The Brazil Outrage Continues

Posted in Uncategorized on April 25, 2016 by The Management

Glenn Greenwald on Brazil:

So to summarize: Brazilian financial and media elites are pretending that corruption is the reason for removing the twice-elected president of the country as they conspire to install and empower the country’s most corrupted political figures. Brazilian oligarchs will have succeeded in removing from power a moderately left-wing government that won four straight elections in the name of representing the country’s poor, and are literally handing control over the Brazilian economy (the world’s seventh largest) to Goldman Sachs and bank industry lobbyists.

Check out the full article for details.

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Things to Know. . .

Posted in Uncategorized on April 22, 2016 by The Management

The Death of White Male Supremacy: How to Understand the Donald Drumpf Phenomenon

Posted in Uncategorized on April 12, 2016 by The Management

When an idea is threatened with death, it’s just like any frightened animal:  it hisses, snarls, writhes, shrieks and attacks with all its might, sometimes even with its last breath.  The bigger the animal, the more ferocious and dangerous it becomes in a losing battle.  No matter how previously civilized it may have been, in its last throes it becomes an utter beast.  Woe be unto she who crosses its path.

White (male) supremacy is an idea that has been around for centuries.  Historians would probably argue over precisely how long, whether since the start of African colonialism or perhaps further back, say during the Crusades.  Regardless, it’s an old idea, and a big one, firmly entrenched in the soil of our culture’s garden like an ancient, gnarled tree.  Or, to avoid mixing metaphors: it’s a giant, senile elephant of an idea, and the townsfolk have come to euthanize it before it kills any more villagers.

The idea in its most basic form says this: White males enjoy the unique — and in many cases divine — right to shape and control human destiny as they see fit.  All other humans — the “lesser” races and women, chiefly — are innately subject to their will, and any challenges to this position are inherently illegitimate.  It’s a doozy of an idea, but it’s also, essentially, how Western culture has operated over the last millenium or so.

It’s an idea that, in the United States of America, has undergone various transformations.  It began in its most barbaric form of slavery, where black people were literally seen as inhuman.  It has shifted since then, through Reconstruction and sharecropping to the Jim Crow era and resultant Civil Rights movement of the 1960s.  Shortly after black people were finally granted their constitutional rights it shifted yet again, taking its most insidious form to date in Nixon’s War on Drugs, which has literally lasted almost half of a century.

And make no mistake: the War on Drugs is every bit a form of White Male Supremacy as was Jim Crow and slavery before it.  It has had to go undercover since outright racist language is no longer morally acceptable — we should give ourselves credit for that as a nation.  But the problem with learning about how outrageously terrible things used to be is that it tends to distract us from how outrageous circumstances still are.

When brown people (especially men) are arrested, tried, convicted and incarcerated at incredibly disproportionate rates to white people,* you can be sure that there is an overarching method to the madness.  It’s not accidental that crack was criminalized more severely than powder cocaine.  It’s not accidental that police patrol inner city “ghettoes” instead of middle-class suburbs, where just as many white kids are using and selling drugs.  It’s not accidental that when arrested, prosecutors press charges against blacks and latinos while releasing white detainees to a disproportionate degree.  None of this is an accident — it’s white supremacy.  Black Lives Matter is only the long-needed response to this exceedingly ugly societal truth.

So what does this have to do with the Great Donald Drumpf?  Well, his overt racism and bigotry — and not only the bigotry itself, but the vast public support for it — is what you get when the last remnants of White Male Supremacy flail about frantically in order to avoid the writing on the wall.  When everything they know about how the world works and is supposed to be organized is yanked out from under them, they have nowhere else to turn but to a rich, arrogant strongman who is promising to make everything as great as it used to be.**  This is where the comparisons to Hitler usually enter the picture, and they’re not entirely unfounded.

But this is how to most accurately view the Drumpf phenomenon: as the culmination of a process long in development, one that had sadly stalled out after the monumental achievements of the 60s but is now ready to reassert itself as a new generation, born during the War-on-Drugs era of the 70s and 80s, finally reached full maturity.  That process has a name: the unequivocal slaying of White Male Supremacy.

Obama’s election jump-started the process out of its slumber, and the unprecedentedly obstructionist Obama-era GOP party is just one more manifestation of the death throes of White Supremacy.  It was all building to the shameless obscenity we’ve been subjected to over the last several months, and we only have to brave it for a little while longer before it’s safely laid to rest in the blood-soaked ground where it fought its last battle.

And that’s the upside when looking at the Drumpf phenomenon through this lens: it’s fundamentally hopeful.  This is not how things will be from now on, it’s the end of how things were.  It’s messy and it could get messier, sure, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel.  This wild elephant of a beast is bleeding out, and while you don’t really want to get too close to it while it’s thrashing about, all we have to do is wait and keep jabbing it with our millions of spears in order to finish it off for good.  It will die, there’s no question of that.  We just have to protect against a murderous rampage in the meantime.

 

 

 

*Despite making up about 25% of the population, blacks and latinos make up 58% of prisoners (NAACP).

**If you doubt this, ask a Trump supporter what he/she precisely means by “Make America Great Again,” and  ask yourself what their answer means for non-white people.  If possible, try to find out what time period they’re talking about as the ideal period to go back to, and gently remind them what life was like for non-white people during that era.

Things to Know. . .

Posted in Drumpf, GOP, Politics on April 4, 2016 by The Management

TONIGHT (3/25/16): Chomsky, Snowden and Greenwald — A Conversation on Privacy

Posted in GOP, Politics on March 25, 2016 by The Management

I beg you to watch this instead of March Madness.  Brought to you by the invaluable The Intercept  (Glenn Greenwald’s new project).

Here’s the link.

This Idea That Bernie is Somehow Making Hillary More Liberal. . .

Posted in Politics on March 21, 2016 by The Management

You frequently see this concept floated in the dozens of monthly thinkpieces, oftentimes even plainly stated as if it’s somehow incontrovertible that Bernie’s campaign will “at least” result in Hillary having to adopt some of his platform for her general election run.  Like he’ll rub off on her or something.

The problem is that it’s utter bullshit, and it betrays whichever you think is better: a) a smarmy, patronizing disingenousness, or b) a frightening and shameful naivete conerning the reality of 21st century politics.  If you haven’t learned the pandering game by now, you were either born yesterday — I mean literally that you’re young and forgivably ignorant, born in the last twenty years or so — or you have been viewing political proceedings through a blindfold for the last few decades.

It’s a phenomenon that everyone old enough and aware enough has seen before: primary season is for the base, so the candidates go extreme to the ends of their respective spectra.  (Incidentally, on the Republican side, years of this pandering to the most extreme elements has finally culminated in the ongoing disgrace that is Donald Drumpfism.)  Then, once they have the nomination sewn up, they perform the notorious Pivot, where they essentially abandon their base — they shift their pandering from their base to the newly interested moderates, independents and undecideds.

There’s nothing controversial here.  It’s widely acknowledged, accepted and excused.  It’s even difficult to meaningfully argue that it should be any different.  It’s just the way our political process works.  Without spending too much time to check I would imagine it has worked this way for decades, even generations.

In this context then, everything Hillary is saying right now is more liberal by several degrees than what she will be saying in a few months.  Depending on which Hillary you accept as “real,” it’s more liberal than what she actually believes.  Her record definitely indicates that she is much more conservative than she has been sounding around Bernie.  Regarding foreign policy, she is as hawkish as most Republicans.  Regarding Wall Street. . . well, I think people who have been paying attention pretty much know what we’re getting with Hillary and financial regulation.  Regarding criminal justice, the two biggest factors I can see are her support for her husband’s horrendous reform bill 20 years ago, and the fact that she received about $130,000 from the private prison lobby (which she has since returned, likely as part of her pandering efforts once it got exposed).

In fact, Hillary is actually only “progressive” in a few domains, at least in the sense that many progressives understand the word.  One of these is health care, where she likes to trumpet her efforts in the 1990s to pursue Universal Health Care.  She has backed off that goal considerably since then, which is almost certainly related to her accepting millions of dollars in donations from the pharmaceutical and insurance industries since her first Senate run in 2000.  If you asked her about the correlation I’m sure she would deny it in mock outrage, just as she accused Bernie of “impugning (her) character” with relation to Wall Street donations.  Impugning character, or stating a fact and then drawing a logical conclusion from that fact?  You say tomato, I say to-mah-to.

With regards to health care these days, Hillary is only “progressive” in the sense that she doesn’t want to repeal Obamacare.  In other words, she’s not a rabid industry shill like the batshit insane GOP, so she’s therefore liberal.  That’s a false dichotomy folks.  In actuality, the only areas that Hillary is truly progressive anymore are with respect to women’s rights, immigration, and gun control.  Of course her position on immigration is “evolving,” to quote the fashionable parlance, as just a couple years ago she was advocating for the deportation of child refugees from Central America, and just this year refusing to state that she would not do it again.  She’s still more progressive, however, than Republicans on the issue, and immigration along with women’s rights and gun control are admittedly significant areas.  But they’re not more significant than income inequality and starting wars, and in most other fields Hillary is barely distinguishable from one of the few remaining moderate Republicans.

So let’s consider this idea again, that Bernie will somehow force Hillary to be more liberal.  I’ve even seen arguments for him staying in the race until the convention just so the DNP will be forced to include Bernie’s items on their official platform.  In anything other than the immediate, temporary sense, this is obviously mistaken.  Hillary is wearing the progressive mantle like she’s a spokesperson at a photo op — she can’t wait to shrug out of it and relax at home in her center-right bathrobe. In fact, the pivot has already begun, with her speeches beginning to eschew progressive rhetoric in favor of attacks on Donald Drumpf’s divisiveness.

Regardless of how one feels about Hillary, the Pivot is something that happens with everyone, all but the most virulently ideological politician.*  Even the outrageous Drumpf has shown signs of pivoting lately, occasionally tying on psuedo-civil rhetoric to see how it hugs in the crotch.  Given this, everyone should know that Hillary, in the next few months, will become significantly more moderate.  Even Hillary’s opponents recognize how capable a politician she is, and she’d be a very incompetent politician indeed if she weren’t planning to pivot, and soon.  Exactly which of Bernie’s raging liberal policies do we expect her to take with her on this upcoming journey?

This would all be problematic enough if there weren’t also significant evidence that Hillary was never that progressive to begin with.  From foreign policy to prison reform, Wall Street and trade (where she supported the Trans-Pacific Partnership before Bernie cajoled her into opposing it, and after which she will almost certainly support it again)**, it is abundantly clear to those who care for facts that Hillary has only been saying progressive things for the last several months in order to appeal to Bernie’s voters.  When those voters are out of the way she won’t have to pander to them anymore, and she can go back to being her center-right self.***

The point is, Bernie is not pushing Hillary to say anything right now that any other liberal candidate would not have similarly achieved.  And the amount of time he remains in the race will mean precisely nothing come summertime.  Will some of the progressiveness that would have slid off her had he exited in March now somehow “stick” because he hung around another month or two?  Will Hillary, a highly intelligent, 60-something person suddenly realize she hasn’t been progressive enough her entire life, and engage in a reflective re-assessment of her political views?  Or will Hillary just go back to being the person she’s been for at least the last two decades and probably longer?  Which is more likely?

The root of the issue is that many choose to see Hillary as a liberal-at-heart who has to frequently disguise herself as a centrist in order to Get Things Done.  The truth, however, appears to be exactly the reverse: Hillary’s core is precisely how it has appeared through her actions for the vast majority of her political career; the leftist disguise is what she puts on every now and then, when she has to go trolling for progressive votes.  Actions speak louder than words, folks.

I understand the urge to seek a silver lining in Bernie’s demise.  Or perhaps it’s an urge for rationalization among Hillary’s more liberal supporters.  But the bottom line is that both camps are fooling themselves.  Hillary is and will be who she always has been: an ambitious, craven public servant who will say whatever the polls and her donors tell her to (but probably not in that order).  In other words: a superb politician.  And a superb politician don’t let no Bernie Sanders throw her off her game plan.

———-

*The astute among you will wonder: well what about Bernie?  He’d pivot too, wouldn’t he?  Not that it’s relevant — because the question is whether or not Bernie will somehow make Hillary more liberal — but I would bet against it if I had to.  Granted, we’ll never know because he’s not going to win the nomination, but he’s a guy who only adopted the “Democrat” label for publicity and has kept to his decades-long platform of Democratic Socialism with remarkable tenacity.  He would have little to gain and much to lose by trying to moderate himself in pursuit of centrist voters.
**By the way, on that Politifact article please note the dramatic change in rhetoric from her last available comment in November of 2012, until almost two years later when she knew she’d be running for President.
*** And just look what she’s saying about Israel/Palestine WHILE BERNIE IS STILL IN THE RACE.  Clearly a real human rights champion, eh?

Things to Know. . .

Posted in Feminism, GOP, Politics on March 19, 2016 by The Management
  • Glenn Greenwald discusses what’s truly going on in Brazil right now, including important historical context and the U.S.’s responsibility for the current situation.
  • A brilliant article by Eric Levitz of The New Yorker about why the GOP must answer for the disintegration of Kansas and Louisiana, the two states that have been laboratories of pure conservatism for the last several years.
  • Jason Linkins explains just why Hillary is allowing a failed CEO to host her fundraiser.
  • Kathryn Joyce reveals a deeply disturbing culture of male chauvinism and sexual harassment in U.S. national parks and forests.