While Back On Earth…

Renewable energy just keeps growing.  Moving into small town America.

If you had any trouble discerning that Donald Trump was a lying phony, if you knew nothing else, his nonsensical assertion of the war on coal and that the coal jobs were going to come back was all you needed to know.

As the great David Roberts, formerly of Grist and now of Vox writes:

I am pessimistic about a great many things, as regular readers know, but this trend is a source of optimism. Clean energy is going to seep into rural areas, where the Donald Trump voters live. It’s going to present an opportunity for economic development in places that badly need it. And as it spreads, it will gain cross-partisan legitimacy and economic clout, exerting bottom-up pressure on policymakers.

Millennials and Religion

TPM has a long form examination of millennials and their religious affiliation, or more importantly lack thereof.

As we had a very speedy change of collective heart on gay marriage from the 90s to now, religion is poised to have another another massive sea change as one generation expires and newer ones take their seat at the table.

Millennials will have to save us.  Thankfully there’s some evidence they will.  I hope, hope, hope they don’t disappoint me as much as my generation has.  Growing up in the 60s and 70s it seemed to me that my peers were as irreligious and dedicated to progressive values as I was.  But as they got older many of them got old.  By that I mean they became more like their parents and got religion and even became politically conservative, which to me is just crazy.

25% of the population are religiously unaffiliated.  That’s up from 5% in 1972.

They are now the largest “religious” group in the country and the only one growing in all fifty states...

In the 2016 election, the religiously unaffiliated voted 68 to 26 percent for Hillary Clinton and those who never attend church favored Clinton by 62 to 31 percent…

According to a recent survey from the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI), 39 percent of Millennials are religiously unaffiliated. In contrast, 13 percent of seniors said they were religiously unaffiliated…

According to a Pew study in 2015, 70 percent of Millennial Nones who were born between 1990 and 1996 say religion is not important to their lives; and they say they rarely or never pray. And 42 percent of the Millennial Nones say they do not believe in God. These are all larger shares than those for Nones of older generational cohorts.

That’s nearly 4 in 10 without religion, and growing.

It’s hard to see the kind of power grab the Trumpistas are contemplating, trying to cynically reinstate religious values by law as having any effect but a further degradation of religious belief.  Trying to take away choice or attacking marriage equality will only cause a backlash and hopefully finally kill the zombie that is religion as a political force in America.

The article posits that the growth of religion in the 70s and 80s was in response to the 60s, and by the same token the religious right co-option of religion has caused the backlash. That pendulum keeps aswingin’ don’ it?

The Race Thing

Heard a caller to Mark Thompson’s show on Sirius/XM Progress (good channel) last night and it crystallized this action/reaction/re-reaction paradigm we have going on regarding race as a political football.

The caller claimed to presently be a Libertarian who voted for Johnson and against Trump in this election, but had been a Democrat, even worked for Clinton/Gore in 1992.  His concern that turned him away from the Dem. column was identity politics and specifically that the “race card” is constantly being played, the word “racist” constantly being thrown out there.

Thompson, who is a black activist, did not engage him in any real way.  I think this election has frayed his last nerve and his ability to calmly discuss this is at 0% right now. He attacked instead, saying he didn’t believe the person’s claim about being an erstwhile Dem.  Thompson called him a troll.  Now Thompson gets a lot of trolls, but this guy likely wasn’t.  It made me think about what the correct response would be.

I think (I believe) it’s engagement and to find some agreed upon ground.  “You would agree there’s racism, right?” “Do you agree that when unarmed black people are shot dead, it’s at least partly racism?”, that sort of thing.  Reasonable people almost always agree on these matters, and you can talk from there. If not, they are a troll and likely either a racist or willing to brook racism, so hang up.

What we have is a political atmosphere where if a potentially racist act takes place, individual or systemic, then activists call attention to it.  Then those activists are called out by conservatives/conservative outlets, reflexively, to blunt the political power and negate the message of the activists.  Which only heightens the stakes.

At some point the word “racist” is invoked, angrily!

And the conservative responds with equal anger, claiming equal victimization “so we’re all racists who disagree with you?”  Then they go over the line and invoke reverse racism saying “Really, you’re the racists.”

And then everybody shouts and CHAOS!!

So frustratingly, (soooo frustratingly!!!) you have  gone from calling out racism to a he said/she said with both sides calling racism!  It’s another brilliant media manipulation by conservatives because then a lot of media backs away and says “bothsides!! no one right!!”

So it’s a trap.  There’s no way to avoid that trap except to call it out before it even happens. That doesn’t mean that activists need to be more cautious in stepping in and calling out situations that may have a racial component.  You can’t hesitate to do that – although granted it should never be done capriciously.  And by the way there are so many at any given time, that activists are spread quite thin, nobody needs to invent racist incidents in this country, even before Trump.

The answer is always to be calm and keep asking questions.  Individuals who are open to the message that there’s not as much racism as the activists say and the activists are the bigger problem, need to be asked:

“Which is the bigger problem, racism or activists calling out racism?”

“Should people just let racism go?”

“What do you propose they should do, other than protesting?”

“Why is it such an important matter to you that acts that may be racist are not called out?  Again, do you believe that more often than not when people are accused of racism they are being unjustly accused?”

“Is it that in your judgment that the activists call racism too much?  Well, how much is right?  Why do you judge them harsher than their targets and why is it important to you?”

“Isn’t it also identity politics, to call reverse racism and defend potential racist acts without the facts, as a counter-political act?”

If we agree that calling out racism is important and appropriate, and reasonable people do, then setting yourself up as a counter to the activists to become questioners of the activists is also identity politics – that trope is just hypocrisy.  We should always let the facts guide us on whether there’s actual racism involved in any instance. Can’t the broader public decide on that without some reflexive political backlash questioning the accusation.  If we’re being generous we could call it a dialectical equation of thesis/anti-thesis = synthesis, but it doesn’t feel like a process that adds understanding. It feels like obfuscation and cognitive dissonance for political purposes.

I think that if you remain calm and question their actual beliefs and motives you will either come to some agreement that their concerns are maybe not as well thought out as they thought.  You don’t have to accuse them of racism, or white privilege (although it’s the definition of white privilege to deny racism because you don’t see it).

The conservative trope that the liberals call all the conservatives “racist” is just a way to dismiss real racism.  Not “everybody” is being called racist.  Those people who are extreme enough to do so (and I don’t know any) are not given media time.

My bottom line is that one side is fighting for racial equality and justice, the other for a political point in the guise of justice and grievance. So how do you give equal power to both of them? 

It is the epitome of identity and grievance politics to reflexively defend people who may be racist because they’re you’re race and claim equal grievance in doing so. 

We’ve Seen This Movie Before

So a Republican gets into office after a campaign that was not in good faith, misleading the public on his nature and intentions, then targets the usual establishment Republican policy positions that he didn’t really run on, or even stated he was against, acting like he has a mandate after a contested election in which he didn’t win the popular vote.

His popularity naturally dips.

We go to war and the country rallies around him and re-elects him.  (Then they turn on the war and him, too late.)

Karl Rove sold George W. Bush as a “compassionate conservative,” a moderate who could work with people.  A guy you’d want to have a beer with.  Once in office they went hard right, lead by Rove and Cheney on domestic, foreign and social policy to pay back their conservative supporters.   9/11 exposed them further as narrow minded ideologues who ignored the warnings from the Clinton administration.  They made their own reality, or so they claimed, in initiating a neo-con wet dream of military actions.  They manufactured consent for the wars by manipulating the media the public and lawmakers with cherry picked intelligence.  Then after 4 years of failure, claiming, “hey we’re at war, you have to keep us on.”

Trump is a businessman who railed against foreign entanglements but is dancing around with a who’s who of anti-Iran, anti-Muslim, Middle-East hawks like John Bolton, John Woolsey and Frank Gaffney. In the meantime, he’s shown no signs of disavowing Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell, the establishment Republicans he decried during the campaign, as they gear up to privatize Medicare and pass a whole wish list of establishment Republican legislative items.

The track record says they’ll do trickle down on steroids, try to privatize and/or cut the safety net, cut regulations like a mad slasher and capture regulatory agencies like they did under Bush. Deficits, that are always the worst things in the world under Democrats, will suddenly not matter.  In other words, act just like an establishment Republican administration. Which will be unpopular with everybody other than the hard core Republicans out there.

So we’ll go to war to paper over that unpopularity.

Yeah, it’s early.  But why be caught by surprise?  These people never surprise us. It’s our fellow Americans and how they swallow GOP bullshit whole that always surprises/disappoints us.   I think underestimating American gullibility is probably done too.

It’s a Week Since 9/11

I’m still going back and forth between this must be some kind of elaborate practical joke and WTF!

It’s between, (1) she won the popular vote, there was massive voter suppression, possible cheating, ridiculous interventions by the FBI and Russia and people who voted for Obama threw all sense to the wind and voted for Trump for fucks sake; and (2) what can the Democratic Party do now to get these people back on the side they should always be on?

Between, (1) Trump was a unique candidate that has given false hope to a dying Republican party who will take a victory lap, overreach and continue their path to destruction, and (2) Obama was a unique candidate, the Democrats have more people who agree with them on policies, but they keep losing even in places where Republicans should be extinct by now, this version of the Democratic Party is not as bad as the Republicans, but it’s pretty bad, pretty inept and out of touch with their natural constituencies.

Between (1) we should have nominated Bernie after all, or (2) why don’t we have a younger Bernie?, or (3) damn the DNC and everybody who just thought it was Hillary’s turn, or (4) Hillary was great but her campaign screwed up focusing everything on Trump’s language and temperament – which didn’t move as many people as rational people imagined. They seriously didn’t know how to make a good smear ad.

Really – why didn’t they focus at least some fire on his conflicts of interest and the unprecedented nature of electing someone with no experience.  They never attacked his motives or sincerity – they should have buried him in questions about his motives and sincerity as well as his ugly comments and behaviors.

The Lee Atwater, Karl Rove, Frank Luntz playbook is about throwing doubt on the candidate’s positive attributes, even turning those positives into negatives.  The Clinton campaign never did it.  Never addressed people whose impulse was change at any cost saying there IS a cost.

Here’s a few ads I’ve thought of, the Hillary people didn’t:

  1.  Juxtaposing his overwhelmingly positive comments about Hillary before the campaign (he admired her very much, thought she was a great senator) with his hateful campaign rhetoric to show how insincere he is.  Was he lying then or lying now?  Bottom line, he’s a liar.  Show other lies, and Politifact ratings.

  2. As part of the 1st set of ads an ad where Hillary admitted that she made mistakes.  But the biggest mistake would be electing the most unqualified, inexperienced and dishonest candidate ever.  The only way to blunt your negatives is to admit to them and ask people for another chance.

  3. A simple campaign illustrating how risky it is to hire someone with no experience to do a job.  Nobody would hire a doctor with no experience, why do you imagine the most important job in the world needs no experience?

  4. Ads illustrating his shady business dealings and pointing out his massive conflicts of interest including deals with Russia and China and no post-election plan to put his businesses in a blind trust.  No tax returns, no transparency. He’s always lied about his businesses and he’s lying now.  He’s a bad businessman and he’s running a con now.

  5. They did one ad where he admits his products were made in other countries, but it was tape from David Letterman, too cute, too subtle.  They had no idea how to make a real smear ad that moves people.  They failed to ask the simple question how can you trust someone who says bring back American jobs when he uses Chinese steel and manufactures in other countries?

  6. Ads that tie Trump to the Republican establishment, showing that a vote for him is a vote for typical Republican policies – making him not as anti-establishment as he claims.  Make him just another Republican blunting the anti-establishment message.

The one thing that is for sure is that Democrats have to toughen up and use some of the techniques Republicans use to get your policies and opinions heard.


We’re Just Going to Have to Retire the Phrase “This is Bad” Soon

Because it’s all bad.  Read the WAPO article, all of it.  Our national security policy is being led by retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn and Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner.  Flynn is a nut who was fired by the Obama administration.  Kushner has no experience whatsoever in national security.  He’s a professional rich guy as he’s the son of a very wealthy New York real estate developer and he’s married to Ivanka Trump.

People with some credibility were brought into the Trump house of cards by Chris Christie when he was head of the transition team.  But all of those somewhat credible people are being pushed out of the basket of deplorables because of their attachment to Christie, whom Kushner hates.  Kushner hates him because Christie once prosecuted his father and put him in jail.  So all this time they were on the same team and Kushner suppressed his understandable grudge.  But NOW, now that they have the huge responsibility  to put together a government Kushner gets petty and starts throwing his weight around.

Former congressman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), a respected voice on national security thought to be a leading candidate to run the CIA, was among those pushed out of the team over the past two days, two individuals with direct knowledge said, in a series of moves that have added to the anxiety across the upper ranks of U.S. intelligence agencies.

The changes came as Trump met Tuesday with incoming Vice President Mike Pence to discuss Cabinet and top White House personnel choices. Pence last week replaced New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) as head of Trump’s overall transition efforts, and Christie’s associates — who had been Trump’s link to the GOP mainstream for months — now find themselves losing influence…

A former U.S. official with ties to the Trump team described the ousters of Rogers and others as a “bloodletting of anybody that associated in any way on the transition with Christie,” and said that the departures were engineered by two Trump loyalists who have taken control of who will get national security posts in the administration: retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn and Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner.

Eliot Cohen, a respected professional GOP national security voice, who opposed Trump in the election had indicated that professionals should get involved with the Trumpsters, you know, for the sake of the country.  But his interactions with the transition team have changed his mind.  He tweeted this:

“After exchange w Trump transition team, changed my recommendation: stay away. They’re angry, arrogant, screaming “you LOST!” Will be ugly,’’

“It was accusations that ‘you guys are trying to insinuate yourselves into the administration…all of YOU LOST.’…it became clear to me that they view jobs as lollipops, things you give out to good boys and girls,”

Obama’s Supreme Court Nomination was Stolen

I first heard Senator Merkley say this right after the election.  Dahlia Lithwick uses this language too and it’s absolutely the way to approach it.

The current Supreme Court vacancy is not Trump’s to fill. This was President Obama’s vacancy and President Obama’s nomination. Please don’t tacitly give up on it because it was stolen by unprecedented obstruction and contempt. Instead, do to them what they have done to us. Sometimes, when they go low, we need to go lower, to protect a thing of great value.

That seat took on almost apocalyptic stature for Republicans who supported their candidate if only for that one reason (and he wasn’t Hillary).  They should not profit from their actions.

I find it amazing that you could even find someone in 2016 who has been an attorney and a judge, at a level of achievement and respect sufficient to qualify for the highest court, who would look at the balance between their own personal religious value and the Constitution and make a purely religious decision on whether a woman has a right to sovereignty over her own body.  It’s rather depressing to think that even one Scalia existed, that there are more out there is crazy.  But it’s America.

Expect contempt for rational thought and deference to individual rights (unless you’re a corporation).

I am persuaded now that the only way to answer nihilism is with nihilism of our own.


Bannon is Unacceptable

Trump is a con man, the GOP are a party based on lies, fraud and voter suppression, the names being floated for the Trump cabinet are a joke.  But the resistance starts with Bannon.  Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley released this statement that all Dems should repeat in some way.

“There should be no sugarcoating the truth here: Donald Trump just invited a white nationalist into the highest reaches of the government. Bannon has boasted that he made Breitbart News ‘the platform for the alt-right,’ which is the politically correct term for the resurrection of white nationalism.

“Under Bannon’s leadership, Breitbart News created news sections such as ‘Black Crime’ and compared the work of Planned Parenthood to the Holocaust. Under his leadership, Breitbart News ran this headline following the massacre of nine church-goers at an African American church in Charleston: ‘Hoist it high and proud: The Confederate flag proclaims a glorious heritage.’ He called conservative commentator Bill Kristol a ‘renegade Jew.’ Steve Bannon bears substantial responsibility for the open and disgusting acts of hatred that are sweeping across our nation.

“After running a campaign built on inciting divisions and hate, Donald Trump has claimed he wants to unite America. Yet he has done nothing meaningful to stop the wave of hate crimes and hate speech he has unleashed, and now has brought that strategy right into the Oval Office.

“Donald Trump needs to forcefully denounce the hateful actions and efforts to intimidate people that some of his supporters are undertaking and rescind the appointment of Steve Bannon.”

We’ve had public servants in the WH and cabinet who were dishonest, inept, disingenuous and even incompetent, it always sucks.  But people like Bannon are different.  They represent un-American values of hate and division, an unabashed anti-semitic white nationalist.  In 2016 he is unacceptable in the WH. For his presence alone protests should be ongoing and unyielding.