QANON IS NOT ALONE

11 07 2021

DELUSION IN AMERICAN POLITICS, PART ONE: THE REPUBLICANS

 

 

The QAnon/4chan movement does have a certain level of humor and sophistication….but..

This has turned into a two-part series. It didn’t start out that way. I intended to write about the Democratic Party’s ruling set of delusions, thinking I would give a quick summary of the state of Republican delusion as an intro, but that is not what my muse had in mind, and She directed me to go more deeply into Republican delusions than I have previously ventured. (“Republican delusion” is such a vast. easy target!) So, this month, we will be examining the state of Republican delusion, and next month go on to the Democrats.

Before that, I want to give a short update on the “Citizens for Good Government” show/blog I did a few months ago. First of all, I did not understand the full implications of one of the group’s proposals, and opined that making it easier to recall public officials was probably a good thing. But the devil was in the details.  As I later understood, C4GG’s proposal would have allowed ten percent of the voters in a district to recall a council member, who would then be prohibited from running in the resulting election except as a write-in candidate. I think it’s extremely un-(small-d) democratic to rig the system that way. Meanwhile, there’s a lot of legal wrangling around C4GG’s petition, which at this point may be the subject of a special election in late July. This actually relates quite well to the “Republican delusions” theme of the show–Republicans like to claim they’re “strict Constitutionalists,” but in this case, as well as many others, such as a couple of recent Supreme Court decisions, they’re quite willing to bend the Constitution or even tie it in a knot if that’s what it takes to get their way. And Democrats? Tune in next month.

OK–goggles, air tank, wet suit, compass–it’s time for a deep dive into the murky world of Republican delusion. Read the rest of this entry »





WHY I DON’T HAVE A “SMART PHONE”

9 05 2021

I’m going to be looking at the numerous down sides of so-called “smart phones,” but I want to start by acknowledging that there have been benefits from them, as well. It’s not just the spectacular results of billions of people having a video camera and a way to share their recording with the world. We would be in sorry shape  without all those cute cat videos.  But, seriously–from the horror shows of murders by police to strange statements and behavior by authorities that would be comic if imagined in a satirical sketch, but that, as reality, expose their incompetence and venality, and sometimes cause them to lose elections, get fired, or at least be overruled. There’s also the millions of people who have been able to reach out for needed assistance, whether for their broken-down car or their broken-down self-esteem, just by reaching in their pocket and texting or making a phone call. Not having to search for a pay phone in the middle of the night or the middle of nowhere is a wonderful convenience. However, that convenience, and the ability to catch fools and felons in the act, comes with a higher price than most people recognize, and that’s what I’m going to be exploring in this piece.

Let’s start with the fact that the pay phones we no longer have to search for are now more or less extinct, which means that, when leaving home, in order not to be cut off from the long distance communication network we have come to take for granted, one needs to have a cell phone.

That last statement raises three of the themes I’m going to be examining: a more complex technology (cell phones) replacing a simpler one (pay phones and, for that matter, communication via sending each other pieces of paper through the United States Postal Service).  The second theme is our tendency to take easy, fast long-distance communication for granted, and the third is the way cell phones have become a must-have item if one is going to fully participate in our culture and economy.

I’ll return to those issues a little later, but let’s begin this exploration with some other concerns:

Read the rest of this entry »





A DEEP GREEN LOOK AT “THE NASHVILLE TAXPAYER PROTECTION ACT”

11 04 2021

updated May 7, 2021

Last month I wrote/talked about the similarities, and differences, that can be found in a broad spectrum of social movements, from Antifa and Black Lives Matter to working-class Trump supporters and Boogaloo Boiz. This month, to illustrate what I mean, I’m going to examine the Nashville Taxpayer Protection Act, an initiative supported by  a civic group here in town that calls itself..well, it doesn’t seem to call itself anything other than “The Nashville Taxpayer Protection Act,” or maybe its web addy, which is  https://4goodgovernment.com/ .  This somewhat anonymous group–not only does it apparently not have a formal name, but there is nobody named anywhere on the website, although Nashville attorney  James Roberts, who has, shall we say, a checkered ethics record, seems to be its primary spokesperson. Roberts and his supporters, including, he alleges, 40 individuals he identifies only as “downtown business interests,” want to limit Metro’s ability to raise property taxes more than 3% per year without a referendum. This was sparked by Metro’s recent 37% property tax hike, which, understandably, upset a lot of people in the year of The Great Covid Economic Collapse.

Small-d democratizing approval for tax hikes is certainly an idea that a left-wing populist would support just as much as a right-wing one would. Another measure “4goodgovernment” is advancing would make it easier to recall elected officials. (Note: I have learned since writing this that I didn’t fully understand this proposal. Apparently, while it makes it easier to successfully petition for a recall election, also forbids the recalled official from running in that election–in other words, 10% of the voters could, merely by signing a petition, effectively remove an officeholder. That strikes me as, to use a technical political science term, “dirty pool.” I emphatically do not support such a measure.) Other broad-spectrum populist proposals would forbid the city from amending referendum-approved charter amendments, except by another referendum. Others call for referenda on the sale or lease of Metro properties valued at over five million dollars, and for Metro to be able to take back any land that was given to a sports team that is no longer functioning. The one measure that a left populist would not support is the one that mandates that “No elected official shall receive any benefits at taxpayer expense without a voter referendum.” Although its wording is vague enough to be legally questionable, it is aimed at denying Metro Council members one of the perks of the job–Metro-covered health insurance for them and their families for the rest of their lives. Perhaps in response to this, Metro recently voted to shift much more of the expense onto the former council members. While those who win Metro Council elections tend to come from the portion of the population that can best afford to pay for their own health insurance, this stricture seems rather gratuitous, since paying for the health insurance of current and former council members takes up 0.034% of Metro’s budget. Yeah, that’s right. Thirty-four thousandths of Metro’s budget.

So these proposals, to be voted on separately, are what this referendum drive is about. We will be examining how, and why, we finance local government , as well as looking at what makes this proposal right-wing populism rather than left-wing populism, and, to take things into the “deep green” realm, considering the how and why of the “value” of the land and buildings that are the basis of that financing. But I am going to start at “the surface,” by looking at what The Nashville Taxpayer Protection Act proposes, the political and economic philosophy of those who are proposing it, and, of course, why Metro Nashville’s government is utterly horrified by it. Read the rest of this entry »





DIVIDED, WE FAIL

14 03 2021

I promised in January to take a “deep green look” at the Capitol riot. In February, the weather intervened, and so now we’re looking at the Capitol riot from two months out. I’m glad to have had that time to put it in perspective, because the more I examine the riot, and its roots, the more I understand the devious ways our ruling class works to keep us divided and at each other’s throats, rather than united and going after theirs. That may seem like an odd conclusion to reach about a bunch of right-wing Republicans making a clearly hopeless attempt to prevent the formal recognition of right-wing Democrat Joe Biden as our duly elected President. Understanding the connections I am going to make involves nuanced thinking, at a time when we are being heavily propagandized to see events, people, and beliefs as either good or bad–not that that propaganda campaign is new. The only way to keep from being taken over is is to take active control of our own minds.  Widespread ignorance of our ability to do this is the main reason why so many Americans are so easily hoodwinked by lying politicians and media–and I’m not just talking about Republicans and Fox News. Adam Schiff, MSNBC, and a whole lot of other “liberal”  people and news outlets, I’m lookin’ at you.

I’m not going to pay much attention to the second Trump impeachment and all the questions around that, because I think that focusing on Trump misses the point that what happened is not some weird anomaly that can be prevented from ever happening again if only we disqualify Trump from ever running for office again. I’ve pointed out plenty of times that he’s a symptom, not the source of the problem, and that, absent Trump, our diseased system will just present us with somebody a lot like him, but who has learned from his mistakes, and who will be that much harder to stop.

So, why do we have a society in which the Capitol riot was the logical next step for so many people? I think the proper place to start is with some statistics about income that I ran across on Charles Hugh Smith’s Of Two Minds blog, summarized in this chart, which, for the benefit of my radio audience shows “a relentless 50-year decline in wages’ share of the economy’s total income” from a high of nearly 52% in the early 1970’s to its current low of 43%.

Here’s what Smith has to say about the meaning of the decline:

1. Wages’ share of the national income has continued a five-decade downtrend. …. National income since 1973 has shifted from labor (wages) to capital and more specifically, to debt and speculative gaming of the system, a.k.a. financialization.

Total household income in the U.S. in 2018 was $17.6 trillion. The decline in wages’ share of the national income from 1973 to 2018 is about 8.5%, which equals $1.5 trillion, the sum shifted from labor to capital every year.…..

No, this is not a typo….. $50 trillion has been siphoned from labor (the lower 90% of the workforce) to the Financial Aristocracy and their technocrat lackeys (the top 10%) who own the vast majority of the capital (i.e., stocks)….


2. Within the workforce, wages have shifted to the top 10% who now earn 50% of all taxable income. ….. Financialization and globalization have decapitalized the skills of entire sectors of the workforce as automation and offshoring reduced the human capital of workers’ skills and experience and the value of their social capital. When the entire industry is offshored, skills and professional relationships lose their market value.

In a fully globalized economy, every worker producing tradable goods/services is competing with the entire global workforce, a reality that reduces wages in high-cost developed nations such as the U.S.

Financialization has heavily rewarded workers with specialized gaming the financial system skills and devalued every other skill as only the skills of financialization are highly profitable in a globalized, financialized economy.

He then explains more of what this means for the average American in flyover country: Read the rest of this entry »





“WHY DO YOU SPEND SO MUCH TIME CRITICIZING THE DEMOCRATS?”

10 01 2021

First of all, I want to say a few words about last week’s events in Washington, D.C., and elsewhere, which occurred too close to show time for me to pull together a story about them. I see several underlying causes for the polarization that has had such gut-wrenching manifestations as what happened in Washington, and will have something to say about them for next month’s show.

 

As a Green,I get into heated discussions on Facebook and MeWe sometimes, and there are a couple of questions that the people I debate pose fairly often. I think they’re worth a response that isn’t written on the fly in the middle of one of those intense internet threads, where the format, in some ways, limits the level of detail and nuance that can be expressed.  Let’s face it–both Twitter, with its length limitations, and being on the internet on your phone, with its small screen, have the effect of shortening their users’ attention spans. That relates to a subject in that I’ve been meaning to address for some time–why I don’t have a so-called “smart phone.” For now, however, I want to focus on these two questions. They are inter-related, so I think it’s important to answer them together and show their connection.

The first question is, “Why do you spend so much time criticizing the Democrats–more, it seems, than the Republicans?”

The second is, “Why do you insist on voting for Green Party candidates who aren’t going to win?”

To answer the first question, we have to look at the overall political spectrum, understand what its two ends are, and locate the Republicans, the Democrats, and the Greens on that spectrum. The right end of the spectrum is anchored in the notion that the most important functions of government are protecting its borders and protecting the wealth of its citizens, or, in practice, the wealth of its wealthy citizens. On the left end of the spectrum is the view that government’s function is to ensure the wellbeing of society as a whole in its broadest, most ecological sense–i.e., human wellbeing seen as one facet of a healthy planetary ecology. This includes making sure that nobody lives in poverty. The most radical way to end poverty is, first, by redistributing the wealth and power amassed by the few, and then mandating that the best-paid people in a society cannot earn more than, say, ten times what the lowest-paid people in a society earn. Why should somebody who’s flipping burgers full time make less than $30K a year? What is a surgeon or a movie star going to do with more than $300K  a year? The wealth and power of the few should be, in the view of the left side of the spectrum, socialized–i.e., the wealth should be used for the benefit of society as a whole–and  the power, too, should be redistributed to create an economy based in democratically-run worker, user, and consumer co-ops, rather than our current regime of managerial dictatorship. Read the rest of this entry »





DON’T BELIEVE EVERYTHING YOU THINK

10 01 2021

This blog is called “Deep Green Perspective” because I do my best to look at immediate issues through not just a longer-term focus than they are usually viewed, but from a whole different, well, perspective. Here’s a metaphor that may help explain the difference between “long-term focus” and “different perspective.”

“Long-term focus” is pretty simple. It means understanding the historical context of events, including the extent to which similar things have occurred before, what kind of trend they are part of.

“Different perspective” is a little more complex. Let’s approach it this way:

If you stay on the ground and look at the world around you, you are essentially viewing it as if it were flat. What is close to you looks big. What is further away seems smaller. What’s behind that house? You can’t tell. But, if you climb a tower, or ascend in a balloon, your view of the landscape changes dramatically. It’s all down there, and you’re up here, aware of it all, but not engulfed in it. I think it’s important to maintain that perspective on “the news”–to be aware of it without being taken over by it. Doing that takes a certain amount of learning–an intellectual understanding what the helpful techniques are, and enough self-discipline to practice them regularly enough to get them down–like playing a musical instrument, riding a bicycle, or getting good at basketball. This post is an attempt to lay out the basic technique I use in order to not be emotionally overcome by the fascinating swirl of daily headlines and lead stories.

It wasn’t my idea to write this down, however–I was asked. My wife and I were having a conversation on the subject, and she so appreciated what I said that she asked me to put it in writing so she could share it with some of her friends, and so I did. That was several months ago. Now, the start of a new year seems like the right time to offer something deeper than who done what to whom and what the results were, or may be. So, here goes…. Read the rest of this entry »





Top 10 Ways Neera Tanden Has Been Misunderstood

13 12 2020

 

This is a guest post by David Swanson.

When Neera Tanden emailed her colleagues in support of forcing Libya to pay for the privilege of having been bombed, many misunderstood, including one of her colleagues who emailed back objecting to creating what he supposed was an obvious financial incentive for bombing more countries.

Now that Tanden has been nominated for high office and will face confirmation hearings in the U.S. Senate, we have an obligation to get this right. The top ways in which Tanden has been misunderstood are:

  1. Tanden had already supported bombing Libya. The damage was done. It was her responsibility to find some source of funding to pay for it, and she was simply not as free as you ordinary schmucks might be to propose taxing billionaires or corporations because she was running a think tank funded and controlled by them.
  2. Tanden actually got the idea from a handful of deranged Republicans, and there is nothing whatsoever more respectable than right-wing figures labeled leftists in the media seeking common ground with right-wing figures labeled right-wing in the media. You can’t complain about the shortage of such outreach and then object when it happens!
  3. Libya at this point was becoming a hell on earth, a weapons bizarre bazaar, a host to open-air slave markets. No money left in Libya was possibly going to be used for anything good or decent. It was far more moral and sensible to try to steal some of Libya’s money to fund the government that had brought Libya to that state.
  4. Tanden’s scheme, surpassing your miserable understanding, was to give oil profits a bad name without offending the brutal oil dictatorships funding her think tank. But you had to pretend you understood these subtleties and stick your nose in and muck it all up with your tree-hugging bleeding-heart opposition to incentivizing bombing people. Didn’t you?
  5. the rest of the post    

Rolling Stones “Cool, Calm, Collected

Jefferson Airplane, “Greasy Heart

 





RE-ELECTING HERBERT HOOVER

13 12 2020

Suppose that, in 1932, in the depths of The Great Depression, a fascist demagogue had contested Herbert Hoover’s re-nomination as the Republican Presidential candidate, and succeeded, thrusting Hoover aside? Suppose, in 1932, the Democrats had decided that, with the country in such perilous shape, New York Governor Franklin Roosevelt’s proposals for social programs and some kind of pie-in-the-sky “New Deal” seemed just a little too, well, socialist? So, instead of nominating Roosevelt, who was wildly popular, the Democratic leadership smeared him as “Moscow’s favorite,” and gave the party’s nomination to Hoover, endorsing his conservative strategy of stimulating the economy by offering financial stimuluses to banks and large businesses, and avoiding large-scale government handouts to impoverished families and individuals. Suppose that, in spite of their disappointment with this choice, a majority of Americans voted for Hoover over the demagogue, even as they hoped that Hoover, once in office, would see the wisdom of Roosevelt’s approach? Does this scenario sound at all familiar?

(Photo by William Thomas Cain/Getty Images)

I’m not going to take that metaphor too much further, but what I will do in this essay/talk is lay out some of the many ways Biden has always had fairly Republican policy goals and intentions,look at the conflicts this will engender and whether they might cause any kind of reassessment, and try to lay out a scenario or two about where all this could be leading us.

So, here we are. We’ve just re-elected Herbert Hoover, er, elected Joe Biden. In  either case, we’re looking at a President whose policy priorities are Republican. I’m not the only one who sees that–there’s a whole website devoted to demonstrating its truthThat website starts with his record on Social Security, and goes on from there:

  • 1983 Joe Biden floats the idea of raising the retirement age.

  • 1984 Joe Biden partners with Republicans to co-sponsor a freeze on social security.

  • 1995 Joe Biden says he’s tried four times to freeze Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and veterans’ benefits.

  • 1995 Joe Biden votes for Balanced Budget Amendments that cut Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and veterans’s benefits

  • 1996 Joe Biden floats the idea of chained CPI cuts to Social Security.

  • 1997 Joe Biden votes again for Balanced Budget Amendments that cut Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and veterans’ benefits.

  • 2007 Joe Biden brags that he’s proud of his support for a Social Security age increase.

  • 2007 Joe Biden tells NBC’s Meet the Press that cuts to Social Security and Medicare should “absolutely” be on the table.

  • 2018 Joe Biden says Social Security and medicare “still need adjustments.”

So, we have a President who, while spouting rhetoric about making things better, seems firmly committed to doing things that will make matters worse. The country is incredibly polarized, not just between the privileged few and the dis-empowered many, but between those whose response to our difficulties is to retreat into authoritarianism (as long as the authority shows some deference to them), those who envision a better way, and those who want to stick with what we’ve got because it would work if you ne’er-contents would just stop your complaining and drop your perfectionism and be grateful for what you get. Yes, that’s a three-way polarity. American politics tends to be extremely bipolar, but reality does not, which may help explain why our political system seems so poor at figuring things out. Read the rest of this entry »





Whatever Happened To Left Solidarity?

8 11 2020

A few months ago, a letter signed by a large number of prominent Americans who are considered “leftists” was published on the Common Dreams website, urging the Green Party not to run a Presidential candidate this year. The article was widely reprinted, but,to their great discredit, neither Common Dreams nor the vast majority of the sites that reposted the letter were wiling to publish Green Party Presidential candidate Howie Hawkins’ response. In the wake of an election that is clearly not going to be the rout of Trump and the GOP that many liberals were hoping for, and may even end in Trump’s re-election, I think it’s worth revisiting Howie’s response. In the second part of the show, I’ll offer my own observations on our post-election situation.

(note:  Because I made some edits to this in order to improve its clarity, I am printing the whole article on my blog, rather than publishing a teaser here and linking to the body of the text. You can find the original here and here.)

By Howie Hawkins

In 2004, a number of prominent progressives issued statements calling on people to vote for Democrat John Kerry in the close states and the Green Party candidate in the so-called safe states where the outcome would not be close. In 2020, many of these same people have moved further to the right and now call for a vote for Biden without any support for a Green vote in the so-called safe states.

In 40 states, the vote for the Green presidential ticket determines whether the Green Party retains or gains ballot line for the next election cycle. In most states, it’s 1%, 2%, 3%, or 5%. But there is no support for the Green Party this year from these progressives. What happened to left solidarity? Read the rest of this entry »





AND THE WINNER OF THE UNPOPULARITY CONTEST IS……

8 11 2020

As Donald Trump prepares to have his servants pack his bags and sends scouts out to locate a nice villa in Brazil, there are a couple of distinctions and numbers in which he can take some satisfaction. One is that he won the unpopularity contest, not just for this election season, but, at least so far, for all time: a record-breaking seventy-three million Americans, and counting, do not want him to be President any more. On the other hand, he can take some comfort in being the third most-popular Presidential candidate in American history, and the most popular Republican Presidential candidate of all time,  with only Biden this year and Obama in 2008 ahead of him, as the votes of a not-quite record-breaking sixty-nine million, and counting, Americans, attest.That’s eight million more votes than he received in 2016. But Biden, um, scared up the support of eleven million citizens who hadn’t voted in 2016–or should we say Trump scared them up for Biden?

It’s worth noting that the real winner of the election was “neither of the above.” Election turnout is estimated at around 67%, which means that eighty million eligible voters didn’t vote, down from a hundred million in 2016. That’s the base we in The Green Party are attempting to tap into. We’ve got a long way to go. Howie Hawkins received around 330,000 votes, making him a very distant fourth in the Presidential race. Considering the complete media blackout and the big push to hold your nose and vote for Biden, even in “safe” states, that’s actually pretty good, far better than the Green Party did in the years between Ralph Nader and Jill Stein.

Speaking of he Green Party…I just played “Solidarity Forever,” and I have no doubt that, if any Democrats who know me bother to read or listen to this, they are shaking their heads in disgust, saying I’ve got some nerve playing “Solidarity Forever” after stiffing all their arguments, pleas and threats to me to get in their One Big Tent and vote for their candidate. So many other “leftists” and “socialists” did, after all! What’s wrong with me? Am I some kind of privileged purist? Read the rest of this entry »








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