Trumpismo

Mom was a huge Ross Perot fan. I’m sure very few of the family knew or even remember this about Mom, but she loved Ross Perot when he ran for president back in 1992. How many of you remember 1992? I remember that election very well. Ross Perot ran for president the year we had that three-way race that ended up saddling the United States with president William Jefferson Clinton. Bill Clinton, the president that American conservatives love to hate. Ross Perot ran for president again in 1996, Establishing the Reform Party in the process, but didn’t do nearly as well that year.

Mom loved the fact that Ross Perot spoke straight to the people. She loved the fact that he threw charts and graphs at the arguments, getting wonkier about the policies being argued than any other candidate in American history had gotten, at least in her experience.

She thought Bill Clinton was a used car salesman turned governor and I agreed with her in that. Mom had disapproved of Reagan and then the elder Bush for pretty much the same reasons that I did. They were mean people with mean policies and they said whatever their party told them to say in order to get elected. But Ross Perot? Mom loved every minute of that sideshow. The threats on his life that caused him to drop out of the race. The surprise re-emergence of the candidate mere weeks before the election. It was great theater.

There would be no Ross Perot love in my future. I had discovered libertarianism on August 2, 1990. That was the day that the elder Bush took us to war in the gulf against his buddy from the Reagan years, Saddam Hussein. On that day, as we peaceniks were engaging in a sit-in in the capitol rotunda, back in the days when the Texas state capitol building was open twenty-four hours a day for tourists, I just happened to be sitting next to Terry Liberty Parker. Yes, that Terry Liberty Parker.

Terry was infamous in Austin. Terry had been active in the anarchist/libertarian fringe of Austin politics for decades. His experimental clothing-optional apartment complex was a distant memory by 1990. He was running a libertarian show on Austin’s cable access channel by that point in time, and he was out rabble-rousing with the rest of the troublemakers on the fringe of Texas politics that night as he helpfully enlightened me about the weird world of third party politics while we occupied some floor space in the capitol building. By 1992, I was a hard-core Libertarian Party member.

Since I was a libertarian, and since this was my first time out for a presidential election as a libertarian, I wanted nothing to do with some upstart named Ross Perot. I tried to point out to Mom that Libertarians had been trying to break into American politics since the seventies, all to no avail. Ross Perot was not going to be able to do anything even if he managed to get elected as president. With the Democrats and Republicans united against him, he would be lucky to be able to stay in office at all.

There was another reason that I wouldn’t vote for Ross Perot even if there had been no Libertarian Party. A reason I have never told anyone about until now. I wouldn’t vote for Ross Perot because I knew he was a real estate developer. I’ve covered this point more than once on the blog so I won’t revisit the subject beyond simply noting that, during the process of working closely with a developer, you become numb to the energy and the hype. When you finally get numb to it all you stop listening to the words of the sales pitch and you start to take note of the number of lies that form the foundation of selling the project.

The revulsion at the lies that real estate developers tell comes from a deep distrust of most salesmen. As the son of a used car salesman I was immersed in my father’s world of buying and selling cars every day throughout my teenage years. Every time I spoke to him or was around him as an adult he was sizing up and selling cars and trucks. Automobiles were all he talked about or cared about aside from sports. It was his raison d’etre, his reason for existing. I was surrounded by used car salesmen and bullshit artists throughout my most formative years. Surrounded by workaday confidence men. I reflexively recognize a sales pitch when I hear one and I reject the content of the pitch out of hand, the actual words of the pitch completely unheard by me. I know I’m being sold to, and no one sells you things you don’t already want to buy. If it is something you already want, you just buy it without having to deal with salesmen. At least, that is what I do.

Real estate developers, in comparison to car salesmen and their hourly hawking of vehicles to car shoppers, are engaged in what can be most precisely be cast as a long con. Unlike car salesmen who have to make their sales in some portion based on their reputation for honesty and repeat business (Dad’s mantra was “be completely honest with a customer”) a real estate developer never has to look at a contractor or a buyer again unless he has to go to court in order to sue them or answer a lawsuit.

Consequently, a real estate developer can be even more dishonest to his marks …er customers, than a used car salesman can get away with. Each piece of property is unique. Each contract is different. Your past failures are conditioned based on the quality of the information that you were given. You have plausible deniability to fall back on. You can’t tear down a piece of property and discover all its flaws like you can with a machine. You have to sell what the property offers, sell what you can invent or envision the property to be.

I knew that Ross Perot was selling, and I knew that he was selling hard. I knew he had a knack for selling big dollar projects, and I knew he knew his way around Washington D.C. I no more trusted him than I would trust a carnival barker who promised me the show of a lifetime. So I stuck to my guns and voted for Andre Marrou in 1992. He lost, just like libertarians always lose, and we got Slick Willie as president that year.

All of this would be a quaint history lesson if it weren’t for the fact that a real estate developer currently holds the office of president. In hindsight, I wonder if Ross Perot went through those I’m a candidate, no I’m not a candidate convolutions that he engaged in precisely because his poll numbers started to show that he might win the 1992 presidential election. That he might become president himself with all the trouble holding that office would bring, not to mention having to take a significant pay cut.

Being a spoiler in an election is one thing. Punishing the elder Bush by appealing to the fickle middle of the voting population and drawing support away from him, allowing Bill Clinton to win, was just fine with Ross Perot. Actually gaining the office of President would be another thing entirely, and he had to be smart enough to know he couldn’t survive in Washington D.C. under that harsh spotlight. He wouldn’t be allowed to maintain his vast network of properties and businesses. He wouldn’t be able to work with a congress that was pitted against him.

Ross Perot knew how to make money and how to survive in the business world. This basic understanding of the reality of the business world is something that Donald Trump really never got the hang of, as revelations about how his father bailed him out time and time again over the decades should illustrate to anyone paying attention.

Ross Perot torpedoed the elder Bush’s second presidential campaign in 1992 specifically to make sure that he was a one-term president. Seen in this light it becomes obvious that Ross Perot was the smarter of the two real estate developers to run for office in the modern age. Donald Trump was not nearly as smart and he became president with all the scrutiny that comes along with that office.

However, Donald Trump’s gaining office meant something more to me, personally. As an amatuer pholosopher. As a political spectator. As a news junkie. Donald Trump being president meant that his supporters had a political philosophy that they believe is a part of Donald Trump. Trump himself had a politics that he espoused, the essence of what a Trump administration would be about. This was true whether Trump had enumerated what his political philosophy was or not, because the people who supported him would invent what they wanted to see if he didn’t provide the substance for them, and they’ll invent it for any political figure even if that figure does give them something else that he wants them to believe. So after the paint wore off my toenails and I came to grips with the fact of a Trump presidency, I set out trying to figure out what the president’s political philosophy was.

I had to figure this out for myself, because I knew that he would never consciously reveal what his true motives were beyond lining his own pockets at our expense. In public. Every day.

Hispanics have a name for the kind of demagogue, the kind of despot, that Trump wanted to be, based on the way he presented himself to the people he was president of. The way he presented himself to the people who wanted to belong to him and showed up at his political rallies that never stopped occurring, a hallmark of the kind of authoritarian that Donald Trump admires. In public. Every day.

Caudillo is what the Spanish people called Francisco Franco when he took over Spain. El Caudillo, the strong man.

99percentinvisible.org – EPISODE 408 Valley of the Fallen – 07.28.20

Historically we in the United States consigned those who fell under the shadow of the Monroe doctrine to the tender mercies of a Caudillo like Francisco Franco was and that Trump wanted to be. That practice has fallen out of favor in the country at large if not in Washington D.C. in particular, but we’ve apparently grown so fearful of the poor among us that we will risk having a Caudillo to rule over us directly. A dictator to rule over us, like a king would. A Caudillo to rule over us in the same manner as those who lived under our corporate control in Central and South America, back in those #MAGA days when America was great.

Throughline – There Will Be Bananas – January 9, 2020

Donald Trump really isn’t a strong man, though. He was planning on being a strong man. He presented himself as a strong man. This is why the trolls who supported him on the internet called the Never-Trumpers cucks or cuckolds, weak men who allow their women to sleep with other men. Everyone who had a brain and understood what Trump was promising to bring to the office of the President knew that he was promising a dictatorship unlike anything that the United States had seen at any point in history. The people who chanted “lock her up” and “build that wall” at Trump’s rallies thought he was going to be a dictator like Bush the second joked about being.

If this were a dictatorship, it would be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I’m the dictator.

George Bush, December 18, 2000

…and Donald Trump has made a lot of people’s lives miserable, killing over 240,000 Americans. However, he didn’t earn the hatred or directly spill the kind of blood that a title like el Caudillo requires. He didn’t declare martial law because a United States president can’t do that all by himself. Only governors have that power in the United States, and even their power on that subject is strictly measured. He didn’t get to create concentration camps to put the Mexicans that he and his supporters are so afraid of in. His wall was never built. He couldn’t effectively prosecute his political opponents even though he tried to do it several times. So he’s not really a Caudillo.

He’s more like a Caudito or a stormy child. My apologies in advance for butchering a noble language like Spanish.

Since he fancies himself a strong man, and since his supporters pretend he is a strong man, I find it fitting that his affected masculine air, his machismo, also carry an appropriate title for one such as he. Consequently the name I’ve chosen for his politics is Trumpismo, a similar label to the one hung on the politics of Hugo Chavez, the only dictator that Donald Trump hates.

Throughline – El Libertador – May 16, 2019

Trumpismo

Knowing who Trump was and naming his politics was the easy part. Trying to discern what his politics actually were? Now that was the hard part. No matter how hard I squinted at his actions, the platform that supported them simply wasn’t discernable. What does Caudito Trump stand for? What are his policy goals? What does he believe? Four years later, on the eve of his ouster from the office of the president, this remains an open question to me.

It is hard to discount the facts of Trump’s racism. There are just too many instances of him engaging in racist speech. Particular kinds of speech that he repeated too often for them to be simple misunderstandings. His racism goes all the way back to his father and his family and their effect on him, but his racism should have been apparent to anyone who was paying attention during the campaign that lead up to the first term of Barack Obama’s presidency, and what happened after it. It is not for nothing that Chris Hayes refers to Donald Trump as the birther-in-chief.

Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man by Mary L. Trump Ph.D.

Donald Trump took up the birther cause with a vengeance that made Sarah Palin’s promotion of it pale by comparison. The idea that Barack Obama was not an American is a patently racist idea. How do I know this? Because conservatives don’t have a problem with Ted Cruz running for president, and he wasn’t born in the United States. “Ted Cruz looks every bit as white as I look, so why should it be a problem? That Barack Obama character looks like a foreigner with his black skin. He’s not an American, is he?” Therein lies the racism.

Whether Trump is a racist or not, he clearly thought his supporters were racists. Every word that he spouted was about them and they and the threat they pose. Trump’s pitches were demonstrably racist. Trump’s flunkies are still demonstrably racist. The Republican party, the party of Trump, is still demonstrably racist.

The Wife said don’t let the racists win on Facebook as the 2018 midterm elections were occurring, her obvious point being that people were being motivated to vote for Trump and his endorsed Republicans, all of whom were running exclusively on racist fears, and that these Republicans should be defeated at the polls by the rest of us self-respecting Americans. The majority of us, the people who don’t see life as a game that is only won by profiting off the suffering of others. We shouldn’t let the racist minority of Americans win. That’s it. That is the sum total meaning of don’t let the racists win.

The result was that family and friends went to town on her on Facebook, taking her to task for calling them racists. She got so much hatred on Facebook that she ended up deleting the status the very next day. If you don’t like the quality of your fellow travelers being assessed as your qualities, don’t stand up and try to defend those fellow travelers. Let the sleeping dogs lie and walk on. Walk on, because the racism of your fellow travelers is beyond question. The only question in my mind is why do you feel you need to defend yourself when you aren’t being targeted? Sensitive much?

Refugees are entitled to seek asylum by international law, even brown-skinned refugees have that right. Caudito Trump making the US into something that the refugees fear more than staying where they were makes us worse than the gangs and warlords those people are fleeing from. Caudito Trump was trying to make the United States appear more frightening than MS13, his preferred Mexican bogeyman of the time.

That was Trump’s plan. That was why he separated children from their parents at the border. That was why he locked children up in cages. That was why he and his former Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, as well as his current AG Billy Barr conspired to make millions of people who are Americans stateless by denying them residency inside the United States. He declared these poor people invaders and outsiders simply because they didn’t have documents to prove that they were Americans.

Is that something you carry around with you? Proof that you belong here? Most of us don’t have those kinds of documents. There was a political backlash in the 1990’s against even creating a thing similar to a national ID, and yet you don’t dare leave home without your papers if you look like a Mexican in the United States, even in 2020.

These people aren’t a threat to anything aside from the narrow vision that feeding them, sheltering them, welcoming them will somehow mean there is less for the rest of us. The poor towns and villages of Mexico, with far less resources than we can command on a whim, have embraced these people and welcomed them with open arms.

That is what it is to be human. To be humane. To ease the suffering of others, even if you have to do without because of it. You welcome refugees in and you offer them whatever it is that you have to spare, because at least you have it to spare.

…And the only reason, the only reason that there can be for singling out the Southern border as the place where problem migrants come from, is racism. Caudito Trump doesn’t talk about gangs other than Mexican gangs. He doesn’t talk about anything other than the other waiting for us across the Southern border.

(Some of text above is from Facebook)

However, the illusion of Trumpismo being essentially racist dissolved after 2018. Caudito Trump pushed xenophobia all day every day through the end of the 2018 midterms, and in that election he was politically flogged for the blatant racism he was engaging in. Finally and justly flogged, politically.

After the 2018 election he changed tactics. Gone were the threats of invasion from across the Southern border, other than the occasional red flag that the coronavirus could be sneaking across the border with those evil Mexicans. In the 2020 election when he needed the votes of brown-skinned Americans to win, his pitch was entirely economic.

Unfortunately Caudito Trump didn’t have a definable economic policy. His economics is not about getting dollars into the hands of average Americans that need them, or helping the drug addicted wretches strung out on profit-making drugs manufactured by international pharmaceutical companies. No, his economics amounted to calling everyone he wanted his supporters to be afraid of socialists, as if socialism was a bad thing.

Socialism is not what conservatives think socialism is. Stalin wasn’t socialist. Stalin was a dictator, like Putin is. Stalin was a dictator like Caudito Trump wanted to be. The fear of socialism has driven conservatives to embrace the thing that they should be afraid of. Socialism is Medicare or Social Security, and most Americans love those programs.

Historically? Historically socialism evolved into Marxism, and Marxism turned out to be a dead end. Marxism was what Stalin paid lip service to while killing 60 million people as perhaps the worst dictator in human history (he has competitors for that position) Marxism, as a theory, died with the USSR. The social democracies of the Nordic countries are also socialism, practiced within the loosely capitalist/feudalist framework that dominates the Western world.

(Some of text above is from facebook)

The economics of Trumpismo amounts to trickle-down economics in the form of giant tax breaks for the wealthy and be afraid of socialists. That isn’t an economic platform that can bear any weight. After four years I’m still largely left with a puzzle. What was Trumpismo? What is it? Can it be defined by the targets he selects?

“I’ve been amazed and disappointed by so much of what this president had said, and his approach to running this country, which seems to be one of just a never ending divisiveness. But his comments today about those who have lost loved ones in times of war and his lies that previous presidents Obama and Bush never contacted their families are so beyond the pale, I almost don’t have the words.”

At this point, Coach Pop paused, and I thought for a moment that perhaps he didn’t have the words and the conversation would end. Then he took a breath and said:

“This man in the Oval Office is a soulless coward who thinks that he can only become large by belittling others. This has of course been a common practice of his, but to do it in this manner—and to lie about how previous presidents responded to the deaths of soldiers—is as low as it gets. We have a pathological liar in the White House, unfit intellectually, emotionally, and psychologically to hold this office, and the whole world knows it, especially those around him every day. The people who work with this president should be ashamed, because they know better than anyone just how unfit he is, and yet they choose to do nothing about it. This is their shame most of all.”

Coach Gregg Popovich Responds to Trump

Everything Caudito Trump says can be dismissed as obfuscation. You can harm your own understanding of reality if you pay attention to the words coming out of his mouth. Hucksters of his caliber have long lost sight of what is true or isn’t true and are continually engulfed in a fog of bullshit that they can’t even see through, so there is little to be gained from sifting through his words for gems of truth.

However, this Bullshit is Bullshit truism doesn’t mean that Caudito Trump has no politics, no Trumpismo, or that his politics can’t be sieved out of his nearly chaotic actions. It’s just that the results may not create a framework that supports weight. There isn’t a there there to build on, as far as I can tell. But there is a pattern which can be illuminated, like the outline of a murder victim left at a crime scene.

I’ll start with this. Donald Trump was impeached for trying to get Ukraine to create propaganda targeting Joe Biden, the man that Caudito Trump lost the 2020 election to. Time after time Trump attempted to profit himself at the expense of the country at large, and when the thing he was trying to do benefited the Republican party, the Republican leadership in the legislature followed his lead. Sullying Joe Biden’s reputation served their interests, and so they acquitted Donald Trump of the crimes he was accused of, even though the crimes had been demonstrated in open court. This action made the Republican party accomplices to Trump’s crimes, an act that they have so far evaded punishment for.

These events, however, serve to illustrate the one major point of consistency about Caudito Trump. Time after time, when Donald Trump acted, it was to benefit Donald Trump alone.

Caudito Trump’s consistent self-rewarding actions reveal the first plank of Trumpismo. He believes that in order for there to be winners there must be losers. In order for there to be success there must be want and suffering. The first tenet of Trumpismo is belief in the zero-sum game. This belief underpins every other thing that Caudito Trump and his Stormtrumpers believe. Others must suffer so that they can have what they want in life. The suffering of others is not only unavoidable, it is desirable. Without the visible suffering of the losers there cannot be anything to desire about being a winner.

The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together by Heather McGhee
Fresh Air – ‘Sum Of Us’ Examines The Hidden Cost Of Racism — For Everyone February 17, 2021

This is a requirement of the zero-sum game. Once you have subscribed to this tenet, everything else falls into place. The racism, the xenophobia, the bulwark of nationalists and populists down through the centuries is a hallmark of those who think they must claim more than they are rightfully due. This is why they don’t see themselves as racist when they move to keep what they have secured for themselves. Protect it from the other, those who have to do without.

Donald Trump winning means cheaters win. Cheating was and is his standard of practice and his father’s standard of practice. Caudito Trump’s biggest supporters, White Evangelicals, are cheating and they know it. They know he isn’t a christian, but they support him even with this inadmissible knowledge in their heads because engaging in this deception gets them the ideological victories that they have literally sold their souls for over the years since Ronald Reagan took office. This is just another facet of belief in the zero-sum game.

Caudito Trump runs his businesses like a crime boss, and he does business with criminal gangs from around the world. Hillary Clinton’s major failing as a candidate and a politician is that she never tried to prove that Donald Trump was a tax cheat back when New York state could have done something about it. She knew he was a cheater, just like everyone else in business and government in New York city knew this about him, and yet she did nothing to torpedo the man before he became Caudito Trump, the man in control of the largest military on the face of the Earth.

Oh my! This is why I should have stayed out of this. I could say the same about you sir. We will never agree with each other. We both think the other is willfully ignorant and will NEVER see the others point. Just keep depending on the government (other people) to take care of you. I want to depend on myself and God. I guess we just agree to disagree.

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Agree to disagree, the height of willful ignorance. That’s what I suggested was being displayed in that conversation back in 2018 with my brother-in-law and his friends. Willful ignorance. Deliberate stupidity. The author was asserting that there was a vast liberal conspiracy at the center of the average American’s perception of Caudito Trump. That this was the reason that Donald Trump has been dismissed as one of the worst presidents in history. The belief that Barack Obama was one of the best presidents in history.

A vast liberal conspiracy? I was citing a Pew poll as evidence of these assertions. That Obama was loved. That Trump was hated. Agreeing to disagree on matters of opinion is a forgivable sin, I’ll grant that much. If only nature was so malleable as to allow willful ignorance like the above to go unpunished for long.

This is the next most substantial platform of the politics of Caudito Trump under the adherence to the zero-sum game. The second platform is the belief in a grand conspiracy that is keeping the most powerful office in the United States from being exercised the way that its current occupant wants. Caudito Trump loves the stupid, and the stupid love grand conspiracy theories, so he loves and promotes grand conspiracies as the reason why he cannot give his supporters what he thinks they want.

This is why he promotes the ridiculous fantasies behind Qanon. It isn’t because he believes that crap. His supporters believe it, and so he puts on that face. His actions are a pantomime, a mimicry of what his supporters say they want in a leader.

Fortunately (unfortunately for them) nature does not reward leaders that cannot lead, and what we have witnessed time and again over the last four years is that Donald Trump can’t lead. He can’t lead because he has nothing he believes in aside from Donald Trump.

Trump and his enablers — like those from history of similar mindset — have made it abundantly clear: Anybody not of THE PARTY can’t be trusted. This is the primary message of, “Why does the Mueller team have 13 hardened Democrats, some big Crooked Hillary supporters, and Zero Republicans? Another Dem recently added…does anyone think this is fair?” And so, unchecked, what happens next is those who are not of THE PARTY must be removed from power. They must be purged from government, from military leadership, from law enforcement, and especially from public education.

Facebook – Stonekettle

A leader has to believe something. Faith in oneself is only part of the leadership equation. You also have to have faith in something greater than yourself, and a narcissist like Trump can’t imagine anything greater than he is. This is why he lies incessantly. This is why he constantly cheats at everything that he does. He is a broken man. He has always been a broken man.

This isn’t how we were raised. This isn’t how any of us were raised, aside from Caudito Trump. These aren’t the values of a free people. This is not the America I fell in love with as a child. If it is the vision of America that you want embodied, one that you support, then I have to wonder what it is that you are so afraid of?

Penniless, hopeless refugees are a threat to the United States? We throw away more food in a day here in the US than would be needed to feed ten times the number of refugees requesting asylum in the US right now. We have entire towns made up of empty houses. We have more empty space than would be necessary to house every homeless person in the world if they somehow made their way here to the United States.

We will soon have created a vaccine that will liberate us from the confines of the coronavirus, and we will achieve this without Caudito Trump’s stupid warp speed efforts. We will do this because that is what we do. It is what we have to do in order to overcome the limitations of nature and our own personal shortcomings. It is what we do, aided by people that Caudito Trump and his supporters want thrown out of the country.

I have some good news for you. The game is not zero-sum. Trump is a con artist that lies to you. Refugees are not a threat, they are an asset that we squander, just like we squander the vast amounts of treasure we possess on things that do not make us better people. It is time to stop being afraid. Time to stop listening to people who tell you that you should be afraid, especially when those people have the wealth and authority to solve the problems they tell you to be afraid of, if only they exercised a fraction of their wealth and power to do it. Don’t fall for the con. Don’t defend Trump’s lost cause. Don’t accept his vision of America as your vision of America.

Trump stops being president on January 20th, 2021. There is nothing he can do that will change this fact. It is written into the constitution that the office ends when and where it does. For him to attempt to remain in office is The essence of what unconstitutional means.

The Democratic speaker of the new House of Representatives will become President on January 20th, 2021 if Caudito Trump has rendered the election results inconclusive, which is the best he can do under the circumstances. I’m good with that result just as I am good with Joe Biden becoming president. The average citizen did their job on November 3rd of this year. We honored the 240,000 dead Americans and kicked their murderer out of office in the election. Our job is done. Now it is up to the people who have been given authority to to their jobs.

The governors and legislators of the various states will follow the constitution they swore to uphold, and validate the election results that the count (still going on) reveals. The electors for the president will cast their ballots on December 8th, and if that vote doesn’t reveal a Biden presidency, then the House of Representatives will step in and try to make sense of the mess. The Democratic House of Representatives. Who do you think they will chose?

The military can be counted on to follow procedure. That is one of the few things I’m fairly certain of. They will not back Caudito Trump’s transparent coup attempt that is currently being foiled in the courts. The US military will follow procedure and back whoever Congress names as the next president, because that is what procedure requires of them. Caudito Trump is done. Still, I think I will keep my fingers crossed until January 20th, just in case.

It’s going to be interesting watching Trump get evicted on January 20th. It’ll be like justice has finally arrived for all those black families his father evicted all of his life, that Trump’s son-in-law Jared evicts regularly to this very day.

(Some of text above is from Facebook)

When Joe Biden takes the oath of office and enters the White House we will have come full circle again. The evangelicals that allied themselves to the Republican party under Reagan have been frustrated yet again with Biden’s victory. The people who were so scandalized by the nomination and then election of Bill Clinton to the White House, the people who were so shocked at having to tell their children about oral sex because the president got a blowjob and it was talked about on the news, those very same people went out and promoted Caudito Trump and his Trumpismo to the White House.

With Caudito Trump’s elevation to high office the Moral Majority ceased to have any claim to morals or to even being a majority anymore, and they were soundly defeated at the polls on November 3rd. Even though they managed to make some gains on down-ballot races, Joe Biden will likely win with more than seven million votes, more votes than have ever been cast for a president before in history. I wonder what hobby horse these backers of Trump and his Trumpismo will come riding back out on next time? Because there will be a next time.

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Editor’s note

In researching this article before publishing it I came to the realization that I mistook the existence of The Perot Group and its development of properties in Texas to be the only business that Ross Perot engaged in. In that assumption I was mistaken. I left the text I had written largely intact because it does reflect what I thought of Ross Perot in 1992. I was simply wrong in 1992. Wrong that he was a real estate developer, correct in my estimation that he was a salesman first. He just happened to be a technologist second and not the even more divorced from reality group designated as real estate developer.

when I decided that the name for Trump’s politics was Trumpismo back in 2017, I thought I was being unique and original. Turns out, a lot of people had the same idea at about the same time that I did. Oh, well.

Featured image from the AP story Message of Election 2020: Trump lost, but Trumpism did not published on November 7, 2020.

#MAGA: Saved by Socialism

The great merit of the capitalist system, it has been said, is that it succeeds in using the nastiest motives of nasty people for the ultimate benefit of society.

E. A. G. Robinson via QI

In 2008, the greed of corporate bankers blinded them to the actual risks they were engaging in with derivatives, risks that they will be engaging in again now that Donald Trump (OHM) has pulled the teeth out of legislation keeping them from doing what they did before. They will shortly be wrecking the economy with their pursuit of the next billion dollars that they can’t spend but want anyway.

It isn’t capitalism or socialism that is committing these misdeeds, it is human nature. We will continue to fail to properly regulate industries so long as we fail to understand human nature. Continuing to argue about socialism vs. capitalism is to miss the proverbial forest for the trees. The vast majority of humanity is poorly served by the current economic systems of the world, and it will take an action by those unwashed masses to right the situation unless the wealthy figure out how to save their own necks first.

Take the image above as an illustration of the problem here. Socialism isn’t keeping everyone equally poor, and it certainly wasn’t socialism causing the bread lines in the 1930’s. The Great Depression was caused by the failure of the gold standard to live up to the dreams of the people who created it. America, with huge reserves of gold, had no money for the poor to buy things with. The rest of the world was in depression because of the austerity that was required by the gold standard to bolster the other nation’s reserves of gold, reserves the US government would not let go of because it had no mechanism with which to distribute its wealth of gold to the American people to buy goods and services with. There was no mechanism to get funds into the hands of people who needed them until Franklin Delano Roosevelt embarked on his dream of federal assistance. A dream that the gold bugs of the time thought was foolhardy. Capitalism caused the failure of the world markets in 1929, because capitalism doesn’t have a means for controlling the greed of participants in the system.

Suggested reading: Lords of Finance: The Bankers Who Broke the World

It was socialism that ended the depression, not created it. It was capitalism’s ideologues, people who still support the gold standard today, who had no idea how to get money out among the people without them having to work for it. People who were in the meantime starving to death while crops rotted in the field. All of them wanting work and there was no money to pay them to do the work that needed doing.

All ideologues fail. They fail reliably and consistently because they cannot conceive of something outside their ideology. That is the nature of what it is to adhere to an ideology in the first place. The nature of belief in an ideal. You cannot improve on perfection, if you accept that what you believe in is perfection.

My family and I have been personally saved by socialism. When I say socialism, I mean the Social Security system set up by congress under FDR. My disability payments have kept us fed and housed for the last decade and more, and those payments have been the only thing coming in for the last few years. Now that president Trump has made it safe to discriminate against everyone who isn’t a straight, white, perfectly abled evangelical American male, there aren’t too many jobs out there for those of us who don’t fit the bill, even if we aren’t disabled.

Make no mistake here, this is by design. The way to make sure that the poor whites who voted for Trump have jobs is to take them from the other people who currently have them. Brown people. Women. Gays. This is what the phrase zero-sum game means, and Donald Trump believes wholeheartedly in the zero-sum game. There is only one pie, and any slice someone else gets is one less slice for him. His Stormtrumpers agree with him, which is why they are willing to do violence to people who speak against his policies.

Social programs are socialism. They are one of the facets of socialism that have been adopted widely; and they’ve been adopted widely because if you live like a king on wealth that you haven’t been seen working for, the people who do work all day resent that you live better than they do. When you get to eat while they starve. When you get a dry place to sleep while they huddle in misery exposed to the elements. Now, you can say that is a benefit taken from the wealthy at great expense, but if these benefits were not provided to the poor, the wealthy wouldn’t live long. There are quite a few more poor people in the world than wealthy people, and the poverty level is rising to the point where it gets pretty hard to find a family in which someone isn’t suffering from a lack of funds.

When your relatives start dying in the street for no good reason, you start to ask uncomfortable questions of the people who are supposed to run this country. That is what put Donald Trump into power in the first place, poor rural whites with friends and family addicted to opioids sold to them by profit-seeking companies that have so far walked away from their malfeasance scot-free. There will be a price to be paid for this malfeasance, and you can either be on the receiving end of the punishment now, or not. If not, you better get to helping make life livable for the people who are suffering right now.

This is where the Press fails in its duty to the Republic more than anywhere else: When Cheney says “Democratic colleagues who would like to impose socialism” she should be immediately stopped and required to define the terms and name the names.

This is where the Citizen fails in their duty to liberty, when they allow any politician to say these things without question, without challenge, without accountability.

Stonekettle Station

The Delusion of Money

This is an affliction that most people in the world suffer under. Anyone who says the phrase my money as if money is personal property. Anyone who thinks that working is how you earn money. Anyone who thinks that money has value beyond what it can buy at the moment you need to purchase something. Those people all live under the delusion of money. Anarcho-capitalists, libertarians and fiscal conservatives all suffer under this delusion. Their ideals of what money is precludes them from ever understanding what will solve the recurring economic crises we’ve suffered throughout history. Until we understand what money is, we cannot hope to fix the problem of the boom/bust cycle.

When I take the time to listen to conservatives and libertarians these days, to read their arguments, I’ve started posing this counter question. What is Libertarian Socialism? They generally short circuit like a drone android calling for Norman. You know, Libertarian Socialism, the political movement that dismisses notions of taxes as anything other than the monetary recapturing tool that taxes are, sees Guaranteed Minimum Income as a necessary function of living in large groups? If my antagonist of the moment can manage a reply, then it is generally a denial that Libertarian Socialism is a real thing. But Libertarian Socialism is real, and it is just one more movement afoot to bring economic freedom to the problem of worldwide poverty. A real solution to a real problem, not hidebound ideology and wishful thinking.

The process of discovering what money is and what its functions in human society are has lifted a veil from my eyes. The punishment of poverty that is meted out most vengefully by the middle class, egged on by the wealthy who know just how much of a delusion the middle class labors under, is unwarranted. People are not poor because of some failing of theirs. People are poor because the system forces them into poverty.

I have struggled with how to present the ideas that seem so clear to me, present them in a way that will be understood by others. Understood by others who have not dropped their preconceived notions about money. How to have the ideas understood by them, and not simply have the argument rejected out of hand.

Year after year, when I was a libertarian, I promoted the World’s Smallest Political Quiz (WSPQ) as the way to illustrate, concretely, just how libertarians were different from liberals or conservatives. I wish I had spent that time studying economics rather than promoting fringe ideology now. The WSPQ is a variation on the Nolan chart, a political spectrum diagram created by American libertarian activist David Nolan. The WSPQ slims down the questions asked by Nolan to ten yes/maybe/no questions, and then places people in their political quadrants based on their answers. I never understood the pushback offered by people who suggested that financial freedom wasn’t what the diagram described while I was out stumping for it. Now I can see the problem more clearly.

The Nolan chart and all it’s minor variations don’t deal with the reality of economics; and consequently, these attempts to measure political beliefs do not measure economic freedom as they claim to do. This fact makes all libertarian ideas that deal with economics flawed at the precept level, shattering the entire structure of libertarian philosophy. The flaw shatters not just libertarianism, but any philosophy that includes the ideals of money as an individual possession. You cannot define libertarianism as different than the same flawed left/right and/or liberal/conservative political lines without a measuring stick that is separate from social freedom, and economic freedom enables social freedom more than any other kind of freedom one can imagine. The two go hand in hand (Four Freedoms) Understanding what money is, conceptually, is the first step to understanding how the systems we live in can be improved.

Money is not a thing; or rather, money isn’t just one thing. Money is not a possession, although physical representations of money can be possessed. Money is not a commodity even though it is currently traded like a commodity. If I had the last glass of water, you could have all the money in the world and you couldn’t buy that last glass of water from me. That is the difference between a commodity and a currency. Money isn’t even a set value as my previous writing on the subject of money skims over. So what is money?

I’ve been bashing my head against this wall and several others for the last decade and more. It’s part of the overall arc of EPHN, my languishing work on Emergent Principles of Human Nature. The work languishes because I lack the depth of knowledge to deal with the questions posed by writing the work, not by my ability to express the ideas contained within it. The accumulation of information takes time, and so the work languishes, in a general sense. At the same time, my understanding grows about certain subjects that interest me, and one of those subjects is the delusion of money.

Money = Lubricant

Any mechanical part that moves in relation to another part of a mechanical construct, like a motor or an engine, has to be protected from the friction present when any two parts come in contact. This protection can take several forms, and even several forms at the same time. Motor oil. Hydraulic fluid. Ball bearings. Grease. Money is like these things in many ways. It reduces the friction between one side of the economy, supply, and the other side of the economy, consumption.

If you provide sufficient funds to each household to allow them to meet needs you will see how much of each product needs to be produced based on the value assigned to the product by the consumer. Thusly, money eases the acquisition of goods and services for the people who need them. Without money we are forced to barter one good for anther one, and that system has never functioned in a way that the average human found acceptable, which is why we invented money in the first place.

Then you, the money issuing authority, sit back and wait. You wait to see where the money goes. When you notice that money is pooling in areas and not being spent, you tax those pools that don’t enhance the economy, the economic backwaters that don’t serve the purpose of lubricating the system generally. You tax them because money hoarding is a corruption of the intent of the system. Money is for spending not for hoarding. Property is what you keep. If you want to hang on to wealth, invest it.

Money=Contract

Money is a third-party contract that is carried along with every other financial contract that is agreed to. Money is the underlying agreement between the people who are giving over goods or services and the people receiving said goods or services, that the compensation will be in X currency at a particular value. Anyone who has read a financial contract should recognize this language. The value of money, that money will have value at all, is an agreement between every working and consuming person on the face of the planet. When that agreement breaks down, commerce breaks down. Goods rot in warehouses. Families starve.

Money=Narrative

On the Media – Full Faith & Credit – October 12, 2018

Ten autumns ago came two watershed moments in the history of money. In September 2008, the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers triggered a financial meltdown from which the world has yet to fully recover. The following month, someone using the name Satoshi Nakamoto introduced BitCoin, the first cryptocurrency. Before our eyes, the very architecture of money was evolving — potentially changing the world in the process. In this hour, On the Media looks at the story of money, from its uncertain origins to its digital reinvention in the form of cryptocurrency.

Money is a collective belief in the value of a thing, a story we tell ourselves about buying what we buy and what we buy it with. Bitcoin is the essence of this narrative. It only has value because calculating entries in the blockchain is currently rewarded with bitcoin, funding all of the Bitcoin mining centers all across the world. What happens when the last Bitcoin is minted? Where will the value in maintaining the blockchain ledgers come from then? No one who invests in Bitcoin wants to know what the answer to that question is. In the meantime the story of the value of Bitcoin continues. But any currency is only as valuable as the people who trade in it think it is. If you can’t buy anything with the currency, the value of the currency is zero.

Money=Debt Obligation.

How can you make money to spend if there is no debt to create money from? This was the problem that faced the world after the crash of 1929. There was insufficient money in circulation. No one had money, and the reasons for this defied explanation according to the rules of the time. Europe needed gold to create money. Europe did what the gold standard required of them and raised taxes on their poor citizenry to the brink of starvation in an attempt to create gold reserves, creating backing for government spending that they needed in order to dig out of the holes that World War One left them in. The hordes of gold that the US held in reserve profited the American people not one bit, even though the rules of the gold standard dictated that America should be swimming in cash. Why was there no cash? Because the rules of the gold standard did not accurately describe how economics works. (Lords of Finance) FDR had to create new, insane rules, by the standards of economists of the time, to justify creating money that did not already exist, so that he could hand it out to people who wanted to work but could not find work.

Making sure that everyone has money to spend simply shortcuts the requirement that incomes will start at zero. Work is not required to generate debt, to create money. Work is how you pay off debt, and government generates money to make these transactions possible. But money is more than that, too. It is more than a lubricant that makes nearly frictionless exchange of goods possible. More than a contractual obligation that we all agree to every day when we buy or sell anything. More than a story we tell ourselves and more than a debt obligation that we must dig out from under.

T-shirt political humor. What different governments would do with your cows.
Amusing, but not true.

The disconnect over the subject of money really isn’t the fault of libertarians, they are nothing more than my target of opportunity because of their culpability in promoting the ideas that have come to dominate most thinking about money and economics in the US these days. Classical economics itself deals with the individual rational actor the homo economicus as he is occasionally referred to. Economics was set up at the outset to create the delusion of the supreme individual modifying the market with his rational demands. This has proven not to be the case, but most economists who come from the Chicago school are still caught up in the delusion. Capitalism, as classically taught, was at war with a socialism that eschewed profit. The Marxist utopia of communism. Like most utopias, Marxist communism is a dystopia that we would be better off not pursuing. However, in a general ideological sense, capitalism and socialism aren’t even in conflict. Authoritarianism and democracy are in conflict, and authoritarianism is in ascendency.

Authoritarianism has been in ascendancy since Vladimir Putin started trying to dismantle the democratic West, and China decided to help him. When there is one party, and you control that party, knowing who your enemies are makes controlling that government child’s play. Consequently these rising authoritarian regimes (including the United States under Trump) have a lot of political prisoners. Removing them into the slavery of the prison system is the best way to clear your path. This is one of those facts that should have been obvious to us in the US for a very long time. We’ve been growing the prison population since Nixon was in office, and we now have the largest prison population per capita. Most of those people are there because of crimes that were invented in order to criminalize Nixon’s political opposition, and it has proven prudent for each president since Nixon to leave those people there.

Capitalism and socialism are not in opposition. Capitalism and socialism can be present in the same mixed system because they deal with different parts of human interaction. Profit is not evil. Profit, when properly managed, is the reward for the entrepreneurial spirit. Profit, when held as an inviolable sacrement, leads to worship of the wealthy, what Objectivism has turned into over the last half-century. The Trump administration is laboring under this delusion of money. This holy profit-taking. Trump has started beating the drum of red baiting. He is promoting the same old schtick that Nixon and McCarthy did so well with two generations ago. I’ve said this from the moment that he announced his candidacy and he’s proven it daily since the broken system we live in delivered him into office. Trump believes in the zero-sum game and is right now rigging it to favor the wealthy who currently own our country.

Subscribing to the delusion of money as Trump and the average American thinks of it today is to go back in time to the days of the robber barons, when monopolies ran roughshod over Americans and the the world at large, when the simple fact that you had money meant that you had the right to rule. We don’t want to go back to those days. This is why Make America Great Again is the chant of mouth-breathing idiots. The America that they think was greater than it currently is was an America where they would have died young of a preventable disease, probably at the hands of someone like Don Jr.

To paraphrase what I said to Trump Jr: Never too earlier to teach her about conservative capitalism either.

Put her in an orphanage that sells her out to work in a coal mine. Kid that size can get into spaces an adult can’t, business can find all sorts of uses for them. You don’t have to pay them. They don’t need safety equipment. You hardly have to feed them. And if they die, fuck it, you can always get more.

Meanwhile, the Robber Baron she works for gets 99% of all the candy in the world and she and all the other kids get to split 1%.

Oh, and while you’re teaching lessons, Junior, make sure she knows her lady parts belong to you.

Jim Wright, Stonekettle Station

The reason why those of us who live in the great post-WWII dollar hegemony can be so secure in our delusion of the value of our money is explained in this episode of Planet Money.

Planet Money – Episode 553: The Dollar At The Center Of The World


If you combine the dollar being the world currency with the results of moving off of the gold standard as detailed in Lords of Finance you can create a money background for yourself to muse about the current perilous status of the dollar against. Or you can be like the libertarian that I was trying to enlighten today who called out for Norman before locking up in the illogic of money being a social construct. Pick one.


If you need further examples of just how confused the problem of money is, here is another one. TED Radio Hour, The Money Paradox. I did get one response from a libertarian after writing this piece. He informed me that I wouldn’t be taken seriously on the subject of money unless I looked like a rich man. People who are wealthy don’t bother with trying to look wealthy. They don’t need to convince anyone of their wealth because they are reassured that they have wealth in simply living their lives.

Frugality is how you establish wealth. The richest woman in America ate cold porridge every morning because she was too cheap to heat it. Doing well with less is how you illustrate monetary wisdom. Not paying too much for clothing is bedrock for doing well with less. Fooling stupid people with nice clothing that you pay too much for is nothing more than a confidence game. Red ties are a dead giveaway for a schyster. Never take a man in a red tie seriously. Words to live by.

Star Trek was an attempt to say that humanity will reach maturity and wisdom on the day that it begins not just to tolerate, but take a special delight in differences in ideas and differences in life forms. […] If we cannot learn to actually enjoy those small differences, to take a positive delight in those small differences between our own kind, here on this planet, then we do not deserve to go out into space and meet the diversity that is almost certainly out there.

Gene Roddenberry

This article was posted when it was because of a conversation that was evolving on a Facebook group I’m part of. A conversation between people convinced that their personal beliefs are somehow manifested in a show they love, Star Trek in this instance, and then argue that their political beliefs somehow are justified in the show. Star Trek represents a post-scarcity economy, as several people went to great pains to explain during that evolving conversation. As expected, the notion that there could be a society where everyone gets enough to eat and has a place to sleep that protects them at night from predation, that notion is conceptually beyond the thought processes of your average Stormtrumper. This fact doesn’t change what the show’s creator set out to do.

GIGO is a Thing, or Why Freedom of Speech Isn’t Free

In computer sciencegarbage in, garbage out (GIGO) describes the concept that flawed, or nonsense input data produces nonsense output or “garbage”.

The principle also applies more generally to all analysis and logic, in that arguments are unsound if their premises are flawed.

Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

As a libertarian I used to believe some pretty crazy things. I believed that a dollar was something you worked for, for one. A dollar is a debt instrument that every business in the United States is required to accept as payment. It is not a measure of hours worked or effort expended. You don’t work for dollars, you have to have dollars to pay for the things you need or want. You trade effort or hours for dollars if you are a working stiff in the modern age. If you have dollars you make the dollars work for you to create more dollars. This is a subtle but important distinction, one that anyone who desires excessive wealth should take to heart.

Similarly I believed, and most libertarians still believe, that freedom of speech meant you had to listen to every idea equally. Give every idea equal weight. This crazy notion is not limited to just fringe political groups, it has been embraced by a very large portion of conservatives and Republicans, and even American liberals don’t understand some of the finer points of what the first amendment, freedom of speech, means.

The problem with continuing to listen to bad ideas is that each successive generation receives those ideas as if they are all of equal value. This position is obviously false. Some ideas are incorrect. The world is not flat, it is visibly curved to any observer who cares to study the subject. The Earth, her moon, the other planets and their moons, etc. all move in mathematically predictable ways around the sun. We do not have to prove to each successive generation of human beings that the Earth is not the center of the universe. We need simply show how we know the Earth is round, the sun the center of a solar system, for them to grasp the math involved with these correct observations. These are factually demonstrable truths that do not have to be viewed equally with the Ptolemaic system, requiring each successive generation of human beings to determine which finding is the correct one. Learn a little math, do a few observations, yep, that confirms the heliocentric model. Onto the next thing we have to learn.

Not all truths are as obvious as the basic findings of astronomy, and even those findings are not universally embraced by all modern humans. There are a few disturbed people out there who still think the world is flat, and we don’t let those people run NASA for a reason. That reason? Because their denial of science disqualifies them from leading a scientific agency. They fail the test of expertise, another demonstrable truth.

There are things that experts know that the layman does not. I know things about CAD systems and architectural detailing that would bore the pants off of anyone who isn’t enamored of building systems and the illustration of same. That expertise qualified me to hold a high-paying job in the architectural field once upon a time. It had real value; and expertise, all expertise, is demonstrated through that value. If you plant lima beans for a living, and you do it successfully for long enough, you become an expert on lima beans. But that doesn’t make you an expert on rocket ships.

Which brings us to another truth. Expertise is limited in scope, and the farther outside your expertise you venture, the more likely you are to be wrong in your beliefs. This is the Dunning-Kruger effect in a nutshell. Everyone believes they know more about subjects that they are not experts in than they actually do. This is why a brain surgeon isn’t a good candidate to run a poverty program. The fact that Ben Carson successfully navigated a hierarchy as complicated as working in a hospital presents is probably the only reason he still has his cabinet position. He knows how to keep his mouth shut when he needs to. When he has a job to do and isn’t campaigning. He knows the value of expertise and he doesn’t visibly contradict the experts around him who know things about the department of Housing and Urban Development.

When the Republican party formed back in 1854, the value of expertise was understood. With little else to distract the population in the way of entertainment, politicians and pundits would debate for hours in front of huge crowds, working and reworking the issues of the day. Abraham Lincoln was an expert at navigating the treacherous terrain to be found between openly advocating for the abolition of slavery, and allowing slavery to encroach into the Northern states that hated slaves and slavery for what it did to the lives of average men. Hated slavery for the degrading poverty and dearth of industry in the South that slavery imposed on the economy of the South. The Lincoln-Douglas debates featured his abilities to master the subject, a success that eventually snagged him the nomination of the Republican party and through their growing influence, the presidency of the United States.

He then expertly managed to conduct the the office of the presidency, successfully, while maintaining a war with half of the original republic, and at the same time engineering the largest change in civil society, the abolition of slavery, that the United States had seen in its short 75 years of existence. Had he survived his time in office, had he not been felled by Southern hands and succeeded by a Southern sympathizer, many of the problems that we wrestle with today would never have manifested in the first place. That was the master politician that Abraham Lincoln was. That was the kind of organization that the Republican party was when it was progressive and liberal and on the right side of history.

From Lincoln to the Orange Hate-Monkey in 150 years.  That is what the Republican party gained from not understanding that there were real, actual truths underneath all the political posturing. That science and expertise have real, demonstrable value. GIGO or Garbage In, Garbage Out has taken its toll on the GOP and rendered it the political organ of a would-be fascist. A would-be fascist whose political supporters want to enact a racial cleansing on the United States. The party that ended slavery has become the party of the inheritors of slavery’s stolen wealth. The irony is almost rich enough to laugh at, if the fate of the world didn’t hang in the balance, and it does currently hang in the balance.

It hangs in the balance because Vladimir Putin did work to get Donald Trump elected as president. He worked to get Britain to embrace Brexit, and his troll farm is still actively attempting to subvert political processes in the United States and all across the world. He is seeking inroads to power wherever he can find them, and right now the internet is his tool of choice. All information on the internet is now suspect. Nothing can be taken for granted. Every platform, every system, every piece of information technology can now be possibly subverted by criminal actors attempting undermine the great advances that have been made in the world, and they are doing this with the technology we, the West, invented.

On the Media Everything Is Fake January 11, 2019

On Thursday, President Trump flew down to McAllen, Texas to push his pro-wall, anti-immigrant narrative. This week, On the Media examines how the community tells a more welcoming story about the border — and a dogged presidential fact-checker joins us to pick apart the Oval Office address. Plus, how some progressives used Russian election interference tactics against a right-wing senate campaign. Also, is everything online fake? 

On the Media Everything Is Fake January 11, 2019

Make no mistake, we have made great strides toward improving equality across the world. In between the war profiteering and other boondoggles embarked on by the powers that be in Washington DC, the technology we created has moved out of the United States and improved the lives of people everywhere. So much so that poverty in the world is the lowest that it has been at any point so far in history. But the spreading of information and equality through technological systems has opened the doors for misinformation and distraction to be spread in the same way, through the same mechanisms.

Political bias, racial bias, religious bias. All these things still exist, and all these things are corruptions of the truth. They are weaknesses that the power-hungry can exploit in order to gain more power. That is what Vladimir Putin has done in Russia by re-establishing the Russian Orthodox church. He gives ethnic Russians a thing to believe in now that the dictatorships that liberated the Russian people from Czarist rule have fallen. He foments friction at the edges of his political empire, his fake republic, and exploits the resulting distrust by seizing land belonging to neighboring nations, by re-asserting old Soviet alliances. His neighbors fear him, which is what he wants, and his old foes are confused, fighting among themselves. All by his design.

The first thing we need to do, if we want to oppose this new criminal oligarchy founded by Vladimir Putin and embodied in his paid-for stooge in the White House, is to know who it is we are fighting, why we are fighting them and how we intend to win this fight. The first casualty of this information war has to be the ability to promote falsities as truths. If we can’t even determine what is true and what is false, then we have already lost the war.

Garbage In, Garbage Out.

If we believe what we are told by others with no need to verify what is true, we are sheep lead to slaughter. Subjectivity is the enemy. The people we are fighting are liars. Charlatans. Confidence artists. People who say things we want to believe but which are not demonstrably true.

Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty

Many people cite this quote, few understand it. To be eternally vigilant is to practice due diligence as often as required when it comes to the things you believe as well as the things you are told. What is due diligence? Caveat Emptor. The two states of mind are interchangeable. Healthy caution and skepticism. If you want to be at liberty, if you want to maintain liberty, then you must be skeptical of all things that are not immediately apparent.

As an example. Freedom of speech is not free. You cannot say whatever springs to your mind and expect to suffer no consequences. This is what most people think freedom of speech means. Speech without consequences. All speech has a cost, in that you may be held accountable for the results of the words you speak. This is why you are punished for causing a panic by yelling fire! when there is no fire. It is not the speech that is punished, it is the result of the speech. The cause of the harm was speech if anyone was harmed in the resultant panic. No harm, no foul, as the adage goes.

But how do you assess harm? Is all harm readily apparent? If you are not harmed by a person’s speech, but your neighbor is, should you care? What if your neighbor is a different race? A different religion? A member of a different political party? Insert Niemöller’s law here.

That way lies death. So harm, even delayed, indirect harm, should be guarded against. And that, dear reader, is the quandary. As I noted on my last article about Alex Jones, deplatforming is not censoring a person’s speech. All these people claiming they have been censored by social media have their own websites. They have just as much access to consumers as any other individual in the system has. They simply do not have a megaphone through which to spread their lies. We are fighting an information war here, and the first thing that has to go is information which is demonstrably false.

Kicking ethics violators off of Twitter and Facebook is not censoring them, it is applying objective rules to subjective life. This is necessarily a messy business, but then bad people do exist. Bad ideas do exist. Stupid people do exist, and they don’t know the difference between a good idea and a bad idea. This requires things like rules of order (Robert’s Rules) parliamentary procedures, etcetera. Objective ethical standards have to be in place and they have to be enforced so that ideas can be properly tested and debated. You cannot call for harming another person and not expect the platform from which you speak to be taken away. That is simply good information hygiene. Any platform which doesn’t distinguish between good (correct) and bad (incorrect) information is a platform which is doomed to be dominated by the most ruthless, because it is the ruthless people who have no boundaries. Ruthless people do not worry about harming others to get their way. Lies. Fraud. These are but tools in the hands of the ruthless. Does deplatforming cause them harm? Only if they subjectively deem that their lies bring them power. In that case they don’t need a platform, they need a therapist.

Any platform created to be all inclusive (Spreely.com, Minds.com, etcetera) will be dominated by the most hateful. There is no way to avoid this scenario if you do not set hard ethical lines which cannot be crossed. I hope these platform providers enjoy taking orders from fascists. Fascists that will tell them what and how to think; which is what fascists do and why fascists (like Nazis) shouldn’t be given a platform in the first place. It is a quandary, but it isn’t an unsolvable problem.

I’m still on Facebook, for now. They at least acknowledge the existence of incorrect information and harmful social interaction. I’m not happy with providing a platform for ideas designed to kill me. I won’t spend time on a social platform that allows them space to spread their lies. Consequently those who voice views about political purity, religious purity, racial purity, promote the lie that life is a zero-sum game that requires I harm others to win, these kinds of people and beliefs are not welcome anywhere that I am expected to be. I would ban these people myself. I do block and report these people when I’m given the tools to do so.

Authority might be necessary, but authority need not lead to authoritarianism. The difference between allowing Donald Trump to take office because existing mechanisms put him in position to assume that office, and not allowing Caudillo Trump to violate the law in the name of his whims or his stormtrumper’s whims is exactly how that ethical hair is split.

Wikipedia – First Amendment to the US Constitution

Personal Harm? #ImpeachTrump

Tell me: how your life has changed, for better or for worse, since Donald Trump became president. How has Trump’s administration affected you personally as opposed to society in general? Be specific and try to avoid hyperbole.

Stonekettle Station

Ah, the tell me where it hurts gambit.

Show me on this doll where donald Trump hurt you.

I’d like to take just a minute to explain how unnecessary this kind of detailing of the impacts of bad leadership truly is before I get into just how my life has changed for the worse since the OHM took office. The president is frequently given both credit and blame for things that are completely divorced from the actions that he takes, and yet the effects of a president’s actions or inaction can be felt by everyone in the world today, not just the residents of the United States of America. But the credit and/or blame as well as the actions have little to do with the outcomes themselves unless the authorizing legislation was crafted by the White House itself, and the President himself has a hand in making sure that the program in question is executed properly.

A case in point is the FEMA debacle of Katrina during the Bush II years, a failure of preparedness that Barack Obama avoided for his entire eight years in office having learned from W’s mistakes. Only to have the OHM return to the bad old days of political appointments to FEMA and the resulting catastrophe in Puerto Rico that continues to the time of this writing. W can be credited for learning from his mistake with hurricane Katrina and New Orleans, with the OHM steadfastly refusing to admit the reality of the massive death toll exacted on Puerto Rico because of his FEMA’s bungling of relief efforts and his general disdain for all brown-skinned people. These are examples of outcomes that can be laid directly at the feet of the occupant of the White House because FEMA management or lack of management is directly linked to White House control.

The OHM is quick to take credit for low unemployment numbers and continued economic growth, while carefully avoiding the subject of his predecessor’s actions and how those actions set up the rosy outcomes that he takes credit for now. Never is the fact that unemployment numbers are completely made up statistics that have almost no bearing on whether or not the average American can find work at any given time discussed. Never is the fact that growth statements are similarly jiggered admitted to, either. And it is the subject of the job numbers that brings me to how the OHM has made my life worse, directly. The Wife can’t find a job in this terrible job climate, and no amount of hype about how good the economy is on Wall Street will change this very simple fact. The Wife can’t maintain her health insurance because the OHM and his supporters in the Justice department and congress have derailed efforts to see universal healthcare coverage extended to all Americans. And without a job she has extremely limited ability to pay for her own healthcare. My wife is no different than millions of other Americans similarly affected by conservative rejection of universal health coverage here in the US. The most vivid display of the error in believing that life is a zero-sum game.

His crackdown on migrant workers entering the US has caused shortages in manpower throughout the food production industry, resulting in higher prices and scattered availability for some produce and meats in some areas. I can’t say for sure if the price spikes I’m seeing at the grocery checkout are the direct result of the OHM’s actions on immigration, but I dare anyone to try to explain how hand-picked vegetables can get picked without migrant labor to do the job. Migrant labor that is under the greatest pressure I’ve ever seen applied to the poor people who do the majority of that work.

Similarly, his grifting our trading partners, shaking them down for bribes before allowing them to do business in America, has a broad negative impact not only on the well-being of today’s Americans, but also damages the potentials for the next generation of Americans. How will an isolated America fare in the future? We’d better start trying to figure this out now, because it will take a generation or more to pass before our trading partners will be persuaded that we won’t turn on them again as the OHM has. His tariffs on steel and aluminum will be exacting a price on American pocket books long after we’ve removed the OHM from office.

His pandering to dictators like Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping leave me with little doubt that he will be ass-kissing Kim Jong-un if that meeting ever actually happens. His debasing of America destroys the reputations of all Americans, making us all look like weak-willed individuals unwilling to stand up to international bullies like Putin. Since his family personally profits from these arrangements with dictators, he has no inclination to think of the greater good that might be achieved. If Kim Jong-un agrees to let him build a Trump tower in Pyongyang, I have no doubt that the OHM will find a way to let him keep his nuclear arsenal. He might even give him plans for American weapons in exchange for a sweetheart deal. Who’s to say what level of betrayal is beneath him if there is personal profit involved? I can’t imagine that he would balk at selling Ivanka into sex slavery if there was a buck to be made from it.

Hypocrisy in the Ingroup? Unheard of!

Frankly I expected this to not be a thing in 24 hours. The Twitters and the Facespaces and Instamessengers are all aflame, still. I think it has been more than 24 hours now. I’m not sure. I don’t care. Yesterday the conservative trolls started up with the what about Samantha Bee? questions on liberal groups everywhere. Here’s one example image. Conservatives think they’ve got a point, and that the point isn’t on the top of their heads. A point they’re willing to flog endlessly. As I said on that thread,

The finer point that is never made is that if you are offended by comedy sketch artists and think they should be punished for it (aside from losing their jobs. For not being funny enough) then you have completely missed the POINT of comedy. Get a sense of humor, everyone.

The in-group can do no wrong. This is a common problem in politics, liberals defending Samantha Bee when even she admits she crossed a line is just the most recent example of ingroup/outgroup bias. Something I’ve tried hard never to fall prey to.

I roundly criticized Bill Clinton in the 90’s because of his excesses with women, a fact that gets me in trouble with Democrats to this day. He had no business taxing that ass when that ass worked for him in the White House let alone at the governor’s mansion. That is simply not the way you relate to people from a position of authority. When Stormtrumpers throw what about Bill? at me I have always pointed to my own history of not putting up with crap from him, so I have no compunction with holding the Orange Hate-Monkey (OHM) accountable now.

The motivated numeracy that afflicts political groups is truly troubling. Conservatives do not see the degree of crimes that the OHM is guilty of as being any worse, and probably less detrimental, than what they believe Bill and Hillary Clinton are guilty of. Never mind that Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton are demonstrably different people and are not interchangeable characters (no matter how much they sold us on the two for one special we got when we put them in the White House) or that the Clinton murder list that they frequently cite is complete bullshit as are all the other dismissed charges that have been raised over the last twenty-five years.

I’ve started in the middle of the story again. Fuck. I hate it when I do that. Starting from the beginning:

Roseanne Barr set Twitter aflame with a racist tweet that she has since deleted and she was canned for the tweet by the network that airs her show. As I said on a friend’s wall on Facebook three days ago,

I hated Roseanne in its final years in its previous incarnation, I hated the new show from the beginning. What I would like is some honesty from the people who talk about how honest Trump is. The fakery in the new show was so transparent as to make the acting cringe-worthy. …having said that, if only it were this easy to fire a president over embarrassing tweets.

Why did I hate the last few years of Roseanne? Because she had become a fake. She had money by that point. She had plastic surgery and mental health counseling and a marriage failing over creative differences and too much money. She was no longer convincing as the domestic goddess that she was in the beginning. I remember her stand up routines. She has great timing and she is quick and clever. But she doesn’t pull punches and that isn’t becoming in someone who literally has the money to get her way pretty much all the time. Her brand of comedy doesn’t fit coming from someone with money and sense. Maybe she should grow a little sense and she could keep a job.

But then not saying whatever thing comes into your head that sounds funny to you is not how you become famous as a stand up comic. So perhaps she’s still on the comedy track and I simply can’t appreciate her comedy anymore. That is entirely possible.

I don’t like either Roseanne Barr or Samantha Bee. I figured out who Samantha Bee was on The Daily Show. I rarely found her funny then, and I’m still not finding her funny often enough to take the time to watch Full Frontal now. I follow comics, it’s something I do for the occasional laugh. I stop following the comics when they stop making me laugh. I certainly don’t pay to see their shows if I’m not laughing. Most conservatives forget that they were pissed off at Roseanne a decade and more ago when she butchered the Star Spangled Banner at a baseball game, an event that was brought to mind by someone with a question about it on Snopes two days ago,

I remember this well. I remember that I thought it was an overreaction at the time. She was a stand-up comic. Her act (and most comedy acts) include ethnic slurs. If you can’t accept the humor, don’t watch it, read it or listen to it. That doesn’t mean that she shouldn’t get in trouble for her jokes told in bad taste, or for comedy routines (like the OP) that bombed.

What is telling is how many comics who pride themselves with doing mostly ethnic slurs end up supporting people like Trump. Very instructive.

Why are people listening to comics that don’t make them laugh? There isn’t a Rush Limbaugh fan who has laughed at him in a decade or more. Why is that?

Yesterday the creator of the G+ group Conservative Union a man with twenty-six thousand followers decided to troll the members of the G+ group Being Liberal. I’m not one to question the motivations of people who clearly have way more attention than most of us should be comfortable with, especially when their actions are bound to create more distraction and attention for themselves that isn’t of a positive nature. But he decided he’d demand answers of the membership of that group, a group demonstrably populated with more trolls than liberals. Perhaps what Being Liberal needs is a moderator that can make sure that conservative trolls don’t get into the group to stir up ugliness on a regular basis. Moderators that control content like Dan Lewis does for his Conservative Union group. But I’m getting ahead of myself again,

I mean, you post this bullshit here,just JAQ’ing off, as if you are asking something weighty. As if people who don’t follow shock jocks and outrageous comedians are offended by a lot of what passes for public discourse these days (take a number after “grab ’em by the pussy”) and simply adjusts their filters accordingly, and at the same time you demand that we all pay attention because you think this is important.

Well, it isn’t important. Roseanne hasn’t been important in twenty years and Samantha Bee’s fifteen minutes are about up. Nobody cares except for white nationalists and anarchists who want to see America made white again. People who support Trump and won’t admit that they are racists for supporting him. Those are the people who need to wake the fuck up.

Paul Sizer

He invokes ad hominems. Antifa. As if I should think that punching Nazis like Antifa does is somehow unAmerican. I can’t figure out why you shouldn’t punch Nazis, unless it’s some kind of official rally and cops would arrest you for punching them. That I get. Otherwise it seems like the most American thing to do, if you know the person at the other end of your fist is a Nazis. I’m thinking Inglourious Basterds here. Maybe punching isn’t a strong enough response? When I suggest that content control is something everyone profits from he alludes to Antifa. When I suggest I might block him for being a troll (demonstrated) and probably an anarcho-capitalist (suspected) I mean, he doesn’t let just anyone into his groups. Or as I put the rhetorical question to him,

How exactly do you intend to listen to the input of 8 billion people when they all try to speak at once? When every single one of them must be given the attention they demand? Take as long as you need to answer, since I know there isn’t an answer you will admit to.

And when he feigned incomprehension,

It’s a simple question. All 8 billion people on the planet will have something to say and according to the rules you have set up, all of them must be heard. How will you achieve this when all of them will want all of the time you have remaining on earth?

A little FYI is warranted here. I block people I determine that I cannot reason with. I do this on every platform and in every social interaction. If I start talking about the weather in a face to face conversation, you should know that I am blocking you right to your face. I have determined that you are not someone I can reason with. This fact is established over several encounters, so if I see you for the first time and I mention the weather, understand that I don’t say how are you? as a greeting, the most common form of blowing someone off while pretending to care. I simply don’t have time for a lengthy conversation on my journey from here to there. I do not exclude people for reasons other than the ones relevant to the conversation in question at any given time. For what it’s worth, those people are found everywhere, on all sides of every issue. It’s why several hundred people on any given platform cannot see what I write. It’s better for my sanity and health and it is better for their sanity, too. I would say their health as well, but I don’t want anyone to think I’m threatening them, so hot outside today, isn’t it?

The troll and the defenders of Samantha Bee then proceeded to conduct their rolling orgy in a cesspool after I posed the content control question, because that’s what these trolls and the people who feed them do. I didn’t care less then and I still couldn’t care less now. Roseanne should have been fired because she has no intention to conform to some kind of societal norms. Maybe there is a return to decent stand-up routines in her future, I’m not the one to ask on that score. Samantha Bee deserved to be dealt with harshly if she hadn’t apologized. She has. It’s up to her network now, just as it was with Roseanne, when it comes to what happens next.

The thing I’m left with is the hypocrisy. The hypocrisy on all sides when it comes to these issues. Anyone who objects to Samantha Bee using the word cunt in reference to someone in a position of authority in our government (elected or not) should be outraged by this t-shirt proudly worn by Stormtrumpers during the 2016 election that gave us the OHM. Anyone surprised by racism coming from people who support the OHM were not paying attention during the election and have not been paying attention since he took office. Am I surprised by the hypocrisy? I’m surprised that anyone notices hypocrisy since the OHM descended the golden escalator in 2015 and started the shitshow we are in today. 1 year, 132 days, 6 hours, 46 minutes and 44 seconds. That’s how long the OHM had been president when I wrote this. Is he still President? Then the hypocrisy continues. Wake me up when the impeachment hearings start.

It is the work of the mendacious to claim allegiance to a past that we all share, all the while excluding those who don’t fit the mold they create with spurious data. Everyone who lives in America is an American. This fact is demonstrable. Conservatives cannot abide this kind of judgment because exclusion is how they secure the zero-sum game they have created.

Postscript

1 year, 290 days, 6 hours, 30 minutes into the Trump presidency. Yesterday I listened to an episode of Stay Tuned with Preet Bharara that featured Samantha Bee. I may have to revise my opinion of her. She is actually pretty funny in the episode.

October 31, 2018 – STAY TUNED: Laugh To Keep From Crying (with Samantha Bee)

I’m doing my best not to pay attention to the midterm elections going on right now as I type this. I’d like to think Americans are smart enough to know when they’ve been had by a shyster like the OHM is. It’s just a little more than disheartening to realize that Americans historically have been even more clueless than they were in 2016 when they voted for the OHM in the first place. So, I’d like to hope, but I have been burned before when trying to hope. So I’ll plan for the zombie apocalypse instead. At least that isn’t likely to happen. I hope.

The First White President?

“By his sixth month in office, embroiled in scandal after scandal, a Pew Research Center poll found Trump’s approval rating underwater with every single demographic group. Every demographic group, that is, except one: people who identified as white.”

From The First White President by Ta-Nehisi Coates

An essay from his collection of essays due out shortly We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy I wish I could disagree with the content of the article more than I do. But I can’t. He’s voiced a lot of what I think privately in this article. It’s just too painful to read it and agree with it. The naked truth out in public like that. Shocking.

He was recently on All In with Chris Hayes, one of the few shows I find myself missing since I cut the cable. The first segment is titled You might be a white supremacist. The second one titled In 100 years, people will say we lost our minds carries his assessment of what history will think of the Trump presidency. In my opinion, history will only remember us as crazy if we are lucky enough to survive this flirtation with authoritarianism and white nationalism. Here he is being interviewed on WAMU’s The 1A.

1A – Ta-Nehisi Coates On The History That Continues To Haunt America – October 3, 2017


Is Ta-Nehisi Coates being too harsh on White People? I sure wish I believed he was. But I suspect that from the eyes of a black man, he still hasn’t said enough. That, in itself, is a frightening thought to contemplate. To some extent the author is being over-broad in his condemnation of white action as racism. The broader social policy, the wrong-headed economic notion of the zero-sum game, is to blame for the belief that there must be social winners and losers, people who give and people who take. The economic structure crafted to make the zero-sum game a part of human life is where racism manifests; but in the end it is racism that is the cause for blacks and the brown-skinned to be seen as lessor, the natural losers in a zero-sum game.

This is so wrong-headed as to baffle the senses, adhering to the zero-sum game in modern society. When a farmer produces food for the marketplace and sells it, is he the winner or the loser? Are the people who buy the food winners because they get to eat, or losers because they paid for the food? Is he the winner because he keeps his farm and gets to keep working by accepting a money transaction, or is he the loser because he didn’t keep the food for himself? Life is not a zero-sum game beyond the observation that it starts with nothing and ends with nothing, but all that bit in the middle, the part where life is? That is the only part that matters from a personal perspective.

Does a black man care that he is poor because his ancestry led him to this place and time, through mechanisms that he doesn’t approve of and cannot control? No more than a poor white man does, I’m sure. Which is actually the heart of the problem of dealing with structural racism resultant from belief in the zero-sum game. White Nationalism masquerading as the alt-right will attempt to keep blacks in their place for fear of losing what is theirs, and in equal proportion poor blacks will push to escape the place forced on them by institutions that should never have been created in the first place.

I wrote the historical entries on poverty for this blog specifically to bring to the forefront the very issue in contention here. Systemic acceptance of grinding poverty as a necessary evil, a side-effect of the free market. Not just white poverty or black poverty, but poverty of and for itself. Poverty doesn’t have to exist anywhere on this planet. We humans are wealthy enough and understand enough now to be able to make every person on the planet capable of meeting their own needs. All we lack is the will to see this change take place.

The triumph of Trump’s campaign of bigotry presented the problematic spectacle of an American president succeeding at best in spite of his racism and possibly because of it. Trump moved racism from the euphemistic and plausibly deniable to the overt and freely claimed. This presented the country’s thinking class with a dilemma. Hillary Clinton simply could not be correct when she asserted that a large group of Americans was endorsing a candidate because of bigotry. The implications—that systemic bigotry is still central to our politics; that the country is susceptible to such bigotry; that the salt-of-the-earth Americans whom we lionize in our culture and politics are not so different from those same Americans who grin back at us in lynching photos; that Calhoun’s aim of a pan-Caucasian embrace between workers and capitalists still endures—were just too dark. Leftists would have to cope with the failure, yet again, of class unity in the face of racism. Incorporating all of this into an analysis of America and the path forward proved too much to ask. Instead, the response has largely been an argument aimed at emotion—the summoning of the white working class, emblem of America’s hardscrabble roots, inheritor of its pioneer spirit, as a shield against the horrific and empirical evidence of trenchant bigotry.

Packer dismisses the Democratic Party as a coalition of “rising professionals and diversity.” The dismissal is derived from, of all people, Lawrence Summers, the former Harvard president and White House economist, who last year labeled the Democratic Party “a coalition of the cosmopolitan élite and diversity.” The inference is that the party has forgotten how to speak on hard economic issues and prefers discussing presumably softer cultural issues such as “diversity.” It’s worth unpacking what, precisely, falls under this rubric of “diversity”—resistance to the monstrous incarceration of legions of black men, resistance to the destruction of health providers for poor women, resistance to the effort to deport parents, resistance to a policing whose sole legitimacy is rooted in brute force, resistance to a theory of education that preaches “no excuses” to black and brown children, even as excuses are proffered for mendacious corporate executives “too big to jail.” That this suite of concerns, taken together, can be dismissed by both an elite economist like Summers and a brilliant journalist like Packer as “diversity” simply reveals the safe space they enjoy. Because of their identity.

From The First White President by Ta-Nehisi Coates

The basket of deplorables that voted for Trump, friends and family among them, should take a long, hard look in the mirror and recognize the face of modern American racism. I rejected Trump from the beginning. I recognized his race-baiting tactics immediately. He never tried to hide what he was doing, and I remain mystified why anyone, ANYONE voted for him. Why anyone didn’t know what they were voting for, a white nationalist, a racist, someone who started his campaign by calling Mexicans rapists. He couldn’t have made it more obvious if he stitched it onto bright red caps that he and everyone around him wore.

Oh, wait, he did stitch it onto hats! Make America Great Again by definition means a return to an America that was more racist than it was in the Obama years. It means more racism because America has never been less racist than it was during the last eight years, and it is only going to get worse as Trump’s administration continues to ramp up the racist rhetoric,. This is something he did just last week by announcing the repeal of DACA. The entirety of the history of Hispanics in this country has been a thinly veiled tale of racial exploitation. This really shouldn’t be news to anybody, but even I didn’t understand the full history of the expletive wetback until listening to a segment on the Texas Standard last week.

Texas Standard – Help Wanted, Get Out

I’ve said this many times on this blog and elsewhere. When you are working in construction or out on the farm, anywhere there is labor that needs doing, you see brown faces out in the sun. The white faces are almost always hidden inside. They’re leading construction from the comfort of an air conditioned trailer, sitting in comfort inside of an idling truck. There are exceptions to this rule, but the presence of those few white faces simply amplifies the disparity.

My father did me a great service when I was a teenager, but I never understood it then. He sent me out in the fields to work one summer, so that I could get a taste of what working for a living without an education felt like. I was given over to a friend or perhaps a relative of one of his employees. A one-armed ancient hispanic man who made me look like a slacker, or the complete novice that I was, by doing more and better work with one arm than I could with two. He could and did do it day-in and day-out for months and years spanning into decades. He probably died out there in one of those fields. I don’t know because it wasn’t important to me. The lesson was learned, never to be forgotten. I wanted to work indoors, out of the sun. I wanted to turn knowledge into profit. I wanted to work smart instead of hard.

The ability to do what I’ve done? The ability to assert one’s knowledge without credentials or any evidence of talent or knack for the process? That comes from being who I was, where I was. If I had been born brown or black, African, Asian or Latino in this part of the world? That sort of assertiveness would have been ground out of me before I was even an adult, back in the time I was born into. That is what white privilege means. Ask Philando Castile if he can carry a weapon like a white man does, if you doubt this is true. Ask Ahmed Mohamed if he’s even allowed to be unusually bright and curious in this day and age. I could probably trot out a million examples of why my experiences warrant the label white privilege, but I would not convince a single Trump voter that what I said was the truth. That is the shame we are living through today.

And so the most powerful country in the world has handed over all its affairs—the prosperity of its entire economy; the security of its 300 million citizens; the purity of its water, the viability of its air, the safety of its food; the future of its vast system of education; the soundness of its national highways, airways, and railways; the apocalyptic potential of its nuclear arsenal—to a carnival barker who introduced the phrase grab ’em by the pussy into the national lexicon.

From The First White President by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Postscript

In 2015, the political scientists Marisa Abrajano and Zoltan L. Hajnal published White Backlash, a study of political trends, and found that “whites who hold more negative views of immigrants have a greater tendency to support Republican candidates at the presidential, congressional, and gubernatorial levels, even after controlling for party identification and other major factors purported to drive the vote.”

While that finding may seem obvious, it isn’t simply a description of existing Republicans, but of the trends driving some white Democrats into the Republican Party. Using data from the American National Election Survey, Abrajano and Hajnal conclude that “changes in individual attitudes toward immigrants precede shifts in partisanship,” and that “immigration really is driving individual defections from the Democratic to Republican Party.”

The Atlantic, The Nationalist’s Delusion

Offered simply to put paid to the lie that Republicans aren’t the racists in America. By and large, that is what they have become, and Donald Trump is an outgrowth of that increased racism in the party. He embodies and embraces it in ways that a less cynical man would be ashamed of. Trump knows that the average American is a clueless rube just waiting to be fleeced of the few coins in his purse. Just so long as you say the right things, stand the right way when you say it. I personally prefer our leaders to have more going for them than just the color of their skin, the type of sex organs hidden under their clothing. Apparently that is asking too much in this day and age.

Trump and his zero-sum obsession became a bit of a theme on the blog after awhile. I became curious about where and when the term entered my thought processes and I couldn’t track down when I started using it as shorthand for Trump’s racism. I will credit Ta-Nehisi Coates for this simply because I used the term six times in this article, even though it isn’t the earliest occurrence on the blog. In going back to try to find where I started using the term, I discovered that I was spelling the phrase both with and without a hyphen. I have now fixed that inconsistency. while I was at it I also linked the single entries for the phrase in most articles to this book on the subject:

The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together Hardcover by Heather McGhee

Belief in the zero-sum game is the most obvious false belief of racists and white nationalists everywhere. It needs to be called out and destroyed wherever it raises its ugly head.

The Right Question on Healthcare

The logic goes that if healthcare is a right, then healthcare providers become slaves.

If healthcare is a right, they say, then I (for example) am entitled to the labor of doctors and nurses and they cannot refuse me. If healthcare is a right, according to these Randian libertarians, then any doctor, any nurse, any healthcare provider must provide me with their services free of charge at any time. Because it’s my right, you see?

Which is a damned good example of why Atlas Shrugged should be regarded as a tediously mediocre science fiction novel and not a blueprint for civilization.

In America, guns are a right. The right, in a lot of ways. But you can’t just walk into a gun store and demand a gun as your due free of charge – not without getting shot, probably. The government isn’t obligated to provide you with a gun. Hell, we don’t even have subsidies for poor people who want a gun and can’t  afford one. And instead of turning gun manufacturers into slaves, it made them fabulously wealthy.

stonekettle.com

Using the logic libertarians apply to healthcare, I’ve pointed out to them that they can’t have the right to a gun, pretty much the way you draw it out. You can have a right to defend yourself but you cannot have a right to a weapon, the product of another man’s work. Their response generally has been to declare that argument pointless, because without a gun you are defenseless. They apparently haven’t heard of kitchen knives and baseball bats.

Doctors take an oath. They are required to treat the injured, within their ability to do so. To not offer help when it is needed, when it is available, is inhumane. To the extent that healthcare is generally available, it is a right of the citizenry to seek it. Just like food and shelter, healthcare should be provided to those in need.

The problem with conservatives and capitalists is that they seem to think that you can gain wealth through social austerity. That isn’t how modern economic systems work. Money is a debt instrument. If they want people to pay for things then give them the money to spend in enough quantities to meet their needs. Then we’ll know what the price and demand for goods and services really are, because everyone who needs a thing will be able to pay the market price to get it. I’m convinced that public health is too important to be treated as a commodity, but anything outside of public health concerns (screenings, inoculations, hospitals, research) should be fine treated in this way. Just as long as those in need are not required to do without.

That is the problem that zero-sum game types can’t wrap their heads around. With millions of Americans and billions of people on this planet, there is little we cannot do if we set our minds to doing it. We created these systems out of whole cloth in previous generations. There is nothing keeping us from maintaining them in perpetuity aside from our own lack of will. Our own greed. We’ve let the greedy run this country for far too long now. It’s time for a change.

A comment on stonekettle.com

Postscript

I had forgotten about this comment on Stonekettle’s article until he reposted the article on Facebook the other day as part of an illustration of what a change in the presidency and his agenda can do to address the plights of millions of people.

twitter.com/POTUS (facebook.com/Stonekettle)