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Number of posts: 10,696
Home country: USA
Current location: Holistically detecting
Member since: Wed Jan 27, 2010, 03:59 PM
Number of posts: 10,696
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We shy away from brash ideologically loaded terms like "fascism," because collectively we agree so seldom on when a political system has gone too far that we end up comparing everything to Nazis, and nothing really compares that well to the Nazis. They really went the extra mile in terms of horrifying the world. We may not see their specific brand of terribleness again.
But private money trying to undermine democracy? That's not any kind of special evil unicorn. That's common as dirt. It happens every day. We would be buried by private money tomorrow if we stopped pushing actively against it for a second. It's not unique. It's not even particularly evil, really, although its effects if unchecked certainly are. It's just a thing that money and power do to any kind of civilization.
Like Pinky and the Brain, the privately wealthy and privately powerful wake up every morning, drink some fine, strong Columbian coffee, and decide HOW TO TAKE OVER THE WORLD.
One thing we do have in common with Germans and Italians and everyone else who has seen their country go through horrifically destructive political paradigm shifts, is that we *assume things will never get that bad.*
We really do give ourselves the benefit of the doubt. We don't see jackboots in the street or hear bombs exploding above, and we assume things will remain within at least some modicum of sanity.
But that's not true at all. Radical things can happen in an instant, and THE MOST COMMON way is not through crazed painters shooting guns in beerhalls. It's with the stroke of a businessman's pen.
Of COURSE business interests want to force through a sweeping realignment of power, elevating "investors" to the level of nation states and erecting an extra-judicial system run by corporate lawyers to punish countries that interfere with "expected future profits."
It's what they've always wanted. And it's not like we don't see them trying to get there, every single day. It's what lobbyists are for, and lobbyists have all the business they can handle.
We need not to shy away from strong talk. We need to understand that secret international trade agreements are EXACTLY how things can go horribly wrong. Not a shot fired, not a jackboot in sight. But they can still take it all, and they will, and we need to call these massive power grabs out for what they are, and not be bored to sleep by the details, or cowed into not using harsh terminology.
“give them their way and they will take the course of every aristocracy of the past – power for themselves, enslavement for the public.”
FDR was no conspiracy theorist. He was reporting what he saw, and he'd report the same today if he was here to see this.
Posted by DirkGently | Sun May 3, 2015, 07:53 PM (2 replies)
Somehow, we have gotten to a place where people pretend unregulated capitalism is a core American value. Or maybe our religion or something. Like the Founding Fathers stood on Plymouth rock and shouted,
"Small government, low wages and no environmental regulations, for ALLLL!"
Didn't happen that way. No one anointed pure capitalism our National Way of Doing Business, and in fact, we have made our greatest strides NOT doing things that way. Busting trusts, banning monopolies. Breaking up businesses before they become "too big to fail."
Socialism isn't a dirty word, or un-American, and it's far past time we stopped letting people pretend otherwise.
Posted by DirkGently | Sun May 3, 2015, 04:07 PM (2 replies)
Our conversation in the U.S. is so dumbed down, we don't often get past people just shouting "socialism" as an epithet, with no articulation or discussion. We are simply supposed to think about Soviet tanks in the streets or little pink horned devils or something and dismiss it.
We're like kindergarteners here.
Meanwhile, the rest of the world's civilized Western democracies discuss and pursue democratic socialism along with other approaches, and talk about whether and how to solve social and political problems through a variety of normal, grownup means.
Generally, socialism and democracy appear to work well together, and do not involve standing in line for toilet paper or breaking rocks in a gulag. But we are so busy explaining to people that you need to pay "taxes," because you need "government," because that's how "large groups of people live together cooperatively" that we don't get to the finer points.
We're the rubes of the world, and for some reason, we're proud of it. We're like connoisseurs of ignorance. We consider it optional to even "believe" in things like the scientifically established age of the world or whether pollution is a good idea or a bad one.
This is why we need Bernie out there talking, eventual Democratic nominee or not. He can elevate the conversation, and he does not have the weight of the monied American establishment leaning over his shoulder shushing him, lest the dumb Americans figure out what's really going on.
Posted by DirkGently | Sun May 3, 2015, 03:09 PM (6 replies)
A lot of these discussions / poo-flinging sessions, here on DU and elsewhere, revolve around tension between "electability" (money and insider support) and "principle," (actually being right about things).
In fact, we often worry that obtaining power, and then looking after the interests of those with less power, are in direct conflict. Monied interests are thought to be necessary for a candidate to win, but those same interests expect protection and favors when the election is over.
It's the oldest problem in politics -- or at least if you're looking for a democracy of some kind.
But one of the possible antidotes to that dynamic is popular pressure. Many of us recall Obama insisting that the people "hold his feet to the fire." LBJ is said to have told MLK to pressure his office on civil rights, implying that he wanted to do "the right thing," but needed outside support to make it happen. To provide what we sometimes call "political cover."
You generate "political cover" with debate.
We also hear a lot of argument based on the binary nature of a two-party system, e.g., "If you don't support X Democrat, you are effectively supporting Y Republican." That's tiresome and a little childish in my view, but there is an element of truth in it as well -- if you really only have two choices, and one is horrific, anyone "better than a Republican" will do. That kind of lowering the bar hurts everyone though.
Two Democrats helps with both of those situations. If Bernie gets traction talking about things like not letting Wall Street screw over Social Security or more effective banking regulation -- areas in which HRC is found wanting by some Democrats, but where she realistically may feel a little hemmed in given the support she's received from big banks and financial interests in the past, she may suddenly have the political cover to disappoint the banks and take stronger progressive positions. Positions she can be pressured to stick to later if she becomes President.
Likewise, the "Agree with HRC or you're asking for a Republican President," line of rhetoric is dead, at least for now. It's not a binary proposition again until the nominee is decided. But even if Hillary wins the nomination, IF part of winning means adopting more Sanders / Warren-esque stances on core Democratic principles, we could end up with a Hillary Clinton that people not so fond of her positions now might like much better.
Frankly, I think that's why at least part of why Bernie's running. I love his positions, and will support him as long as he is a candidate, but I think his calculation had as much to do with giving Democrats the space to create political pressure / cover for Hillary to move left where she needs to as with a desire to be President.
If HRC is smart -- and I think she is -- she'll actually count that as a plus as well.
Posted by DirkGently | Sat May 2, 2015, 03:46 PM (0 replies)
It's the parties' actions that are too often the same.
What's being sold by an unfortunate faction of our own party is the idea that mildly less oppressive social policy is the only area open for debate. Fiscal policy; taxation; ownership; regulation of business -- that is intended to be taken off the table forever, the decisions made for us by the "real" constituency of our political leaders -- namely billionaires able to write unlimited campaign checks.
We are being dragged, an inch at a time, toward open ownership of government by monied private interests. This is where we get the sudden surge of wisdom that SS and Medicare are unsustainable, that home ownership and retirement benefits are not realistic expectations for working people in the days ahead. That maybe we don't even own small things like automobiles or computer programs or audio / visual content that we buy.
Everything will be a license, a lease -- a temporary right to exist, subject to the whims and greed of the real owners.
We are being dragged toward a 21st century serfdom, and too many of the people elected by us, funded by us, who exist and have power only through the sufferance of the people, have decided that things just don't work that way, and that elections simply determine who will be working for the financial firms and energy giants for the next little while.
It's not going to work, but the longer it goes on, the uglier the backlash will be.
Posted by DirkGently | Sun Apr 26, 2015, 01:10 PM (2 replies)
that anything mildly pro-worker or pro-equality is immediately labeled -- and not only by Republicans, we should note -- as "far left."
We had a local kerfuffle recently where a moderately progressive Democratic caucus took issue with a proposed Senate candidate whose signature initiative had been all about the need for "structural changes" to Social Security and Medicare, based on the usual complete lies Wall Street keeps pushing, which D.C. insiders have accepted as gospel. A "moderate" position, he said.
Maybe we should revive the real far left. Gin up some efforts to nationalize banks, cap private corporation's salaries, that sort of thing. Give the people in both parties a stalking horse so they can understand that things like a minimum wage and the most basic banking regulations aren't akin to "Marxism" and whatnot.
Posted by DirkGently | Mon Apr 20, 2015, 07:57 PM (1 replies)
In trying to triangulate a working compromise with people who have no interest in reasonable discussion, we were led to believe the "rare" language was to be about reducing teenage pregnancy with rational measures like intelligent sex education and access to birth control.
Instead, it was taken as a concession that abortion is evil, and the same factions Clinton was trying to appease promptly set about a regime of "abstinence only" education and conflating birth control with "abortifacients."
All along, we were dealing with people with zero concern for women's health or privacy, who at bottom just want to ensure sex = pregnancy = punishment for women.
We need to clarify forcefully and repeatedly:
"Safe, legal, and ON DEMAND"
Posted by DirkGently | Sun Apr 19, 2015, 11:02 AM (2 replies)
"Conscience clauses" use the same sick inversion of logic -- to permit people to hurt those they irrationally hate -- over and again.
They need to go, as do the "Religious Freedom Restoration Act" used to justify Hobby Lobby and every similar law.
Everyone's religious "freedom" ends at abusing or discriminating against others who don't share your views. The fact that a few demented people think their metaphysical belief system puts them in charge of everyone else's sex lives notwithstanding.
Posted by DirkGently | Wed Apr 15, 2015, 10:54 AM (0 replies)
Women have the right to abortion. There is no "20 week" exception. There is no, "Well, the idiots have now decided they 'don't buy' the science on fetal development, so they've decided to force women to undergo increased complication, expense and danger" exception.
It's just another attempt to imply that abortion is "baby killing," which it still is not, and to stop women from having abortions, which is still illegal to do.
The racist South did not want to accept that black people are human beings who can vote and go to school and eat in restaurants, and so raised all kinds of other "concerns" about whether people could pass poll tests, or pay a "fee," or, more recently, obtain enough proof of identification. The concerns are always lies, cutely tailored to imply that something is wrong with the target of the bigotry.
A poll test, to "make sure people are educated enough to vote." Which happens to impact the poor or the recently enslaved, who may not read as well, but whose rights are equal nevertheless.
A tax, which just happens to once again raise a barrier to the poor. The pretense is again that there is some other need or concern.
But the "concerns" are always lies and pretense. Racists and conservatives really just don't want non-whites or the poor to vote, so they devise barriers based on geography or the ability to drive somewhere or to be off of work in the middle of the week, or to put enough documents together to get the right form of ID. In each case, the "concern" being addressed is a facade.
And so now, with the misogynist anti-abortionists, we have so many new "concerns." It is illegal to impede the right to abortion, so we will add some thoughtful "licensing" requirements for clinics, to make them "safer." But that is a sneering pretense, like the poll tax or voter ID. The clinics get closed, the anti-abortionists get what they want, which is to find another way to deny another group of people their human rights.
And it's not as though this is some opinion of mine. Republicans cackle openly about their recent onslaught of "concerned" legislation effectively ending the right to abortion in state after state.
They're achieving illegal ends by (questionably) legal means, and they think it's just adorable, the way they can hurt people by subverting the law.
Before that, we had the "partial-birth abortion" canard, an invented procedure falsely implying babies about to be born were being "aborted." That was never really a thing, but the fake concern worked, restrictions were passed, and the camel's nose was under the tent.
Apparently this year's Jim Crow anti-abortion "concern" is the "20-week abortion?" As you note, there is no science or reasoning behind this new magic date that is supposed to again mean that nearly-born "babies" are being aborted, but as always, the ignorant, malicious bigot's "concern" is enough to accomplish the real goal of interfering with rights they wish to take from others.
This cutesy legislative concern trolling over abortion, which is not so cute really, because it will kill women who need a medical procedure to which they an absolute right, is the same trick, by many of the same people, and it's fooling no one, and it will end in shame on the trash heap of history with the rest of the bigotry and ignorance and hatred the world is slowly by surely tossing aside.
Posted by DirkGently | Thu Mar 19, 2015, 03:07 PM (0 replies)
What's weird about Jesus' message (and he never told anyone they were going to hell for not believing in him, by the way; that was the Catholic Church much later) is that it is largely at odds with the attitudes of the Old Testament. Love, forgiveness, and his No. 1 hit, "Do unto others," which is essentially a call for empathy, were not at all in the Yahweh style.
If you look at what American Christian conservatives draw on for religious support of their typically harsh, cruel and intolerant views, they are Old Testament all the way. Creationism, subjugation of women, condemnation of homosexuality; "eye for an eye" vengeance. Yahweh was the embodiment of the views of a harsh, warlike tribe.
Jesus, whether a deity, a man, or a work of fiction, helped the poor, healed the sick, fed the hungry, and asked people who had been wronged to turn the other cheek. When MLK and other civil rights leaders spoke about non-violent resistance, they were drawing on Jesus' command to "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you;" not the "Death to the first-born of your oppressors" god of the Old Testament. Racists and slavers argued from the Old Testament. Something about non-whites bearing the "mark of Cain." And Yahweh allowed selling your daughters into slavery of course.
These two paradigms are in direct opposition, and are embraced and interpreted in modern American politics. Christian conservatives worship an angry, vengeful Lord who demands intense cultural conformity. Liberals and more moderate Christians talk about tolerance and being their "brother's keeper."
Moreover, these two views are part of the cognitive dissonance of American Christian conservatives is that they claim to embrace the modernistic, tolerant views of Jesus, but in practice always return to angry Yahweh, who sent plagues to his people's enemies and demanded death for everyone from lazy churchgoers to unchaste women to unruly children.
American Christian conservatives would nail anyone talking about loving their neighbors or feeding the poor and healing the sick (for free!) to the nearest tree immediately.
Posted by DirkGently | Fri Mar 6, 2015, 09:54 AM (1 replies)