Thursday, October 11, 2018

How I Miss the Era of Hypocrisy!

I have come to miss the era when Western politicians gave lip service to  human rights concerns.  Trump believes that human rights apply to him alone, and the rest of the world is rapidly finding the same rising tide of all sorts of bigotries: nationalist, sexist, racist and religionist.

Democracy, my dears, is in deep peril*.  It never was that perfect, what with power and money being the most addicting (il)legal drugs of all,  but at least in some countries the use of that greedy power was disguised to appeal to certain fairly commonly accepted social norms.  This is less common today.

Thus, we see tweets like this one, about the murder of a Saudi journalist (who had permanent residency rights in the US) inside the Saudi embassy in Turkey:

It's as if Jeffrey Dahmer was appointed to the team investigating his horrible crimes!  But only wet-paperbag idealists see anything wrong with that.   And, as Trump has explicitly noted, the Saudis are too important trading partners for the US to punish in any way.

But then the Saudis are our Best Friends Forever**, despite the powerful Saudi clerics' views on women's rights (nonexistent, pretty much), and the way petro-dollars are disseminating those views in many other countries.


*  Both because in the US (and certainly also elsewhere) voting  is suppressed, certain groups are disenfranchised on purpose and the voting results are often impossible to properly verify, but also because far too many voters are uninformed and tend to "vote the bums out" or want change for the sake of change, even when the new rulers will be every bit as corrupt and greedy.

**  This is not about the Saudi people.  The ones I have met have all been wonderful warm people with good values.  It's about the Saudi state and the form of extreme religion they uphold.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Lock Her Up!

A chant frequently heard at Trump's never-ending campaign-cum-victory rallies.  Initially the "she" to be locked up was Hillary Clinton*.  Clinton is still a popular target for the chant, but recently it was also applied to Senator Dianne Feinstein and might have been applied to Christine Blasey Ford who accused Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault.

So many crooked women who need locking up...

It has even spread to Canada, where the supporters of the right-wing populist, Doug Ford, for the premiership of Ontario, used "lock her up" about his female rival.

I Googled "lock him up," and found only the predicted response to the above chant against Hillary Clinton, where the resistance demands that Trump be locked up.  Thus, it doesn't seem to be the case that male politicians are routinely greeted with a chant of this type.

This makes me wonder if it's being an uppity female which needs stern punishment in the conservative minds.


* Note that she has not been charged for any crime. 

Monday, October 08, 2018

Too Extreme And Too Dangerous To Govern

 The blood in my veins ran ice-cold when I read about the campaign rally our sitting (yes, sitting!) president gave the other night.  He is always campaigning, sigh.

And that is NOT what presidents are supposed to do.  Still, he cannot survive without adulation or worshipers, and that's what those campaign rallies are.  Organized ass-licking in both senses of the word.

But they are also rallies in hate speech.  It's not too strong a term to use when the president of this country no longer even pretends to be the president of all Americans, but just a war-leader or cheerleader for the Republican Party and, in particular, its Alt Right segment.

David Neiwert makes the point which troubles me greatly.  I recommend his whole Twitter thread, but especially these two tweets:


It's not normal to have a president who is incompetent, ignorant, rude and outright sadistic.  It's not normal to have a president who spends a quarter of his time in office on golf courses and much of the rest of it either doing campaign rallies  (rah, rah!  Lock her up*!)  or scribbling vicious tweets to all and sundry, including to fairly ordinary and powerless people who happen to have angered him.  It's not normal to have a president who  takes advice from Fox News.  It's not normal to have a president who lies All.The.Time.

And it's not normal for the media to judge some Trump event a success if he didn't drop his pants to moon the audience.

I shouted the above two lines about what is not normal and what must not be normalized, because I am frustrated by our (and my own) inability not to start accepting the current state of affairs as the new-normal, where normal means that all conventions have been turned upside down, where normal means that a stubborn and selfish  (mental) child president just decides which rules and laws he will follow and which he will ignore,  and nobody can do anything about it, and where normal also means that behind the curtain the Republicans are rapidly dismantling the welfare state, democracy and most of the government (with the exception of the military). 

This should be particularly abnormal and acceptable, given that the current administration didn't win most of the votes, but acts as if it has complete justification to do what the fuck it wants.  And often it wants to stick it to the majority that didn't vote for Trump.  Indeed, the Trump acolytes love that sadism and appear to want to see Democrats suffer, even if they themselves end up suffering more.

That is not healthy for the country.  It's an illness which incubated in the right-wing political radio shows and then showed its first symptoms when Fox News was created.  It's now a raging fever made hotter and hotter by and other Alt Right organizations, and among its major symptoms is the belief that Democrats and the left are the true enemy of America, a far bigger and more dangerous enemy than any outside threat.  Note how this (and Trump's statement above) means that around half of the citizens of this country are not regarded as true Americans.

There is no cure in immediate sight.  If anything, the same illness, causing the objectification and hatred of "the other side" is showing symptoms on the left, too**.

But there are things we can do.  The most obvious one is to vote in November, and the next most obvious one is to be politically engaged in other useful ways. If you feel up to it, it might include trying to reach out to those conservatives who are not motivated by pure hatred and, perhaps, trying to find some common ground with them outside politics.***  


*  It's unclear if the acolytes still want to see Hillary Clinton (and probably all uppity women) in prison or if the latest round of yelling was about Christine Blasey Ford.

**  By saying that I am not engaging in some both-sides-do-it argument, common in the mainstream media.  No, the American right started the process, and when the nonstop conservative hate speech worked in both radio and television, the average Republicans' views began to creep rightward.  Indeed, the National Review, a very conservative political journal is now seen by many Republicans as not sufficiently conservative!

But after a few decades of the hateful propaganda, the responses from our side of the political aisle began taking similar shapes.  It's hard to see what other form those responses can now take, true, given that no compromises are acceptable to the kinds of Republicans the hate propaganda has created.

Still, the situation is truly lamentable, like an unhappily married couple kicking, punching, clawing, biting and hating each other while chained together somewhere where divorce does not exist.

As an aside, this is one of the reasons for the convention of comity in politics.  Yes, it can be idiotic pretense politeness, but its real intention was to force politicians to remember that when they interact with their political opponents they are dealing with human beings whom they disagree with and who might seem to them to be very flawed, but they are not dealing with vicious monsters from the deepest hell.

***  As one silly example, I noticed that several avid Trump acolytes on Facebook also spend time rescuing dogs and cats and so on.  So we might share some values.

And yes, I know that this suggestion will not get a lot of positive feedback.  I don't expect anyone to try to befriend the Stephen Millers of this world or the fascists, racists or sexists among the conservatives, just some more ordinary conservatives.

The alternatives to finding some common ground are not palatable in the longer run (secession?  political violence?).   But I admit that the chances of success in trying to find the humanity in each other across the aisle could be slim, and the thanks for that go to Alex Jones,, Rush Limbaugh and other insistent purveyors of objectifying hate speech.