Come the Revolution — Socialists against Communism

February 25th 2020

With Bernie Sanders the front runner in the Democratic primaries (and who may cement that status with a win or a close second in South Carolina), the pearl-clutching over Sanders being a democratic socialist is reaching a fever pitch. Carville called him a communist. Chris Matthews compared his win in Nevada to the German invasion of France. Bloomberg tried calling Sanders a dictator. Trump, with no irony at all, is trumpeting that Russia wants Sanders to be president. Screams and howls permeate the blogosphere over how Bernie honeymooned in Moscow, “praised Castro” and preferred the Sandinistas to the Somoza regime.

Now, it is true that he did say that Cuba was better off than nearly all of the rest of central America, and it was—and is—an accurate summery. Even Puerto Rico—a part of the United States—is in worse condition now, thanks to Trump. And the Sandinistas, while far from perfect, were and are a huge improvement over America’s ally in that struggle, the Somoza regime, which routinely utilized mass rape and murder to try and maintain order.

But it’s enough to get all the morons and fearmongerers to screeching that he’s the next Stalin, the next Mao, the next Pathet Lao. He’ll kill millions because he’s secretly the son of Hitler and Eva Braun, or maybe he defied god and fell from heaven. Accounts vary. He’s a very, very, very bad, no good, terrible horrific demon from Transylvania … or something.

Never mind that Sanders, in over 40+ years of public service, has never been anything other than consistently a New Deal Democrat, even if running unaffiliated. He’s about as communist as FDR, or Eisenhower. (Granted, the lunatics of the far right branded both those presidents as communists as well.)

But just for shits and giggles, let’s assume that Sanders is a communist, just like Krushchev or Molotov or Boris and Natashya. He has come for your daughters and plans to sell them to large Negroes because that’s what commies do, OK?

So what can we expect from the Glorious Workers’ Revolution? Well, let’s see. There’s a wealth of literature and speculation on that. Commie invasions of America have been a favorite theme going back clear to the thirties, when the Soviet purges really got going in earnest and we got a good look at what Stalin really represented.

The Commies march in, sometimes surreptitiously, sometimes after a conspicuous event like a nuclear war, and take over. We’ll assume this was on the down-low, and they don’t want people understanding that their government just fell to a hostile power. So they keep waving the same flag, and moo the usual pseudo-patriotic noises about how Americans are the best, the strongest, the freest, and the richest people on Earth. But behind the scenes, big changes are going on.

First, there’s a campaign to disparage any negative reports that get out. News agencies are attacked as being unpatriotic, even anti-American and of lying for a vague but very sinister purpose. Loyalists to the new regime are advised earnestly that there is a segment of disloyal people who will say or do anything to take power from them, and pervert America to their own ends. The loyalists know they have truth on their side because they are the best, strongest, freest, etc., etc., and so of course the ‘others’ have to lie about everything because Truth would destroy them. And the media is part of the ‘others’ except of course for the stations sympathetic to the government. They are the only good journalists.

Meanwhile, the airwaves are flooded with lies and propaganda, a vast, bewildering panoply that makes it impossible for people to discern reality, let alone truth. But the tone, always, is Us versus Them, and Us is always good and true, and Them is weak and evil.

Specific recognizable groups are singled out. Things will be bumpy and disordered during the early days of the revolution, and it’s important to have someone to blame for any and all social problems that may arise. Laws are amended or ignored to make it easy to round up and imprison some of the target groups, and the government takes the self-evident cruelty and viciousness and calls it “strength” and “standing up for the homeland.”

Meanwhile, an assault on any power that might challenge the new regime is underway. The legislature is asked to surrender power to the leader, and if German and Russian history are any indication, will do so with a whoop and a holler. It’s just a matter of bribing the right ones and intimidating, coercing and blackmailing the rest.

An independent judiciary cannot coexist with a communist authoritarian regime. So judges are attacked, degraded, and the appointment of new judges rests with the new regime, who value loyalty to the government over any and all judicial ethics and abilities.

With many enemies, both real and imagined, and a government willing to tell them anything to the further glory of that government, people don’t notice that they are slowly losing ground, not just economically, but in their ability to travel, to read alternate news, to express opinions that don’t support the government.

A shadow government arises, usually in the form of the leader’s party. It quietly and even invisibly takes over the roles previously held by the legislatures, the judiciary, the police and the bureaucracy. Devoted only to sustaining itself, it destroys any and all dissent in draconian manners.

Slowly but implacably, the new regime envelops and subsumes the country.

In American literature, there’s usually an individual who inspire an underground army which eventually rises up and restores freedom and liberty, hurrah! Charitably, it’s part of the American mythos. Less charitably, it is just more fucking propaganda.

Now, look over my description of the revolution: rise of a leader, denigration of anyone who opposes the leader, many lies, scapegoating, destruction of other branches of government.

Isn’t that what we have NOW?

Isn’t that what Trump has been doing to us for the past three years? Just today, while canoodling with the vile nativist Modi of India, he declared that certain members of the Supreme Court should have no say in decision concerning Trump because they might be biased. The reader will be unsurprised to learn that the justices in question aren’t the two he appointed and had rammed through the Senate by his stooges. Different pair of judges.

Sanders isn’t running to impose an authoritarian and totalitarian regime on Americans.

He’s running to undo that authoritarian and totalitarian regime.

That Russian-inspired revolution already happened. It wasn’t because of Sanders; it was despite him. And he represents America’s last best chance to undo the damage done to this country by Putin and Trump.

For years, a favorite tactic of Republicans has been to accuse their opponents of any and all crimes and misdeeds that Republicans were committing. So when a Republican accuses Sanders of fostering a commie revolution, just point to Trump’s track record.

Yes, people should look at Sanders and worry about a communist-style revolution. But they shouldn’t worry about the one fabricated for them in the hysterical reports. They should worry about the one that has already happened, and ask if they can help Sanders to undo it before it’s too late.

Where’s Waldo? – Is he with Howard?

Where’s Waldo?

Is he with Howard?

February 17th 2020

Trump wrote in a tweet Friday, “Ralph Waldo Emerson seemed to foresee the lesson of the Senate Impeachment Trial of President Trump. ‘When you strike at the King, Emerson famously said, ‘you must kill him.’”

Now, I don’t for an instant believe Trump wrote that. It’s unlikely he’s ever even heard of Emerson, let alone be able to quote any of the man’s writings. He may have heard the Prohibition-era quip that strong drink will make you shoot at ‘revenooers’ and miss. He may well think that assassination is a viable political tactic, since Hitler said, “Demoralize the enemy from within by surprise, terror, sabotage, assassination. This is the war of the future.”

But even he might think twice about making a remark about his potential assassination that some people could take as a challenge. Unpopular leaders and even popular ones don’t, as a rule, suggest to potential assassins that competence in their craft is a desirable feature. For obvious reasons, right?

One of Trump’s hirelings doubtlessly thought the Emerson quote would be good braggadocio, a kind of a “we can do whatever the hell we want” statement in the wake of the shameful and sham trial in the Senate.

But Trump’s cabal—and this is their one saving grace—is that they are riddled with morons and incompetents. Even leaving aside the utter lunacy of a public figure saying what amounts to “Come shoot at me if you’re hard enough,” there’s the fact that very few American politicians ever gained much mileage out of comparing themselves to kings. With the exception of Huey Long (“Every man a king”) most politicians prefer to avoid the term altogether, since memories of English tyranny, rightly or wrongly, are a part of the American DNA.

Braggadocio usually backfires. George W. Bush is still trying to live down “Bring it on!” which got several hundred extra American troops killed in the middle east. About the only time it’s warranted is when the circumstances are so dire that only over-the-top persiflage will do. Churchill’s splendid rallying speeches in the darkest days of the Battle of Britain would have been deemed utterly ridiculous if the threatening invader was only Denmark, or Tonga.

People don’t like braggarts, outside of pro wrestling matches. Perhaps Donald thinks of the country as just another part of his pro wrestling empire. It’s hard to say. Even pro wrestling has a term for that sort of posturing: kayfabe. It’s a part of the act, just there to entertain the schmucks. But apart from the resolutely stupid people who still support Trump, Americans aren’t schmucks.

It’s dumbfounding that Trump’s people would even want to put the notion of assassination on the table for public consideration. It’s a horrifying concept on the face of it, right?

But then I thought of an American movie that was made in an entirely different America some 45 years ago: Network.

Directed by Sidney Lumet and starring Faye Dunaway, William Holden, Peter Finch and Robert Duvall, this brilliant 1976 satire featured such things as doctors advertising their medical corporations, and news anchors who were loud, opinionated and dishonest. This was still the era of Cronkite, when newscasters were respected and trusted, and there were still firm restraints on corporate depredations. So the idea of a mad television anchor, Howard Beale (Finch) shouting things like “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it any more!” was very foreign to American sensibilities of the time. This was a era when nobody could imagine the Rush Limbaughs and Faux News, and the populist shouters and screamers in sideshow religious and neo-nazi reactionary movements were relegated to small, lightly regarded AM radio stations out in the boonies.

Network executives realized that Beale was developing a following amongst the dissaffected, and rather than sacking him (their first impulse) they kept him on, and he got crazier and crazier and his ratings rose.

However, he turns on the corporate entities that own his network, and exposes corrupt Saudi dealings behind many of the corporate buyouts. Beale is ordered to evangelize in favor of corporate globalisation, and his ratings drop. People want crazy populists, not grimly efficient corporations that are out to suck them dry.

Finally, it’s decided: the only way to eliminate Beale and restore the ratings up is to arrange to have him assassinated, live on TV, during his news show.

Thus, he is assassinated on screen, the most watched TV show in history. Beale dies a hero, a martyr to causes that he himself despised.

Now, it’s widely reported that people in the White House, despite endless purges and cleansings, famously regard Trump as out of control and uncontrollable, a danger to himself and others. More than one “insider” book has claimed that there is a cabal, a resistance, dedicated to preventing Trump from effectuating some of his loonier and more destructive impulses. Clearly this resistance has had little effect, and Trump is consolidating his power. The fact that the front runner against Trump is Sanders may increase the level of desperation of this resistance, since the only thing worse, in their eyes, than a mad, stupid Hitler is a democratic socialist.

So this tweet might not be just bad judgment on the part of some flunky: it may be a signal that persons in the administration may be getting ready to Howard Beale Trump’s ass. It wouldn’t be hard to take the ensuing chaos, confusion and outrage and turn it to their own advantage. President Pence would be a hero who ‘saved America’ by tracking down the head of the evil conspiracy that took the beloved leader from us: Bernie Sanders. Yeah, yeah, I know. Doesn’t matter if he had any involvement or not, though. He would be a serviceable villain for the Trumpkins, though. Rally the base, all that.

Think it’s far-fetched? Gawds, I hope so! I think it’s far-fetched myself.

But go rent a copy of Network and watch it.

Then ask yourself if it’s a possible scenario – or not.

Bernin’ Up the Race — Sanders may be the nominee—what then?

Bernin’ Up the Race

Sanders may be the nominee—what then?

There was a poll that hit the news the other day, which claimed that 45% of Bernie supporters wouldn’t support any other Democrat who was nominated. The poll was misreported: 31% didn’t know who they would support if Bernie wasn’t the nominee, and 14% said they wouldn’t support anyone else.

Given the general level of mistrust the left has for Democratic party leaders, that is actually a pretty accommodating stance. Party leaders have been demanding that voters support their nominee, no matter who it is, and leftists know that if they make such a guarantee, party leaders will smugly assume they’ve got the leftists herded into a pen, and nominate whoever the hell they want. And they don’t have a great track record there—while none of their nominees in recent decades have been bad, few have been inspiring, and none have really mounted a full-throated advocacy for working people and the poor. So leftists are entirely justified in making no promises beforehand.

Ever notice that the question doesn’t get turned around? Few if any polls ask, “If Bernie is the nominee, will you still support the Democratic ticket?” It’s an interesting omission, especially since Bernie is the front runner right now. He won the Iowa debacle by a sliver, and he’ll probably win New Hampshire this week. His first real test will be in South Carolina. If he does well there—finishes first or second, say, then he will be the front runner.

The DLC will fight that, of course. They’re not supposed to, but money has had the same corrupting effect that it has on the Republicans; the difference is that they aren’t anywhere near as corrupt and ethically bankrupt. Wall Street and the Russian Mafia don’t own them outright the way they do the GOP, but they are sliding down that same path. Goldman Sachs does not want Bernie. Putin doesn’t want what he doubtlessly considers to be a clever Jew. Bernie does make the very best enemies, don’t you think?

How the Democratic leadership opposes Bernie, and the level of unfairness and viciousness voters see in that opposition will determine if the left fights for their choice or not.

Put it simply: if the party is in such a frenzy to keep the left away from power, and willing to behave like Republicans in order to defeat the left, then they have no reasonable expectation of enlisting the support of the left in November, and nor should they. You don’t win followers by spitting on them.

Parenthetically, it’s well-known that some 10% of Bernie supporters in 2016 wound up voting for Trump. I figure that was motivated by stupidity and / or spite, but a lot were seriously alienated by Democratic efforts to keep thumbs firmly on the scales against Sanders. I would hope that most of that 10% have figured out by now that that was one of the stupidest decisions they ever made, although I still come across some Trotskyite who declares that Hillary would have started World War III by now and Trump is better. Well, not all conservatives are stupid, and now we know that not all stupid people are conservatives.

Now, for 50 years, Sanders has referred to himself as a “democratic socialist.” In a nutshell, it means he supports a society where the people are sovereign, and that has a strong safety net, not just against need and want, but against the authoritarian depredations of corporations, the aristocracy, churches and fascists. Nothing Thomas Jefferson would have taken great issue with at the time the Constitution was written. (Jefferson suggested to Madison that the Constitution include a 100% estate tax, something far, far to the left of anything Sanders has ever proposed!). Much of the developed nations of Europe, along with Japan and Canada, have systems that fall under the umbrella of democratic socialism.

Sanders isn’t a wild-eyed radical even if he does sometimes look like Big Bird on bath salts in debate. Ninety percent of his platform can be found in any of Eisenhower’s campaign speeches.

Most of Sanders’ platform is as American as cliché pie. Jefferson wanted to tax the gentry in order to avoid the rise of an aristocratic class. Mason and Madison wanted public schools, from childhood through college. Eisenhower recognized the need to not make the country a cash cow for the military, and recognized the need for a strong safety net. Lincoln realized that people must get equal treatment under the law, and equal opportunity in life.

There’s nothing in Sanders’ platform that hasn’t been a part of the Democratic Party platform going back to 1936, and even some Republican platforms back when they were still respectable. If the Overton Window was where it was in 1960, Sanders would be considered a slightly-left-of-center moderate.

But that word “socialism” scares the piss out of people, since the American right has been vilifying it since about 1915. I was genuinely startled when a putatively educated libertarian told me he couldn’t support Sanders because “socialists killed millions of people.” I expect that from the MAGAts and the Q conspiracy-nut crowd. You know, the morons who think Hitler was a socialist because he was in the National Socialist Worker’s Party. Chris Matthews, an MSNBC commentator well past his sell-by date, made the startling statement the other night, “I believe if Castro and the reds had won the Cold War there would have been executions in Central Park and I might have been one of the ones getting executed. I don’t know who Bernie Sanders supports over these years, I don’t know what he means by socialism.” For fuck’s sake, Matthews has only been covering Sanders for 40 years. Didn’t he ever bother to ask? Or does he prefer to just red-bait?

So lesson #1 in supporting Sanders: He is not, and never has been a communist. Being Jewish, he probably takes a dim view of genocide. He doesn’t believe “everyone should get paid the same” or “the state must own industry” that many people, including a quite a few who should know better, say about socialism. He doesn’t believe everyone is entitled to a college degree; he knows many people could never earn such a degree. He’s a millionaire—barely, when you factor in the two homes he and his wife have. That doesn’t make him a hypocrite—in fact, it makes him the second poorest member of the Senate, a body disposed toward vast seas of hypocrisy and corruption.

Sanders does think everyone should have the same opportunity if they have the abilities, and for those that don’t, good training programs for necessary professions like maintenance and construction. He isn’t out to create a dystopian Vonnegutian fantasy land where everyone is equal; he just wants to make certain nobody is cheated, and everyone has a right, in the world’s richest land, to a comfortable life without hunger or want. To Amy Klobuchar, standing up for the poor and the dispossessed is bad, and she falsely called Sanders a ‘billionaire,’ in hopes of discrediting him.

One acquaintance of mine bemoaned the fact that Sanders uses the term “socialist” to describe himself, and wished he used something like “Rooseveltian.” Well, he’s been a democratic socialist all these years, and that bell has done rung, and they’s ain’t no unringing it. If he used it just once, fifty years ago, the Republicans would be harping on it endlessly to this day.

Surprisingly, though, I don’t think it much matters. No matter who the Democrats nominate, the Party of Trump will queue up to declare him or her a socialist, a communist, a genocidal maniac who wants to sell your daughters to large Negroes. (Yeah, that’s about how Trumpkins think. Don’t waste time promoting Sanders or any other Democrat to them. They are cultists, lost.) I know this because the Republicans have been doing this going back to the days of Joe McCarthy, where they cheerfully tried to smear General Eisenhower as a commie sympathizer.

It is independents and moderate Democrats that you have to persuade that not only is Sanders within the Democratic mainstream, but he’s the least likely to be corrupted by Wall Street, the evangelicals, or Russia. A century of propaganda have conditioned Americans to have a knee-jerk aversion to the word ‘socialist’ and even Democrats shiver when Sanders espouses the very policies that made the Democratic Party—and America—great.

So what policies does Sanders espouse?

Here’s a list, cribbed from his website, and paragraphs following “Note:” are my own thoughts:

  • Institute a moratorium on deportations until a thorough audit of past practices and policies is complete.
  • Reinstate and expand DACA and develop a humane policy for those seeking asylum.
  • Completely reshape and reform our immigration enforcement system, including breaking up ICE and CBP and redistributing their functions to their proper authorities.
  • Dismantle cruel and inhumane deportation programs and detention centers and reunite families who have been separated.
  • Live up to our ideals as a nation and welcome refugees and those seeking asylum, including those displaced by climate change.

Note: Immigration, as a percentage of the population of America, is the lowest it’s been since 1870. Crime rate amongst immigrants is lower. Poverty is lower. Stop listening to the haters on the right!

Create a Medicare for All, single-payer, national health insurance program to provide everyone in America with comprehensive health care coverage, free at the point of service.

  • No networks, no premiums, no deductibles, no copays, no surprise bills.
  • Medicare coverage will be expanded and improved to include: include dental, hearing, vision, and home- and community-based long-term care, in-patient and out-patient services, mental health and substance abuse treatment, reproductive and maternity care, prescription drugs, and more.
  • Stop the pharmaceutical industry from ripping off the American people by making sure that no one in America pays over $200 a year for the medicine they need by capping what Americans pay for prescription drugs under Medicare for All.

Note: estimates on the tax increase needed to implement this range from $900 billion a year up to $4.5 trillion. However, the US will save at least 20% by eliminating overhead and the inefficiencies of competing insurance schemes.

Transform our energy system to 100 percent renewable energy and create 20 million jobs needed to solve the climate crisis.

  • Ensure a just transition for communities and workers, including fossil fuel workers.
  • Ensure justice for frontline communities, especially under-resourced groups, communities of color, Native Americans, people with disabilities, children and the elderly.
  • Save American families money with investments in weatherization, public transportation, modern infrastructure and high-speed broadband.
  • Commit to reducing emissions throughout the world, including providing $200 billion to the Green Climate Fund, rejoining the Paris Agreement, and reasserting the United States’ leadership in the global fight against climate change.
  • Invest in conservation and public lands to heal our soils, forests, and prairie lands.
  • End the greed of the fossil fuel industry and hold them accountable.

Note: Solar already employs more than coal and nuclear combined. Continuing to transition to a safe, clean, efficient economy will create millions of jobs.

Guarantee tuition and debt-free public colleges, universities, HBCUs, Minority Serving Institutions and trade-schools to all.

  • Cancel all student loan debt for the some 45 million Americans who owe about $1.6 trillion and place a cap on student loan interest rates going forward at 1.88 percent.
  • Invest $1.3 billion every year in private, non-profit historically black colleges and universities and minority-serving institutions
  • End equity gaps in higher education attainment. And ensure students are able to cover non-tuition costs of attending school by: expanding Pell Grants to cover non-tuition and fee costs, tripling funding for the Work-Study Program, and more.

Note: One need only look at the buffoons who graduate from elite colleges on the legacy program to know higher education in America is badly broken. The system doesn’t produce ‘very stable geniuses’; it merely produces silver-spoon whelps good only at preserving their class wealth and power.

Double union membership within Bernie’s first term.

  • Establish federal protections against the firing of workers for any reason other than “just cause.”
  • Provide unions the ability to organize through a majority sign up process and enact “first contract” provisions to ensure companies cannot prevent a union from forming by denying a first contract.
  • Deny federal contracts to companies that pay poverty wages, outsource jobs overseas, engage in union busting, deny good benefits, and pay CEOs outrageous compensation packages
  • Eliminate “Right to Work for Less” laws and guarantee the right to unionize for workers historically excluded from labor protections, like farm workers and domestic workers.

Note: American workers receive the worst treatment of all workers in the developed world. The federal minimum wage is an utter disgrace, as are most state minimums. There’s no paid vacation minimum, no maternal leave minimum, and between the gig economy and “fire-at-will” laws, there is absolutely no job security. I personally know two people who were fired from their jobs after 29 years and 11 months, because the employer didn’t want to pay their pensions. Those employers would be in prison in most parts of the world for pulling a stunt like that. Instead, they support the GOP, which wants to wipe out Social Security. Speaking of which:

Expand Social Security benefits for all recipients and protect pensions.

  • Guarantee home and community based long-term care services.
  • Protect our most vulnerable seniors by quadrupling funding for the Older Americans Act and expanding other programs seniors rely on.
  • Expand and train the direct care workforce we need.

One in three private pension plans fail, usually through legalized corporate malfeasance. Administrative costs average 25-30% (Social Security is less than 1%). People in the world’s richest country shouldn’t have to work 30 years, only to face hunger and possible homelessness because corporate CEOs have taken it all. Productivity in the US has risen 280% since 1978; wages only 5% (both adjusted for inflation). So where did all those tens of trillions of dollars go? (Hint: they own the GOP, and are trying to buy up the Democrats).

David Brin, the SF/Futurist writer, maintains a list of 29 “consensus goals” that he says all Democrats share. ( https://davidbrin.blogspot.com/2019/07/debate-special-shall-we-let-them-divide.html ) They all surely command overwhelming support amongst Democrats, and all of this year’s candidates for President.

But here’s the thing: none of Sanders’ policies are alien to that list, and he shares all the items on that list. If we accept Brin’s list as a criteria for mainstream Democratic beliefs, then Sanders is comfortably in that range. Brin himself has remarked that he likes Sanders a lot, but doesn’t believe a “socialist” can be elected. On the other hand, Doctor, a democratic socialist who shares all of Brin’s beliefs might work…

In 2016, we were told a woman couldn’t win the presidency. She didn’t, but she did get three million more votes than her opponent. In 2008, we were told an African-American could win the presidency. One did. In 1960, we were told a Catholic couldn’t win the Presidency. One did. In 1860, we were told a moderate who wanted to stop the spread of slavery couldn’t win. One did. And the country, always, was the richer for it in the long run. Except 2016, where the actual winner didn’t win.

In the end, most Democrats will support the party’s candidate because if we don’t get rid of the Republicans, they will destroy America. It’s that simple. But if the nominee is Sanders, let’s rid ourselves of the silly nonsense that he’s the next Stalin who wants to throw everyone in Gulags. If you can’t support him, at least have sane reasons why you don’t. You don’t like his views on guns; he’s inconsistent on military spending, whatever. But if you oppose him because you misunderstand a label, then Trump and his evil henchmen will win.

 

Evil Arrives — The crisis point is here

Evil Arrives

The crisis point is here

January 19th 2020

Robert Harrington, an Ex-Pat living in London, wrote an absolutely searing column for the Palmer Report last night, “The Face of Evil.” https://www.palmerreport.com/analysis/the-new-face-of-evil/24527/ In it, he tells of how he came to realize that the Holocaust was far from a unique event, that roughly a third of humanity is evil, and that they have coalesced into the monster known as the Republican party under the malign rule of Trump.

The Holocaust, of course, is far from unique. Since the vow was made in the ashes of 1945 to Never Forget, there have been at least a half dozen genocides in which more than twelve million people died. Here in the states, such atrocities were largely brushed off. “Oh, it was the communists. Communists are evil.” It was Africa. It was Asia. They were brown. They were black. They were the wrong religion. Some Americans considered it to be the actions of lesser people with poisonous ideologies, saying so without irony and without realizing by the mere fact of the dismissal, they had placed themselves in groups of lesser people with poisonous ideologies. The belief the Holocaust was unique was just one of the comforting lies with with we cocoon ourselves.

Genocide is well within the range of human social behavior. Voltaire had us pegged two hundred and fifty years ago when he wrote, “Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.”

Which brings us to the role of religion. Religion informs nearly all holocausts (yes, including communism, which was a godless religion, but a religion nevertheless, in which adherents had to subscribe to a creed, no matter how absurd). In some instances, religion instigates the mass murder in the name of some deity or leader. Religion never worships gods; it worships power. The ability to kill at will is the ultimate power. God is for the peasants. God’s power is for the Church.

There was one thing about the Holocaust that made it stand out. It was strange and horrifying how the Germans went about it in a cruel and methodical manner, using the modern tools of western civilization. The face of the Holocaust wasn’t the screaming mercenary with the blood-dripping machete; it was the meek, mild accountant who carefully tabulated the number of shoes taken off the feet of dead Jewish children. All very modern, quite civilized, leaving the accountant to go home at night and be a good Christian with his wife and children. Perhaps he told the children he processed shoes for the Fatherland, leaving out mention of where the shoes came from. Perhaps he assured himself he didn’t know where the shoes came from, and told himself comforting lies about the long trains of human cattle, and all the missing neighbors. He was, after all, a Good German.

Without an evil leader able to lead an entire culture in to an abyss, he might just have been another accountant in a shoe factory, leading an essentially blameless life. Germany, sophisticated, devout, educated, and religious, needed only a charismatic monster to fall into the ultimate darkness.

Voltaire understood the mechanism for genocide: “It is forbidden to kill; therefore all murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets.”

Robert Harrington believes America is at the cusp of a Hitlerian nightmare. He’s right because America, self-assured, lacking introspection, historically illiterate, and ridden by racial and political fear, is a genocide waiting to happen. Harrington has identified the factor that will make the American abyss like the one Germany experienced nearly a century earlier—the rise of a monster.

Trump is vicious, vindictive, petty and above all, cruel. He is like Hitler, only Hitler at least was able to form relationships with other individuals and pets, something Trump seems incapable of. Trump appeals to the most base of people with a series of “am-i-right” political sketches disguised as a philosophy and the endless flagging of grievances, and there is no bottom to his pettiness and his willingness to destroy or hurt those who have crossed him in any way. Case in point: This past week, facing impeachment, he took time to utterly gut the school lunch program that Michelle Obama had made an effective instrument for improving kid’s lives and their ability to learn. Trump’s action will needlessly condemn millions of kids to hungry afternoons in school, trying to read and listen over the demands of their bodies. Why did he do such a horrible and pointless thing? It was Michelle’s birthday. He wanted to hurt her.

There seems to be no doubt in Harrington’s mind that Trump will trigger an American moral and ethical apocalypse. There’s no doubt in my mind that he stands to be the next Hitler, and that with unlimited power, he is capable of unlimited cruelty, and he has the mindless, hateful, evil following to attack and destroy lives in the tens of millions. He rides the wings of the next Holocaust.

The Senate will have their trial this coming week. The punditry agree that it will be a sham trial and Trump will be acquitted. Trump is openly demanding he be acquitted before he gives his State of the Union speech in early February, and craven and morally vacant senators are queueing up to oblige him.

It’s easy to imagine the crows of angry triumph he will shout to a shivering world. Will he speak of final solutions and a new order that will last a thousand years? Will he list the people who will pay bigly for impeaching him and testifying against him? It’s unlikely the remaining members of his administration will be able to contain the raw fury and hatred pent up in the man.

At that point, his power will be consolidated. A Senate acquittal will like be the moment in German history when the Enabling Act was passed, allowing Hitler to supercede and suspend all laws basically at will.

The Senators could save America if they weren’t moral and ethical vacuums, wedded to power and willing to appease monsters and scum in order to cling to it.

They can stand as human beings, do their job, and save America from a looming nightmare, or they can create a future in which the best hope they have is that history will quickly forget their names, so their children will not have to share their disgrace.

It’s anyone’s guess as to how they will vote. They are cowards and nihilists. Expect little.

Voltaire had the perfect epitaph for these sad remnants of humanity: “Every man is guilty of all the good he did not do.”

Suppose They Held a War… People aren’t rallying around Trump’s crap

Suppose They Held a War…

People aren’t rallying around Trump’s crap

January 12th, 2020

There was an op-art poster popular in the late 60s, at the height of the Vietnam conflict, which read, “Suppose they held a war and nobody came?” Even then, it was seen as a bit of whimsy, even amongst the “Oh-wow-that’s-heavy” crowd. Americans have a long and often sordid history of responding to calls to arm with vicious and irrepressible war fever. The dubious conflict that got tens of thousands of Americans killed and lead to that plaintive poster was a largely fictional incident in the Gulf of Tonkin in which a couple of Vietnamese war boats in Vietnamese waters approached to within 10 kilometers of the USS Maddox and the Maddox opened fire. In the exchange, one US aircraft was slightly damaged, as was the Maddox itself, which took a single bullet hole in an non-vital part. The Vietnamese saw four dead, six wounded, and three boats moderately to severely damaged. The Johnson administration lied about the incident, claiming the Vietnamese fired first, and the vaunted American press dutifully repeated that lie. Nor did the press explore the reasons for the tensions; Vietnam had a fair and open election in which Ho Chi Minh and the communists won, and the cold war hawks in LBJ’s cabinet couldn’t stand for that. It took thousands of deaths and vast sums of dollars wasted before a significant protest movement formed, only to be vilified by America’s “silent majority” as traitors, cowards and commies.

World War One was even more mystifying. The US had no interest, strategically or ethically, in the war, and by 1917 it was obvious that it was a bloody, inconclusive and hideously expensive pigs-wallow of a war. A large majority of Americans wanted to stay the hell out. But then the Zimmerman telegram emerged, with the self-same German foreign minister begging Mexico to start a war with America and making the unlikely promise that they would give Mexico back those territories lost in the 1848 US-Mexico war. That infuriated President Wilson, who had run—and won—on a campaign slogan of “Too proud to fight” just a few years earlier. This was followed soon after by a German decision to target neutral shipping in the Atlantic, and subsequently sank five American freighters. Wilson used this to whip the country into a war frenzy the like of which nobody had seen since the Civil War, made more incredible by the fact that America still had scant emotional involvement with the European conflict. (Americans get annoyed by attacks, real or imaginary, on their ships, except when they don’t—in 1942 German U-boats were sinking US freighters at a expense in lives lost and dollars squandered the equivalent of a 9/11 attack every two weeks, and still had to declare war first before America made a military reaction.) So it’s safe to say that Wilson used the incident to whip up the war frenzy.

He almost certainly knew that Germany was slowly losing that war. He was probably far more worried about the revolution in Russia, and the threat of communist uprisings in the west. Given the disgraceful nature of the Industrial Revolution and the deplorable conditions the working class suffered, it was a quite legitimate fear from his viewpoint.

In scant weeks, millions of Americans who were “too proud to fight” and glad they weren’t involved in that bloody, unending mess were screaming for German blood, talking about rounding up German-Americans and putting them in camps, and denouncing anyone who questioned all this as cowards and traitors. Just like that! Snap fingers. The government passed repressive laws to shut up the dissenters that were so draconian that the Supreme Court was forced to look up the Constitution and see what it had to say about this kind of stuff. Turns out the Constitution takes a dim view of punishing people for having doubts. But that was later. In the meantime people gleefully punished people for opinions they shared just scant weeks earlier.

So historically, it’s not hard to con Americans into a war, no matter how dubious, bloody, or unnecessary.

So when Trump had Suleimani assassinated and Iran responded by shelling some US bases in Iraq, I got a sinking feeling that Americans, with a whoop and a holler, were going to repeat the same tired bloody mistakes once again, and would probably enthrone the despicable Trump in the process.

Certainly Trump tried to rouse the American people to arms, giving reason after reason, each more dire than the last, for why it was necessary to ambush and murder this man. The latest iteration of that, just nine days later and the ninth different reason given, was that Suleimani was planning to attack “four embassies”. Each of Trump’s rationales has been knocked down for lack of evidence to patent absurdity (Suleimani was most certainly no friend to ISIS, and indeed was a lead ally in stymieing the terrorist organization.) The “four embassies” rationale died an ignominious death this morning when Trump’s Secretary-of-Defence-This-Week, Mark Esper, admitted on national television that he had no idea what Trump was talking about.

Faux News and all the other horse-manure factories of the far right tried to whip up war fever, and didn’t get much of anywhere. Oh, they got the Trumpkins riled up, but that was a given. They’ll do whatever their God-daddy leader wants.

But outside of the deplorables, nothing. Outside of that, the 60% of Americans who aren’t part of his cult know he lies: he lies when he has to, he lies when he doesn’t have to, he even lies when it would be to his advantage to either keep his mouth shut or tell the truth. They know he lies. They know he’s had it in for Iran for years, and especially since the hated Obama got that nuclear agreement with them. They know that in 2016, Trump had no idea who Suleimani was, and will be totally unsurprised to read in today’s Washington Post that in early 2017 he was asking his cabinet for ways to assassinate Suleimani, and his cabinet was ignoring such requests.

A majority of those polled yesterday believe that Trump was wagging the dog, using Iran to try and detract from his looming impeachment trial.

Trump’s advisors and enablers have to be looking at this and wondering what would happen if there was a real international incident that required an American military response, another Pearl Harbor or a 9/11. Would people follow Trump, or just conclude that he staged the event for his own purposes.

Yet another reason to get rid of him. When America does need a leader, all they’ll have is Trump, and he’s utter shit at that.

Horrible as the assassination and repercussions have been, it could have been far worse. At least Iran’s response was carefully crafted to avoid escalation, with the exception of the shooting down of that Boeing 737 passenger jet. I have little doubt it was an accident: Iran had little to gain from killing scores of their own citizens, plus 67 Canadians and 39 Ukrainians. And that’s on Trump, too; negligent as someone in the Iranian military was, it wouldn’t have happened were it not for the crisis Trump created.

Millions of people in Iran are outraged by the shooting down. Perhaps they remember when the US accidentally shot down an Iranian plane in the 80s, killing 232. As a result, the government is facing mass protests of a kind not seen since the days of the Ayatollah Khomeini.

Nobody likes the Iranian regime. They are religious nuts, vicious, and troublemakers. It would be delightful if this tragic incident caused their downfall, and a more secular, reasonable regime were to replace them.

But for now, it’s in the realm of wishful thinking. But if Trump tries to take credit for it (and he would) then tell him to buzz off.

Even with the threat of war fever manipulation, America is better off with a leader than a bullshit artist.

Holy Murder – Got Mit Uns

January 5th 2020

The Washington Post is reporting this morning that Trump did not notify leaders of Congress of the planned assassination of Qassam Suleimani as he is legally required to do, but he DID notify the Russians. Kinda shows who he’s really working for, doesn’t it?

If anyone tells you that Putin and his criminal gang are better suited to hear American military strategies ahead of Congress, explain to them that they are fools and traitors to their country and to get the hell out of your sight. Yes, I’ve seen Trumpkins make that very claim. They are shit Americans.

Mike Pence, God’s Designated Liar on Earth, tried explaining that Suleimani was behind 9/11, an utterly factless claim put out there in Pence’s dim-witted hopes that people would somehow take this to mean that Trump had just prevented another 9/11. It’s on about the same level as assassinating Boris Johnson and then claiming he was involved in the 1605 plot to blow up Parliament.

Trump himself tried claiming that he had preempted an plan for an imminent attack upon American interests, which was about as factually-based as anything else that flushes out of that man’s mouth.

Nearly every pundit in the country is bloviating on what kind of blow-back America can expect, and what Trump will do next with the disaster he has created. They are even, gawds help us, asking if it saves Trump from impeachment. Fox News and the Christian Right see Trump as a resolute and godly hero for employing the same tactics that Trump assassinated Suleimani for. Lindsey Graham huffed that you can’t impeach a president during war time, and right wingers are even pushing for a constitutional amendment saying just that.

A few quick points, Lindsey: Trump has already been impeached. It was in all those papers and news sources you don’t read. Second, we aren’t at war. Iraq, where the assassination took place, is a putative ally—or at least was, more on that in a moment—and despite the incessant saber-rattling from Bolton and Cheney and the rest of the trash militant right, Iran is not an enemy. At least, not as of this writing. And third, if you have anything at all resembling a brain in that skull of yours, do you really want a loophole in the constitution that encourages a president to start a war in order to avoid being brought up on criminal charges? Really? Is that all that’s left of your bullshit “suthun honor”?

This morning, the Iraq Parliament voted by a small majority to kick American troops out. If Trump reacts the way I expect and decides to blow off the Parliamentarian decree (after all, if he doesn’t pay attention to the US Congress, why would he care about anyone else’s?) then he’s probably just rekindled the Iraq war. And Donald may be too stupid to realize this, but America cannot win ground wars in Iraq and Iran. Hell, in the past twenty years, America hasn’t been able to win a ground war in Afghanistan, an economic basket case. It will just mean thousands of lives lost, and trillions of dollars squandered.

And Iran has renounced the nuclear deal in total today. I don’t want to hear a single American whine about that: the US arbitrarily broke the deal two years ago, part of Trump’s efforts to score points with the “let’s bomb them all” crowd, and the criminal fascist Netanyahu.

Oh, by the way, Donald. Remember ISIS? Those are the indisputably bad guys you claim to have defeated. Well, funny thing. The people who really brought ISIS to heel were the Kurds and the Iraqis. But now you’ve betrayed the Kurds, and you’ve pissed off the Iraqis to the point where they want your ass out of their country right now, and so ISIS can regrow, abetted by the propaganda coup that your foolish assassination of Suleimani has given them. And no, they still aren’t nice guys. But then, neither are you.

In fact, you’re a lot like Suleimani, except he was a lot smarter and less of a corrupt fraud. He was a vicious and crafty bastard, a master at asymmetrical warfare, and yes, Americans were his most frequent target. You may be wondering how such a bastard could develop a devoted following. Well, next time you hold one of your mini-Nuremberg rallies, look at the rabid faces goggling back at you with mindless devotion. Same types of assholes, only unlike you, with your manipulative nihilism, Suleimani actually stood for something (if awful) and didn’t have to pretend to be a leader.

His assholes are more dangerous than your assholes, and most of them are a lot smarter. You might want to keep that in mind.

It’s no wonder you reported to the Russians first ahead of your own nation. Putin must be beside himself with joy. For many years, since before you were born, Russia has wanted strong influence in the Persian and Babylonian regions. Reducing both countries to utter chaos is the easiest way to do that, since he understands that he cannot win a ground war or sustain an occupation in either land. (Unlike you, he learned from a failed occupation of Afghanistan). You’ve given him the chaos he wants to become the principal cohesive entity in that region. He doesn’t need troops and bases there to subdue the locals; he just wants control of the currency and the main industries, and you’ve given that to him.

And of course, the only country capable of preventing him from doing that is already in chaos, and largely at Putin’s hand. He managed to get a puppet regime that trashed the country’s intelligence and military, and divided and enraged the population. Place called America. He managed to get that most unlikely piece of shit you can imagine into the Oval Office.

That would be you, Donald.

And you’ve pretty much destroyed the intelligence agencies you now desperately need to gauge world reaction. What a fucking fool you are.

I can’t wait to see you convicted and thrown in prison. I hope you never see daylight again.

You’re Going to Die Now – Happy Holidays!

You’re Going to Die Now

Happy Holidays!

December 31st, 2019

We’ve been hoping, all sane people have been hoping, that America could avoid a major international crisis before Trump was driven from office. No American president in history has been less equipped, mentally, morally or cognitively, to deal with a crisis that could result in a general war.

Iraqis, perhaps backed by Iran, occupied the US embassy deep in the “green zone” in Baghdad. People who remember America’s pointless occupation of Iraq will remember the green zone. It was supposed to make the hundred million dollar embassy the US built in that captive city impregnable.

Well, not so much, as it turns out. As Trump golfed, the embassy was occupied by protesters.

Trump finally bestirred himself to tweet, “The U.S. Embassy in Iraq is, & has been for hours, SAFE! Many of our great Warfighters, together with the most lethal military equipment in the world, was immediately rushed to the site. Thank you to the President & Prime Minister of Iraq for their rapid response upon request….”

OK, that sounds almost sane. OK, the bit about “Warfighters” and other lethal stuff being immediately rushed to the site, the bluster of a weak leader caught with his pants down.

But then it got Trumpweird. He continued in the next tweet, “….Iran will be held fully responsible for lives lost, or damage incurred, at any of our facilities. They will pay a very BIG PRICE! This is not a Warning, it is a Threat. Happy New Year!”

Yup. Because there’s nothing weird about making an open threat and following it up with a holiday greeting. You see it all the time in Hollywood, “No, Mister Bond, I expect you to die. Happy Valentine’s Day.” “Yippie Kie Yay, motherfucker. Merry Christmas.” “Perhaps I’ll kill you tomorrow, Wesley. Happy Candlemas.”

It’s weird, but in fairness, Trump had a more important issue on his mind: the optics: “The Fake News said I played golf today, and I did NOT! I had meeting in various locations, while closely monitoring the U.S. Embassy situation in Iraq, which I am still doing. The Corrupt Lamestream Media knew this but, not surprisingly, failed to report or correct!” Well, the GOP wasted tens of millions of dollars and thousands of Congress hours trying to crucify Hillary over the non-scandal of whether she allowed Benghazi to happen. He knows how much trouble those noisy, sanctimonious, cowardly loudmouths on the right can create with such made up scandals. He should know: he was part of that deplorable crowd.

OK, the possibility of a general war in the middle east, once that could involve Russia is small potatoes next to the possibility that the pseudo-journalistic trash of the right wing media might turn on Trump and launch their endlessly dishonest propaganda.

So Trump doesn’t have a clue about how serious the situation in the middle east is right now, but rather whether it might drown out his constant whines about being impeached. That’s what makes him such a great leader.

Fortunately, not all of government is filled with vacuous and corrupt morons like Trump and Moscow Mitch. Chris Murphy, Democratic Senator from Connecticut, wrote a memorable series of tweets in response today that not only spells out how we got to this juncture (incredible incompetence from the Administration, and malign policies from Russia and Israel), but what it means, and why it could turn into a bloody fiasco that could cost many lives, not just of people living in that region but Americans as well. Rather than try to sum up what he wrote in a masterpiece of concise thinking, I’ll just repeat the texts here:

The attack on our embassy reminds us of all Trump’s Middle East disasters:

1/ Emboldened Iran starts attacking U.S. targets;
2/ Turkey invades Syria;
3/ Saudi Arabia gets away with murder;
4/ Israeli/Palestinian peace slips out of reach.

And that’s just the start…

4/ Thousands of Yemeni children continue to die in a U.S. fueled civil war;
5/ Iran restarts their nuclear program;
6/ Saudi Arabia and Qatar break relations, pushing Qatar to Iran
7/ Turkey buys weapons from Russia, breaking NATO’s back

8/ Brutal crackdown on political dissent in Egypt ramps up
9/ U.S. abandons Kurds to die in Syria, leaves our bases for Russia
10/ U.S. hold on aid to Lebanon weakens their army, empowers Hezbollah
11/ ISIS begins to regroup in Iraq, breaks out of prisons in Syria

The list keeps going, but the point is this:

The attacks on our embassy in Iraq (and Iraq’s unwillingness to defend us) is – on this last day of 2019 – a reminder of how catastrophic this year has been for U.S. interests in every corner of the Middle East.

The attack on our embassy in Baghdad is horrifying but predictable.
Trump has rendered America impotent in the Middle East. No one fears us, no one listens to us.
America has been reduced to huddling in safe rooms, hoping the bad guys will go away.
What a disgrace.

What a disgrace indeed. A lot of people think tomorrow is the dawn of a new decade (it’s not, but that’s for another time), and here we are, facing a massive international crisis with a deranged shitgibbon at the wheel.

He’s going to get us all killed, Happy New Year.

Boxing Days – People are hitting back at GOP rule

Boxing Days

People are hitting back at GOP rule

December 26th 2019

Back when the House was preparing to vote on impeachment (was it really only a week ago?) one online news feed had the header, “House prepares to vote on impeachment as Trump rages”. Had I seen that headline in a crystal ball back on November 2016, I would have called it very predictable, perhaps even inevitable.

The only surprise to me was how much of Trump’s shit people put up with before deciding something needed to be done about him. Americans in general have a strong streak of authoritarian personality; they really hate to challenge authority. Didn’t used to be that way, of course; Americans were defined for centuries by their willingness to thumb their noses at their leaders. It’s taken three generations of ceaseless propaganda from the right and corporations to blunt that particularly American trait.

The problem, of course, is that a populace unwilling to challenge social and political leadership soon finds itself rapidly losing ground. Factory owners, priests, and aristocrats have never had your interests and heart and never will. It amuses them that they’ve trained Americans to, at worst, ask politely for their rights, and of course, they offer vague assurances that amount to a polite refusal.

Trump has undermined the pseudo-legitimacy of America’s ruling class, and the cracks are beginning to appear everywhere. Mitch McConnell and Lindsey Graham were convinced they could openly make Trump’s trial an utter sham, and they are learning that even if they can pull that off, it will come at an immense political cost. The Democrats have realized that they only need four Republicans in order to control procedural votes to help ensure a fair trial (if not a fair verdict) and are pressing hard for those four. A trial with actual witnesses and testimony is going to do massive damage to McConnell’s dream of sweeping the entire thing under the rug. The public is actually watching closely, and the Republicans are every bit as much on trial as Trump himself will be.

A Christmas Day poll revealed that 55% of the public support having a Senate vote on ousting Trump, and only 40% oppose. The day the House impeached Trump, the public supported such a vote, but only by a 48-47 margin. Even in the red states, protecting Trump from his crimes has become a risky pastime for Republican representatives and Senators.

Trump spent Christmas attacking the homeless. At least, the homeless in Nancy Pelosi’s district. He doesn’t gave a shit about the homeless, of course, unless it’s to set up for-profit concentration camps for them. He just has the misguided notion that people will blame Pelosi for the problem. But that sure catches that Christmas spirit, doesn’t it. “Get that filthy Mary and Joseph out of here with their bastard kid!”

The trash Christian right is falling apart as Trump finds and breaks through their ethical basement. They’ve had to be “Good Germans” for the past three years, pretending the moral smoke from Trump’s policies toward immigrant children and the poor and working people is just wood smoke, nothing more. That Trump has begun comparing his trial to the crucifixion of Jesus is a wake-up call to a lot of them, along with increasing pressure from the majority of Christians who haven’t bought the authoritarian Kool-Aid. Their message is getting louder and clearer: “If you think this human garbage scow of the president is the next Jesus, you are an embarrassment to both Christianity and America. Knock it off.” And it’s working. A large and vocal anti-Trump contingent is appearing in America’s pulpits and Christian publications. The “Jesus loves you but you gotta pay me for it” crowd are battening down, preparing for a social storm.

Public anger is growing as Trump’s scheme to slash Social Security and Medicare and further demolish Obamacare continues. People are aware that McConnell and the GOP want the slashes to pay for the $1.5 trillion tax cut for the rich that Ryan and Trump inflicted on us. People are tired of doing without so these upholstered parasites can afford a third yacht or a couple more Congressmen.

Panic is settling in. CNN had a poll of its pundits, including such luminaries as SE Cupp, to discover that in their collective wisdom, CNN believes Americans would be better off re-electing Trump than electing a socialist like Bernie Sanders or a liberal mixed-economy capitalist such as Elizabeth Warren. Think about that for a minute: the corporate media voices at CNN think that we would be better off with a psychotic, criminal, vicious and possibly demented disaster of a president over an FDR sort who believes that the national wealth ought to be shared with the people who created that wealth.

Welcome to the world of corporate media. They have only your best interests at heart, assuming you are rich, greedy and want only a docile workforce and a captive consumer market.

The corporate leaders already have the puppets posing as liberals in the Democratic party, the Biden/Klobuchar/Buttigieg contingent dancing to that same tune. Better to have a corporate eunuch who will only pretend to oppose America’s ongoing rightward drift into corporate feudalism, than someone willing to put up any kind of a fight to prevent the development of outright fascism.

McConnell is still making noises about keeping the fix in for his corrupt leader, but his protestations are increasingly hollow. At this point, some Republicans are realizing that they aren’t toying with losing a few seats in the next election, something their election fixers assured them couldn’t happen, but are, in fact, toying with the possibility of a popular revolt.

Americans were happy to follow their leaders, but now they see where the leaders have been taking them—and they don’t like it.

The GOP proceeds at its own risk.

Solstice 2019 – Heikki Lunta

Heikki Lunta

Solstice 2019

December 21st, 2019

In places like the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, snow dances fall under the category of “be careful what you ask for.” Like Buffalo or the Sierra or the Rockies, it’s a part of the country that can see major dumpage—snow measured by the meter rather than centimeters. Some years, the last thing in the world you want to do is encourage more of the stuff. Nonetheless, they have something called the “Heikki Lunta snowdance song” in Hancock, MI, a venerable tradition dating back to 1970 in which the locals beseech the snow gods for big snows in order to run the snowmobile races.

We got about 1.15 meters of snow (45”) back at Thanksgiving, so I’m just looking at those Michiganders beseeching their Finnish snowblower gods and I ask, “What in the hell are you THINKING?”

When I was a kid in Ottawa, the last thing anyone except us kids wanted was a big snow on Grey Cup weekend. (Canada has a Thanksgiving Day, but it’s at a more sensible time when crops are actually still being gathered and the whole country hasn’t iced up for the winter. You see, it usually dropped below zero about then and stayed there until late February, so any snow that fell was likely to still be there as stubborn patches of berm ice the following April.)

For adults, it was a nightmare season, shoveling and rock salt and “square tires” (the old style automobile tires used to freeze at night, including the flattened portion in direct contact with the sidewalk, resulting in a bump every revolution of the tires that persisted until the tires became warm enough to be malleable again.) They had snow chains back then, but it was usually easier to just use them to hang yourself than to put them on the wheels. There were engine blankets that prevented engines from freezing on really cold nights, but they carried their own risks. Bad enough that you had to get on your hands and knees on a minus twenty-five degree morning to shoo any cats out before starting the car, but you sometimes found yourself poking a skunk with your house broom—with predictable results. I know, because it happened to my Dad one winter. He smelled like the neighbor’s terrier, aka, “the world’s dumbest dog.” Dad’s just lucky Mom didn’t make him set out side that night in a tub of tomato juice. On the plus side, we didn’t have to smell the blood pudding that was his choice for breakfast for a few weeks after that. The skunk odor was an improvement.

Side streets, covered in white ice (very compacted snow) became favored locales for games of shinny, or pick-up hockey games.

Another more dangerous pastime involved grabbing the rear bumper of a bus leaving a stop and sliding along behind the bus for several blocks until it reached a heavily traveled street and the ice got patchy. It was a major bust if a cop saw you doing it. Not for you—for the cop. There wasn’t a cop alive who could catch a 10 year old boy on ice and snow. Most people put on weight in the winter. Not the police of Ottawa—we saw to it that they got lots of exercise and fresh air. Just doing our part to support our local police, ma’am.

Poor cops couldn’t even just shoot you in the back as you ran away. That would have caused talk. Hell, a lot of them didn’t even pack guns.

Ottawa wasn’t as far north as some places I’ve lived, and the longest night was about as long was either of America’s Portland’s. But it FELT more like the Solstice people think of when they think of polar bears eating Vikings and vice versa. You could go out on a dark, cold porch at 5pm, and watch snow dust sweeping across the white ice streets in taunting little eddies, look at the unforgiving and unwinking stars of a polar night, and feel your cheeks beginning to crinkle from the cold, and you knew, in your heart, that winter had finally arrived, and was going to dominate your life for the next three months or so.

It’s changing, of course. Temperatures of 10 and even 20 above are seen in March and sometimes February, the streets are normally free of ice and snow, which is a shame since many of the buses are now electric, eliminating the face-full of Diesel exhaust that was the price we paid for getting a free bus lift.

Still, that doesn’t mean the old style winters are gone. The polar vortex wobbles around more, and as a result, while most winters are warmer than they used to be, if the vortex settles over eastern Canada, then you could get a winter every bit as vicious as the ones we experienced as kids when our biggest concern was avoiding getting caught between a polar bear and his Viking.

For me, it’s the beginning of the countdown to meteorological spring. Officially, that’s March 1st. The calendar says March 21st, and my wood pile says April 22nd. In any case, it’s a turning point: the days have stopped getting shorter, and the weather will start getting warmer, slowly at first but with increasing confidence as the Earth rolls around the sun to the equinox, which is when Vikings balance eggs on the heads of polar bears. That is why there are no more Vikings.

In Australia, it’s the summer solstice, and a nightmare summer awaits. Fires are blazing along the east cost of the land, and extreme heat and winds turn them into infernos. The entire land mass set heat records on consecutive days this week, going from 40.3 on Tuesday to 40.9 on Wednesday to 41.9 yesterday. That’s the average high temperature, 107.5F, for an area larger than Europe. And the seasonal winds are building as the temperatures continue to climb.

Australia isn’t alone, just six months out of phase with the North American west coast, much of Brazil, Europe and much of Russia as the global warming change dubbed the pyrocene spreads like the fires in Australia.

But the seasons turn, and nothing humans do can change that, and respite will come. Hang in there, and be careful and courageous.

And don’t lose hope. Never lose hope.

Quid Nunc? – Trump has been impeached. Now what?

Quid Nunc?

Trump has been impeached. Now what?

December 19th 2019

Seeing Trump get impeached was enormously satisfying, wasn’t it? He is the most corrupt, dishonest, and vicious president in American history, and it’s time he got a little recognition for that. He was already upset that they gave the Time Cover of the year to a little girl he could beat up with one bone spur tied behind his back, even though with Kissinger, Stalin and Hitler former personages so awarded, Trump more than qualified.

Trump did celebrate, going to one of his little Nuremberg rallies and proclaiming that John Dingell, the late representative from Michigan, was watching all this from hell. Why? Because Dingell’s widow, Debbie, who filled his seat in the House, voted for impeachment. I imagine that went over well in Michigan, where he just made a really cheap attack on their most popular representatives.

Being a tacky and mean piece of shit isn’t, in itself, an impeachable offense. But it does make it harder to scrape up any sympathy for him. Many pundits have noted that in the many hours of debate the House and its committees staged over the past four weeks, not one Republican stood to defend Trump’s personal honor. They may be cowards, they may be cultists, they may be endlessly servile, but none of them had enough imagination to come up with that particular argument. Even the old line about Hitler (“At least he liked dogs”) doesn’t pertain; Trump doesn’t like dogs.

Trump forecast violence in the streets if he was impeached, and he was right, if you define doing the Macarena as being violent. He’s impeached, and nobody with an IQ above 90 or a bank balance below one million is upset about that.

Now it’s supposed to be going to the Senate, the the jury foreman, Mitch “Moscow” McConnell is also going to be the leading defense attorney. He’s already said, among other things, that witnesses would not be allowed to testify: Democratic witness because they would be damaging to his client, and administration witnesses because they would be damaging to his client. (No, not really: Trump simply doesn’t want anyone from the administration testifying. It’s right there in Article 2 of the impeachment.) McConnell vows to make a farce of the proceedings, because fuck America.

So there’s a very outside chance Pelosi won’t even send the Articles to the Senate. The result would be the same, except Trump wants exculpation and revenge, and this would eliminate any possibility of that. The impeachment would just be there, a deep shadow over his “perfect” presidency. It would drive him nuts.

Of course it would backfire, as the Republicans would just claim that the real reason the Dems didn’t send it to the Senate is because the case is so weak. Under new Republican rules of self incrimination, you cannot be convicted of a crime unless you specifically say that you committed that crime. For instance, if you come running out of a bank firing a gun behind you and carrying a sack full of money from said bank, you can’t be convicted unless you say, “I robbed a bank.” And if you’re the president, the police can’t even arrest you. The Republicans have come a long way from their campaign to eliminate reading Miranda rights.

So it will go to the Senate, and I’m hoping that demonstrators by the hundreds of thousands will go with it. Republicans need to know that if they try to protect their Putin puppet, the American public will revolt—not against the government, but against the Republican Party. A very important distinction, that: most Americans like their country. But they hate what the GOP is doing to that country.

In any case, the Republicans need to know that trying to whitewash or circumvent a Senate trial will carry a fatal political cost. And yes, just nominating Trump in the first place should have done that, but we live in an era where custard heads consider propaganda more important than journalism because it’s more interesting.

In the meantime, the House must continue its investigations into the various and multitudinous crimes the Trump cartel has committed. There are going to be more convictions and more sentencing of various Trump henchmen, including Guiliani, and cases for impeachment can be brought to bear against Barr, DeVoss, and Pompeo. Mike Pence is likely to face impeachment over his role in the Ukraine thing. And of course, there are quite literally hundreds of other charges that can be made against Trump, including several dozen just from the Mueller report.

As satisfying as yesterday’s votes were, the fight has just started. Trump must be legally harried and pursued until he he either quits or is driven from office. And the GOP must pay a horrible price for their efforts to circumvent justice and for their role in degrading America.

It’s only just begun. Democrats, don’t think you can stop here.