Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Join the Movement! Liberty League Manifesto

Reading about the origins and history of the Tea Party movement, it is evident why this reactionary, libertarian movement had such success, in its own terms and was able to paralyze the Obama Presidency.

Our Flag

Their Flag

There were thousands of people involved, organized only loosely, but marketed brilliantly, across the country and meeting locally.

The idea of the movement was not a centrally controlled ideology, like the communists of yore, but a decentralized faith in certain ideas--low taxes, low to no government.  It was animated by the government's decision to rescue the economy and bail out various irresponsible financial institutions which would pretty clearly have taken the entire American (and world) economy down with them as they collapsed.

Anyone who saw "The Big Short" or read the book knows how richly the credit rating corporations (Moody and Standard and Poors) deserved to die, along with some of Lehman Brothers, Saloman Brothers type institutions. Nobody went to jail, which is likely one reason Mr. Trump won in 2016. People were angry and President Obama failed to punish enough people.  It was like Gerald Ford pardoning Nixon--but this time people were not simply morally outraged--they had suffered and wanted revenge.

Now we need a movement from the other side, from the left.
Here is the manifesto, our shared ideas and goals:

1. We need a government run health insurance plan: Medicare for All, which anyone who wants it can sign on for. If commercial insurance companies can offer a better deal, go for it, but for those citizens who prefer it, the government will put you on Medicare.

2.Diversity, ethnic, religious and racial is good.  We think we are stronger, less boring and more interesting and vigorous as a result of those striving immigrants who invigorate our nation. This does not mean we do not believe in borders or we intend to offer immigrants a free ride (which, by and large, they do not ask for.) We have two problems here: A/ Those illegal immigrants who are already here.  B/ Immigrants of the future who wish to come here. We cannot possibly absorb a billion Indians or Chinese so we must limit the numbers, but we'll do this not by religion or even country of origin or even by the presence of family in the United States but by virtue of what the immigrant has to offer in the future or has demonstrated in the past. So a hard working Mexican who has helped build houses or skyscrapers for 30 years without papers has earned his citizenship.  We do not need rapists, violent criminals or even dependent unemployable immigrants.

3. Nobody should be harassed by the government or by commercial entities or by fellow citizens for things about themselves they cannot change if they wanted to--race, or sexual orientation. That doesn't mean we will pay for hormone or surgical treatment for sexual change therapy, but we will not allow these people to be harassed.

4. Abortion should be kept legal, but we reject infanticide. Where you draw the line is open to discussion.  Ideally, the government or private organizations like Planned Parenthood should be contracted to prevent unwanted pregnancies. Ideally, every 12 year old girl should be fitted with an IUD when she gets her HPV vaccine.

5. Government ought to promote the common good: Medicare and Social Security have been the two best government solutions to the problems of healthcare and support of people who have grown too old to work. These programs should be strengthened. In the case of Social Security its financial security should be guaranteed by taxing incomes beyond the current $118,000 up to $250,000 which will insure its financial health until 2050.

6. Eternal war should be abandoned.  We cannot and ought not be the world's policeman and we should withdraw our bases from Korea, Japan, Europe.  Our military should be a force which can intervene across the globe for short wars but it should not be built for wars of occupation or regimen change.  Laws should be written to foster responsible use of drones which are a cost effective way of projecting power.  The "war on terror" is no more a war than the "war on crime." It is unending and is, in its essence an ongoing police effort. We may need military forces to fight it but we'll need smart policing to sustain it. To that end police forces (like the NYPD) should be as important and well funded as the military.

7. Nuclear proliferation should be discouraged.
8. Climate change may or may not be real. It doesn't matter. We ought to behave as if it is, because economically, it will be a boon to our economy to shift from coal and oil to wind and solar and natural gas. Those coal miners are smart enough to build wind turbines and solar panels.

9. Science is the best way to approach thinking about problems like public health (which includes vaccines) and arguments should be based on evidence rather than fantasized "facts" which serve the purpose of the advocate.

10. Cows and Grass should not have votes:  Our government ought to represent the people who live within the geographic confines of our nation and the Constitution should apply wherever the country has an official residence, i.e. off shore possessions like embassies and Gitmo. To that end, the electoral college should be abandoned and state legislators and United State Congressman should be elected as our United States senators are elected: at large.  Representatives should no longer represent narrow interests of some Iowa county with more cows than people. We can render irrelevant gerrymandering by at large elections. But we ought to go farther, eventually, by considering whether our current state borders are dysfunctional anachronisms and we might think about redrawing our governmental precincts in a way which groups in a more meaningful way, recognizing the rural voters in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Maryland may have more in common than any of those voters have in common with Cleveland, Philadelphia or Baltimore.

There is the manifesto.
I'm working on the flag, but the image on top will be the main thing, maybe with a scarlet background. I'm working on that.

We need help. As Arlo Guthrie noted, movements can get started without leaders.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Wow! This is Just Like Celebrity Apprentice: You're Fired!

Hot damn! I knew this would get good. 
President Trump is just loads of fun.

He fires the acting Attorney General, Sally Yates, thereby providing her with the best line on her resume for ever more,  and setting her up for consideration by the Nobel Peace Prize committee and I'm looking for the youtube of him calling her into the Oval Office and shouting, "You're fired!"

He's just got to get Jeff Sessions in place who has no qualms about banning Muslims. He might ban Mexicans and rapists and atheists, too. Definitely, Mormons. Mormons cannot get a visa. They have multiple wives, which is okay, as long as you don't have them all at the same time. Just wait til those Mormons trying to come back into the country from their missions to Somalia or wherever, where they probably got radicalized and learned how to build bombs, just wait til they try to get back into the country. Joke's on them. 

The ban on people from Iraq, Syria, Iran and I forget which other trouble making countries is not complete, so it's not about being Muslim, because, after all, exceptions will be made for Christians, which proves this is definitely not about Muslims, just Muslim from the wrong countries, trouble making, threatening, Islamic terrorist Muslims need not apply. Which is, well, every Muslim from those named countries.

But Saudi Arabia, which supplied 19 of those guys on the airplanes on 9/11, that is exempted. So it's not about Muslims, but about terrorists. Got that? 

What I want to know is when Chuck Schumer heard Sally had been fired, did he cry?

Name Me a Democrat with Balls

How the Republicans have been howling with laughter over Chuck Schumer, "leader" of the Democrats in the Senate tearing up with impotent rage over Trump's Muslim ban. 

Trump himself, off course, could not resist pointing to Schumer as the quintessential Democratic wimp, leader of a party of wimps. 
And, for once, Trump was right.

This is why Trump will win a second term. This is why Trump will succeed. The loyal opposition is simply incapable of anything more than whimpering. 

Look at the Democrats. 
Schumer is not just a weenie, but he's a not at all bright weenie.  How did he ever get to be a Senator from New York, much less the leader of the Democrats? The fact they chose this jellyfish says more than enough about the Democrats.
I love Bernie and he once had enough balls to stand up to Trump and his gang, but he is seventy and tired and not a threat. 
Al Franken has never actually had a rapier wit, and is often reduced to calling people like Rush Limbaugh a  "big, fat, liar." That hardly eviscerates Limbaugh--on the contrary, more evidence of impotence...the eight year old's most emphatic insult.
Steny Hoyer is old now. Chris van Hollan is about as bold as George Plimpton in a snit. 
Barney Frank once had balls, but he became  dissipated  and morbidly obese and he simply ran out of steam.
Where is the thunder from the left? 
When Trump takes "bold" action by banning Muslims and the Democrats respond by simply breaking down in tears, surrounding themselves with women in head scarves who testify they are now officially "scared," do the Democrats not prove Trump's case for him? These Democrats are simply too timid to protect anyone.
He had a pair

Americans are nowhere near as flaccid and helpless as Congressional Democrats. These Democrats are the weepy, helpless girls in the horror movie who cannot stand up and strike a blow but simply cower and curl up into a fetal ball, weeping as the villain  stalks about the room. 
No question about his

I'm ashamed to admit I'm a Democrat, in this company. 
"Oh, do you wet your pants when Donald Trump comes into the room? Does Steve Bannon make you sweat and tremble? If ISIS  attacks will you break down and cry? You're not going to protect anyone by crying." 
Beyond doubt: But another Republican

Tell me, fellow reader, who am I missing among the few Democrats left in the House and the less than 50 in the Senate who has any balls?  Closest I can come is Elizabeth Warren, and that's a sorry state of affairs when the only Democrat with balls has two X chromosomes. I'm all for bold and nervy women, but why do the Democrats' women always have to wear the pants?

First, The Movement Needs a Flag

The T Party movement was all about marketing.  It's central message made no sense, really: That government is best which governs least, or not at all. That may have made sense to Jefferson, who saw America as an eternally bucolic nation, peopled by families on farms, honest working people living as he did on Monticello. But in a continental nation of 300 million, we actually need a functioning government. And we have to sell that notion.

Our Flag

Their Flag

Actually, Donald Trump has signed on to the idea of an activist government; it's just his idea of what a government should do is puerile: A government should make deals with each and every company with a factory and then it should build walls around the continent and make sure that the factory workers are put back to work building the same air conditioners and automobiles they've always made and sell those to their countrymen without competition from the higher tech models made by robots in China.

In that sense, Trump is no different from the plantation owners of the ante Bellum South, who thought they could freeze time.
As Bruce Catton observed, the slave owners in Georgia were unable to face reality.

In the 1860s the leaders of the cotton belt made one of the most prodigious miscalculations in recorded history. On the eve of the era of applied technologies, in which more and more work is done with fewer people and less effort, they made war to preserve the day of chattel slavery - the era of gang labor, with its reliance on the same use of human muscles that built the pyramids. The lost cause was lost before it started to fight. Inability to see what is going on in the world can be costly.” 

President Trump has no firmer grip on reality today.

But to oppose him, we need a carnival, to appeal to those who need that. Remember the T party clowns in their three cornered hats?  They were waving those splendid yellow flags, expropriated from the American Revolution. Symbols can be useful, potent even.  You can put them on bumper stickers and T shirts and rally the troops around them.
Here's the flag

I like the statue of Liberty flag--wave that around to remind people we are a nation of immigrants, and there's that poem at its base--give me your tired, your poor--and all that. And rally round. Mother of exiles, lifts her lamp beside the golden door.
Can't you see it?
Let's start with a flag, and maybe some of those foam rubber head bands and we can march.

Is It Time for the Armbands?

The King of Denmark, Professor Google tells us, never actually rode through the streets of Copenhagen wearing a yellow Star of David armband after the Nazi occupiers decreed all Jews in Denmark must wear armbands, but he did say, when asked about the decree, "Well, then all Danes must wear armbands."

The question is now, have we come to the point where all Americans of good faith (as opposed to the dimwits who voted for Trump) should wear some sort of armband (a red crescent perhaps) in solidarity of our Muslim citizens.

Elizabeth Warren, bless her heart, has said she will be among the first to register as a Muslim if Trump tries to register Muslims, but you know how he'll handle that one: "Oh, Pocahontas, first she's an Indian. Now she's a Muslim." 

But the armband thing, that could be effective.

Trouble is, you'd see them in the cities but not out there in Trump country, where the smartest animals are the coyotes. (I know, Maud, you will say that is an invidious comparison, as coyotes are clearly smarter than Trump voters, and that insults the intelligence of the coyotes. But, please.)

The thing is, we had marches in some cities protesting the banning of Muslims from entering the country, or even re-entering the country, but it barely made the news in most places.

For the first two or three years of the Civil War, Lincoln kept trying to find a general who would fight.  Ultimately, he found Grant, whose detractors called him a drunk and a butcher. Lincoln replied he'd like to find what whiskey Grant drank; he'd send a bottle to all his other generals.

That's what we need now, a Grant, and probably a Sherman. We need leaders who will fight.

Look Ma! I'm a soldier!
Until then, resistance may have to come from the little people, like you and me, and our armbands.

Speaking of Professor Google--Google's flagstaff today shows Fred Korematsu because it's his birthday today. And who is Fred? He led the resistance to the internment of Japanese Americans during WWII, the last time hysteria against "the other" seized America. Our response then, was cowardly and intolerant, in a country which was far whiter and demonstrably more racist and about half the population of today's America. But that internment was a cautionary tale.

About those armbands: Haven't been able to find any on line, but if there's a profit in it, likely that won't be a problem. Just let Café press get a hold of this and we are off to the races.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Red and Blue

For those who are still dwelling in despair over your fellow countrymen, for those who have been looking at that dreadful map of where Trump won and how the country was awash in Trump mania, for those who have listened to Mark Shields about how the Democratic party has been shattered, reduced to a bicoastal party, shrunken into a series of gopher hills in the prairie, you can draw that conclusion when you look at the standard election results map of counties won by Trump v Clinton and it does look dire. 

Pretty depressing, right?
But remember, grasslands and mountains don't get to vote. People do. And when you look at where the people actually live, you get a different schematic.

Feel better now?

Saturday, January 28, 2017

The Best Dutch Masterpiece Ever

Hold on to your hats, boys and girls.

Here is the best thing to come out of the Netherlands since Rembrandt, or maybe, Van Gogh.

Certainly better than Geert Wilders.

Here's the link:

Defund Planned Parenthood: Go Right Ahead

Here's a discovery:  "Defunding Planned Parenthood" does nothing to injure the organization of Planned Parenthood. The doctors, the nurses, the administrators still get paid and don't even blink. 

This is because the government doesn't "fund" Planned Parenthood in the first place.
The government subsidizes the patients (through Medicaid) who can then go to Planned Parenthood for their contraception, HIV screening, STD screening. Medicaid does not pay for abortions. 
So "defunding Planned Parenthood" does not cost Planned Parenthood a cent. 
You are defunding the poor women who use Planned Parenthood. 

That may make you happy. 
You may think, well then those tramps will not be able to get their abortions now. Serve them right. They can just go have those babies like respectable women.

Of course, if you are thinking beyond your own moral rectitude, you might consider defunding contraception may in fact be, practically speaking, stoking up unwanted pregnancies, but for someone like you, who thinks like you do, that is probably not a problem.

Take home message: You don't hurt that evil empire, that abortion mill--only 15% of what Planned Parenthood does has to do with abortions--that den of iniquity, Planned Parenthood, by denying Medicaid to the patients who use the facilty. You have simply deprived it of one customer base--and, in fact, from a business point of view, Planned Parenthood, if it were run strictly as a business, should be only too happy to divest itself of the poor, of the Medicaid dollar, which is always laughably low. 

But go right ahead. Feel good about yourself. Make war on poor women. You always have. Now you can feel self righteous about it. 

The Zen of Pie Graphs and Governing

Whenever I hear Republicans working themselves up into a major snit about government spending, about foreign aide, about welfare spending, about how hard working taxpayers have to hand over their hard earned wages to lazy welfare queens, I imagine what a pie graph of government spending would look like.

When Donald Trump screams about how corporate taxes have driven away patriotic, well meaning American corporations from our shores to seek tax havens overseas, about how he wants to lower corporate taxes to bring these corporations back home so they can open factories here and create jobs here, I try to imagine how heavy the burden on these corporations must be.

So I looked on line and found some pie graphs, but there are still questions to be answered. 
This graph suggests the amount of income we get from corporations is dwarfed by the burden we ask our individual taxpayers to bear.  Of course, Mr. Trump claims in other countries the corporate tax rate is so low, all our corporate leaders would be remiss if they decided to bring these corporations back to the USA. But what does that mean? If you are Fred's Tire Company, and you move your corporate headquarters to Dublin or some Caribbean island but leave your factory in Akron, does that mean you pay Irish or island tax rates? I don't get how that works.

Double click to enlarge
Now, here's an interesting pie graph. Double click on this one to enlarge it, but even at a distance you can see the biggest slices of the pie belong to Social Security and "Medicare and Health" spending. I would argue this is just how it should be. Social Security and Medicare are the two best and most popular programs the government has; they do the most good and they do what government ought to do for its people.

 I'm not sure, though, what that "Health" thing means. 
I don't know how much of that slice is for "health" as opposed to Medicare. And what is "health?" Is that Medicaid? Is that "Indian Health Services" and stuff like the CDC (Center for Disease Control), the National Institutes of Health (where medical research is funded), the FDA, where drugs are kept safe?

As for Social Security, if your parents didn't have that, they might be moving in with you and then you have shoulder the burden of that expense, so even though the cost of Social Security looks like a big bite out of your tax dollar, if it weren't for that bite, the bite out of your own personal budget would make that tax look like a peck on the neck. Same for Medicare. Imagine if your father winds up in the hospital getting his cardiac bypass and there were no Medicare. Are you ready to foot that $500,000 bill for the surgery and aftercare? 

I'm assuming the slice that has "Veterans" including the VA hospitals where all those high tech arms and legs prostheses are fitted and the war wounded are rehabilitated.  I'm assuming Walter Reed and Bethesda Naval and military hospitals are in the "Military" costs. 

The other big slice is "military."  Now that's a breakdown I'd like to see. Is Homeland Security in that one? How about the CIA and the NSA?Where is the FBI?

Then there is the interest payments on the debt. That's a hefty slice, and likely to get hefty-er if income tax rates are cut for the wealthy and the government, finding itself with less income, has to borrow more.

And where does "welfare" fit in here? Is that in that tiny slice with "community" spending? 
And what about foreign aide, the Republicans are always fuming about--how we spend on Africans when our own people in Ohio are hurting? Is that in that sliver of the pie called "international?" If so, neither welfare nor foreign aid seem like much to worry about, it's chump change. 

Double Click to Enlarge. Use your microscope to find "welfare"
When you look at the spending which is not locked in as Social Security and Medicare and interest debt payments, the Military spending is huge. If we pulled out of Korea, Japan, Germany and all those military bases we've got spread around the world, and if we stopped spending on new fighter planes and aircraft carrier groups and if we pulled out of Iraq and Afghanistan, then we'd probably still have to spend on the next new war in our trajectory of eternal war. 
How much of this slice is devoted to all the expense of caring for wounded soldiers who have survived head wounds, brain trauma, loss of limbs, blindness or PTSD?  Or is that cost lumped into "Veterans" expenses?

Look at that slice for "Food and Agriculture."  Is this for subsidies for farmers to not plant corn or to plant corn or for whatever we pay farmers rather than letting the market determine prices? With big industrial agriculture and with companies like Archer Daniels Midland claiming to own not just the crops but the genes of plants which blow into neighbors' fields, why exactly is that slice for "Agriculture" so big? Whenever politicians start talking about money paid out by the Department of Agriculture, they get a deer in the headlights look. And that's not even the scandal we all avoid about requiring every tank of gasoline to have corn (alcohol) in it. Talk about a boondogle. We all know it takes more gas to plant that corn and fuel the tractors to harvest it than we save by adding alcohol filler to each gallon of gas at the pump, but we keep that law in place to pay the farm mega corporations. Talk about rigged. Talk about corrupt. Haven't heard Mr. Trump say anything about that. Crooked Hillary can't compare to crooked corn. 

Here's a graph which is pretty cool, because it shows most of what we spend is already baked in.  Most people have baked in expenses in their own family budgets: Got to pay the mortgage, pay the car payments, pay for food, pay for health insurance, pay the taxes, pay the day care.  After that, you got discretionary spending for vacations, hunting, sports, the things you actually enjoy doing.   But, for most families, if they had about 30-40% of their incomes to spend as they pleased, they would be very happy.

But here's the real pie graph which gets my utmost attention: 
See that red slice? That is where you likely live.  That's the amount of wealth you control compared to all the rest of the wealth which is controlled by the top 20%, the lucky one out of five. But look at it another way--the top 5% control about 2/3 of that pie. I do not know the demographics of my readership, beyond knowing their countries of origin, but among the American readers, I suspect a hefty slice may be in that slice "Next 4%," which control about 1/3 of the nation's wealth. Even so, the upper 1% control more than your group. 
I'm not exactly sure what "financial wealth" is. Does this mean all the income from wages and from stocks and is that combined with an estimated wealth of properties owned?  Where does that term "financial wealth" come from? 

No matter, it's a pretty impressive pie graph, no matter what it means.  Whatever it means, it can't be good. Makes Marie Antoinette look like a Salvation Army patron. 

Where do you think Rush Limbaugh, Donald Trump, Mitch McConnell, Tom Price, the Koch brothers, and Sean Hannity fall in this graph?

As Bernie Sanders has noted, it's not so much Democrats against Republicans, it's the billionaire class against everyone else. Compared to that struggle, the trouble the average Amercian has with any Muslim, even the radical Islamists, is pretty minimal. 

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Republicans Replace Obamacare with Disastercare

And the winner is: "Disastercare!" 
Of all the scores of entries into the naming contest, Disastercare wins the prize.
Oh, there were many contenders: Chumpcare, Delusioncare, Vaporcare, Disappearingcare, Foolcare, Abrcadabracare, Trumpedyoucare.

Now, you will say, it's premature to name the thing before it's been hatched, but, hey, the Republicans are so far ahead of the Dems on naming, cut us some slack.

Susan Collins presented a plan which would, somehow, allow some states to elect to keep Obamacare.
That could cause problems for Kentucky, whose Senator Mitch McConnell decried Obamacare as the worse thing since The Black Death.  Kynect, the Obamacare program for Kentucky, was wildly popular. Folks there had never had health insurance and then they got their health insurance and they loved it. When asked how they felt about Obamacare, they said they hated it. Now, hopefully, those good citizens of Kentucky will lose their Obamacare and we'll see how they like that.

Personally, I like Disastercare because it comes, more of less, right from the mouth of The Donald hisownself.

Alternative fact News:
1/ Donald Trump informs us of the 63 million votes cast for Hillary Clinton all but three were fraudulent! (Mr. and Mrs. Clinton and Chelsea voted non fraudulently.)
2/ Donald Trump ended "catch and release" for Mexican immigrants. We will now put all those caught on the grill and sell them in fajitas as high protein alternatives for the inner city poor caught in the carnage. In Chicago it won't be fajitas but polish sausage.
3/ Water boarding will be reinstituted for all terrorist subjects.  If you are accused of fraudulent voting, that will be punishable by waterboarding, or, if you have registered in two states you may be subjected to snow boarding, unless your last name ends in Trump or Bannon.
4/ Mexico will definitely pay for the wall. China will be sent a bill as well, just as soon as we can get some of those Chinese engineers and construction workers who built the Great Wall in place to help us build our wall. While the American taxpayer will pay upfront costs for the Wall, Mexico will ultimately pay "one way or another" which might include a tax on dishwashers, construction workers, and lawn care workers living here in the USA, documented or not.
5/ The American Embassy will be moved to Jerusalem today. Actually, no physical stuff with be moved, but we consider Tel Aviv, the current site of the Embassy, to be Jerusalem, which in alternative fact, it is.

That's all for now: Stay tuned for Daily Headlines from HNHMDD or HobbitMadd, for short. You may say that is actually 4 letters longer than HNHMDD, but in altfact, it's not.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Cynicism and Gullibility: Hanah Arendt and the American Mind

Hannah Arendt

"In an ever-changing, incomprehensible world the masses had reached the point where they would, at the same time, believe everything and nothing, think that everything was possible and that nothing was true. The mixture in itself was remarkable enough, because it spelled the end of the illusion that gullibility was a weakness of unsuspecting primitive souls and cynicism the vice of superior and refined minds.
Mass propaganda discovered that its audience was ready at all times to believe the worst, no matter how absurd, and did not particularly object to being deceived because it held every statement to be a lie anyhow.
The totalitarian mass leaders based their propaganda on the correct psychological assumption that, under such conditions, one could make people believe the most fantastic statements one day, and trust that if the next day they were given irrefutable proof of their falsehood, they would take refuge in cynicism; instead of deserting the leaders who had lied to them, they would protest that they had known all along that the statement was a lie and would admire the leaders for their superior tactical cleverness."
--Hannah Arendt
[They took Trump seriously, but not literally.]

Mary Astor: Not really an Astor

Consider the cynic:
1 Global trade is, overall good for the economy, moving goods and services from where they are most efficiently produced at lowest cost to markets which desire them.
--Bah, humbug! All that happens is the Chinese steal our jobs!
2. Unemployment in the United States has fallen and the economy is rebounding from the great recession of 2009.
--Ridiculous! I know a guy who's out of work.
3. Medicare is in good shape and Social Security could be secure until 2032 if we simply raised the cap on income taxes from $118,000 to $250,000.
--What rot! Neither will be there for me when I need it.
4. Global Warming is real and caused by human beings.
--Poppycock. It's all junk science. I know because I read it on the internet and President Trump says so.

Consider the gullible:
1. Obama was born on Mars.
2. A wall can keep out those Mexican rapists.
3. Obamacare is a disaster.
4. Those 3 million voters who they say voted for Hillary were all a fraud.

The Problem of Intolerant Immigrants: Geert Wilders

Geert Wilders is a creepy Dutchman who makes no bones about the Netherlands being at war with Islam.

But, the strange thing is, he is for protections for gay rights, Jews, and a whole host of things we generally speaking associate with liberal, tolerant societies.

He calls Islamic refugees a great Trojan Horse.  Sound familiar?

The problem is he has a point.  The episodes in Germany when "Middle Eastern" men groped German women in public squares during Christmas and New Year's celebrations may have been examples of making the exception the rule, of claiming that the action of a few deviants reflect the character of an entire group.

But there is reason to believe Islamic, or Middle Eastern Islamic men view women differently than liberal Western men.  Women, unaccompanied by men in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, elsewhere report groping, rape, sexual aggression, and at what point to do you believe this attitude is a cultural norm which helps define what Islamic men believe?
There is no question that in England and France some Islamic groups, at Mosques, have said they know the word of God and they will not tolerate beliefs which contradict that word. It is a sort of "graph versus host" reaction. 
What do you do with an immigrant group which does not simply refuse to assimilate but which actively strikes out against the society they have moved into? That is, in fact, the Trojan horse, and invasion from a group which has been taken into the city, past the gates, and then explodes, once inside, to destroy the city.
If Islamic immigrants/refugees refuse to accept the basic values of tolerance for opposing points of view, what do we do?

You can say, well, we prosecute each individual case; we do not assume everyone with an Islamic name is guilty. But can you, practically speaking, control the problem if you have to arrest each solider, as he emerges from the belly of the Trojan horse, and only after he has attacked?
The fact is, we have had to deal with the Ku Klux Klan in America. We did not attempt to round up all the Klan members and imprison them because we thought they were, as a group, a threat to security. We had to prosecute them, one by one.

On the other hand, we have Donald Trump engaging in the most racist of all behavior, pointing to the one Mexican rapist and saying, "See? I told you they were all rapists?"
In that case, at least, most of us have experience with the undocumented Mexican bus boy, gardener, construction worker, laborer, who have shown great willingness to work hard, stay out of conflict and we would not harm those who would not harm us.

The fact is, there may in fact be a war of cultures, and the Islamic men who have stirred such passions in France, the Netherlands, Germany and England may share some of the responsibility for this.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Labor in Trump's Pocket

Sean McGarvey and Terry O'Sullivan met with President Trump at the White House today.  They head unions which represent sheet metal workers and laborers. They were delighted with Mr. Trump, who wants to spend a trillion dollars on infrastructure projects which their workers can build with "American steel." They don't care much if that trillion dollars comes from taxpayers or private companies who will then own the roads and bridges and airports. All they care about is their members will get jobs and wages for the next few years. 

They were also moved by Mr. Trump who asked them to round up a working sheet metal worker, a plumber and a pipe fitter after they got off shift and to bring them to the White House so he could meet them and tell them how much he loves them.

The labor union leaders were delighted to hear Mr. Trump nixed the Pacific trade deal and will soon kill NAFTA.  Trade deals make corporations money, increase stock prices, lower prices for goods here in the USA, improve the overall economy, but trade deals send jobs (of some sort, likely manufacturing) overseas, the union leaders believe.

Now, exactly how a car plant in Mexico or a cell phone factory in China costs the sheet metal worker in Washington, DC his job, or costs the pipe fitter in Wilkes Barre his job, is not yet clear, but the unions have clearly drunk the Kool Aide. 

If Mr. Trump can get his Republican Congress to spend a trillion dollars on a stimulus package like this, he will certainly have accomplished something Barack Obama could never do.  He will likely also insure his own re election.

It may not matter he throws 30 million people to the wolves without health insurance if he can put 5 million people to work on roads, bridges and railroads and airport construction. 

I'm not actually sure the numbers add up that way. But, I supposed, it's conceivable, if all those construction workers get jobs, they may get health insurance with those jobs and so the loss of Obamacare may matter less to them.

It took Nixon to go to China. Maybe it takes Trump to get the government spending money again. 

Of course, while he's promising to protect Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid,  his appointed officials are busy killing those programs, but we are building things again, so who cares?

Of course, Mussolini made the trains run on time, Mayor Daley plowed the snow off the Chicago streets and Hitler built the Autobahn and the Volkswagen, so sometimes these guys show a flare for knowing what matters to the masses.

As long as people are happy by 2018, President Trump will be well on his way.