One Nation, Divisible


I’ve been fortunate, I think, in that I’ve not had a particularly difficult life. Yes, there have been those moments that I wish had never happened, the deaths of loved ones, the disasters, the extreme anguish, but those times are a luxury for a white male born in England and living, now, in the USA. I’ve never been more than momentarily on the receiving end of prejudice. I’ve never been to war. I’ve never been arrested. I’ve never gone a day without food, except when I chose not to. And providence has seen to it that I’ve never been in a disaster, though I’ve lost friends to them. And I’ve never, really, been in a situation where the government has been overtly and aggressively at war with its own people. Until now.

The UK in the 1980s was an extremely unusual nexus of time and place, a node in the rhizomatic structure that emerges as history. The prosperity and hope of the swinging 60s had given way to the industrial unrest of the anarchic 70s, due, in no small part, to the capitalistic machinations of OPEC, elite corruption, the crackdown on socialist ideals, and the breakdown of the ideals of socialists. In its wake, swanning onto the political center stage, came Thatcher and her “on your bike” economic vandals, ably supported by the rising star of her right-wing transatlantic paramour, Reagan, who rallied to the same war cry. The unions are too strong. Bosh! The people are too lazy to work. Biff! Socialism is Communist. Smash! There’s too much money to keep inflation down. Crack! What can we ever do to fix this mess?

Luckily, a savior had been born. Milton Friedman had won a Nobel prize in 1976 for his free market, trickle-down, economic theories. “Fuck Keynesian economics,” he might have said in private, his idea was that inflation is a function of consumption, and consumption is connected to income. Destabilize and restrict income, preferably as a natural result of free-market instabilities, and consumption will fall. And when consumption falls, inflation goes away. Sure, a few people might starve, but at least the cost of funerals will be steady. Thatcher and Reagan and their cronies swooned at Friedman’s alligator loafered feet. This is just the ticket, they thought, to fight Communism, put the working class and those Bolshy union bastards back in their box, and regain control for the wealthy elites. Meanwhile, she could prove the merits of the free-market–no one had to know that it was being manipulated–and reinforce the social structures that had stood for hundreds of years. All it took was a bit of union busting and a winnable, Jingoistic war for our brave boys, and the press will be lapping up the anti-Commie, red-menace propaganda in no time. Take away tertiary education, take away milk and school lunches, take away their communities by privatizing the social housing, et voilà! Uncertainty. Disunity. Misery. Now, if we can just find a scapegoat or two…

Ah, yes. Scousers and miners, the two most vocal, visible, and organized opponents of Thatcher’s politics of destabilization. The national coal industry was being undermined by the free-market, which was the way it should be, said Thatcher. Drive prices down, make people compete, and productivity goes up. Import cheap coal, and the lazy British miner had to modernize, make sacrifices for efficiency, and work for his money, went her rhetoric. Except that the imported coal was cheap because it was subsidized by foreign governments who knew that jobs and infrastructure were more important than rapacious profits. It wasn’t a fair fight, and the miners could never win it. They tried, though, and it took a couple of years where the police were deployed to literally and figuratively beat the strikers into submission.

I saw people die, sometimes at their own hand. Families fell apart. Communities broke down. By the time Thatcher was done, the power of the union had been starved into submission, and privatization became the national mantra. Privatization was good, said Thatcher, because it relieved the burden of failing industries from the national purse. It also relieved the government of the burden of complying with safety rules, working standards, paying a living wage, giving the workers their rights. Unfettered by the shackles of humane treatment, the newly privatized industries fell into the hands of Thatcher’s elite friends, and the fuckers raked it in. And if anyone complained, there was always the Falklands War, a minor turf war in the South Atlantic over a sheep-stuffed rock that gave Britain Antarctic mineral rights claims, to distract them. Let’s teach those uppity Argies a thing or two, eh? Britannia ruled the waves. Britons never, never, never shall be slaves… unless they no longer had a union.

The right-wing rags had a thing or two to say. The Daily Mail. The Sun. The Express. The dailies owned by the upper-class elite were the basest of all. Oi! Who’s that union leader riding around in a Jaguar? Surely the working-class oik should be in rags and pushing a handcart! He’s a class traitor, innit! If you had no education—an education that was less and less available to the underclasses as schools and universities were spanked by the defunding fetish of the 80s–you were likely to believe every word.

And, into the crosshairs came Liverpool. That city that fought to abolish the slave-trading that its wealth was built upon. The city that once unloaded 40-pecent of every cargo ships in the world. The city at the vanguard of the general transport strike for workers’ rights, and where the government in London deployed troops to violently suppress industrial unrest. The city whose major income came from its Atlantic-facing port, and which was left to rot when the UK joined the EU and trade shifted to Europe to the south and east. The city who, despite it all, fought back and refused to set punitive budgets that fell into Thatcher’s as-yet unpublished manifesto of managed decline. The city that retaliated against the great social housing sell off by building more social housing than any other city in the country. The city that continued to rebel against Thatcher.

With the labour movement and unions in disarray, under constant threat from Thatcher’s aggression, the Labour Party, funded by the unions and founded as the party of the working class, fell under the spell of centralism. The seeds of neo-liberalism were sown by Kinnock et al., who fell into the centre-right as Thatcher moved the Tories to the far right. And to assure the battered and brainwashed masses that Labour could be for all people, Kinnock vowed to oust the socialists, the militants, the unionists from the party. First to go were the Militant tendency, among which were the defiant Liverpool City councillors. They were evicted from the party, and evicted from elected office. At the protests, the crowd was battered into submission by our boys in blue—not quite on the same scale as Orgreave, but brutal in is micro-focus. At the time, if you asked why Scousers didn’t trust the police in Liverpool, this would have been the reason. The press fell into line, and the loony, left-wing, thieving Scouser stories were rife. On TV, in the papers, the media were learning the tools of the trade, and they Liverpool was its test run. But that was before Hillsborough, and after 15 April, 1989, things would never be the same.

From its architecture, culture, sports stars, comedians, poets, musicians, politicians, sense of humor, savvy streetwise attitudes, warmth, and sense of community, Liverpool was a city with so much to be proud of, and it wasn’t shy of telling people, albeit with a unique mix of brazen cheek and sage humility. And despite the knocks along the way, it continued to succeed, one way or another. Despite deriving its enormous wealth from the slave trade, Liverpool, the second city of the sprawling British Empire, campaigned for the end of slavery. When slavery was abolished, Liverpool, because it had the foresight and technological prowess to build the most modern docks in the world, continued to prosper. When the money turned to Europe and the docking trade collapsed, we had the Beatles. And when the Beatles disbanded, we had the best sports teams in the world, and between us we dominated European football. On the way to an all-Liverpool FA Cup final, Liverpool traveled to Hillsborough and the world collapsed. Police forced too many fans into the same tunnel and, because Thatcher had decided that all football fans were working-class hooligans, waiting at the other end of the tunnels were pens, used to keep the animals in check. 96 football fans died in a crush created by the police, and it was covered up for two and a half decades. The fans were blamed, the city was blamed, and the media fell in line. They’d had a few years to practice the Scouse Scum line, so when the disaster happened, when innocent fans were killed, the newspapers were geared up for it. The newspapers made horrific claims about how fans pickpocketed the dead and pissed on cops. The cops threatened to drag the names of the victims through the mud, where their still-warm corpses lay, if the families kicked up a stink. And the government crowed about how the city was its own worst enemy.

I’d never really been politically savvy, or “woke” as the modern phrase goes. I hung out with some of Liverpool’s Militant contingent. I knew miners and those affected by the strike. I was a poor, working-class kid who went to the posh school by way of a form of scholastic affirmative action. I was thrilled when my parents bought their council house, not wondering what would happen to people who needed a place to live and couldn’t afford private rents. I had been fortunate enough to somewhat survive the worst privations, and had found my way into well-paying IT career, which was what I was expected to do, work at the bank’s IT centre, on Hillsborough weekend. I wasn’t a regular matchgoer, work got in the way and I moved round a lot, but I had lots of friends who were. Over the next few days and weeks, the trauma set in, and the naked aggression and outright enmity of the state apparatus became crystal.

I wrote about this many years later, and I received comments after my story was printed in The Guardian about how not everyone thought like that. How not everyone was against Liverpool. It’s true. They weren’t. But it must be said that support and solidarity was thin on the ground and didn’t last as long as needed. Hands of support from other cities were shoved deep into pockets of grief, and when they eventually re-emerged they formed dismissive waves that said it was time the city just got over it. But on that day, Hillsborough, to my mind, the government declared war on the people.

After Thatcher fell, of course, the country was ready for a change, and they change they elected was Tony Blair. Blair was a new Thatcher, a warm, kindly, pragmatic Thatcher, and Iron Laddie with a Saville Row suit, kid gloves, and a soothing, charming smile. Leading the Labour Party, the New Labour Party of neoliberals, a Clintonesque (William Jefferson) reflection of the new centrists that had smoothly occupied the territory evacuated from the right-shifting Tories, Blair caringly back-peddled a few of Thatcher’s more brutal policies, but only until he’d got his party settled in. By the time the “New Labour” phonies left office, education cost an arm and a leg, industry was on its knees, and workers had even less rights than when Thatcher was ousted from her own party. The Labour Party had ceased to exist as the political voice of the workers, and when the Tories swept back into power, there was no one left to oppose them. Brexit was the bellwether for a set of anti-worker, anti-rights policies that was never expected to bring the sheep into the pen but point in the direction of where the Tories were going. But because of the disastrous policies of the anti-education elite, the uneducated flock followed, meek as ever, fed to fattening point by the lies of the right-wing, anti-people populist rags.

Of course, by that time, I was already here, in the USA, raking in a bundle as an IT consultant, ignoring the neoliberal policies of Clinton, who introduced, among other neoliberal policies, three-strikes sentencing laws and a restructured, limited welfare system. Clinton was also quite as fond of removing dictators and bombing brown people when the White House heat got a little too much to handle. When the shit hit the fan in the middle east, we already knew the script. Reagan had focused more on the big stick than the soft speaking, and overtly militarized foreign policy. Clinton followed Reagan’s lead on Grenada, bombing Tripoli while the Senate wanted to know why he lied about shagging Lewinsky – his wife was behind him, on camera, for fucksake – what man isn’t gonna be tempted to lie in that situation? And then, Saddam, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait happened. Some of the CIA’s favorite playthings got out of their box and started shooting American weapons at each other. And America had to intervene because, well, if we can keep them shooting, eventually they’re gonna run out and need weapons, and hey, we’re the biggest gun shop in the world, right? USA and the Brits, oil and guns and political distractions. “We has a need, and you has a problem. Let’s get together and work it all out. And if some oilfields find their way into our hands, well, thems the breaks, eh kid?”

Bush Sr, Baby Bush, Obama, now Trump. The reason the wars haven’t stopped is because the money hasn’t run out yet. Eisenhower warned, just as he left office and not before, of the power of the military-industrial complex. He wasn’t prophesying, he was commenting on current events. And we didn’t see it, did we? Boo-yah, Amerikka! Britannia Rules the Waves. Whatever nationalist, by jingo, sloganeering dog-whistle they use, it gets us scratching our fleas and looking for the bone, eh? We’re so unable to dissect the words coming out of their mouths that whatever they say is gonna get 50% for and 50% against, of the 50% who vote. It’s knife-edge, un-nuanced, same coin politics, and the working man hasn’t had a break in half a century. Heads or tails, Dems or GOP, Tories or Labour, it makes no difference to the working-class poor. They’ve been shafted every step of the way and it didn’t matter what colour rosette the politicians wore.

Okay, so let’s just take a minute to laugh at all those deluded turkeys voting for Thanksgiving or Christmas. Come one, let it out. Let’s have a great big belly laugh about the dumbfuck rednecks, the idiot workers, the bigots, the temporarily impecunious millionaires, the trailer-park tycoons, the council-estate captains of industry who voted for Donald Trump and Theresa May, okay? You done yet? Need another minute? Okay, go on, let it out. Those dumb, ignorant, racist, idiots, eh? How could they be so stupid as to vote for their own annihilation? Go on, let’s have a big old laugh about it. Okay, one more minute, go on, because then we gotta get back to the serious stuff.

I’m okay with words, but put a couple of calculus equations under my nose and ask me what one looks right, and I am absolutely flummoxed. I have no training, no expertise, no inkling of what might or might not be right. Tell me my livelihood depends on it, and I still won’t have a clue. Without education, it is impossible to make educated decisions. Now ask a man who has spent 30 years getting nowhere financially which politician is going to improve his lot, and he likely won’t  have a clue. Especially when both candidates are out to fuck him over. One candidate tells him its his own fault. Or society’s fault. Another says it’s a foreigner’s fault. If he votes at all, he’s gonna vote for the guy who tells him the problem is everyone else’s fault, the immigrant, the worker, the foreigner. He’ll vote for the guy who makes the problem look understandable and easy to fix. He’s not an idiot, he’s responding to conditioning. He’s scared, bitter, resentful, and wants what is best for himself and his family.

Wanna know who the biggest idiot of all is? You are. And me. And all of us (I assume, because you’ve made it this far) inquisitive, thinking, caring people who are worried about what happens next and why is going to come along and save us. You are the biggest loser, and you want to know why? Because you have failed to see what these dumb-ass working-class idiots have known for years. How big was your student loan when you left school? How long did it take to pay off? Maybe you had a parent of relative that paid instead, lucky you. One in six Americans has a student loan debt. The average debt of a college graduate is $37,172. The US student loan debt is $1.4 trillion. That’s bigger than the credit card debt industry. But… you got a job. You only took 15 years to pay it back. If you can do it, anyone can do it, right? You are an educated, well-informed, productive member of society. Not your fault some dumb-ass believes Breitbart, eh?

Actually, yes, Yes it is. Because this brutal, me-first society that adores wealth and reveres gilded butterflies like Trump, hasn’t done a thing to stop the commodification of education. How can you expect someone to choose wisely when he isn’t educated enough to apply basic critical thinking skills to what he is being told? You haven’t stopped this by holding your representatives’ feet to the fire every time they vote for a self-serving policy that fucks the poor. That’s your fault. And mine.

We also haven’t done anything to halt the medical insurance industry that feeds one on every two of the 1.5 million annual American bankrupts, and which now takes 20cents out of every dollar we earn.

We haven’t done enough to stop the wars that have sucked a trillion dollars from the public purse and poured it into the private hands of the military-industrial complex.

We haven’t done enough to create the politicians we now believe we deserve.

Instead, what we have done is reached the (what I hope is) the conclusion of this political death spiral, and elected Trump and (probably) May, a president and Prime Minister whose naked hostility toward the underprivileged and underclasses of society is actually something of a refreshing change. They are at war with their constituent populations, and they no longer need to hide it. Gone are the snake-tongues; they tell it like it is, and it’s terrifyingly clear. Trump is fighting a War on America. May is fighting a War on Britain. They don’t have to hide it anymore. The electorate is so conditioned, so divided, so beaten into submission, that they can count on their supporters to help them defeat themselves.

Look at May with Brexit and the dismantling of the NHS. The NHS has been looted and pilfered for generations by successive Tory and the neoliberal Labour governments, so when they point out that it is failing, people agree. When they say privatization is the answer, people don’t know whether it is or not, so they’ll nod and say yes. Brexit was voted in on a campaign of lies, lies stating that the NHS will get 350 million quid back a week that goes into EU pockets. It was a big fat lie that was admitted by its perpetrators within 12 hours of the final tally. The horror of the Europeans deciding British laws culminated in the weird lie about how bananas would have to be straight from now on. There was uproar in the right-wing dailies, and people believed it. And then, of course, there were the terrorists and immigrants and all those foreigners coming here and taking our jobs etc. A large number of Britons who voted for Brexit said immigration was a factor, and they didn’t like just anyone coming here. This, despite the fact that most people immigrating to the UK came from outside the free-movement, Schengen zone of the EU. Some people voted against Brexit to stop people from Africa, India, and Asia coming to the UK. It’s madness, wrong-headed, flat out wrong madness, and yet no one in the most popular, populist daily newspapers ever sought to set the record straight. In the UK, the “immigrant terrorist” is most likely to be a British-born citizen who has been systematically disenfranchised by years of economic oppression and a daily ration of hateful headlines attacking his religion, his skin, his heritage, and his culture. We made this man a terrorist, and then we blame his god.

In a fit of pique, I elected to become a citizen of the USA after Brexit. I figured that the country was no longer the one I belonged to, the one I knew, so let’s move the topic back across the pond. How cute that saying is, eh? Like a short hop across shallow waters, a minor thrill, and yet ideologically there’s barely a trickle of difference between the two countries that I am now a citizen of.

I wanted to become a US citizen so I could vote. I couldn’t vote against Brexit because I’d been gone too long, and although I had become more and more politically active, it felt wrong not to be able to make the gesture of voting for my political conscience. When I filed for citizenship, Bernie Sanders was still in the running as a candidate. My citizenship ceremony was held the week after Trump was elected. Timing, eh?

Since November, like this is a surprise at all, Trump has declared war on anyone and anything that doesn’t benefit the wealthy elite and their cronies. Family planning, women, the poor, the environment, healthcare, education, the differently-abled, the LGBTQ constituency, Hispanics, foreigners, the working-class, the middle-class, the other, the truth.

The day after Hillsborough happened, the Sun printed a headline that said THE TRUTH, and we all knew it was a pack of lies concocted by the police, Thatcher’s political cabal, and the newspapers to deflect the blame and put Liverpool in the crosshairs. 28 years later, Trump has taken the truth and made it lie, and taken lies and made them truth. This fake news, fake truth, fake president has perverted every last sense of fact and introduced an alternative truth that carries as much weight for anyone who wants to believe it. Breitbart and TASS get front-page scoops from within the White House and the serious press, the ones that have not yet quite fallen to elite ownership, the NY Times, CNN, Washington Post, and the Guardian are barred from press events. A Montana politician, Greg Gianforte, bodyslams a reporter who asked an inconvenient question, breaking his glasses, and gets elected to office the next day. The governor of Texas, Greg Abbot, then makes a joke about shooting reporters. And we wonder why people are so ill-informed that they can’t see right through Trump’s war on them?

Then again, who else were they going to vote for? Hawkish Hillary, a Wall Street insider who offered more of the same neoliberal status quo? People were hurting and the Democrats, right on the hot-button social issues, offered no relief to the working poor. Sanders was the only man offering real change to the US political system, one that tried to address the root causes, and he was run out of town by a Democratic Party intent on ensuring no William Wallace/FDR-like candidate ever got into the oval office again. Whaddya mean no war? Who are we gonna sell guns to? Waddya mean single-payer health insurance? How will Aetna and Blue Cross and United make billion dollar annual profits now? We see the same thing in the UK with Jeremy Corbyn. A committed, passionate, idealist and pragmatic democratic socialist, Corbyn represents the ideals that the Labour Party was founded on, and he has been excoriated by the press, left, right, and center. Not only that, but the neo-liberal members of his own party has tried everything to get him out of the leadership role, despite the fact that he seems to be drawing younger voters by the millions, voters that will be the core electorate for decades to come. I suspect he won’t beat May on the general election, but he might be able to gain enough votes to form a coalition government. Might. But I doubt it. And if May wins, she will finally have what she thinks is a mandate for negotiating the Brexit that eliminates the rules that the EU implemented to protect British workers from the likes of Thatcher and Blair.

It all seems a bit hopeless, really, and I struggle to find even the smallest glimmer of light. I think the USA is a done deal, and fear the UK is going the same way. But at least in the UK the Labour Party under Corbyn has offered a platform that represents real change. Here, what we are seeing is more of the bumbling, naysayer, oppositional politics that the Dems have excelled in. From president Clinton to Obama, to Hillary Clinton, the Dems have spent decades being the party of scoff. Name me one solid, immutable, Democratic belief that translates into party policy during that time? I bet you’ll struggle. And yet, here we are presented with a man who has declared war on America, who has leveraged the ignorance of a manipulated population and enlisted the aid of the billionaire bastard club to fight his battles, and what are democrats saying about this? They are saying, “No.” There’s no follow-up. There’s no design. There’s no pledge to reinsert EPA laws. No statement saying that universal healthcare will be implemented post-Trump, and single-payer installed. There’s no unambiguous statement on electoral reform, on education, on reversing a thing that Trump is doing. The Dems are playing the game of opposition, because they don’t have another game right now.

Well, saying no is not enough. The democrats need a platform that lays out a solid, strategic plan for a better future for all. It needs to be set out and left in the public domain for a few years to percolate. The economic rubble that has rained down on the working-class for decades cannot be stopped overnight. It needs to become a mindset that becomes a national culture. When we look after the poorest and most underserved in our communities, when they are not hurting and suffering and being ignored, when they are educated and supported and cared for, they, in turn, will look after the immigrant, the poor, the foreigner, the other. Trump is a symptom, not a sickness – though the man clearly has some issues. But he is not to blame. We are to blame for the society we have designed. No one else. And only we can fix it.

Dreaming of an America after Trump?


Well? What if? What if Trump was impeached tomorrow? Or forced to resign? However it works, imagine Little Hands is out of office. I’ve seen it suggested that the GOP wants the same as the Dems, for Trump to fail. I’ve even seen it suggested that the Republicans are just waiting for him to step out of line so they can throw him out of office and put a “real” Republican like Pence in his seat.

Wouldn’t that be nice, eh?

But, Mike Pence, right? Even scarier than a loudmouthed misogynist, is a bigot with a plan. Okay, so let’s say Trump and Pence both go. What next?

There are hundreds of bastards like Trump and Pence just waiting in line for the chance to screw over the poor, the religious, racial, and ethnic minorities, the non-whites, non-straights, and non-males. If Trump and Pence were to be spirited away tomorrow, there would be hundreds more just like them jostling to take their places. Politicians louder, more extreme, more outrageous, more controversial, more religious, would fight to win the hearts, not minds, of a nation of ignoramuses created by their policies and populism. In the last century, this country is has become a petri dish for bigots and bastards like trump and Pence. Their elimination from office gives us no more than an afternoon’s respite while their replacements are selected. The next day, it’ll be back to business.

Yay, we win, nothing’s changed. And it’ll take a long time before we have the energy to fight anyone else. It’s a winning strategy for those that hold the power behind the personality politics that plagues this country. We get to win and nothing changes until the next election when we go through it all again and pick the next person that won’t do anything either. This time authoritarian and patriarchal, next time liberal and progressive, right? And when the political pendulum swings back in the direction of our own positions, we can all take a one- or two-term timeout and pretend we’re making progress.

The current dialog seems to be that, once Sanders was eliminated from the race, the “progressive”or left-leaning alternative to Trump was Clinton, a career politician every bit as embedded in self-interest and social apathy as a politician can be; a war-hawk liberal who didn’t inherit her wealth like Trump, but accumulated it while her husband was president and while she was a senator. This so-called servant of the liberal left got rich while her husband was cutting welfare and unemployment benefits to appease the GOP, who wanted him impeached because he couldn’t keep his dick to himself. Clinton, H. (and Clinton, B.) accumulated millions while she voted to inflate the housing bubble, and then got richer again from the coffers of the same companies that cashed in their unregulated toxic loans and junk bonds and bailed themselves out with billions of dollars of taxpayer money. Would she have been a more progressive option than Trump? Absolutely. Would she have been the better option for leftists? Definitely. But Clinton as lefty saviour? Fuck off. The Dems as the progressive party? Double fuck off.

We’re mourning the end of the Obama era not because of what he achieved, but because of what he allowed us to believe about ourselves. Gay-friendly, women-friendly, kid-friendly, peace-loving Obama, the candidate of Hope, the man who said Yes We Can, the man who gave us hope for the future, who spoke eloquently and behaved with dignity, even as he fucked the dog for the first two years, even as he crumbled and signed off on the bailout bills bequeathed to him by Bush’s busted flush, even as he pushed more troops into Iraq and Afghanistan, and loaded up more drones, and dropped more bombs on brown people in more countries than any other president before him. Mourn Obama if you like, he was graceful and smart and funny and cool, and he said a few nice words and signed a few nice laws that lagged far behind the public sentiment of common decency. He is better than what comes next, but he failed to make Obamacare fit his original vision. And he failed to translate the radical popularity of his transformational presidential campaign into real and lasting change. He failed to transform his party from the party that elected him to a party that was electable without him. That is partly on him, but it’s mostly on the sleep-walking neo-liberalism of the Democrats, a traditional right of center party that eschewed the teachings of FDR and worked against Henry Wallace to ensure a leftist like FDR would never again threaten their corporate paymasters.

Blame Pence and Trump and the GOP all you like, and their supporters, but the Dems are complicit in this and we won’t see anything like real change while people like Clinton stalk the Democrats’ convention halls. Sanders almost made it, almost overcame the Democrats nomination regulating machinery, but he’s too old to make another run. Elizabeth Warren is where the Dems need to be looking because she exists beyond easy labels like “socialist”—but she’s also too extreme for establishment Democrats, and too smart, too dangerous, and too impervious to bullshit for the corporations that own them. The Dems are a party that looks to its members for policies and platforms, and only remembers the people, especially the working class, when it is election time and they are forced to go looking for votes.

So where does change finally come from? Will America ever be a progressive country? Will it ever live up to its promise? It won’t happen in my lifetime. The problem is generational and cannot be fixed without a long-term commitment to a concerted and extended grass-roots effort to see beyond personal gain. Maybe a catastrophic collapse of the American empire would precipitate the social and political revolution needed to fix the problem sooner. Maybe we need another Great Depression and Wall Street Crash to persuade people that rampant self interest helps no one in the long term. Trump might just bring that about, and it might bring a progressive backlash.

But while plenty of people still look to FDR’s social policies as the progressive ideal, we can’t forget that it took a pair of World Wars to destroy Europe and propel the USA into its position as the global financial leader and military superpower. More than FDR’s New Deal, WWII brought untold riches to the USA and while it was perhaps unintentional to make such a paradigm-shifting profit from the global conflict, the lesson was quickly learned that a permanent war economy was good for technologists, industrialists, and financiers. It’s not bad for the churches either. Against that level of organized and protective self-interest, it’s going to take a mammoth effort to create lasting change.

Maybe there is hope. And maybe we saw it yesterday when millions of men, women, children in the USA and around the world put on their marching boots and demonstrated that they were prepared to get up off their arses and speak truth to power. People can be moved to stand up for their rights, to stand up for equality, progress, and justice. And what we saw, more than anything else, is that people coalesce around causes and fight injustices. It was wonderful to see, but unless it transforms society it will be a pretty memory and not much more. People don’t march for a label. People aren’t motivated by partisan squabbling. And, as we saw, people don’t vote for a party that doesn’t represent them.

If the Democrats can’t see that, can’t accept that they need to change to capture that energy, then there are millions of votes just waiting for the party, any party, that does. So far, none of them do.

The Best Democracy Money Can Buy


If this is your image, please let me know so I can give proper credit. Borrowed from the Wonkette blog.
If this is your image, please let me know so I can give proper credit. Borrowed from the Wonkette blog.

$1.8 billion was spent by Clinton and Trump in a presidential election that was allegedly decided by a hacking campaign funded from Putin’s pocket-change.This must say many things about the state of this democracy. Clinton spent $1.2 billion on her campaign, outspending Trump 2:1, and still lost to a small-handed, thin-skinned, egotistical ignoramus, a racist, misogynist liar in thrall to the billionaire class from which he came. We spent nearly $2 billion on a dyspeptic election between two deeply flawed candidates so out of touch with the working and middle classes that an election-winning minority chose immediate self-destruction while the losing majority preferred slow exsanguination. 

How flawed was Clinton’s campaign that the election was even close? When a nation decided that the billionaire will beat the multi-millionaire in a race to the bottom of the swamp, surely the question has to be not why he won but why so many people agree that Capitol Hill is a swamp? How many years of reptilian predation did it take to get this far? 240 years ago, the nation’s forefathers argued over installing a new American aristocracy to replace the British one that they’d just served with divorce papers. The idea of the popular vote, the tyranny of the masses, terrified them so much that they created a bicameral government, that would look like a democracy but behave like a patriarchy. The will of the voters, rich white men, would be represented by Congress and tempered by the sage guidance of Senate, populated by even richer white men. The women, the poor, and non-whites could not be trusted with a vote. Two and a half centuries later and plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose, nest-ce pas? The poor still agree that the poor can’t be trusted with a vote, and who cares anyway, right? Certainly not Hillary, who decided that she already had the poor vote, the women’s vote, the black and Hispanic votes, and went after the white middle-class vote, in a neo-liberal disenfranchisement of the Democratic base. And while the base stayed home, the baser voted for a rich white man whose campaign depended on pushing as many buttons as possible and remembering which ones drew the loudest cheers. 

It’s a slippery slope, of course. Once you accept that only the wealthy can hold power, and that special interests and lobbying can purchase legislation, and when the Supreme Court upholds that free speech means no restrictions on private money supporting political candidates, then you can’t really object when the money comes from special interests that may or may not reside outside the country. Hey-ho, the shift to transglobal power brokerage becomes the norm, and every four years we hold an election to show how nothing changes except the special interest rates.

Despite being outspent by an establishment politician in the pocket of Wall Street, the man whose business resides at 40 Wall Street won in a landslide loss to a candidate that won 3 million more popular votes, because of an electoral college system designed by the bedwetting self-interested government to ensure that a populist candidate like Trump would never win. Even two centuries ago, they feared someone like Trump would destroy America. Because of the reverence that we place in the Constitution, that infallible sacred article that has only been found wanting 27 times and amended once every nine years, we hold tightly to a flawed democracy that lawyers, the second-oldest profession, have debated for 200 years, but which everyone else can understand and interpret, and that everyone cherishes in whole but cherry picks only the bits we like best.

Once elected, as expected, the slight of hand Trump immediately revealed his sleight of hand, and has begun assembling the most despicable cabinet of despicable basket cases that DC has ever seen. D.C. Comics couldn’t create an outfit of such villainy, and all we can do is marvel at the appointments of men whose sole aim is to destroy the very bureaus of which they are the sworn enemies.

– Rick Perry, as Energy Secretary, heads a department whose name he forgot when asked which department he would scrap. Perry, the weapon who once got a D in a college class called “Meat,” will have be entrusted with the country’s arsenal of nuclear weapons.

– “Crooked” Hillary might have been paid to speak to Goldman-Sachs a few times, but we don’t know if Steve Mnuchin, the ex-Goldman-Sachs exec and Trump’s pick for Treasury Secretary, was ever in the audience.
– Tom Price, an orthopedic surgeon, six-term Republican congressman, and staunch opposer of the Affordable Care program, is chosen as Health and Human Services Secretary, whose mandate is to manage the Affordable Care program.
– Scott Pruitt, the fossil fuel shill from Oklahoma, who campaigns for deregulation of the oil industry, is to be the Environmental Protection Agency Administrator, an agency he is currently suing.
– Andrew Puzder, the fast-food magnate whose livelihood was built on zero-hours contracts and no minimum wage is chosen as the labor Secretary.
– Linda McMahon, the former chief exec of World Wrestling Entertainment, will go three rounds with the Small Business Administration.
– Elaine Chao, the wife of Mitch McConnell and long-term swamp resident, once Labor Secretary under G. W. Bush, will be in charge of making America’s infrastructure great again as Transportation Secretary.
– Michael Flynn, the retired Army lieutenant who has drawn criticism for his anti-Muslim rhetoric is Trump’s choice for National Security Advisor.
– Stephen Bannon, Breitbart exec and all-around right-wing, racist fucknut, is Trump’s Chief Strategist.
– Ben Carson, the other-worldly neurosurgeon who ran for president and then said he was throwing his vote to Trump in exchange for a cabinet position, and then said he was unqualified for government because he had no experience…will accept the position of Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.
– Jeff Sessions, the Alabama old boy who was rejected as a federal judge because of his racism, is to be Attorney General, overseeing the federal judges.

I haven’t even mentioned Mike Pence, the anti-woman, anti-LGBTQ crusader, as Trump’s VP and sidekick. The list of supervillains goes on and on and, Jesus, this is all too fucking depressing. But there is one last special mention for Rex W. Tillerson, Trump’s pick for Secretary of State. He’s the Texan Exxon CEO who received the Order of Friendship from Russian president, Vladimir Putin. Possibly more sinister, he was the 33rd president of the Boy Scouts of America. Tillerson, who received a BS from the University of Texas at Austin, is the anti-regulation, climate change denier, who supports open energy markets and broke Iraqi law by signing energy contracts with Iraqi Kurds in 2011. Hw also wants deregulation of energy, but joined a lawsuit to prevent a water-tower being built that would have facilitated the increase of fracking near his home in Irving, Texas.

More worrying than the usual array of hypocrisy, right-wing zealotry, and generally high levels of hypocrisy and self-interested fucknuttery, it are Tillerson’s ties to fellow energy Tsar, Vladimir Putin. Given that the CIA and FBI have both confirmed that Russian hackers did in fact play a role in subverting the course of the US elections, which pissed James Comes off no end because he thought his strategic announcements of investigations into Clinton use of a private mail server, a precedent (yes, Trump that’s how you spell it, you illiterate baboon) set by all previous email-capable administrations. By the way, is the GOP calling for an investigation into whether James Comes is the FBI face of Putin’s hack squad?

Trump, of course, asked for the Russians to hack Clinton’s emails. Maybe he already knew they had. And, maybe that’s why, despite spending only (only!) $600 million on his campaign, he swept to power. Some may blame the Russians and Putin, but, again, if your campaign is so bad that the poor vote for ritual disembowelment at the (small) hands of the orange ignoramus, can we really blame some hackers who, in their day job, run technical support for Time Warner Cable (probably)? Putin and pocket-change campaign for change means that Trump benefits Russia (or Putin) more than Clinton does. Why? Is it because the Russian he-man thinks he has more sway over day-go Don? Or does it mean Vlad and Donnie, sitting in a tree, k-i-s-s-i-n-g, presents more of an opportunity for both of them to make money? Money and power seem to be the stock in trade of the political classes the world over, and maybe it simply comes down to that fact that Russia’s rubles buy more power than Donnie’s dollars, and that’s why Clinton is left licking her wounds while the man who presented a real opportunity for change continues his campaign of hearts and minds from his newly installed elder statesman throne at the top table of the Democratic Party.

Bernie’s right, of course. Only when we finally have a pure, political system that money can’t buy will we finally have a democracy that decries rather than depends upon special interests, financial corruption, and transnational power brokerage that recasts the nouveau riche as ancien regime. But then, surely that’s just the raving of a bitter old madman. Why would anyone in this Christian nation listen to an irascible, wild-eyed, Jewish socialist who wants to throw the money lenders out of the political temple, eh?

Cecil The Lion Bequeaths Solution to Greek Problem


Greek Lion
Greeks and Lions – Fate?

The cowardly murder of Zimbabwe’s Cecil the Lion has, understandably, drawn angry reaction around the world. While we can hope that the outpouring of anger and grief coagulates into positive action to protect wildlife, the clamor to shut down hunt tourism in Africa has identified a potentially huge source of income for austerity-battered Greece.

In a surprise move that European economists say may save the Eurozone from financial collapse, American sportsmen are to be invited to hunt Greeks. For $50,000 each, Wisconsin dentists can visit the cradle of Western democracy, get a tan, try the seafood, kill a Greek, and fly home again.

Only tagged Greeks would be targeted and there would be strict rules against luring them from their homes with Nana Mouskouri records, baklava and Ouzo. Tags would be drawn by lottery, Hunger Games-style, depending on demand. The draw would be televised live by Trump Entertainment’s media channel. Spain, Germany and the UK are expected to bid for the rights to host the weekly drawing, with Fox and NBC expected to challenge for television rights. Details are understandably scarce right now but Greece is expected to tag as many as 30 citizens a month depending on demand. Under the terms of the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, TTIP, the American NRA is expected to sue Athens if that number is not tripled.

As reported here, American billionaire and professional loudmouth, Donald Trump, had initially trailed the pack of Republicans vying for the party’s presidential nomination. Determined to be president of something other than the 589 shell companies through which he channels money, Trump had been expected to announce a highly leveraged hostile takeover of Greece and had already signed the papers to remortgage the Hellenic Parliament.

However, since calling John McCain and other former prisoners of war losers and painting Hispanic immigrants as rapists and criminals, Trump has surged in popularity with the American public and finds himself leading the GOP’s race for the White House. This unexpected resurgence of Trump’s presidential campaign may be good news for the property tycoon but bad news for Greece, a campaign insider admitted. And, with the latest polls seeing an upsurge in domestic popularity, Trump’s sights have shifted away from Athens and are locked firmly on D.C.

Greeks were understandably relieved. Despite strict austerity measures imposed by German chancellor, Angela Merkel, Athens this week saw citizens dusting off bottles of Metaxa usually reserved for drunken Brits holidaying in the Aegean. But the festive mood has once again been shattered by these new proposals emanating from Berlin.

“This plan,” said a Trump insider, speaking on condition of anonymity, “is the sort of ingenious financial solution that the President Trump would bring to the American economy.”

“This solution could clear up all sorts of problems like dwindling retirement funds, Medicaid, Medicare, welfare and more. But don’t quote me on that,” he added.