20 December 2017

If history had taken a slight detour....

OK, I'm a tad biased. And historical contrafactuals, apart from being fun to think about, are really pretty meaningless. But reading the history of the Parthians, Sogdians, Bactrians, and what's now Pakistan and India in the era of roughly 200-600 AD, and Southeastern Asia including what's now Indonesia a few centuries later it's hard to escape the suspicion that had history further West taken a slightly different turn, and the religion of Islam either not arisen at all or remained confined to the Arabian peninsula (not an entirely implausible chain of events), in all likelihood from Iran to Japan and Mongolia to Indonesia would all be Buddhist today. And somehow I think that would've made for a somewhat better world. Just sayin'.


Musica lætitiæ comes medicina dolorum.


It is no longer possible to be a conscientious Republican

​If you needed any further proof that the Republicans in Congress have been entirely hijacked by craven allegiance to economic special interests, and that the same is simply not true, overall, of Democrats, consider the vote on the Tax Bill.

 First, I hold it to be a fact that the only people defending this bill are those who have a political interest in its provisions. Objectively, even initially, 83% of its tax cut benefits (at the cost of huge ballooning of the national debt, which Republicans used to oppose on principle), GOES TO THE VERY TOP in terms of income. It favors non-wage income of the wealthy over the wages of ordinary people, doubly so when you consider that much of the tax burden of ordinary working people are regressive taxes such as sales tax and payroll taxes, that hit working people disproportionately harder than the very wealthy. It's even accurate, factually, not as an opinion, that this soon to be law, benefits the very, very rich, and not just the ordinarily rich. There is no way this is, objectively, good public policy. The Republican leadership even essentially admits that its draconian cuts to revenue will make it easier for them to cut social programs, including Social Security and Medicare, that AREN'T EVEN PAID FOR OUT OF INCOME TAX REVENUES. Cutting those programs because of shortfalls in income tax revenue is just theft, pure and simple, from the funds people have paid in payroll taxes on the promise that those programs will be there. Not to mention that the kinds of investments other countries, such as China and Germany, routinely make in their future: research, education, infrastructure— will be severely impacted by this terrible law. It is not at all hyperbole, in other words, to refer to this Republican scheme as a HEIST.

 OK, then, look at the vote:

 Republicans 51 Yes, 1 too sick to be there

Democrats: 48 No

 We didn't used to have such lopsided votes on major policy measures. But our politics is now ENTIRELY POLARIZED. Democrats have been FORCED to side with the interests of the people at large, because there is nowhere else to go. And Republicans now represent their donors, and to some extent their own interests (several super rich senators directly benefit from tax provisions inserted in the dead of night into the HEIST bill).

 Then there is the whole issue of unprecedented disregard for process, and continued promotion of what can only be called subversion of democracy, through suppression of voting, gerrymandering, and foreign-backed meddling in the election. These non-democratic acts are not laid at the door of Democrats, but almost entirely Republicans. And the complete subversion of the executive branch is so manifest that you have to be deluded not to see it. And, unfortunately, millions of Americans ARE deluded in just the way Trump and his oligarchic backers have worked assiduously, through propaganda arms such as TrumpTV (Fox News), to ensure.

 It is no longer the case that we have two parties, more or less representing the interests of significant sectors of society. We now have a party that represents oligarchs, the super rich, only, and which will use whatever means necessary to gain and retain power. The other party is still trying to figure out how to deal with this crisis, but it is, finally, coalescing around a broad program of social reform and restoration of small-r republican government in America.

 Days of reckoning will be coming, soon. We, as a nation, will have to pull together and destroy the forces of anti-democracy. And that means defeating as many Republicans as possible, at all levels of government, and especially state legislatures, governors, Congress, the Senate, and the presidency.

19 December 2017

Where we stand now -- my view

If anyone had any thought that even one Republican senator was anything other than a craven panderer to special interests and a self dealer, the fact that all of them intend to vote on the disgusting spectacle of a tax bill should cure them of that particular delusion. After all, almost three quarters of the public is against it and it serves only the interests of the super rich and mega business.

I honestly believe that every single Republican in the Senate has put non-democratic concerns, including personal power and wealth, ahead of the most basic concern for the well being of our nation. I accuse them. They, every one of them, are not patriots, in any sense of the word. They are a disgrace. They have betrayed the very most basic principles of small-r republican government and in so doing have betrayed their country. Every single one of them.

And as for our president,
​it should be ​
clear to everyone by now that our broken
​electoral college ​
system allowed
​ for​
the election of the most craven,
​truly dangerous, ​
self-dealing, selfish, corrupt,
sociopathic, foolish, unbalanced, stupid, and just plain mean man
​ ​
ever to hold th
office, then someone isn't paying attention.
​This is a man
who cares nothing whatsoever for small-d democracy.
This is beyond reasonable difference of opinion. The facts stare us down, and we ignore them, or make excuses for them, or "normalize" them, at our peril

If the rumors are true that the Trump administration intends to engineer the shutdown of the Mueller probe and plant violent insurrectionists among the peaceful protesters who will be taking to the streets in the wake of that, then our crisis will be upon us. We, the People, must build on our organizational efforts, to massively overcome the inertia and lethargy of American electoral politics, to wrest control from the forces of oligarchy and anti-democracy that currently hold power at almost all levels of government in much of the United States and the Federal Government. The very existence of our republic, as such, is at stake. 

We used to have civil discourse in this country. Where people who have a different view, left or right, centrist or eccentric, could present those views and strive for power without imperiling the very institutions that made our country, despite all, capable of calling itself a "democracy." But this Congress, and this presidency, have thrown all of that out. And it's not both parties. It is the Republicans, who have done this. Democrats are not without fault, of course, but the most damaging actions, such as undermining voting rights, promotion of court decisions and regulations to undermine democracy and sell power to the highest bidder, gerrymandering on steroids to prevent representation of whole classes of people, and simply ignoring the popular will as manifest in actual votes and every conceivable poll... these are overwhelming laid at the door not of both parties but of the Republicans alone. They have allowed our republic to become an oligarchy, which can no longer reasonably be called a democracy. I call upon my reasonable Republican friends, ordinary Americans who believe in our country, its Constitution, and what it always stood for, to take control back from your party, because these people do not share those beliefs. 


02 December 2017

This is how democracy dies

The Republicans in the Senate just passed the single worst piece of tax legislation in US History, and very probably the worst piece of public policy legislation in many decades, certainly so if measured by its devastating impact on social cohesion. And they did it while destroying comity and orderly legislative procedure UTTERLY. Such actions have consequences. 

And if another Republican mentions to me that the ACA was "rammed through," I will scream. A year of solicited input, thousands of hours of hearings, only to be met in the end by no serious effort to compromise, is simply not the same thing as presenting a massive, ill thought out, fiercely unpopular gift to the half of one percent who is their donor class, and everyone else be damned, passed on a straight party vote in the dead of night with no hearings and no debate. Functional representative democracy died last night in the US. It remains to be seen if it can be resuscitated.

I now state flatly, I cannot understand how any reasonable person can continue to call him or herself a Republican.