Saturday, November 12, 2016

Political Correctness is bad

Shaming people for speaking their mind, for communicating in the words they know, is hurtful and harmful.  And it is capably argued here, that the rise of Trump was because he was so clearly smashing it.

I was pointed to this not by some right winger but from Richard Stallman's Political Notes.

I have never understood this issue until reading this article.

However despite being what one could call a leftist elitist, I've never thought shaming people is a good approach to anything.  I have disliked seeing people (and me) shamed as Communists, Socialists, etc.  I prefer talking about ideas and principles, not tribes, identifications or labels (though, I can talk about that too, and I would not offended by being called any of the things I just mentioned).

Does the badness of shaming people as a rhetorical technique extend to shaming them for being racist, xenophobic, anti-Jewish, anti-Muslim, misogynistic?

Yes, absolutely.

First, if there isn't an argument, it isn't necessary to always make one.  Here I deviate from legions of leftist theorists, but not from practical philosophers.

Second, if there is an argument, one doesn't have to take on the total field.  One should argue at the key weakness, which is always a mutually agreeable point, such as all people should have equal rights.  Starting from agreement, or close to it, and moving forwards is the only way to argue with anyone.  And to even make one small step forwards a day is all that is usually even remotely possible.

Starting from an attack, which shaming is perceived as, one cannot possibly move forwards.

OK, sometimes I may have forgotten this.

National Defense should mean National Defense

George Washington had it right: No Foreign Entanglements

Since then, however, James Monroe and Teddy Roosevelt have added some very bad ingredients to US policy, let alone nearly all Presidents since Teddy.

National Defense as provided by the US Government should mean exactly that: National Defense.

It should mean defending US Citizens within the US Borders, and nothing more.

If a US citizen decides to go outside the US borders, that's fine.  The US should not be a giant prison. However, once they leave the US Border, they are not entitled to US National Defense.  They are entitled to Diplomatic Services when and where those are available, including refuge in a US Embassy, but not a traveling defense shield against any and all threats.

Similarly, the US should not be defending other countries, or even other peoples in other countries, either.

That is not the responsibility of the US, and if the US tries to do it, it will get it wrong.  Even if it were to do the impossible, and get everything right, it would still be blamed for doing it wrong, but the fact is, this job is impossible to do correctly for the US, which is the national government of the United States, not the policeman of the world.

This is pretty obvious to most people most of the time, but the US has been way off track for a long time.

In all the time of the existence of the United States of America there has only been one arguable exception: World War II.  However, the US did not officially enter WWII until it was attacked, showing that to some degree US planners and US citizens were not far from thinking along these lines.

One problem then was that we hadn't been sticking to anything like neutrality beforehand.  When we were attacked by the Japanese, we deserved it.  We had already been contributing to the war in a non-neutral way.

While I would agree that WWII can be argued, I would stand on the side of those saying strict neutrality from beginning to end would have been preferable.  And providing humanitarian services, such as permitting more Jews to immigrate to the US--that would have been good.

Here I am disagreeing with my favorite documentary movie producer, Oliver Stone, who argues in his historical TV series The Untold History of the USA that not only was US participation in WWII morally and strategically necessary, it was delayed too long.

In my view that US participation in WWII created and essentially guaranteed the uber imperial state we have become ever since, to the detriment of the world and ourselves.

Friday, November 11, 2016


Trump lost the popular vote by a small margin, but won the small-state-tilted Electoral College by an even smaller margin post hoc; it's easy to see how a few additional votes in a few states could have swung the Electoral College vote to Hillary.

This is the Electoral College working as designed.  You can argue about it, and should whenever people speak of a "Mandate" for Trump.  He barely squeaked through the system rigged to favor the small-state-preferred candidate, which for at least 100 years if not more has meant the more Republican candidate.  Changing the blatantly and deliberately unfair system is another matter, to meaningfully change the system you'd have to get voters in the Red states to agree to the change...another Feature of our Constitution.  And it gives them an advantage which they still can claim they need.  So I wouldn't personally waste any effort trying to change it.  Thank the oligarchs of the late 18th century who wrote the US Constitution.  The less-Republican candidates have often gotten sufficient votes to overwhelm this creaky and creepy mechanism many times, and will have to continue doing so for the forseeable future.

And I should add that the system is increasingly rigged by voter restrictions and the like which have the same effect as the Electoral College.  So in reality we have rigging on top of rigging.  But once again, you need the red states to agree to stop rigging, which of course they won't.

So what happened?  According to experts, the answer is that polls failed to show the Trump victory because they generally only consider "likely voters," people with an established voting history.  Trump apparently drew in some new folks who hadn't voted recently.   Bringing in new voters is generally considered a very good thing, so Trump should be thanked.

It's Hillary who should be blamed and forgotten because, in so many ways, she blew it.  She in fact lost the very same "new" voters that Barack Obama brought in during 2008 and 2012.

Hillary took not the least responsibility which many believe she nevertheless had for the financial meltdown of 2008.   She was absolutely unreformed and unrepentent about things like the repeal of Glass Steagal and the  de-regulation of financial deriviates that were performed during her husband's administration (which many including me believe she was thickly involved with, probably even the ultimate boss).  Larry Summers, who was a key architect of the financial deforms (by all reports the "bully" who helped push them through) was riding the Clinton bandwagon presumably as the next Treasury Secretary or something.

Hillary was also mostly unreformed and repentant about NAFTA, GATT, and the like.  She relucantly distanced herself from TPP (which she had helped negotiatate) without any general critique of things like that (which I can easily provide: Go read Jamie Galbraith's book Predator State, it is NOT untutored to be highly opposed to such things, and the smartest and most caring people should be opposed to them In Principle).  Meanwhile, in the greatest display of political deafness ever, Obama kept pushing for TPP and was set to push TPP into law during the lame duck session, freeing Hillary of any of the blame for it.  Obviously it was more important to Obama to please his corporate backers than to see the Democrats win the next election.

Hillary was unreformed and unrepentant about her regime change boosterism and the enormous damage it caused, which most people in the USA still do not understand.  The US promoted unrest throughout the entire middle east going at least back to 2003 if not 1946 by supporting anti-government groups throughout the region.  The Arab Spring was a US sponsored thing and probably not much would have happened without US support.  This was bad enough, but in some cases, notably Libya we went further and actually militarily engaged those governments.  That led to collapse of legitimate governments, creating the vacuum which strengthened groups like ISIS and especially ISIS.  Finally, Benghazi was used as a weapons depot to gather up weapons (some illegal) from the Libyan conflict and ship them over to Syria, where we had another government destruction operation in progress.  All this and far more was going on under the strong arms of Hillary Clinton.

The result is what we see today, millions upon millions of refugees and broken lives and deaths.  THAT is what Hillary had already done, years before running for President where she would likely do far more.

Here I'm applying the "you break it, you bought it" principle.  Sure, there were other actors involved who in some cases were actually the ones killing or threatening people.  But if we had not provided the gunpowder and sparks, the whole disaster would have never happened, millions of lives would have not been lost.

The upshot is clear: Don't Go Out And Break Things!!!  And don't say you weren't warned by me.  The best Foreign Policy is the Prime Directive.  Do Not Interfere.  Then, and only then, can you not be blamed for an entire disaster.  This is intuitive to most people ("let them run their own country") but never has been for US Imperials.  We Must Save the world, by sending them leaflets and guns.

And there's more which Hillary was unrepentant about.  The Welfare Deform of 1996, which she boosted.  The Crime Bill, which decimated black communities.  Famously, Hillary made speeches about "Superpredators."  Perhaps no wonder that, in the end, she lost much of the new black vote Obama had secured in 2008 and 2012.  Democratic voting was WAY down in 2016.  And you can't blame the Greens, their vote was down too.

Add to all this, Hillary wasn't really campaigning for anything new.  As far as most people could correctly see, it was just a continuation of the Clinton-Bush-Obama policies, which have not done well inside the USA and far worse in the imperial sphere.

Instead, Hillary was going to win, HAD to win, ONLY because her opponent was a slimy misogynist bigot, and, of course, we can't let people like that into the White House (conveniently forgetting that most of the previous occupants of that residence have been precisely like that--including the sometimes revered Woodrow Wilson, the "intelligent person's" liberal).

The Media grabbed on to the least shred of Trump's misogyny and bigotry and played it to the max.  Every drunk screaming at a Trump fest became instantly a national celebrity showing how bad Trump was (even though Trump would not ever have sponsored such idiocy, he had to put up with it).  (A special note wrt the "anti-semitic" shouter.  Trump would certainly not have wanted this, it was a form of heckling, and I personally believe the shouter knew this and did it deliberately to discredit Trump.  Key players in Trump's campaign were Jews, including his biggest backer Adelson, his daughter, and son-in-law.  Sadly this also means we can't expect any progress for Palestinians, and probably the reverse.)

Some people weren't getting the media programming, however.  Including a majority of white women who voted for Trump.  Including blacks who didn't bother to vote.  Including a fair number of latinos in swing states who voted for Trump.  If Trump really was as bad as many gasped, would votes have gone like this?

My friends and relatives haven't gotten over this.  I doubt they will ever blame Clinton as much as I do.

The Neoliberal Democratic Party created by the Clintons in 1992 was immensely unpopular from the start.  The Democratic Congressional majorities which had existed since 1932 evaporated in the first Neoliberal mid-term of 1994.  Newt Gingrich rose to power in the House, then G.W.B to the White House.

And now, the Neoliberal Democratic Party has lost it all at the federal level, the Presidency, the House, the Senate, and currently just evenly balanced on the Court.

As Thomas Frank writes in all his books, Democrats should abandon Neoliberalism.  It hasn't worked in any way except raising useless campaign funds from Wall Street.

And that means abandoning the remake of the Democratic Party the Clintons completed in 1992 (actually, Jimmy Carter was the first Neoliberal Democratic President, because of deregulation and Volker).

The Clintons were a pair of spies aimed to destroy or at least de-radicalize the anti-war movement in the early 1970's.  Bill Clinton traveled through Europe without a dime of his own from one anti-war convention to another, sometimes staying in the most prestigious hotels, almost certainly on the CIA's dime, a nobody from nowhere curiously enabled to meet all the key players.  He never actually fulfilled the Fulbright scholarship he got through political insiders.  Hillary speecified Democratic neoconservatism in her famous 1970 commencement address, cutely cutting out the radical movements, and praising the virtues of "humanitarian interventionism."  After gaining the attention of the neoconservative establishment of the time, including Henry Kissinger (who she has continued to admire...even after we know so much about Cambodia, Chile, and his other disasters) then rose quickly in Washington power circles to become a chief investigator in the Watergate affair, where she became one of the few people ever to hear the most secret tape, the tape that even discusses the Kennedy assassination.  The Clintons then parlayed that first round of anti-radical skulduggery into actual government power, once again using their chameleon skill at looking-like-liberals to undermine the liberal Democratic party.  If you listened carefully, you can tell they aren't really liberals at all, in virtually everything they say or do.  Just as one easily verified example, Hillary famously says she wants to reduce the number of abortions, rather than emphasizing that every women who wants one should be able to get one.  The Clintons made the formerly-liberal Democratic Party into the Neoliberal Democratic Party, and Neoconservative as well (but that wasn't new...Truman was Neoconservative...but they helped halt the peacenik rebellion within the party).

The Clintons should not be seen as opponents to Reaganism, they were the people who used the new rhetoric of neoliberalism to make Reaganism sound good to Democrats, or at least the wealthier Democrats.  Obama largely follows the same pattern, with a few good surprises.  BTW, both of Obama's parents were also spooks, involved in US operations in Kenya and the Phillipines.  While this garners no positive feelings from me (the Phillipines!!!  we backed really bad guys there!), someone I know sympathizes that poor Obama doesn't get the respect some might feel due a child of national heroes who himself had to put up with a lot--no doubt.

Essentially we've had CIA rule in the USA ever since the Kennedy assassination.  GHW Bush was a key figure, a Texan working for the CIA at the time of the Kennedy assassination.  He managed to get himself elected as President 3 times, twice with Reagan as the figurehead.  Then his son elected twice.  Almost a second son.  Who knows if we'll see more.

It's no secret whatsoever that both Hillary and Bill hate leftists.  Not only unemployed anarcho communists handing out leaflets, but establishment figures such as Jeremy Corbyn.  As such, you would never imagine the Clintons being a unifying force on the left.  And pretty much since 1994 they proved to be a destructive force for liberalism and the left, more and more expressing conservative ideas while imposing neoliberalism and neoconservatism, essentially the same as Republicans were doing, with some important social policy differences--going far enough for no one and too far for most.  The vaunted Clinton Expansion of 1996 to 2000 was partly good timing, partly the good effect of higher income taxation, and partly a bubble conveniently engineered (but ultimately drowned out by banskster-promoted deficit reduction in place of real social investment).  You could say that about relative the lack of wars also (not forgetting Balkans, for which I now believe it would have been better for most if we had not gotten involved), though I do believe Bill Clinton (advised by Hillary) was more effective and less destructive than GWB.  But when Hillary became SOS, she put proof of her willingness to see others die in service of her career take the upmost.  Millions died and/or were displaced in Libya and Syria as a result of her actions, for which she has been unrepentant.

Interestingly, the moment that uber spymaster GHW Bush becomes President, the Soviet Union "collapses."  I have always believed this to be a coup, not a "collapse," it is known that the US helped it go.  I see the ultimate master cold war spymaster GHW becoming President and calling in favors, getting his wish.

With US-provoked and backed wars in two Russian client states, Ukraine and Syria, Hillary would be in the catbird seat to finally finish the job with Russia that her predecessor hadn't quite finished.  After proving her military determination in Libya and elsewhere in a highly militaristic term as Secretary of State, she would have been ready for the final coup, the coup that would make Russia a US client state.

I think it is possible in this election we may have dodged the ultimate bullet, nuclear war with Russia.   I can also list a large number of very well studied people who saw Hillary as the greater (and proven greater) warmonger than Trump.  Chomsky said he thought Hillary to be the lesser danger, but he was not (in that video) going to argue that point with others who might feel differently, and they should adjust their Lesser Evil strategy accordingly.

However even I didn't take that threat, or any other, not to vote for Hillary (as if it could have made a difference).  I did vote for Hillary, even though the value of my vote in Texas would be almost certainly unlikely to make a difference, and I had earlier decided on the Chomsky-recommended "Lesser Evil" strategy, which includes NOT voting for either evil in non-swing states but and making an alternative vote for some kind of good.  However, by the time I voted, some pollsters were painting Texas as pink, which could possibly make a difference.  At the time various polsters were assigning probabilities from 85% to 99% of a Hillary victory nationwide, and a 20-25% chance in Texas even.  I figured on a Hillary victory so solid that even if Texas were in-play, it would be in the context of a Clinton victory without Texas.  So, it was extremely extremely unlikely for my vote to make a difference except for the symbolism, I figured (correctly).  And I didn't want to get blamed, as I had been in 2000, for the Gore loss, which I myself have strongly regretted and felt some guilt for.  And as I have sometimes argued, the actual popular vote context has some meaning, particularly if your candidate loses (which again, I figured as almost impossible).  Anyway, with all these factors, and the seeming lack of popularity of the Green candidate anyway (I would never be a Green Party person as long as they allow themselves to be potential spoilers, but I might give them a DNC-protest vote because they are nontheless closest to my views of the 4 largest parties), and the arguments by some that the Green VP was a holocaust denier (which I suspected to be be crap, but didn't want to  spend time investigating) with all this, a single vote being of almost no importance to the actual election or even the popular vote statistic, I just voted Hillary as the easiest simplest thing to do, as many argue almost not worth bothering to do (but it IS worth bothering to make all the other votes BTW, just President is barely worth it, statistically) and of course I would never vote for a Trump, just never, for a whole host of reasons (though he did sound good on a few things sometimes, if I really believed him on those I could change my mind) though that doesn't mean I'd become a Hillary lackey either.

I liked it when Trump opposed trade agreements (I think NAFTA, WTO, all of their ilk should be abolished), I liked it when he said that he would be a fair player between Israel and the Palestinians (something he quickly retracted), and that he would create jobs, and not touch Social Security and Medicare.  Like Sanders I would support him in doing things like that.

When I think of people who actually voted for Trump, and I know a few, I don't feel condescending or suspicious or outraged or anything.  I see them as people who may or may not have saved us all from the ultimate Clintapocalypse.  We'll never know actually.

Actual events have also made the partial responsibility of Hillary voters for any bad things Hillary might actually done evaporate.  And since Hillary voters took the strongest* action against the election of Trump, they bear no responsibility for anything he does.

(*Actually, nobody takes the strongest possible action, which would be working as hard as possible from the beginning to the end of the election.  So everybody bears some responsibility for Trump's actions.  But it is greatly lessened just by voting for the strongest opponent.)


When the DNC put it's thumb down on one side of the scale, favoring Hillary, it did itself, the party, and the country a great disservice.  Though many polls showed that Bernie would decisively defeat Trump in double digits, and Hillary barely squeaking by, while I concede the polls could be wrong, chances are they were not wrong, it was already well known Hillary had extremely high negatives, even among Democratic voters.  But by taking one side, by not being 100% impartial, on the grounds that their selected candidate was more electable, the DNC then "owned" the election.  If they failed to win, as they did, they then bear 100% of the responsibility for the loss.  That's the way responsibility works.  If they had been entirely 100% fair to the nth degree, then they would have no responsibility, and it the responsibility would be on the shoulders of the voters, as it should be.

The failure is also the responsibility of the nags who told us endlessly that Bernie was not electable in the general election, and that even if he were much better than Hillary, one should vote for Hillary instead.  Now at least one side of that bet has been proven wrong.

I believe in one's own major party, one should never sell out for the Lesser Evil.  In the long run, even any short run, it doesn't pay off.  This is the same kind of half-loaf thinking that led to the rise of Clintonism in the first place.  "If we're only a bit more like Republicans..."  That's wrong, it never works, we should have never gone down this path.

Though it is true that Democrats have won 4 elections since 1992, they lost Congress, and the party has lost its soul.

We need the guy Bernie wants to bring the soul back.  Bringing back national victory could be just 2 years.  (Though highly unlikely, this all could lead to the greatest midterm revolt ever.  And midterm revolts are the typical thing.  Though...worry about voter suppression...)

After all is said about elections, the important part of politics is the creation of the ideas it uses, and those ideas come from stories, which assume and become frameworks of ideas and thinking.

What's really necessary now is to be able to tell and hear those stories.  One very inefficient way to do this is by having parties representing (well, as if they did) the self and the others, and those parties alternate in power.  To the degree each President expresses different sets of values, voila, we have self/other communication.

Much much better to have the best presidents and better ways of communicating.

Who would have been the best President?  Of all the candidates running, Bernie Sanders!  The very guy the DNC and Hillary with Wall Street in tow could barely stop.

It has to be understood, in complete reversal of what Hillary has said since 1970, that humanitarianism is necessarily humanitarian, never militaristic.  It cannot be militaristic, or even involve leadership or "advice."  All such things are not humanitarian, they are imperialistic.  They assume we know better, and can therefore take responsibility for being right.  We can't, and we shouldn't.

If we actually want to help people, we don't gun down their enemies.  We don't take sides at all.  Many conflicts are very complex.  We can never know let alone understand the whole story, as much as we know.  Therefore we should not try to change things, we should definitely not try to make them our way.

Humanitarianism is giving people food, shelter, asylum, immigration, employment, property, and success.  Not to say you can or always must do all those things, but that's what humanitarianism is.

That is what I am suggesting as my modified version of the Prime Directive.

Especially, most especially we don't want to be providing military actions, even allegedly "defensive" ones as they are always offensive to someone.  We don't want to be giving out weapons, or even stoking a conflict.  It is fine to provide diplomatic services, but they should be just that, and not any kind of advice or persuasion.

This is what a leviathan, a country, should do.  It may not be what one person does, on his own sponsorship, though I suspect similar karmic rules may be applicable.

NOW, what about Trump?  Well, that is not the topic of this post, and there has not been a Trumpocalypse just yet, though we can believe one may be shortly forthcoming, best in 2 years at the mid-term elections.  Then we might reset out of the Clinton-lock, and get back to a fully Democratic Congress.  I'm not the only dreamer.

Trump is not just any hodlum, he's a globe trotting billionaire deal maker who lives in a palace on 5th Avenue on New York City, among other similar places.

You would be insane not to believe he's been brushed by spooks from the world over, not to mention Presidents and dictators.  His mentor Ray Cohn had a deep connection with neoconservative politics going back to the McCarthy era, and was an attorney for the mafia.  Trump's dad was a rich landlord in New York City, and known for being openly racist.

Though for all I know he could have been in Dallas in 1963, I do not believe he was one of the inner sanctum neocons surrounding Henry Kissinger and George HW Bush from the 1970's who have run the country following the same foreign policy line since 1980 (notably, not in the direction John F. Kennedy seemed to be drifting to by November 1963).  He's from a different tribe than that club, for the first time in a long time.

Our best hope would be that he would be steered by the better paleoconservatives, such as Pat Buchanan, and his associate Paul Craig Roberts, in the area of foreign affairs.  They're not neophytes, they've been in Washington forever, and they argue forcefully for a full withdrawl from empire, right now before it's too late.  As of course do all real leftists.  This is our well known area of "far right and far left" agreement.

Sadly, it's looking more like plain old institutional endless war Republicans are all around and over him now.

I believe sometime in the last few months he's been dealmaking with the Washington establishment.  There is no doubt of this, he finally had a glorious reception at a central hub of neoliberalism, the AIPAC conference, in March.

But it seemed perhaps he hadn't made all the required establishment deals until just before the election.  The operators of the vote stealing machinery were prepared to go either way, with proven warhorse Hillary or Trump, if he subjected himself to a neoconservative implant.

The imperialist US media was breathlessly trying to cut Trump down, practically breathing Hitler on every breath.  I can see why many people were panicking on November 9th.  Get real, this is a 250 year old republic, and Trump is not a once imprisioned and hardened activist organizer leading a putsch, he's a reality TV star who drew a lot of undesirables because of his brash braggadocio.

In the end, just as in 2004 the actual vote counts went the other way from endless polls, including exit polls, and leading to a Trump victory in the electoral college, further indicating cooperation with the vote stealers, which is required if not strongly suggested by a close race.

Notably Hillary didn't fight, as one might have if Hitler had actually been rising to power.  She got the memo, Trump was stamped OK.  There were certainly fair grounds on the basis of voter suppression in key counties, to fight this and win.  But once Trump signed off on all the requirements, he was actually the favorite of the right leaning establishment because, well, tax cuts and cuts to poor people, moreso than the other guys.

Friends were dazed and deeply depressed after weeks of Trump-as-Hitler from all the media.  But the Imperialist media got what it wanted in the end.  Trump had made the deals.  And as a bonus the media itself couldn't be blamed for the outcomes of the Trump presidency.  And had a very TV centric personality to cover for the forseeable future.

Of course the media itself never believed the Trump-as-Hitler meme.  But it was good for business.