Deep State.

Voters seem attracted to Trump because he’s so eager to give the finger to the Deep State. It deserves the finger, but it also needs to be carefully disassembled without blowing up what remains of this country. Trump already has a good start on blowing up the Republican Party. Never before have so many party officials dissociated themselves from the (so far) presumptive nominee. I expect to see more extreme measures against Trump to be yet attempted by the party mandarins in the two months before the convention. I doubt you will hear about them before they happen.

In the face of that, Trump’s behavior only gets more childish. His speech after the Indiana primary was a masterpiece of incoherence. Everything that reflected on the magnificence of his victory was “incredible.” Interestingly, that was exactly the right word. He’s tuned in to the national nervous breakdown underway. From time to time, when he’s not speaking emptily about how much he is loved, Trump voices some legitimate concern of the Deep State’s victims. There are few decent jobs outside the Deep State’s own rackets. We’re not obliged to take in a limitless stream of immigrants. Nation-building by military means has been a dismal failure. The national debt is a problem. The country’s infrastructure is decrepit. Trump says he can negotiate a fix to all this: the art of the deal. Blowing smoke up the Deep State’s ass is not a plan.

The tragedy is that no other serious, grown-up figures stepped forward in this dangerous moment of history. The party that Trump purports to represent lost itself in wilderness of grift, jingoism, and supernatural pettifoggery. The rival Democratic Party is high on the fumes of “diversity and inclusion,” kindergarten politics that only corrode what’s left of our tattered common culture. Hillary’s Deep State couldn’t have found a better diversionary subterfuge. Both parties are close to blowing up altogether. I’m not convinced that they’ll survive their own conventionas this summer. Then what?

Sunday, May 08, 2016

Eyesore of the Month

Kunstler: Eyesore of the Month: May 2016.

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Various Commentary on the Trump-Clinton Matchup (A Continuing Post)

Trump is not yet the official Republican nominee, but he should win enough delegates in the June primaries, especially in California, to avoid a contested convention. Likewise, Clinton is not yet the official Democratic nominee, but she's very close to attaining enough delegates. Basically, it's now a contest between the two, Sanders's stubborn presence in the Dem race notwithstanding. I'll add tweets, links to articles, etc. as I find them.

9 June update: Reason magazine: "Roseanne Barr, Socialist for Trump."

26 May update: Trump has just obtained 1,238 delegates, one more than needed to get the nomination.

The famous Elizabeth Warren Facebook post against Donald Trump.

(Throwing the Gary Johnson candidacy into the mix.)

"A Guide for the Perplexed", Hadley Arkes, TheCatholicThing.org, 4 May 2016

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Verify Those Memes

Browsing just now at Mark Ames's Twitter I found this:

Something was off, namely the use of the word "selfesteem." It is said to have been coined by William James in his 1890 book, The Principles of Psychology, many decades after the speech Lord Macaulay allegedly made.

The "speech" has gained currency among some Hindu nationalists as evidence of a conspiracy to destroy Indian education and demoralize its people. (Interestingly, Ames often rails against Narendra Modi and other Hindu nationalist politicians. E.g., )

This Wikipedia article on the English Education Act gives context to Macaulay's (actual) remarks.

Minute by the Hon'ble T. B. Macaulay, dated the 2nd February 1835.

The Columbia webpage gives as a source this site:

http://www.mssu.edu/projectsouthasia/history/primarydocs/education/Macaulay001.htm (dead link)

Further discussion here.

NACLA Returns to Print

"NACLA Returns to Print!"

NACLA Report on the Americas is returning to print through a partnership with Routledge.

Monday, May 02, 2016

(The) Room

Me too. But remember, The Room is the Tommy Wiseau movie. Room (no article) is the other one.

Kunstler: Send Out the Clowns

Kunstler: Send Out the Clowns.

In this decade of maximum peril, a prankish God delivers two maximally detested candidates to lead the faltering nation as events run ahead of all the convenient narratives. For instance: the idea that Republican “insiders” can block Trump’s path to the nomination. The insiders may be phantoms after all. For instance, the loathsome Koch brothers have already made their move onto Hillary’s side of the game-board. Trump won’t miss their campaign contributions for a New York minute (while Hillary might find a way to stuff the cash into some Cayman Islands lock-box of the Clinton Foundation).

Events played right into Trump’s smallish hands last week when protesters outside a Donald rally in Costa Mesa, CA, waved Mexican flags and placards calling for the reestablishment of Aztlán del Norte. Kind of proves his point about illegal immigration, don’t it? Trump also supposedly blundered in saying that Hillary had only “the women’s card” left to play in her donkey trot to the election. I’m not so sure he’s wrong about that — though the indignometer needle danced through the red-line after he said it.

Has it come to this? The women’s party against the men’s party? What kind of idiot psychodrama is this country acting out? Mom and dad mud-wrestling in an election year hog-wallow? A Reality TV show writ large from sea to shining sea? Are there no better ways of understanding the difficulties we face?

Lately Hillary has been boasting of her ability to bring Wall Street to heel, theoretically after Wall Street installs her in the White House. Voters (especially women) might want to pay attention to Hillary’s lavish praise for President Obama’s handling of the banking turpitudes still unresolved seven years after the crack-up of 2008. What did the Dodd-Frank Act (signed by “O” in 2010) accomplish except to provide more lucrative work-arounds, by Too-Complex-To-Comprehend legalese, for Too-Big-To-Fail banks. It was written by bank lobbyists and lawyers and was about 2,270 pages longer than the old Glass Steagall Act that Bill Clinton vaporized in 1999. Do you suppose that Bill and Hill might have talked about the repeal of Glass Steagall back then? Do you wonder what she thought about it at the time… being a lawyer and all?

This week attention is fixed on the Indiana primary where Devil Bat Ted Cruz desperately makes his last stand against the Trump juggernaut. It seems that former House Speaker John Boehner actually succeeded in driving a wooden stake through Cruz’s hypothetical heart by casually remarking that he was “the most miserable sonofabitch I ever worked with.” Kind of hard to explain that one away, though Ted tried by sending out his new attack dog Carly Fiorina and claiming that he never worked with the Speaker of the House — a risible claim for a national legislator in the same party.

All of this would be amusing if the USA wasn’t sliding into the twilight of what many people call “modernity” — which is code for the techno-industrial hyper-complexity we’ve been enjoying lately as a species. We have yet to comprehend the diminishing returns of heaping more complexity on what is already too complex. Exhibit A for most of the common folk must be the Affordable Care Act (also signed by “O” in 2010). Whereas the shrewd stylings of Dodd-Frank surely mystify the public, most full-functioning adults understand what it means when their health insurance premiums go up by 20 percent and the new deductible makes it unthinkable to even consider going to the emergency room.

The sad truth may be that rackets of this kind are unreformable, and that we can’t begin to do things differently until they collapse. It should be obvious, for instance, that American health care needs to move in the opposite direction from where it has been going — from giantism, as epitomized by colossal merged mega-hospital corporations, back to some kind of local clinic care in which doctors and their subalterns are not burdened by an oppressive matrix of Charge-Master grift. There may be less razzle-dazzle technology in that future model, but much more hands-on care, plus an end to the kind of financial pillage that bankrupts households for relatively routine illnesses (the $90,000 appendectomy).

Likewise in virtually all other areas of American life, the real trend as yet un-discussed in this election campaign, will be unwinding and downscaling of the onerous, toxic hyper-complexity of the age now passing and finding our way to a workable re-set of what used to be known as political-economy.

In the meantime: a clown show.

Sunday, May 01, 2016