Monday, December 4, 2017

China, Saudi Arabia, and the US: Shake Up and Shake Down

Major changes are roiling the states, societies and ruling classes of the biggest industrial economies, oil regimes and military complexes.
China is re-allocating its economic wealth toward building the most extensive modern infrastructure system in history, linking four continents.
Saudi Arabia is transferring a trillion dollars of pillage from princes to princes, from old business parasites to up-to-date versions, from austere desert mirages to fantasies of new mega-cities.
The United States is emptying the swamp of the Capital’s corruption and immediately replenishing it with the scandal of the day.

Read on at the link provided. This is one good example of why I no longer support our ensconced politicians.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Image result for public domain thanksgiving picsHAPPY THANKSGIVING

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Astros Rule

When I was a boy, broadcast companies did not have a national network and there were no local TV stations until I was twelve. I never read the sports pages (mostly read the comics) and listened to radio for the music (daytime) and entertainment programs such as the Great Gildersleve and The Lone Ranger. So, the baseball news I heard was extremely limited. The only real buzz was for the N Y Yankees and the Brooklyn Dodgers and occasionally I heard about Willie Mays hitting homers. With such dazzling stars as Mantle, Berra and the like, it was natural for me to become a Yankees fan. And I have been a Yankees fan ever since. The only team I love more is the Astros. I am extremely gratified that within my lifetime a World Series championship may be within their grasp.             

Friday, October 20, 2017

I Pledge Allegiance ...

Here's something I find odd. This blog gets more visitors from Russia than the United States. Honest: I am not colluding. Here it is, in order of numbers of viewers. I am curious to know if other bloggers using are having similar results.

United States






Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Headline: Voting machines can be hacked without a trace of evidence

I have always believed this. It's why I have always advocated for counting paper ballots. It is okay to use computerized voting, with a paper trail. In my opinion, the results even then ought to be tentative, until after all of the papers have been hand counted and certified.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

I survived the storm

Not much to add to the coverage, except I and the relatives suffered to no losses.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Why the US Will Never Win the War in Afghanistan

(ANTIMEDIA)  Defense Secretary Jim “Mad Dog” Mattis told Congress on Tuesday that the United States is not winning the war in Afghanistan, Reuters reports.

But here’s what you aren’t being told: the U.S. has been increasing – and decreasing – troop levels by the thousands over the course of the conflict. Still, no victory has emerged despite almost 16 years of war under both George W. Bush and Barack Obama.
Barely even a month into his presidency, Obama approved a significant troop increase of at least 8,000 Marines, as well as 4,000 additional Army troops to Afghanistan (another 5,000 troops were to be deployed at a later date). By November of that year, Obama announced he was planned to send over 30,000 more troops to the war-stricken nation, highlighting a major escalation in the war and bringing the official number of U.S. troops to a whopping 100,000. For the complete article, click this print.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

From Rosanne Cash

Rosanne Cash

A message from the children of Johnny Cash:

We were alerted to a video of a young man in Charlottesville, a self-proclaimed neo-Nazi, spewing hatred and bile. He was wearing a t-shirt emblazoned with the name of Johnny Cash, our father. We were sickened by the association.

Johnny Cash was a man whose heart beat with the rhythm of love and social justice. He received humanitarian awards from, among others, the Jewish National Fund, B’nai Brith, and the United Nations. He championed the rights of Native Americans, protested the war in Vietnam, was a voice for the poor, the struggling and the disenfranchised, and an advocate for the rights of prisoners. Along with our sister Rosanne, he was on the advisory board of an organization solely devoted to preventing gun violence among children. His pacifism and inclusive patriotism were two of his most defining characteristics. He would be horrified at even a casual use of his name or image for an idea or a cause founded in persecution and hatred. The white supremacists and neo-Nazis who marched in Charlottesville are poison in our society, and an insult to every American hero who wore a uniform to fight the Nazis in WWII. Several men in the extended Cash family were among those who served with honor.
Our dad told each of us, over and over throughout our lives, ‘Children, you can choose love or hate. I choose love.’

We do not judge race, color, sexual orientation or creed. We value the capacity for love and the impulse towards kindness. We respect diversity, and cherish our shared humanity. We recognize the suffering of other human beings, and remain committed to our natural instinct for compassion and service.

To any who claim supremacy over other human beings, to any who believe in racial or religious hierarchy: we are not you. Our father, as a person, icon, or symbol, is not you. We ask that the Cash name be kept far away from destructive and hateful ideology.

We Choose Love.

Rosanne Cash
Kathy Cash
Cindy Cash
Tara Cash
John Carter Cash

August 16, 2017

‘Not one of us can rest, be happy, be at home, be at peace with ourselves, until we end hatred and division.’ Rep. John Lewis

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

part two Why I Left the Democratic Party

Over the past quarter century, the national Democratic Party merged with the Clinton pay-for-play money machine and lost touch with American populism. So, what must be done and what are the party’s prospects, asks Lawrence Davidson.

By Lawrence Davidson

You would think that learning from experience is a common thing to do. But, for the Democratic Party’s leadership, this seems not to be the case. After the landslide victory of Trump’s version of the Republican Party in the 2016 national election, it is fair to say that the Democratic Party is in big trouble.

President Bill Clinton, First Lady Hillary Clinton and daughter Chelsea parade down Pennsylvania Avenue on Inauguration Day, Jan. 20, 1997. (White House photo)
As Sen. Bernie Sanders has observed, the party needs to reform. Among other things it needs to ensure that whoever is the head of the Democratic National Committee [DNC] is dedicated to growing the party in a pro-civil rights as well as populist way. The party also needs to break free of special-interest money and do away with biased “super delegates” that subvert the nominating process. Sanders suggests a reform commission to look into implementing the necessary changes.

There are millions of local Democratic voters who agree with Sanders. I am sure that their local party officials have heard from a lot from them. However, to date, none of this has transferred over to the party’s national scene. Indeed Democratic power brokers like Chuck Schumer in the Senate and Nancy Pelosi in the House, who should be discredited in the eyes of everyone who identifies themselves with the Democratic Party, are still in place calling the shots.

And, it is almost certain that whoever becomes head of the DNC will be vetted by these obsolete leaders and will follow their lead. It is a formula for repeated political failure, but it has the sense of something inevitable nonetheless.

Contributing Factors

Why have things worked out this way? Here are some of the contributing factors:

Donna Brazile, interim Democratic Party chairperson.
—Both the Democratic and Republican Parties have evolved into bureaucratized organizations at once dependent upon the financial resources of special interests and mainly responsive to those interests’ needs. This has led both parties to pay more attention to the siren calls of powerful lobbies than the needs of local constituencies.

This fits with the fact that the United States is not a democracy of individuals so much as a democracy of competing interest groups. These interest groups range from conservative to liberal, and many play both sides of the ideological field by giving donations to both parties and their major political leaders.

—The concentration on special interests has been facilitated by the fact that, historically, many American citizens care little about politics. They know little or nothing about how the political system works, much less the issues and pressures to which it responds. Many do not vote. Those who do vote are only marginally more knowledgeable than those who do not. This means the party system relies on relatively small populations of avid supporters

The entrenched nature of the party bureaucracies and the traditional indifference of a large part of the citizenry make the system very hard, but not impossible, to reform.

—It is the Republican Party’s structure, and not that of the Democrats, that has experienced the strongest populist assault over the past couple of years. This is so despite the fact the Republicans have paid more attention to capturing state governorships, legislatures and even town councils than have the Democrats.

The assault has come from the so-called Tea Party, which has its own local and regional organizations imbued with a strong sense of mission. That mission is to minimize altogether government involvement in society. The Tea Party had grown disappointed and estranged from the traditional Republican leadership and structure.

—The basis for Donald Trump’s success was partially laid by the Tea Party’s willingness to abandon their traditional support for the Republicans and place their faith in Trump. Ultimately, what now survives of the formal Republican Party are those elements willing to ally with Trump.

—In contrast, the Democratic Party survives intact, having marginalized Bernie Sanders’s liberal effort to restructure it. Ironically, its structural survival is its greatest weakness. As a consequence it will just plod along, stuck in its rut. All things being equal this might condemn the Democrats to minority status for a long time.

—The only thing that might alter this fate is the catastrophic failure of Trump and his Republican allies – failure to such an extent that the Democratic Party, at least temporarily, again appears as an acceptable alternative to a population scared for its future.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Why I left the Democratic Party

Well, this story gives one an idea why the Democrats suck almost as bad as the Republicans.

The Democrats and Hillary’s Funders Just Sunk to An All-Time Low

The divide between establishment Democrats and progressives in the wake of Hillary Clinton’s defeat in the 2016 presidential election has taken an interesting twist in a Florida Congressional race.

Florida Democrats are raising money for sophomore GOP Congressman Carlos Curbelo, who represents the 26th congressional district, in his campaign for reelection against Democrat Debbie Mucarsel-Powell.

The Democrats co-hosting the August 23 fundraiser include former Miami Mayor Manny Diaz, Homestead, FL Mayor Jeff Porter, Florida City, FL Mayor Otis Wallace, top Hillary Clinton donor Ira Leesfield and attorney Roland Sanchez-Medina, who has worked on Democratic campaigns against Curbelo in the past.

The Democrats joined a group of Curbelo supporters that includes GOP Senator and former presidential candidate Marco Rubio, who will also host an event for Curbelo.

Curbelo, who paints himself as a moderate, is a pro-life Republican who voted to repeal and replace Obamacare.

Cris Carlson @crismcarlson
Curbelo is Republican, pro-life and against single-payer, but the Dems will fundraise him anyway. …
4:05 PM - Aug 4, 2017
Photo published for In bipartisan show of support, Democrats plan to host fundraiser for Curbelo. He's also got Rubio...
In bipartisan show of support, Democrats plan to host fundraiser for Curbelo. He's also got Rubio...
@PatriciaMazzei A group of well-known local Democrats will collect campaign cash later this month -- for a Republican. Miami Rep. Carlos Curbelo will attend an Aug. 23 fundraising reception hosted by...
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Mucarsel-Powell, who allegedly supports single-payer healthcare and is backed by Planned Parenthood, has slammed Curbelo for voting to replace the Affordable Care Act with Trumpcare. She also noted that Curbelo has voted “more than 86 percent of the time” in line with President Donald Trump’s views, though Curbelo has distanced himself from the President.

Friday, May 26, 2017

First Copperhead of Season

I saw the first copperhead snake of the season. Longest one I have seen. It was on my neighbor's drive. Since she is still in Japan, I cleaned it up. I was puzzled how it got there and in that condition, until I decided it had been run over and then dragged through the gate by a cat. It was so thoroughly torn up that I had to scrape it up and then water hose the pavement. Lucky my dog Rocky didn't find this one. He has been known to go after these things and keep at it even when getting repeatedly bitten on the snout.

I kill at least two or more of those things every year. When first I moved here, twenty years ago, we had lots of racers, but the last one I saw was about four years back. It was huge. Also had one coral snake. I had to take it away from a dog to kill it.

It seemed like country living, early on, here, but we are in the middle of the Kuykendahl surge, near the Grand Parkway. All of the wildlife is being killed off or is pulling back, in the face of stores and shops, apartments and subdivisions. We are downtown, these days.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Why do Democrats keep losing?
What follows is a roundup of critiques offered in that spirit. It is neither exhaustive nor definitive. But I hope that it can serve a starting point for an informative conversation.

The Limits of Opprobrium and Stigma

When Abraham Lincoln was 33 years old, he gave a speech inside a Presbyterian church to a temperance society. His message: The assembled ought to be nicer to drinkers and sellers of alcohol, rather than shunning them, or denouncing them as moral pestilences. Indeed, they ought to use “kindly persuasion,” even if a man’s drunkenness had caused misery to his wife, or left his children hungry and naked with want.

For people are never less likely to change, to convert to new ways of thinking or acting, than when it means joining the ranks of their denouncers.

To expect otherwise, “to have expected them not to meet denunciation with denunciation ... and anathema with anathema, was to expect a reversal of human nature,” Lincoln explained. “If you would win a man to your cause, first convince him that you are his sincere friend. Therein is a drop of honey that catches his heart, which, say what he will, is the great highroad to his reason, and when once gained, you will find but little trouble in convincing his judgment of the justice of your cause.”

However, Lincoln cautioned, dictate to a man’s judgment, command his action, or mark him to be despised, “and he will retreat within himself, close all the avenues to his head and his heart. And even though your cause be naked truth itself, transformed to the heaviest lance, harder than steel, and sharper than steel can be made, and though you throw it with more than Herculean force and precision, you shall be no more be able to pierce him, than to penetrate the hard shell of a tortoise with a rye straw.”

It was and remains extremely counterproductive for the left to treat Trump supporters as a “basket of deplorables,” especially given how tiny a percentage of his followers would need to be converted away from the president to reorient political power in Washington, D.C. For directing me to a Lincoln speech I’d never read before, I thank Andrew Sullivan, who quoted it to support the argument that “you will not arrest the reactionary momentum by ignoring it or dismissing it entirely as a function of bigotry or stupidity. You’ll only defuse it by appreciating its insights and co-opting its appeal.”

Forget What Is “Normal”

A typical objection to calls to contest reactionary premises on the merits, and to persuade adherents of reaction, is that doing so somehow validates their ideas. “Among many liberals, there is an understandable impulse to raise the drawbridge, to deny certain ideas access to respectable conversation, to prevent certain concepts from being ‘normalized,’” Sullivan wrote, anticipating the objection. “But the normalization has already occurred — thanks, largely, to voters across the West — and willfully blinding ourselves to the most potent political movement of the moment will not make it go away. Our job in these circumstances is not to condescend but to engage — or forfeit the politics of the moment (and the future) to reaction.”

Noah Millman has fleshed out why the posture of preventing normalization is doomed:

Whoever says that Trump shouldn’t be “normalized” is implying that somebody — the press, perhaps? — is in a position to decide what is normal, and to inform everybody else of that fact. But that’s not how norms work, and neither the press nor anybody else is in a position either to grant or withhold recognition to the new government.

In fact, the word is a way of distracting from one of the crucial jobs at hand. Trump, for example, is on strong legal ground when he says that he is exempt from conflict of interest laws. But laws can be changed — and perhaps they should be. To achieve that requires making a case, not that what Trump is doing isn’t “normal,” but that it is a bad thing worth prohibiting by law. Saying “we mustn’t normalize this behavior” rather than “we need to stop this behavior” is really a way of saying that you don’t want to engage in politics, but would rather just signal to those who already agree with us just how appalled we are. And haven’t we learned already the dire consequences of substituting virtue signaling for politics?
Matt Yglesias has reached similar conclusions.“Normalization, in this context, is typically cast as a form of complicity with Trump in which the highest possible premium is placed on maintaining a rigid state of alert and warning people that he is not just another politician whom you may or may not agree with on the issues,” he wrote. “But several students of authoritarian populist movements abroad have a different message. To beat Trump, his opponents need to practice ordinary humdrum politics.”

Thursday, May 4, 2017


To become law, Trumpcare has to go through 4 additional steps:
1. Pass an amended version in the Senate
2. Go to “conference“ to hammer out differences between the House and Senate
3. Pass in the House again
4. Pass in the Senate again
I hope you’ll be there every step of the way, until Trumpcare collapses under the weight of its own cruelty.
Here’s what you can do:
11 days of congressional recess starts today. At this very moment, your Representatives are on flights back home to your district. Over the next week they’ll be holding fundraisers and working out of their district offices. As of today, only 5 members of Congress have scheduled town halls.
First, call on them publicly to have a town hall to explain their vote on Trumpcare. If they won’t, show up at their district office and give clear feedback.
When these members are forced to vote again on Trumpcare, they will look back to the responses of their constituents this week.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Truth and Criticism Rolls off of Trump

This is the problem: these media outlets refuse to actually empathize with his supporters in the sense of attempting to inhabit their subject positions. The liberal academic response to Trump’s election has been to promote books like Arlie Hochschild’s Strangers in the Their Own Land. While this is hardly the fault of Hochschild, the tendency among academics and liberal intellectuals has been to misread her analysis of empathy as an injunction to communicate with Trump supporters, effectively convincing them that they have something like false consciousness. An alternative has been to anoint J. D. Vance, author of the memoir Hillbilly Elegy, as the pope of the rustbelt. But rather than actually trying to empathize with Trump’s base, liberal cosmopolitans — precisely those figures they most detest — read these texts as novelties, exoticizing their subjects and refusing to understand the link between Trump’s populist strategies and his consistent support in large sections of the country.
It is not despite Trump’s lies that his supporters back him; we might go so far as to say it is because of them. What Trump’s campaign has done in a matter of months is remarkable. The discourse of “fake news” emerged following the alleged Russian hacking scandal, in which dubious headlines were widely distributed on social media, frequently originating from Russian sources. This was of course nothing new. Clickbait from the likes of Infowars and Breitbart was an admitted source of information for Trump, whether it was his insistence that Obama was not an American citizen or his claims that Muslims in New York cheered the demolition of the Twin Towers on 9/11. But here’s what’s so remarkable: within weeks of the term “fake news” entering into popular usage, Trump’s camp had already repackaged the term as the deceitful strategy of his adversaries. In other words, if the very concept was devised to describe potential Russian interference on Trump’s behalf, he’s completely transformed its meaning.
Now “fake news” is primarily used to describe any media reports Trump doesn’t like. When Democrats hear his bizarre rants against the media, they dismiss him as an irritable buffoon who isn’t competent to govern. Their critique is largely couched in the framework of a rule-bound formalism tied to the Democrats’ technocratic approach to politics. For the Democrats, the problem isn’t that the DNC is rigid, anti-democratic, and out-of-touch; it’s that Russians may’ve hacked our election. It’s not that Jeff Sessions is a troglodyte racist; it’s that he lied under oath. The official opposition appears more concerned with preserving some degree of decorum, not least of which is a presumed sanctity of the office, than they do with substantive political critiques of the Trumpist project. Indeed, there is nowhere for workers to turn at this point but into the arms of the populist wing of the GOP. Hillary Clinton disdainfully refused to visit union halls in key battleground states, seemingly unworried about the widespread perception that she was closer to Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan than the UAW or AFSCME.
Trump knows exactly what he’s doing when he violates decorum, and this is where Democrats and the corporate media miss the point. When NPR interviewed a few Trump supporters following the most recent press conference, a 69 year-old Mississippi resident’s response was representative: “I’m sick of them making up stories. You know, we’re intelligent people. We can make up our own mind on whether they’re telling the truth.” So what’s going on? In the press conference, Trump was quite clear: “The people get it [but] much of the media doesn’t get it.” Note the opposition of “people” to “media.” He continued, “Unfortunately, much of the media in Washington, D.C., along with New York, Los Angeles in particular, speaks not for the people, but for the special interests and for those profiting off a very, very obviously broken system. The press has become so dishonest that if we don’t talk about, we are doing a tremendous disservice to the American people.”
Even if Trump is consistently caught fabricating various facts and statistics, his supporters view fact-construction as occurring in a field of power organized between two poles. On the one hand, “the people” are aligned with their representative Trump; on the other, “special interests” associated with major urban centers and most of the corporate media, the Democratic Party, and the establishment corners of the GOP continue to lie to “the people” in order to retain control. Given the mendacious presidencies of both Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, as well as the apparent insincerity of Democratic candidates like Hillary Clinton and John Kerry, this isn’t such a stretch. When a party that purports to represent the American working class spends decades championing unbridled trade liberalization, the charterization of the public school system, and the destruction of the social safety net, it’s no wonder that critics of the status quo don’t look to Democrats for an alternative. Hillary Clinton represented a cosmopolitan, city-dwelling business class seemingly more interested in giving speeches on Wall Street than meeting with unions in key battleground states. Her very comportment screamed elite and aloof, and the Democrats weren’t deceiving anybody.

Who Are “The People?”

Meanwhile, Trump continued to take aim at the media, accusing them of distorting the truth. “But we’re not going to let it happen,” he remarked, “because I’m here again, to take my message straight to the people.” Trump would bypass the established system, interpellating “the people” in the process. This is precisely the project that political theorist Ernesto Laclau described as populism. Populist strategy relies on what he called a “double articulation.” First and foremost, populists construct a discourse around an antagonism between “the people” and what, borrowing from Poulantzas, he called “the power bloc.”[1] As Trump’s team would have it, this group includes Democrats and establishment Republicans, academics and cosmopolitan intellectuals, Wall Street, and the corporate media, all coming together in the figure of “the swamp.” The next day he repeated the refrain, tweeting, “The FAKE NEWS media (failing ‪@nytimes, ‪@NBCNews, ‪@ABC, ‪@CBS, ‪@CNN) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People!”
“The people” isn’t equivalent to the category “voters” or “Americans.” Note Trump’s consistent strategy of denationalizing anybody who might oppose him. Obama is the most notorious example, of course, with his exclusion from “the people” through repeated allegations that his birth certificate was forged. Clinton is excluded by virtue of her presumed criminality. Her use of a private email server was no less secure than Trump’s holding of top secret meetings in the Mar-a-Lago dining room, but by repeatedly asserting that her actions were “crooked” and insisting that we — again, interpellating “the people” — “lock her up,” she too was excluded from this category.
But the move is of course not limited to politicians. Entire categories are expelled from “the people” by rhetorically stripping them of their membership in the nation. This is why nationalism is so essential to Trumpism: the entire enterprise revolves around protecting the rightful space of the “the people,” which is of course an imagined national territory. If “the people” is read as equivalent to the nation, or at least occupying its territorial space, the project of “making America great again” requires expelling “enemies of the people” from this territory. (Despite repeatedly using this phrase, Trump does not appear aware of its historical ties to Stalin.) Muslims are the most obvious example, collectively represented as constituting a monolithic terrorist threat to the domestic sphere. From his campaign promise of a Muslim ban through the travel ban imposed on seven predominately Muslim nationalities, this is an active project of protecting a sanctified private life from imagined violent encroachment. Black crime and Black Lives Matter are likewise assimilated into a uniform figure, represented as an attack on police, who (pace Giuliani & co.) are themselves represented as a key preserve of American national power and as defenders of “the people” against domestic threats. This takes on spatial significance when Trump promises “the people” he will protect “our inner cities,” a phrase he deploys regularly, apparently unaware that city centers have seen a secular decline in violent crime since the turn of the millennium. Latinx are stripped of their membership in the nation, their ethno-racial identities transmuted into (inter)national ones. Trump’s attack on a Latino judge in Chicago made this quite clear: Latinx residents are to be associated with Mexico and Central America; the courtroom is an inviolable national space to be protected from this threat. Likewise, the shop floor must be fortified against the inauspicious encroachment of cheap labor from the South.
And what about queer and trans people? They pose a threat to national vitality on two levels. Most obviously we might understand this homophobia as a pro-natal jingoism, preserving the twin sacred spaces of the bedroom and the bathroom from queer and trans people, respectively. But we might also think of this bigotry as an obsession with American masculinity. If male breadwinners’ dignity and self-perceptions of masculinity were wounded as the rustbelt deindustrialized and as wages stagnated both absolutely and in relation to productivity, revivalist nationalism (“Make America Great Again”) allowed the deliberate articulation of “the people’s” collective feelings of self-worth to household economic fortunes. What Trump did for the people he did for the nation, for both of whom he promises to safeguard the sacred space of the home. In every case, these groups are denigrated not for their inherent inferiority (racism), but for the way they threaten a national space (nationalism), which in turn threatens household interests (class).

Capitalist Anti-Capitalism

This is how Trump has consciously tried to resolve “the people”/power bloc antagonism, and quite successfully, I must add. As his critics continue to wring their hands over his falsehoods, certain that the latest Washington Post expos√© will unmask him to his base, his reinscription of “fake news” as an elitist assault on “the people” has only gained him support. But Laclau wrote of populism as a double articulation. If the popular-democratic contradiction is discursively resolved, this is articulated to a second contradiction: class struggle. All political programs, Laclau insists, serve objective class interests. The key right-populist move is to resolve the popular-democratic contradiction without threatening the pockets of capital. And this is precisely what Trump has done. By the end of February, Bank of America stocks were up more than 40 percent from Election Day, with Goldman Sachs up 36 percent and Wells Fargo up 27 percent.
At the mid-February press conference, Trump declared, “We’ve issued a game-changing new rule that says for each one new regulation, two old regulations must be eliminated. Makes sense. Nobody’s ever seen regulations like we have.” Health, safety, environmental, and other workplace regulations are represented as “job killing” restrictions deviously implemented by representatives of the power bloc. In articulating the populist discourse of “the people” to the immediate interests of big capital, Trump has pulled off what the German historian Arthur Rosenberg called “a manoeuvre notoriously characteristic of populist nationalisms worldwide — namely, instigating a movement that serves the interests of big capital but appears anti-capitalist at public meetings.”[2]
If we might think of a certain collective ire as resulting from both the 2008 crisis and from a more prolonged tendency toward deindustrialization, Trump’s genius has been to redirect it from capital to the state, and more specifically, toward the figure of the professional politician. “I can’t believe I’m saying I’m a politician, but I guess that’s what I am now,” Trump told the press corps. Collectively these politicians comprise “the swamp,” working with their media henchmen against the collective interests of “the people.” He can thus nominate an Exxon CEO for Secretary of State without upsetting his resolution of the popular-democratic contradiction, as he’s defined the problem as emanating from state administrators rather than capital. Tillerson is an “outsider” in this conception. One appointment after another, from Betsy DeVos to the failed nomination of Andrew Puzder, abets big capital, without appearing to threaten the terms of Trump’s populist arrangement.
Given this suturing of “the people” to the interests of big capital, the liberal strategy of simply exposing Trump’s lies, pointing to his preposterously unscripted oratory, and hoping to convey some sort of “truth” as antidote to his base misses the point. For even if we were to win them over on this count — and we won’t, but even if we were — the left has no alternative hegemonic project in which it might incorporate them. From the Clintons through Obama, the interests of workers have been disarticulated from any populist project, with Democrats primarily running in a mode negatively defined: Obama wasn’t W, and Clinton wasn’t a fascist. But what is the positive project of the Democratic Party? The very fact that it remains unclear whether any of the Republican contenders were closer to Wall Street than Clinton, or whether the latest wave of deportations is of Trump’s innovation or is a holdover from Obama’s policies, leaves a vast vacuum gaping from the center-right to the far left.
Indeed, it wouldn’t be a stretch to pin some of the most egregious moments of deregulation, trade liberalization, and welfare retrenchment on the Democrats. We can envision populist Republicans demanding that a nominee be immediately ushered into office on behalf of “the people,” but such an utterance from a Democrat would be unthinkable. In shutting down Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Republican politicians represented themselves as a grassroots movement; but when Democrats do likewise, they come off as inept, merely going through the motions. As Christian Parenti put it recently (2016) in a brilliant analysis of Trump’s use of language, “Ultimately, the Democratic establishment brought this loss on themselves. They spurned and tried to sabotage Bernie Sanders and his class message.[3] Trump took the Bernie-style populism, emptied it of real class politics, reduced it to a jumble of affective associations, and used it to beat-up the smug liberals of the professional managerial class. It worked.” Without the Clintonism, there would be no Trumpism; without Corey Booker and Arne Duncan, there would be no Betsy DeVos.

Trumpism as Direct Consequence of Clintonism

Cognitive linguist George Lakoff (2016) gets the matter exactly wrong when he suggests that Democrats simply need to “give up identity politics,” by which he explicitly means “women’s issues, black issues, Latino issues.” These are “human issues,” he insists, taking the #AllLivesMatter line. Of course when he implores Democrats to address “poor whites” in the following sentence, he pretends that this doesn’t constitute precisely the sort of identity politics he had just rejected. Whites in his account constitute universal subjects. Bill Clinton should be the model, Lakoff insists, as he “oozed empathy.” In other words, the content of the politics is irrelevant to his strategy; the idea is to engage in a project of hegemony as deception.[4]
As he proceeds, he calls for Democrats to focus on “values” rather than “facts” and for unions to go on the offensive, pretending to know nothing about sixty years of business unionism, with comprador bureaucrats aligned with a party that has actively undermined working class interests since at least the 1970s. While Lakoff may understand why Trump’s rhetoric is effective, he hasn’t a clue what might be effective in riposte. Trump’s rise isn’t solely attributable to his particular brand of charistmatic authority. Trumpism is the direct consequence of Clintonism, and as such, to conceive of Clintonism as a resurgent strategy for the left at this point is to willfully ignore a quarter century of partisan politics in this county.
When the purportedly left-wing alternative hollows itself out to the point where we can no longer be certain that its chief politicians weren’t key players in bringing about the present crisis, we have nothing left to which we can win Trump supporters over. Even if they were to realize that the guy is a capitalist Judas goat, where else would we send them? To quote the late anthropologist William Roseberry, the point of hegemonic language is not to solidify a shared ideology, but instead to construct “a common material and meaningful framework for living through, talking about, and acting upon social orders characterized by domination.”[5] There’s nothing in the Democratic program that even approaches this goal, and indeed, the party has actively undermined workers, people of color, queer and trans people, and women since before I was born. Carter brought us Reagan, Clinton brought us W, and Obama brought us Trump. Until Trump’s liberal critics accept this fact, they’ll either continue their righteous denunciations of his indecorous transgressions, or worse, simply repurpose his strategy for a hypothetical left divorced from the working class √† la Lakoff.
This piece was originally published in the Berkeley Journal of Sociology

Monday, April 3, 2017

Is Sanders about to back a Warren candidacy?

They spend an awful lot of time together.

Appearing alongside Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Sanders said Friday that to simply write off Trump supporters was to fail to understand the issues affecting them—and the Democratic Party.
“Some people think the people who voted for Trump are racists, sexist and homophobes, just deplorable folks,” he said. “I don’t agree, because I’ve been there. Let us understand what’s going on.”
Even before losing the primary to Clinton last year, Sanders, an independent, has been a frequent critic of the Democratic Party establishment, claiming that it had become too accommodating of Wall Street and has lost touch with the U.S. working class. It was a theme he returned to during Friday’s sold-out event organized by his “Our Revolution” group.
Senator Bernie Sanders speaks at a Our Revolution rally in Boston, Massachusetts, March 31, 2017.MARY SCHWALM/REUTERS
“When we are competing against a right-wing extremist party who has an agenda that most Americans soundly and roundly disagree with, how in God’s name do they win elections?" he said. "And the reason is, in my view, is that the time is well overdue for fundamental restructuring of the Democratic Party."
He added: “We need a Democratic Party which is not the party of the liberal elite but a party of the working class of this country. We need a party that is a grass roots party, a party where candidates are talking to working people, not spending their time raising money for the wealthy and the powerful.”
During a day of appearances in the Boston area, Sanders also labeled Trump a “fraud.” And he returned to many of his core campaign issues, such as guaranteed healthcare for all Americans.
“If every major country on earth guarantees healthcare to all people and costs a fraction per capita of what we spend, don’t tell me that in the United States of America we cannot do that,” he said to loud cheers from the crowd.

Along with Warren, Sanders has been touted as an early candidate to earn the Democratic nomination and potentially run against Trump in 2020. Despite the fact that he will turn 79 years of age prior to the election, Sanders again failed to rule out a second bid for the White House.
“Too often the media gets involved in what I call political gossip,” he said in response to a question at an event earlier in the day at the EMK Institute, according to The Boston Globe. “The issue of today, in my view, is to try to address some of the concerns that I raised about a collapsing middle class, massive levels of income inequality, being the only major country not to guarantee health care. That’s what we focus on.”