Stop calling half of America racist

Trump is racist. His supporters? All of them? Really?

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Anyone lambasting Trump’s supporters as racist xenophobes need to consider:

Were the votes for Clinton cast because her supporters wanted closer ties between Washington and Wall Street? Because they felt like a two-tier justice system is something to strive for? That more wars, and especially poorly-chosen and poorly-executed wars are good? That international trade agreements focusing on intellectual property rights are more important than climate accords?

Or was that support given for Clinton’s professed support of LBGT+ rights? Her stand against misogyny? Her promise of the status quo against what appears to be reactionary chaos? For women’s sovereignty over their bodies?

Trump offered up racism and nativism, sure. He also offered up a sledgehammer to the existing Washington elite. His support wasn’t about one thing; it wasn’t just “I hate minorities so Trump gets my vote” from Florida to Idaho. This election wasn’t just Trump’s nativism, it was also Establishment v Washington Sucks, and pretending it was only one thing or the other isn’t a full or reasonable accounting of what America currently is dealing with.

If this country is going to heal itself and stand firm against what I assume is a coming tidal wave of federal bullshit, people need to realize that there are actually rational reasons why the supporters of the opposing candidate exist. Imagine Clinton won, and the reaction in Dallas and Ft Lauderdale was for thousands of people to take to the streets chanting, “lock her up!” and posting online about how Hillary’s supporters just want the Washington consensus to send us all to war against Russia. Toss in a few burning effigies. That was the literal fear, right? That the election results wouldn’t be accepted by Trump? Remember the Tea Party? Do you think that kind of my-way-or-it’s-treason attitude has done America a lot of good?

People have allowed themselves to believe in their own virtue and denounce their opponents as immoral degenerates for way too long. I know maintaining civil discourse is hard when you only see the rotten in others, but no one is a caricature.

We have to love each other. We have to turn the cheek.

#partycrasher

American race and identity politics

The GOP just ran a platform of identity politics for whites. We all need better.

More post-election thoughts.
 
The American right has been complaining about Democratic invocation of identity politics for some time now; basically, catering to a demographic slice without much seeming consideration for the rest of America. To date, it’s only hit a few snags: racial minority opposition to same-sex marriage is probably the biggest snag to date, internal to the various factions the Democrats cater to.
 
Well, Trump’s nativism is what identity politics looks like to the right. He went out, targeted the concerns of a demographic in the white working class, and gave them exactly what they wanted without consideration for the rest of America.
 
I’m not saying that the concerns of the Democrats’ favored factions aren’t real – LBGTQ+ rights have always been lacking, police violence against the black community is a real thing, etc – but without being able to display comity to all while also pushing for faction-specific rights, such work is always going to come off to white America as special privileges rather than equal rights, political correctness rather than courtesy and respect.
 
America has lots of whites. They’re losing out in terms of electoral power, demographically, and America is changing around them in ways that they’re not being consulted on. Yes, American white supremacy is a thing… but even more so is the mere fact of the American white population. America is a democracy, and white people are a large and wealthy portion of it, carrying a disproportionate weight of taxation owing to their wealth in the favored society they’ve created. White America cannot be ignored simply because it has, at times, played the role of oppressor; it cannot be discarded or assumed loyal.
 
American democracy is wide, and for all the reasons the GOP morally needs to appeal to minorities and their concerns, the Democrats need to appeal to whites as well, because clearly they don’t think they’re part of the Democratic party’s plan any more.
 
If we’re going to have two major parties, it is morally imperative that those two parties do not define themselves by race. We did that once in America. We cannot do it again.

Trump wins, 11pm EST

Clinton lost it because she was a symbol of everything wrong with the status quo.

I’m reminded of Martha Coakley’s Senate loss in MA. Clinton pushed harder than Coakley, but there was that same arrogance to it all. Compare that to Warren’s Senate victory: she fought hard and jumped right in and stood for something, and she won in a walk because she had something to say. Clinton won’t lose to misogyny, she’ll lose because she embraced her Establishment role.
 
Hillary’s air of dynastic inevitability – cultivated and entirely by design, insofar as the political connections were concerned, and disastrously little apparent concern for public perception of those connections – was simply too much for Americans to stomach. Trump was a flawed candidate, a bloviating nitwit of a salesman who’s going to farm out every responsibility of the president other than speeches, demagoguery, and receiving accolades… and he beat Clinton.
 
For all the criticisms that flew around about Sanders, it was the very nature of Clinton, what she actually was rather than who she attempted to appear as, or how others painted her to be… but her very nature that lost. Maybe there is some misogyny in that, in that she just wanted it too much and perhaps a man wouldn’t have suffered for that, but America never really has liked smarty-pants nor intellectuals. Consider that poor ‘ol Jeb! got his ass handed to him for wanting it too much. No, I think Clinton earned this one on her own.
 
Neither party ran a particularly good candidate. Trump’s narcissism and lack of intellectual curiosity was inescapable, but Clinton somehow managed to find a way to be even more detestable than that. Neither party should have ran who they did; America’s problems are too large to have to deal with moronic empty pledges or more heaping portions of the status quo. We needed better.

Iran-trained militias join U.S-backed campaign on Mosul, flying Shi’ite flags

What we have wrought serves nothing in the American interest

http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/Reuters/worldNews/~3/zkPLq3yXsKc/us-mideast-crisis-iraq-iran-idUSKBN12U0UI

Bush’s legacy is going to last a very long time, and it is not a pretty one. Once Hussein was out of Iraq, only some kind of highly functional secular state was going to keep its Shi’ite majority from falling into Iran’s orbit. The war and occupation and dysfunctional political state have wrought something pretty much the opposite of a highly functional secular state: its Shi’ite majority, long oppressed by Saddam’s Ba’ath party, are now very big fans of democracy and its inherent powers granted to majorities against minorities. 

Iranian-backed militias were among the most effective fighters against Al Qaeda: the army was just seen as a way to make money, sell gear, and steal from the treasury… not at all a real fighting force, as opposed to the Shi’ite militias, who formed to fight, drill to win, and have a focused mission of retaking Iraq and making it Shi’ite. The army is still trying to disentangle itself from its corruption while US advisors try to help them, but Iran’s religious soldiers are proven and making things happen on the ground.

The end result isn’t here yet, but you can see it: Iranian influence from the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean, by way of Iran-Iraq-Syria-Lebanon. Once Saddam fell, this was about the only way it could’ve gone, and this is where we are: Sunni Saudi Arabia is embroiled in a regional competition with Shi’ite Iran and engaging that competition by starving Yemen with US weapons, meanwhile Iran is liberating Iraq. 

It’s an all-too-predictable disaster that American hubris forged. It was repeated on a smaller scale in Libya, with none of the lessons learned there, either… the saving grace there being that there are no nearby regional powers strong enough to take advantage of the chaos, only ISIS living in the cracks of destruction. 

There’s something about having all this money and gear to burn on weapons and war, seemingly totally divorced from the average American’s experience of war that makes us do astoundingly dumb things. My guess is that there’s often no significant blowback: the voters don’t care that much about endless war or domestic surveillance, the Treasury and Congress always seems to have more money for war, and everything awful is happening Over There (1M starving in Yemen as of today, and for all the noise and money about ISIS they’re operating out of pick up trucks). 

There is a role for the feds, and they and us need to own it

Standing Rock is about sovereignty and the rule of law

This is not an environmental issue so much as a sovereignty issue. America has always treated treaty rights with natives as speed bumps to be disregarded without great concern; they simply don’t have a history of taking them seriously or respectfully.
 
But those rights are real.
 
This is a nutshell demonstration of the battle between laws for little people, and government abetting of illegal actions for the wealthy. The Bundy occupation in Oregon was about federal mismanagement of land that ought to be treated as local. This is more than that: this is about federal mismanagement of land that wasn’t even theirs to begin with… compounded with a healthy dose of corporate greed and willful, shameful destruction.
 
If America wasn’t so divided, the crowds that cheered on the Bundys should be there. For those that want to speculate on such things: in an American two-party state wherein those parties are captured by oligarchs, it would be to their advantage to keep challenges to the de facto oligarchy isolated from each other.
 
There are, of course, complicating counterfactual narratives. The Bundys were basically going to bat for some arsonists that didn’t want to hold the bag on what they’d done. Here, there’s hay to be made about environmentalists holding back a multistate permitting process that’s already exceedingly complicated and has multiple rounds of reviews with stakeholders. And in the end, any solution here will have to be arrived at through some kind of compromise with the acquiescence of the feds themselves, which is why we both need to maintain federal power as well as govern it more wisely: petroleum interests in ND aren’t going to stand against big money, especially for natives. Someone has to be the adult in the room or else in the end money rules everything, and that adult is supposed to be laws administered by fair arbiters.
 
The way things are now, money does rule most things, as it ever has. It’s really up to the people to scale that truth back.

The RickRoll Was Not An Accident 

It shouldn’t be happening but it IS.

Seriously. Melania Trump’s speech was a trial balloon to see if we’ve transcended satire. We have. 

Her speech didn’t just contain a few paragraphs cribbed from Michelle Obama. It had a literal Rick Roll in it: It would be embarrassing but we’re past that point I guess. 

My guess at this point is that the speechwriter laid a few landmines. On purpose. And no one will care, because why would we. 

America’s Dysfunction in One Speech

No one on national television will ever care about the real story of Benghazi.

Patricia Smith is a grieving woman, and is allowed her grief. And she’s angry over her loss and that’s understandable. I bear her no ill will; I wish her peace.

That said, let me identify the three major issues I see here whose absence illuminates the rot in American political discourse:

  • No one wants to talk about whether or not we should have been in Benghazi in the first place. Following the entirely predictable (and predicted) collapse of Iraq and subsequent long-term disaster, the oligarchic Beltway consensus was that Libya’s teetering state should be tipped over. At no point has this rationale been significantly challenged by anyone in power. The entire intervention in Libya has – once again – led to a chaotic mess of what used to be a country, with spillover effects in the region, none of them good. We can’t forget Iraq, but Libya seems to have no trouble slipping into the memory hole of bad ideas, and the enablers that promoted it have never been held to account, largely because they’re all the same people and have no interest in mea culpas.
  • Congress – and mostly Democrats due to political reasons – never significantly challenged the fact that the American intervention in Libya violated the War Powers Resolution. The Democrats, for reasons of party loyalty, never allowed Congress to proceed with a formal rebuke over Libyan intervention. The GOP made an attempt and it went nowhere. Ultimately, Congress rolled over because arguing about Libya is really arguing against killing people, an ugly past-time that is basically guaranteed to earn support from the majority of inhabitants in your district.
  • The State Department and Hillary Clinton specifically declared to Congress that there was no need for their authorization, despite the War Powers Resolution. Not only was this against the Resolution, it also was against the limits set by the Department of Justice and a raft of precedent. Basically the Executive told the Legislature that it had no power, they’d be doing whatever they wanted anyway, and to trust them, and the Legislature ultimately went along with it. This isn’t a story of just Congress being useless, it’s also a story of the continued growth of presidential executive power in America.

Instead, what came of Benghazi? Endless reams of interviews and panels and inquiries, all to determine that the CIA was stirring up trouble in Benghazi, the Embassy was essentially undefended and overly reliant on local untrustworthy militias, that reinforcements were either going to come from the CIA who wanted to stay as undercover and unseen as possible or from Italy (too far to actually do anything in a combat situation where airfield access is unknown)… and oh yeah, some emails.

Benghazi was an undefended outpost of an imperial power that was put smack in the middle of its own stirred-up covert intelligence shenanigans, in order to attempt to stabilize a country that had been destabilized for bad reasons clear both before and after the interventions. Absolutely none of that has penetrated into the wider discourse in this country.

Clinton’s emails did. And it turns out that she carelessly shared classified material with people cleared to see them. And that’s dumb, but it didn’t murder anyone in Benghazi. It’s the kind of thing that gets a Navy officer two years probation and a $7,000 fine.

This poor woman is pissed off that Clinton said that a video caused the attack. It didn’t. That was at worst a lie, at best a mistake. The real reason the embassy was attacked was because it was a vulnerable American outpost in a volatile region, a truth that transcends the particulars, and that’s the reason why Ms Smith can’t get an answer. The answer is, “knowing everything we do about Iraq, which only reminded us of the obvious truths we knew before Iraq, we Americans collectively attacked a place, overthrew its despot, watched the region crumble, then put an embassy in the middle of it all and didn’t properly fund its defense”. And that answer indicts not just Clinton, but pretty much all of Washington.

None of that came up. None of that will come up. The hawks who clamor always for more war sneak by. The Congress that can’t do much other than grandstand sneaks by. A Presidential executive that will go to war when and how it wants to and will tell Congress to get stuffed sneaks by. The Pentagon’s budget, ever-ballooning, never auditable, grows and sneaks by. Instead, we’re treated to the parade of a grieving woman and told to hate Clinton. The Republicans should be ashamed; everyone involved in this should be.