Saturday, July 16, 2016

Fifty Shades of Evil : Trump vs Clinton

Politics: the art of convincing decent people to forget the lesser of two evils is also evil.

Edward Snowden
Snowden chose exile over hemock

In the Trump vs Clinton contest, who is the lesser evil?

Sadly Trump.  Who is, as so many insist, also bad.
Trump without hair?  Or Hillary without tits?

No, he is not the AntiChrist.  Not even a racist, misogynistic jerk. Nor a buffoon or bully.  He is just Donald Trump.  A rich guy who loves attention.

He wants to make a difference. And -- he already has -- in a way that no Democrat ever has -- as a Republican mirror to GOP insanity.  The GOP can never be the same.

That said, he is still a rich guy, with no idea how the rest of the world lives and what they want or need.  Then again, if we don't know -- how could he?

The same thing can be said of the Hillary, who doesn't know or care about anyway out of her little circle.  Trump thinks he should care -- but he just doesn't know how.  Rich guy, remember.

In the end it is all about social class -- which is just another term for tribalism in mega societies.  Hillary and Trump belong to different tribes from most of us.

But electing Trump will not usher in any Golden Age.  
Remember them?

We have no idea how a President Trump would act. However, historically,  , with perhaps just one exception -- FDR -- presidents, whatever their personal convictions have allowed their policies to be shaped by previous polices of government by the "System".  We have been down this road before.

Nice words?

So it was that Jimmy Carter - despite his liberal credentials -- followed the cold war policies of Zbigniew Brzezinski. 

He was sincere in his liberal convictions yet ended up as much a killer as any previous president.  
Quatemalan girls. Jimmy supported the murderers

Obama, who was never sincere about anything but his personal advancement campaigned as a progressive but delivered regressive policies which matched the policies of his predecessors.

FDR was different -- but he too was an agent of the "System"-- for  the Great Depression had left America ripe for revolution - either a populist, nativist one such as occurred in Germany - or a socialist revolution.  He recognized that it was in the best interests of the rich to share wealth rather than hoard.

Now, the US faces something similar challenge.  It is a broken empire, unequal and unjust.

And Trump is no FDR. 

Clinton?  LOL....  Thatcher died.  But the Wicked Witch was reborn as the Goldwater Girl.


Trump's  faux-right "solutions" are  so simplistic as to appear simple-minded.   Does he believe his own bullshit?    Perhaps not now.  But the more he repeats it, the more likely he is to persuade himself.  It is also true that since a lot of what he says is not based on anything like logical analysis or weighing of facts--just emotional reaction - he can turn on a dime.
What Trump REALLY thinks?

So the Donald promises to build a wall.  Racism, you say?"  Yet, your current government arrests, imprisons and deports men, women and children -- mostly harmless economic refugees --  with considerable cruelty and injustice, breaking up families sometimes and destroying lives.  Building a wall is impractical and expensive -- but repealing NAFTA is not -- and it would benefit the Mexicans, perhaps reducing the   the number of "illegals".  Maybe dumping NAFTA, would reduce the economic crisis in Latin America.  

Trump appears not to be ideological.  He wants to do "deals" with Putin -- and China -- and even Iran.   He doesn't care about foreign policy -- just foreign business.

On the other hand, it is possible that the Donald might be far, far worse than Obama or Clinton or Bush or Carter. 

Trump's attacks on radical Islam?  Islamaphobic? Maybe

Yet, ironically modern Islam itself is often Islamaphobic in the same way that modern Christianity is anti-Christian.  The Qu'ran itself is the greatest repudiation of radical Islam.  Just as the words of Jesus repudiate institutional Christianity  since the 4th Century. The words and beliefs of the Prophet mean little to the Saudis, whose policies are simply blasphemy.  

Does Trump understand this?  Likely not.  But he gets that something is wrong in institutional Islam -- the Saudi kind, for example.


If he became President, he would definitely be the Lesser Evil -- but still evil --as Snowden says -- a rich man who does not really understand inequality and its origins.  A rich man who buys into the same pernicious mythology that  blinds the poor -- the American Dream.  The American Delusion.

And the System might find him easier to subvert than it did even Jimmy Carter, who went from peacenik to Cold Warrior over night, without an comprehension that he had done so..

So, are we fucked?  Is there an alternative?

There always is.    Once, it was Ralph Nader.  In 2008, you had Dennis Kucinich. 
Kucinich & wife


Today you have Jill Klein. 
Everything starts from zero

Who has as much of a chance as Nader or Kucinich.  ZeroWhich is why you should vote for her.  If you vote means nothing -- as a lot of people think -- then vote for the Zero.

Once again, the power is with the People. And the People will get the Government that mirrors their madness.  Still, the votes of the hopeless can be like the voices of children telling their King that he is naked.

Below, Jill Klein's plan.  Impossible?  Not if people voted for her.  it is as simple as choosing her on the ballot.

But to do that -- they would have to be read and think and be invested in a better future for their country rather than reruns of Desperate Housewives.

Key points of the Power to the People Plan:
A Green New Deal:

Create millions of jobs by transitioning to 100% clean renewable energy by 2030, and investing in public transit, sustainable agriculture, and conservation.


Jobs as a Right:

Create living-wage jobs for every American who needs work, replacing unemployment offices with employment offices. Advance workers rights to form unions, achieve workplace democracy, and keep a fair share of the wealth they create.


End Poverty:

Guarantee economic human rights, including access to food, water, housing, and utilities, with effective anti-poverty programs to ensure every American a life of dignity.


Health Care as a Right:

Establish an improved “Medicare For All” single-payer public health insurance program to provide everyone with quality health care, at huge savings.


Education as a Right:

Abolish student debt to free a generation of Americans from debt servitude. Guarantee tuition-free, world-class public education from pre-school through university. End high stakes testing and public school privatization. 


A Just Economy:

Set a $15/hour federal minimum wage. Break up “too-big-to-fail” banks and democratize the Federal Reserve. Reject gentrification as a model of economic development. Support development of worker and community cooperatives and small businesses. Make Wall Street, big corporations, and the rich pay their fair share of taxes. Create democratically run public banks and utilities. Replace corporate trade agreements with fair trade agreements.


Protect Mother Earth:

Lead on a global treaty to halt climate change. End destructive energy extraction: fracking, tar sands, offshore drilling, oil trains, mountaintop removal, and uranium mines. Protect our public lands, water supplies, biological diversity, parks, and pollinators. Label GMOs, and put a moratorium on GMOs and pesticides until they are proven safe. Protect the rights of future generations.


Freedom and Equality:

End police brutality, mass incarceration and institutional racism within our justice system. Expand women’s rights, protect LGBTQIA+ people from discrimination, defend indigenous rights and lands, and create a welcoming path to citizenship for immigrants. Protect the free Internet, replace drug prohibition with harm reduction, and legalize marijuana/hemp.


Justice for All:

Restore our Constitutional rights, terminate unconstitutional surveillance and unwarranted spying, end persecution of government and media whistleblowers, close Guantanamo, abolish secret kill lists, and repeal indefinite detention without charge or trial.


Peace and Human Rights:

Establish a foreign policy based on diplomacy, international law, and human rights. End the wars and drone attacks, cut military spending by at least 50% and close the 700+ foreign military bases that are turning our republic into a bankrupt empire. Stop U.S. support and arms sales to human rights abusers, and lead on global nuclear disarmament.


Empower the People:


Abolish corporate personhood. Protect voters’ rights by establishing a constitutional right to vote.  Enact electoral reforms that break the big money stranglehold and create truly representative democracy: public campaign financing, ranked-choice voting, proportional representation, and open debates.

The Big Bang began from zero.

       


Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Please Senpai -- Notice Me! :"

 Please Senpai notice me!" Japan Cool is just Me-Too-ism.
THIS is "power"

 How is this different from  from Soft Power?


Let me count the ways....

Soft power is used to suggest that  the US  can influence other nations culturally and through communication of values and beliefs.   After all, the US is an imperial, universalist power whose mantra is "we are the world".  And they will bomb you in to the stone age if you don't agree. 

Other countries such as, say, Switzerland or Italy are not able to back up propaganda by threat of force.
Swiss "soft power"

However, it aint ideas that do the influence -- only economic and military threat.


Worldwide,  most people just don't like the US that much.  The global image of the US is as follows:
Hierarchical, neo feudal
Antidemocratic
Unequal
Imperialistic, war-like
Violent
Culturally chaotic, with minorities discriminated against
Unjust
Sociopathic
Slave culture
Rich
Jetsetter / trendsetters
The "real" American much of the world sees

People in other countries are only likely to impressed by o wealth and trendiness.  


Of course, all things are relative, if you are a poor Mexican or Honduran – facing an uncertain future at the hands of death squads, the US – just next door might seem a refuge.  

The US is not a failed state (yet).  And some people do get rich. So, why not move?   Any port in the storm.

American propaganda (aka "soft power") projects an image of the US as:

Freedom-loving
Democratic
Freedom of opportunity
Creative / Innovative
Moral
Egalitarian
Just / Fair
Meritocratic
Only (some)  Americans believe American propaganda

LOL....

Few, even partially educated people outside the US buy into this image of America.  In fact, a lot of Americans  disagree with large chunks of it.

Of course, the target audience is  American --  American elites want ordinary people to accept the most massive kleptocracy in history.    -- not that anyone will tell you that. 


"Americanism" is not a pseudo religion, as some have suggested -- but it is an orthodoxy -- institutionalized with the power of religion.


Or, if you like, Americanism is the Asylum, in which all Americans are confined.  Take your pills, do group therapy and don't question.

An exaggeration?  Perhaps.

In any case, American "soft power" is really  “culture washing”.  America is represented as  a set of ideals, which it has never even remotely approximated.  Heaven.  But you have to die to get there.  

On the other hand, buying into this shtick gives Americans confidence that they are “looking good”.   Kinda like guys in uniforms.

Now, let’s look at “Cool Japan”.


Outside of Japan, people think:

 
The real Japan: subway, drunken overworked salarymen

Workaholic
Conformist
Rule-bound
Conservative
Dependent
Pragmatic
Hierarchical /Feudal
Boring / regimented
Uncommunicative
Efficient
Exotic  / Mysterious


Notice that only the last two attributes – “efficient” and “exotic / mysterious” are positive.      There is a word in Japanese – dasai – which is a combination of vulgar and boring – which is how the Japanese tend to think of themselves relative to Americans and European. 


Japan is the “vertical” (tatte) society ( shakkai).  Globally it sees the world as “tatte no sekai”  (“sekai” = world).  


There are those who lead--  “senpai” and those who follow behind--“kohai”.   Relative to Europeans and Americans, the Japanese are always “kohai”.  Relative to Thais and Filipino always “senpai”. 

So how do the Japanese gain confidence for themselves? You guessed it – “Cool Japan”. They have to do a lot of culture washing. So Japan is now:

Creative
Harmonious
Human-centered
Unique / spiritual
Quality-oriented
Egalitarian
Cool Japan?  

The “creative” part is Hello Kitty, manga, anime and J-Pop.
Harmony and human centrism?  Omotenashi.

More Cool

Quality?  Expensive hotels, luxury goods, and well-engineered cars and appliances. 


Egalitarian?    The “salaryman” culture where everyone dresses the same.  Politeness and indirection.


Uniqueness, spirituality?  The martial arts, zen, tea ceremony and the like. 



The Japanese may be kohai -- but in Japan -- the senpai-kohai relationship is structured so the kohai get respect and status and to some degree privilege.  The unique qualities or abilities of the kohai are recognized by the senpai who often adopts them as his own.  Me-too-ism plus alpha.

This is why the Japanese ripped off "Cool" from "Cool Britannia", which was quite different.  They didn't get the play on words -- "Cool Britannia" and "Rule Britannia". They didn't get that "Cool Britannia" was the expression of an anti-status quo youth movement.    It was just "Me-too".   Following the leader.

Well, say, the Japanese -- the world just doesn't understand us.  They don't pay attention to us.  So, we will get their attention --with the stuff that world is already paying attention to, and which we mostly don't pay attention to -- hello kitty, manga, anime, sushi, politeness and attention to detail. 

There is no "teaching moment" here.  Nothing new.  The way the world sees Japan is not going to change in any respect.  "Cool Japan" is a waste of money and time.  Just top-down "culture washing".

In this respect it differs from "Cool Britannia" -- which was not culture washing -- but an authentic evocation of British youth culture itself -- created bottom-up -- at least until Tony Blair got his slimy fingers on it. .

Advertising companies will make a lot of money.    Politicians can swell with pride -- and change the constitution to permit a flag waving armed forces complete with an hugely expensive American fighter that will be obsolete if it ever achieves operational status ("if").