Category Archives: Politics

‘He is a man of action’

So here we are trying to digest the first few days of life under “President” Donald Trump, Der Groppenfuhrer.

Trump’s advisers say that his frenzied if admittedly impulsive approach appeals to voters because it shows that he is a man of action.

Such voters, to the extent that they exist, are men and women of horrific ignorance.

To act without knowledge, to react without insight, to spontaneously opine (and effectively enact policy) without restraint, is the behavior of a narcissist madman.

In 2017, that’s our president.

He sits in the White House at night, watching television or reading social media, and through Twitter issues instant judgments on what he sees. He channels fringe ideas and gives them as much weight as carefully researched reports. He denigrates the conclusions of intelligence professionals and then later denies having done so. He thrives on conflict and chaos.

Oh, also: He lies. Repeatedly. And then lies again when he denies every uttering his previous lies.

Ironic and sad, that his general election opponent was ridiculed for supposed dishonesty.

All of this was predicted during the campaign, as he revealed the unhinged insecure reality TV star and huckster many knew he was.

But we get the government our uninformed citizens deserve.

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Eyes in the Stars

I was born to see two thousand years
Of man’s effect upon the planet
Extinction seems to be a plausible risk
Whatever happens I’m a part of all this

–“Pandemonium,” Killing Joke

Is freedom so great
To fight for food?
Compete for shelter?
Who is the top dog?
Is this the winter of humankind?
What has become of us?
What made us blind?

After disclosure comes
Man takes his rightful place
Amongst the stars
The celestial barge awaits

One by one, we embark
To the sun behind the sun

–“Into the Unknown,” Killing Joke

I got to know my wife under the gaze of Orion. I wooed her under nods to Caseiopea and the “seven sisters” of Pleiades. I spend winter nights soaking in the hot tub staring at all of these, enjoying the clear sky in the crisp winter air.

Pleiades resonates almost universally with stargazers for being visible “from virtually every place that humanity inhabits Earth’s globe. It can be seen from as far north as the north pole, and farther south than the southernmost tip of South America.”

There is something wonderful about staring at these parts of our universe so far away knowing people so relatively close — yet so far — are staring at them with me.

In these settings I get humanity’s historical fascination and attachment to the stars, its projection of irrational meaning and attachment to them. They are constant in a world that is not. They offer some form of structure or packaging to the vast chaos that is our home.

As I sit in the hot tub pondering the infinite — or is it a vanishing point? — horizon of life and time, I think of these visuals that draw us together across physical space, time zones, generations, time.

As I watch a plane’s lights far up in the night sky literally fly in between me and Pleiades long enough to briefly block the constellation of stars 425 light years (!) away, I think of the frightening fragility of life, the relatively brief window in time of our civilization, and the many ways we can destroy ourselves in an instant.

Donald Trump, climate change denier, reality TV-emboldened narcissist and oblivious friend to all those who too easily place their own lifespans above everyone who might follow, is president-elect.

It gives one pause.

Best description of Missouri I’ve heard in a while

“It is a funny sort of state — a couple of big cities and then the Ozarks.”

–Colin Gordon, a historian at the University of Iowa and author of Mapping Decline: St. Louis and the Fate of the American City

That pretty well explains our bizarre bifurcated politics, too.

The quote is from a Huffington Post article on how Missouri is at the center of two of the nation’s most pivotal recent racial tension events.

But Gordon’s “Mapping Decline” work, one I recommend to all newcomers to St. Louis — well, those who can handle critical thinking — an awesome history and interactive map of the policies that helped make St. Louis so segregated over the last century, to the point we are now…where we are.

A ‘big project’ that is taking a ‘couple centuries’

No really, it’s okay to talk about these things frankly!

Above all the B.S. and politics and hate, a thoughtful and real response, to a real question, by the U.S. president (which began with reporters pressing, “Will you personally go to Ferguson?”):

I have to be very careful about not prejudging these events before investigations are completed—the DOJ works for me and when they’re conducting an investigation I’ve got to make sure that I don’t look like I’m putting my thumb on the scales one way or the other. So it’s hard for me to address a specific case beyond making sure that it’s conducted in a way that’s transparent, where there’s accountability, where people can trust the process, hoping that with a fair and just process you end up with a fair and just outcome.

But as I think I’ve said on some past occasions, part of the ongoing challenge of perfecting our union has involved dealing with communities that feel left behind, who as a consequence of tragic histories often find themselves isolated, often find themselves without hope, without economic prospects. You have young men of color in many communities who are more likely to end up in jail or in the criminal justice system than they are in a good job or in college. And part of my job that I can do I think without any potential conflicts is to get at those root causes.

Continue reading A ‘big project’ that is taking a ‘couple centuries’

Don’t talk about it, maybe it will go away

“Sea level rise is our reality in Miami Beach,” said the city’s mayor, Philip Levine. “We are past the point of debating the existence of climate change and are now focusing on adapting to current and future threats.”

I can’t believe this is still happening, yet here we are in 2014:

In acknowledging the problem, politicians must endorse a solution, but the only major policy solutions to climate change — taxing or regulating the oil, gas and coal industries — are anathema to the base of the Republican Party. Thus, many Republicans, especially in Florida, appear to be dealing with the issue by keeping silent.

Keeping silent, sticking their heads in the sand. Same as it ever was.

Ice age coming, ice age coming ‘
–Let me hear both sides, let me hear both sides, let me hear both–’ Ice age coming, ice age coming ‘
–Throw ‘em in the fire
Throw ‘em on the–’
We’re not scaremongering
This is really happening
Happening …

… ‘Here I’m allowed
Everything all of the time
Here I’m allowed
Everything all of the time‘”
–Radiohead, “Idioteque

Years of obstruction, followed by momentary thought of governing

Oh, how clever and typically devious: Use the least informed, most zealous demographic to help obstruct any legislative progress for the past four, six years, then as mid-terms approach and another shot at the presidency nears, decide “Gee, maybe we should think about actually governing again.”

Wall Street Journal:

Republican leaders and their corporate allies have launched an array of efforts aimed at diminishing the clout of the party’s most conservative activists and promoting legislation instead of confrontation next year.

GOP House leaders are taking steps to impose discipline on wavering committee chairmen and tea-party factions. Meanwhile, major donors and advocacy groups, such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and American Crossroads, are preparing an aggressive effort to groom and support more centrist Republican candidates for Congress in 2014’s midterm elections.

At the same time, party leaders plan to push legislative proposals—including child tax credits and flextime for hourly workers—designed to build the party’s appeal among working families.

The efforts, at the national and state levels, come at the end of a year of infighting and legislative brinkmanship, capped by the 16-day government shutdown in October that drove the party’s image to historic lows.

Thanks for wasting our time and turning yet more people off politics, shattering remnant hopes of so many who dared enter the game to try to make a difference instead of make a buck.

Even better: Pitch your mouthpiece Wall Street Journal on how you intend to change, and you totally mean it this time.

“Our No. 1 focus is to make sure, when it comes to the Senate, that we have no loser candidates,” said the business group’s top political strategist, Scott Reed. “That will be our mantra: No fools on our ticket.”

Yeah, good luck with that. May you reap what you’ve sowed for far too many years.

Reminds me of that time when it was cool to rip Al Gore for “hugging trees” and then … yada yada yada 20 years later here come the seas. Whoops!

The 2012 Election Scene, in 150 Words

Heh, Frank Bruni in an NYT op/ed:

As often as not, a convention is a communal lie [ed.: I *love* this line!], during which speakers and members of the audience project an excitement 10 times greater than what they really feel and a confidence about the candidate that they only wish they could muster. It’s balloons and ginned-up fervor and manufactured swagger and more balloons.

And in Tampa, the helium and revelry obscure a great deal of doubt. While Republicans certainly prefer Romney to President Obama and rightly believe that he has a shot at the White House, they also suspect that a more likable nominee with a defter touch would be the heavy favorite to win, given Americans’ apprehensions about a persistently weak economy. And they cringe at Romney’s clumsiness, diligently reminding themselves that their other options were lesser ones: Rick Perry, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, Herman Cain.

You bake your cake with the ingredients you have.

What a twisted and incomprehensible scene, our democracy. Any moment now someone from among those lesser candidates will call Hurricane Isaac part of God’s judgment on their times, I’m sure.

Bankers: They’re just like us!

Endless cycle

People or US or some such grocery store rag has some running feature in which it displays invasive photos of celebrities doing “real human” things like spilling ketchup or swatting their dogs or misspelling “receive” under the title, “They’re Just Like Us!”

As if it is some historic revelation that the rich and famous, whom the magazine somehow sells copies by deifying, are actual humans. They might even wear deodorant.

I would love a similar satirical feature about the infallible bankers who continue to cock up our society without, well, paying any consequences. From Krugman, the chronicler of our end times:

Remember when Stephen Schwarzman of the Blackstone Group compared a proposal to limit his tax breaks to Hitler’s invasion of Poland? Remember when Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan Chase characterized any discussion of income inequality as an attack on the very notion of success?

But here’s the thing: If Wall Streeters are spoiled brats, they are spoiled brats with immense power and wealth at their disposal. And what they’re trying to do with that power and wealth right now is buy themselves not just policies that serve their interests, but immunity from criticism.

They actually sound like message board ranters {looks at self} except whining without anonymity and with more money. But I mean, all of us would totally buy our own way out of regulation if it meant we could make even more money, a I right? And I compare having to pay taxes to being invaded by Hitler all the time!

Think about where we are right now, in the fifth year of a slump brought on by irresponsible bankers. The bankers themselves have been bailed out, but the rest of the nation continues to suffer terribly, with long-term unemployment still at levels not seen since the Great Depression, with a whole cohort of young Americans graduating into an abysmal job market.

And in the midst of this national nightmare, all too many members of the economic elite seem mainly concerned with the way the president apparently hurt their feelings. That isn’t funny. It’s shameful.

I actually prefer not to think about where we are right now, but– wait, bankers have feelings? Why…they’re just like us!

Mitt Romney’s Presidential Compaign Is Run by Spamming Idiots.

Five SIX(!) times in 24 hours I have received “an urgent message” from Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign, each time leaving me a lengthy recorded message either trashing his opponent or praising his acumen in the voice of specific Republican politicians I have never voted for.

I’ve never voted in a Republican primary. This robo-spamming sure as hell won’t make me start.

Still, his message has been heard: I’m sure strategic excellence like this is what made Romney such a successful businessman, a pillar of our times, a shining example of the equal opportunity and financial reward that awaits those with smarts and gumption.

**Update: SIX! Yes, they did it one more time! I’m headed to dinner; wonder what awaits me when I come back.