Category Archives: Socio-political

Loud Noise Can Kill

Here’s a thought: Steven Paddock complained to the hotel the night of the shooting, about a party in the room below him (he was on the 38th? floor). The music (country) was too loud, he claimed.

Two things: first of all, Paddock probably would have welcomed legalizing silencers, since he didn’t like noise. Consider what an even greater disaster it would have been if he had been firing with silencers: no one would have been able to figure out where the shots were coming from, and for awhile, that actually they were shots. People would have just been falling dead in the crowd. In fact, in the first seconds or minutes of the shooting, a lot of people thought someone was shooting off fireworks. In any case, Republicans considering a silencer legalization bill entitled something like Hearing Protection, have shelved the bill for now—because of the massacre.

The second thought: Steven Paddock may have hated noise, or loud music, or country music, or all three, to the point of rage. His girlfriend described him as kind and quiet. I know someone who has the urge to shoot to kill whenever she hears loud motorcycles, or other loud machines; she’s actually a pacifist. She has often commented that it’s lucky she doesn’t have a gun. Well, Steven Paddock had 42 of them. And apparently he planned meticulously to kill as many people as possible, people in a loud, late night country music concert below him. He had converted his guns (12 of them?) into machine guns by adding bumper stocks. He needed so many, because ordinary guns heat up with rapid firing, so he could shoot with one, put it aside to cool, shoot with another, and so on. And he also had video monitors to warn him if officers were coming to stop him. He shot a security guard through his hotel door.

Think about it: loud music, or hollowed out mufflers, or something else loud might drive some people to homicidal rage. One of the black lives snuffed out last summer was supposedly in a dispute about loud music from his truck.

No one seems to think there is a right to quiet, but for many, loud noise is unavoidable and it’s enraging, when you can’t escape it.

Loud noise might cause murder. Maybe it did, on a mass scale, in Las Vegas.

Jan. 20, 2017 and After

Julian Hawthorne, my great-grandfather, was a bestseller author, only son of Nathaniel, and a scamp, who spent time in prison for signing on to a stock swindle. He wasn’t near as bad as what we’re facing now, and he was literate.

Friday, January 20, 2017, Noon

In a few minutes

The most unprepared, outrageous clown

Will take the oath of Office

Of President of these

Disunited States.

He’s named billionaires, generals

Corporate leaders, incompetents

To run our Government.

It’s as if the Jester King of misrule

Isn’t ruling for a day, or a year,

But for at least four of them

And intends to bring his

Chaos with him, to the nation

To the whole world,


Yes, just because he can

And because he wants

The whole world

To watch his every move.


Three and a half million

Marchers, led by women

All over the nation

And more abroad

Happily demonstrate against

The hate and lies

Of the incoming Trump regime.

That’s bigger than Obama, or Trump

Bigger than Iraq

A tidal wave of cheerful

Peaceful opposition.

Trump twitters: why didn’t they vote?

Most did.

He lost the popular vote

By nearly three million,

But still, his press spokesman,

Fellow fabulist,

Claimed the biggest audience


For Trump’s Inaugural address.

So much for broadening his appeal.

By fighting the media

Even threatening them,

By preventing Canadian entry

At the border

If they oppose Trump.

He also hints how health care

Will be restricted,

Medicaid to block grants

Prior conditions reinstated

Risk pools promoted

Subsidies cancelled

Medicare eligibility age raised.

No wonder towns and cities

Were jammed with millions protesting

Trump’s ascension!

Millions more are terrified

The Donald will press the button

When a foreign ruler

Squints askance

At our thin-skinned leader.

Raise The Swamp

In our fast Trumpifying world, we may need a lot of protesters to block, or undo the damage Trump and his jolly wrecking crew intend to wreak.

I can write, call, turn out sometimes, canvass, maybe, and to a lesser degree, give money. I hope younger people, with more energy, can do more.

What does the still formative Trump government begin to look like?

His list of appointees and his radical proposals read as if he won by a landslide, yet no President lost more of the popular vote and still won election.

It’s even very possible, from the data so far analyzed, that the voter suppression laws enacted by Republicans in states they controlled, made the difference, although voter turn out was low in any case, possibly because both candidates were unpopular with any but their core supporters.

To look at the potential cabinet is to see, not appointments of someone who wanted to unite the nation he hadn’t really won, but as if he had won the landslide mandate he claims.

Maybe he believes his own lie? That voter fraud accounted for the almost 3 million votes more for Hillary.

Every appointee designee is marked, either as a consistent opponent of the very Department or agency they are supposed to run (into the ground?), or they’re hawkish Generals, or predatory Wall Street billionaires. A good many of them are lobbyists in Washington: so much for “draining the swamp.”

Trump talks of bringing people together, yet he labeled the Democratic members of  the Senate  “clowns,” “lead by head clown Chuck Schumer” in tweets from January 5th, just before the debate on repeal of the ACA began. He then recommended that they work together with Republicans to craft a new, better health care system. After calling them clowns.

Is the man serious?

Up until his briefing on the problem, he maintained that the idea of Russian hacking to influence the election was crazy, or sour grapes. After his intelligence briefing on the hacking, what did he say?

He said, in effect, ‘Well, maybe there’s something to the charges, but so what? Happens all the time, all over.’ Within the next day or two he reverted to claiming it was all just sour grapes.

On Trump’s side of the argument, the US interferes in elections all over the world, has been since the 19th century and Putin believes that Ukraine’s coup was US engineered, so he felt it was legitimate to act accordingly.

He may well have been right about US meddling in Ukraine, unfortunately.

His motivation for the hacking? Revenge, weakening the US, and maybe buying an ally.

Democrats are in the minority in House and Senate, but in the Senate they can mount a filibuster, or stop a vote through cloture, unless it’s a Presidential nominee, or a budget-related bill. So, their power to oppose is limited, but Schumer is now talking as if they’ll be stalwart opposition, delaying confirmations and blocking initiatives. Schumer says they’ll only collaborate if Trump offers positive proposals, like a real infrastructure program spending real money, not tax-breaks encouraging privatization (like building profit-making toll roads, for example and claiming that as infrastructure repair).

Trump seems, diabolically, to appoint people diametrically opposed to everything Democrats and moderates stand for. He just nominated a DAPL supporter (for completing the Dakota Access Pipeline) as the administrator of the Bureau of Indian Affairs! And another to be Energy Secretary.

But tweeting, calling Democrats clowns, is not going to unite people behind Trump. It’s an approach—I can’t call it a strategy—bound to alienate or distance anyone in the targeted group.

What is Trump about?

He seems to think he can function as President based on the personal loyalty of his family, his friends, his supporters and no one else. Anyone who is not loyal—and even some who are, like Chris Christie—are driven beyond his pale.

It’s true that with a Republican House and Senate, and a majority of states (but not a majority of voters), he’s going to get more of a free pass than he deserves.

Already, the GOP Congress is preparing legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act. And the Senate is preparing to hold hearings for Trump’s nominees, even though they haven’t completed their background checks (in some cases they haven’t even submitted their data). In addition, the House had attempted to eliminate independent ethics investigations for themselves, but the outcry against it was too strong. Trump didn’t say, don’t do it; he said put it off for a better time, wink, wink.

The latter event indicates that public pressure might work, sometimes.

On January 9th, the Senate Democrats staged a sleep-in protest, using all the social media they could, to protest the Republican move to repeal the Affordable Care Act (without any replacement), beginning on the tenth. Senators Warren and Schumer were on PCCC and MoveOn’s call-in to thousands of listeners, reinforcing the idea that we all have to call in and protest, any way we can, and why: repeal of the ACA would grievously hurt millions of people. As Senator Warren declared: repeal is one of the most irresponsible and damaging moves Republicans have ever made, but “if they break it, they’ll have to fix it.”

In other words, Democrats are finally standing up and resisting, resisting the right-wing aggression manifested in this first move in the Senate, and all the extremist nominations they want to ram down Congress’s throat without full  background checks.

What a con job! Trump and the GOP are setting the stage for ripping off the American people. “Drain the swamp!” Trump followers chanted during the campaign. He’s raising up all the swamp monsters and putting them in charge! Further, in any area in which Trump is not particularly interested, like abortion, fire-breathing Republicans just can’t wait to destroy everything Democrats constructed in the last six or seven decades.

Confirm this bunch without completed background checks? McConnell insists they should, a tactic to prevent some of his own party defecting on nominees revealed as compromised. The conflicts of interests Trump’s nominees bring with them may be even as complicated as Trump’s own. I don’t think even Ulysses S. Grant, or Warren G. Harding had as corrupt an administration as this one looks on track to be.

But unlike Grant’s or Harding’s times, now people are already informed and outraged. In addition, many more voted for Trump’s opponent, which tarnishes his legitimacy and Trump isn’t even inaugurated yet.

“May you live in interesting times,” is a French curse. It applies, right now.

Jottings of Our “Interesting Times” Or, Existential Dread

September 15, 2016

Fantastic images I’ve seen today, the last of which was the sunset sky turning vivid orange over the islands to our west, half of the horizon almost aflame. Another amazing image: Raven’s Nest, the most dramatic gorges on the approach to Schoodic point, looking out at Cadillac Mountain.

Monday, November 7, 2016

From the near sublime to what a columnist referred to as dread.

I, too, have been obsessing about the election as have so many others.

It feels as if we could be approaching either some apocalyptic end time, or greater and greater freedom and even more of the changes we need. We are at a fateful turning point.

Britain, in angst, voted tor protest and woke up to realize they had destroyed their world, instead. They replaced it with something poorer and coarser. All the polls had assured Britons that Brexit would not be voted in; and then it was!

I admit I have been obsessing over events, issues, Trump’s inane declarations (have you noticed: his only competent sentences are declarative?), and finally, polls. I am a Bernie Democrat, and I will gladly vote for Hillary, considering the alternative, even though I’m not thrilled by some of her policies; I think she can be pressured to do the right things most of the time.

And Hillary will certainly attempt to promote positive change in gender relations, hopefully between white and minority groups and between ‘Americans’ and immigrants.

I’m a man, very hetero, but I try not to be sexist. I am my wife’s partner and I admire her for her wisdom, her writing and her deep beauty in herself. But I’m not perfect.

I’m also in sympathy with gender-bending. I like to cook and to do some of the cleaning. I also wear my own skirts, fashioned from worn-out pants, as well as Scottish kilts, on occasion. When it’s cold I’d prefer a monk’s robe to pants. I like to dress up more than my wife does. We neither of us wear make-up.

And yet, I enjoy manual labor. I’m getting too old to do as much as I used to: I brought in firewood for three houses from our own woods. Now, I might cut down a tree, cut it and split it, if I can transport it a few hundred feet uphill. I used to teach college, too.

I count myself as a skier, although last year I only skied once, because there was only enough snow one morning.

Which brings me to an even deeper reason why this election has wrought such anxiety: the climate is changing even more rapidly, and chaotically, than scientists’ worst predictions, while a significant part of our nation, and of our political class, believe climate change is a hoax and refuse to believe we should do anything to mitigate—well, if it’s a hoax, there’s no reason to do anything, is there?

The denial on the part of these elites seems transparently corrupt: fossil fuel companies pay their bills, especially their campaign bills. Denial among the angry white men following Trump? Denial may be an expression of anger over losing their primacy, may be a rejection of an active role for government: responding to climate change requires more government restraints or controls. It’s certainly thumbing noses at authority. “If the fuckin’ scientists say our trucks an’ stuff cause climate change, then fuck’em!”

Of course the corrupted elite benefit, when the angry white men follow their lead: fossil fuel companies reward them in every way they can.

So, not only are we poised on either, the end of democracy as we know it, or a future that could be a little better, we are poised between even more dramatic damage to the climate and accelerated attempts to lessen climate change. We have no time to lose.

How many times in the history of the world have people thought the end was coming? Sometimes it did, but we have never faced a problem so global, so potentially horrific as this one, when we are tipped on edge, not knowing which way we will fall.

I hope for the best, others fear for the worst, but we are none of us prepared if the worst does come to pass.

Trump May Be a Rapist!

Donald J. Trump is not just a misogynist with a big, dirty mouth. The 2005 clip sounds worse than it reads. What made the video so powerful was that you could hear how sleazy he was, and then see him act the gentleman in front of the camera. Only thing is, in Donald’s case it isn’t just male posing. He has been credibly accused of rape at least twice, and of sexual assault many times. The first rape case was an accusation, in detail, of Trump raping his wife, not long before their divorce: the settlement included a gag order on Ivana, preventing her from speaking out about what he had done to her. She had previously accused him of  “forcibly penetrating” her without her consent—and ripping out her hair.

A case of sexual assault was filed by a “business associate,” who, with her husband, was negotiating with Trump for a business deal. The assault claim, also was wiped away, when the couple came to an agreement on another suit brought by her husband.

What makes both these and other assault stories credible, is not only Trump’s overall attitude and language about women, but a third case, brought in April, 2016, and refiled recently, anonymously, a Federal case. A 13-year old girl, was recruited from Port Authority for parties put on by Jeffrey Epstein, a billionaire, now a registered sex offender: class 3 pedophile—and a great friend of Donald’s at the time. She details four incidents in 1994 involving Trump’s assaults. In the fourth she claims, Trump tied her down, raped her and then threatened her and her family with harm or death if she told anyone. And he threatened that she would “disappear like Maria,” a 12-year old that the girl said had disappeared after the third incident. It’s those threats that make the court more likely to take on the case, even though it’s way past the statute of limitations.

The complaint, now a Federal lawsuit, with a lawyer, Thomas Meagher, also includes two corroborating statements, one, unusually, by a witness to the rape! The witness was the party planner for Epstein and the girl’s procurer. Her testimony could be devastating. Epstein was also accused of raping the girl, and beating her, because, he complained, he should have been the one to take her virginity, not Donald Trump!

Abusers always say, after the abuse: “I’m better now. I’ve changed. I’ll be a better man tomorrow.” That’s the gist of what Trump just said in his “apology” for his crude language about women.

Trump would be a disaster for many of the reasons that Republicans support him: promising to cut taxes for the wealthy and corporations, rescinding regulations, rejecting attempts at reducing climate change and repealing the health care law. Republicans accepted his wall, massive detention and expulsion of immigrants, his nuclear illiteracy and idiocy, his instability and on and on.

And while he is still innocent until proven guilty, I can’t imagine why any woman or any decent human being would ever vote for him—or vote for a third party candidate who can only take enough votes away from his major opponent to snatch a victory for Trump.

The major media should wake up, look into this rape case and publicize it all over this nation: if Trump were elected, he could well be convicted of sexual assault and rape of a minor during his elected term.

You also have to wonder: whatever happened to “Maria?” Trump could be responsible for her murder as well. We’ll probably never know.

Catching Mice

 I was just dropping off a mouse, a little mouse: that’s how it started.

I’d caught the mouse in a havahart, and I didn’t want to flush it down the toilet, but I also didn’t want to let it go near someone’s house. So, I let it off at the recycling center, over a mile away, surely a nice place for mice. But, with later mice, when the center was open (Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays), I let it off around the corner, near a large brick building with no apparent entrance, no visible human presence.

This incident began for me, when I was told in a recorded phone message to appear at the police station in Winchester.

Being the law-abiding sort, who had no idea that I had done anything wrong, I went to the police station that same day.

When I got to the station, in what looked a bit like a converted metal barn, there was one reporter lounging out front, from Blue Stone, the local gossip rag. A gangly man with a moose-like face, the reporter, Hank Gaines, asked me who I was and why I was coming to the police?

I shrugged. “I’m Donald Trump, don’t I look it? I’m really Joe Smith, and I don’t know why I received a summons.”

“Can I see it?”


That was our entire conversation. I waved him away and went into the police station.

When I told the officer in charge (OIC) that I was David Schultze with an E, his bored expression vanished; he was startled. Then, his eyes were drilling into mine. “You are David Schultze? Do you know why we called you in?”

“No, Sir, I don’t have a clue.”

The OIC squinted at me and then spoke into a mike something I couldn’t hear. After that, he turned to me, smiling benevolently. “You may have a seat in the waiting room across the hall. An Officer Bendix will meet you there in no more than ten minutes.”

It wasn’t really a waiting room; it was a widened space across the hall from the OIC’s counter, furnished with solid, bright blue plastic chairs and yellow plastic end-tables strewn with police magazines.

I took a seat right in the middle of the waiting area, where I could see everybody and they could see me. This was getting a bit scary.

Minutes seem like hours when you wait like this, facing you know not what. I did have a watch, though, so I knew it was more like half an hour, then 45 minutes, at which point I went back to ask the OIC what had happened to Officer Bendix.

He scowled at me: “He hasn’t come yet? I’ll call him again. He’s gotta be somewhere in the building.”

He wasn’t. He had rushed off on an emergency. Police like emergencies; they’re exciting.

“I’ll call Officer Nathan; he’ll be somewhere in the building.”

Officer Nathan was in the building.

I should explain that I’m quite small for a man; I’ve now shrunk to under 5’ 3”. On the other hand, Officer Nathan was in the neighborhood of 6’5,” not lanky, just large, red-faced, puffing as he came up to me and said, gruffly: “Come with me!”

I do not, usually, feel threatened by larger men, but I felt menaced by Nathan, maybe because of his overwhelming bulk, the rigidity I sensed in him and his unfriendly grimace. Or maybe just the circumstances.

He showed me into what I could see was an interrogation chamber: bare walls, large opaque window (probably someone sitting behind it, monitoring us), one table, three chairs. He pointed me to the single chair behind the table.

I sat; he stood and looked down at me, with this look that felt like he was saying to himself: ‘So, you’re the one!’

He finally sat down. “Mister Schultze? Do you know why we’ve called you in here today?”

I shook my head. “As I told your OIC, I don’t have a clue. Is it something I did?”

Grimly, “Denying what’s already happened, isn’t going to make it any easier for you, Mr. Schultze. Whyn’t you make it easy for all of us. Just admit you did it.”

“Did what?” I really did not have a clue, and I must have looked it: confused? Bewildered?

He looked at me for a full minute, without saying anything. Then, he leaned forward, aggressive now. “Let’s stop playing games! You a member of ISIS? Al Qaeda?”

ISIS! Al Qaeda? “What the fuck are you talking about? I’m not a Muslim. I’m not an extremist; I’m an old man, retired; I live a quiet life. Why would I—You think I’m a terrorist?”

“Mr. Schultze, actions speak louder than words; know what I’m talkin’ about?”

“I really don’t. What actions? What have I done?”

He squinted at me, and then looked down at a white paper list next to him on his side of the table. “Do you deny that you drove all the way to the Water District Headquarters on…March 20th, 2016, April 15th, 2016, May 5th, 2016, June 6th, 2016, and finally July 23rd, 2016? On July 23rd, there was an attempt to interfere with the water system: do you deny you were there?”

“Wait a minute. Where is this Water District Headquarters?”

“You really don’t know? Do you deny that you were on Canal Street on each date cited, and then you turned onto the private road to the headquarters and—”

“Is it that big brick building to the south of the recycling center, on the same road?”

“Uhm,” Officer Nathan frowned, as if he wasn’t sure. “You turned into the south-side entrance, and then just stayed there? After driving all the way from…” he looked down at his list,  “Pine Plains?”

South-side entrance? That place I turned around? Driving from Pine Plains!

So, that brick building was the district water hub, where the water from the reservoir comes into the local water service area? No wonder they were worried.

A camera monitor must’ve picked me up at the same location all those times. There were a lot of mice last Spring.

I am a client of the same water system; my wife and I depend on it. Were they thinking sabotage? Terrorism. From seeing me visiting the same place multiple times, planning trips I suppose they concluded, and then, whatever they found? And, what made me look even more suspicious, because of an oversight at the DMV, they thought I came from far across the river, so it looked to them that I must have come for some reason, other than recycling.

Unbelievable! I shook my head. “First of all, I changed my address with the DMV years ago; you’ve got old info. I live on the road that continues from this one, on the other side of Route 10. Second, this entrance you mention, never looked like it was used; it was a place I could turn around in;  it was chained, and weeds were growing in it, so I figured I could stop there for a minute. Third, I never got out of the car, because I was dropping off mice I’d caught in my Havahart trap; just opened the window and shook ‘em out; they ran, not always towards the building—”

“What! Mice? The recycling center?” He stood up abruptly, towered over me. “Schultze!” he thundered, “don’t play games with me! I’m warning you!”

I looked up at him and shrugged. “I’m not making this up. In the winter and spring months, especially, I often catch a mouse or two a week, but if the recycling center is open, I drop it off at the other place.”

Slowly, I looked him in the face, knowing he was trying to intimidate me. “You can check it out with my wife. And from my real address you can see why it makes sense: we live, just over a mile away on a continuation of the same road.”

He looked surprised. “What’s your address?”

I told him, adding, “We’re in the water district. We drink the water; we depend on it. Why the hell would I want to—Omigod, did someone poison the water?” All I could think of was MaryBeth drinking it, maybe right now!

“Why should you care?”

“I drink it! My wife—Did someone—Is the water poisoned? I’ve got to call my wife!”

Officer Nathan looked alarmed. He held out his hands, palms out. “No, no, it didn’t succeed, thank God! A water worker found it in time. Don’t want to spread a panic!”

“Oh, thank God!” I murmured.

He sat down. And looked at me. He tilted his head to the left, then to the right, as if he might see me more clearly that way. Then, he shook his head. Then, he stared at me, again.

Finally, he began to talk: “These photos, from the monitor, and this pattern, and it happening, today, and yet…It isn’t you? I was so sure we had the perp, that we had this great case, and that we could stop the threat, but it wasn’t you? You were just,” he grinned, “getting rid of mice?” He shook his head. “I think that’s a misdemeanor, by the way, transporting wild animals, but I suppose you could just say they weren’t wild. Anyway,” he sighed, “you’re free to go. Meanwhile, there may be someone out there, still, who wants to do us harm. If you see something….”

I nodded, knowing the drill: “Say something. Of course: I’d call 911, right?”

“Yes, 911.”

I never did find out what ‘attempted to interfere with” meant, but I hoped the Water District would find a way to warn us, if something actually happened. So far, as far as I know, nothing has happened. In addition, no one has reported what the water tech found that made them suspect there had been an attempt on our water.

I guess I’ll never know.

It’s Not Who You Vote For It’s Who Wins That Matters

“But I love Bernie! He’s the first politician I’ve ever…”

I did not cry, when Bernie endorsed Hillary. I had worked for him, donated money, time, letters to the Editor, but when he endorsed Hillary, I agreed with him. To me, he wasn’t giving up; he wasn’t selling out; he was acting strategically. He saw that he could not win the nomination, although he had come tantalizingly close, and had mobilized a significant segment of the potential Democratic Party’s constituency.

Yes, obstacles were put there by the DNC and state Democratic parties; there was a conscious attempt by some in the DNC to diminish Bernie’s appeal in any way they could. But it’s probable Bernie still would not have won even without these sub rosa efforts. He couldn’t mobilize Black, Asian and Latino voters, or even Whites with less than a college education: the latter are Trump’s special constituency. He knew that. He’d tried, with BlackLivesMatter, and with other outreach efforts.

So, Bernie wasn’t selling out; he was acting strategically: when he stopped campaigning, did not endorse, but negotiated with Hillary. They both compromised; that’s the nature of politics that works. After he’d gotten what he could get—for all of us—he endorsed her.

Bernie has also stated over and over again, that Trump must be stopped, and he’ll do everything in his power to prevent his election. Why?

It’s not because he’s sold out; it’s because he’s gotten considerable concessions from Hillary, and they hold a lot of views in common to begin with, like their view of Supreme Court nominations. What he’s modeling is what you do in strategic voting.

The difference between strategic voting and ideological voting is in what each accomplishes. More narrowly, issues voting means you vote only for particular policies. The extreme example is the anti-abortion voter, who will only vote for a candidate who is explicitly anti-abortion, the more obdurate the better. If feelings are intense enough, issue voting may actually result in legislation and policy, but usually it’s never enough for the true believer—on whatever issue—and it only has impact on that issue.

Broader than issue voting is ideological voting. This is voting for a candidate who best exemplifies the voter’s ideological preferences, even if the candidate has no chance of winning office, and therefore no chance of putting that ideology into legislation and actual practice.

Ideological voting best describes the Bernie voter who gravitates to the Green Party’s Jill Stein, or the libertarian Republican supporter of Rand Paul, who supports Gary Johnson.

In a winner-take-all electoral system, which is what the US has had since its founding, and what our neighbor, Canada, to the North has as well, both issue and ideological voting can have paradoxical effects. In a winner-take-all political system, a plurality (not a majority), wins the election. In Canada’s case, for two separate elections, voters on the left split their votes between the New Democratic Party, the Liberal Party, and Parti Quebecois. While the left was in a clear majority, it lost, heavily, to Steven Harper, Conservative, who was funded by the oil industry in Alberta. So, all Canada’s support for combatting climate change was thrown out the window; government encouraged Tar Sands oil production, while social programs were radically defunded: the electoral structure permitted a minority to elect a large majority in Parliament. After two terms, the Conservatives were thrown out by a more unified left, behind the moderately leftward Liberal party. They had discovered how horrible it was to have a radical right-wing government.

The same thing can happen here. If the race between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump is close (still a real possibility), ideological votes for Stein and Johnson could be the deciding factor: not in one of the latter winning, (there’s no chance of that) but in the triumph of the Democrat or Republican candidate who loses the fewest votes to the third party candidate to his or her left or right.

In other words, if Jill Stein were able to attract a larger slice of former Bernie voters than Gary Johnson gained from disaffected Republican voters, it would become increasingly difficult for Democrats to win.

I suspect that Johnson also attracts issue-voting millennials, with his legalize marijuana position; many of these were former Bernie voters. His polling at twice the level of Stein, may in part be because of this, so he takes votes away from both Trump and Hillary.

The paradoxical effect of Bernie Sanders mobilizing young, left-wing voters, increasing the size of the left-leaning constituency (from left of center to far left) could permit Trump to win, if too many of these newly mobilized voters end up voting for Stein or Johnson: a minority, voting for Trump, could prevail over a left of center majority that is split into two or three parts.

Now, think of the consequences: instead of Bernie in the Senate being joined by a President and Congress that supports much of his agenda, and is likely to be responsive to pressure brought to bear by groups like Our Revolution and BlackLivesMatter, instead, Trump would be President.

Would Trump and the triumphant Republicans give credence to any left-wing group? Of course not. Bernie endorsed Hillary for a reason: her election would be the best chance to carry out much of his (and our) agenda in the next four years. With a Republican White House and Congress, we would get a Supreme Court that overthrew Roe v Wade and permitted even more voter suppression; the US would be ramping up of coal mining and oil drilling, not mitigating global warming; there would be an increase in racist policies at all levels, and rejection of virtually every policy that Bernie and his supporters advocated: instead of a public option for healthcare, you’d have a return to the monopoly-controlled market and rejection of even the minimal reform represented by Obamacare.

Strategic voting for a Bernie supporter, instead, would be: to vote for Democrats, however flawed they may be, because this would accomplish two things: it would prevent what could amount to a Fascist takeover, much like the minority Nazis taking over the German government in the face of a divided left and center, and it would increase pressure for the kinds of changes we (Berniers) all want.

Besides: if you love Bernie, strategic voting is clearly what he advocates, even despite the corruption of the Democratic Party by the likes of Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Further Bernie activists can do what Kelleigh McKenzie, co-founder of Ulster4Bernie, is attempting in Ulster County: to gain election to the NY State Democratic Committee, so she can help bend the party in a progressive direction. She appears to say: if you don’t like the Democratic Party, work on changing it.

That’s strategic thinking.

Emigrating To La La Land

A  fellow Bernier) sent me the link to a short film, as one of the reasons she could never vote for Hillary. Hearing veiled remarks about ‘corruption’ and ‘can’t trust her’ and just ‘follow the money,’ I realized: this is what Hillary first called ‘a right-wing conspiracy” back in the ’90’s. All the rumors of the terrible things done by the Clintons, or by Hillary specifically, have a funny way of never being confirmed or proven. And the conspiracy-mongers always have an explanation, how ‘she’ or ‘they’ wriggled out of it.

And it does come out of the right-wing. It’s the kinds of things right-wing radio ranters and the Enquirer have been shouting for years.

A current example, Clinton Cash was produced by Breitbart Films. The organization also publishes Daily Caller and is a well-known right-wing propaganda mill.

So, viewing Clinton Cash must be done with a healthy dose of skepticism. The film itself is rich in images of cash, of supposedly corrupt people being greeted by or hosted by or hosting Bill and Hillary and of a drawn, unattractive Hillary announcing decisions as Secretary of State—none of her announcements are actually shown, but the commentator helpfully tells you what nefarious deals they facilitated. So, there are a lot of inferences drawn, a lot of circumstantial “evidence” is mustered, but the inferences in all these cases are only insinuations.

Since Brightbart doctored videos that destroyed ACORN and then attempted to do the same thing to Planned Parenthood–posing as innocent reporters, they twisted the videos through deceptive editing, to show that PP was selling fetal tissue for profit, when it has never been proven that PP ever did: they sell tissue at cost, to cover handling expenses, since they want to make it available for scientific research. Why believe anything declared by Brietbart?

You have to realize, this is the same propaganda that animates Fox News, and the screamers in Cleveland calling for Clinton to be jailed or executed. It has about as much credibility as the failed effort to destroy Planned Parenthood.

And, almost all the stories about Hillary and Bill, extensively investigated over and over and found baseless, have been circulating on the Tea Party network for years. Now these same propaganda “news” groups are seeking new converts: among Bernie or Busters: to persuade as many Berniers as possible that they should NEVER vote for the demon, Hillary Clinton. Trump’s been pretty up front about that, himself.

Just to know where all this comes from should tell you how insidious and spurious it is.

I think Hillary has made some mistakes, because she listened to longtime experts in State, for example, to support the Honduran coup, and to overthrow Libya’s Qaddafi, without a realistic scenario for what should come after–both incidents NOT covered in this film. But to portray her and Bill as on the take, solely motivated by accumulating money on the backs of poor Haitians or Congolese is just completely BS. Yes, they sought funds to carry out their programs abroad, programs they believed would do good. They thought the people in charge knew what they were doing, or that the only way to get things done was to work with questionable people. That’s an especially old story in foreign development circles, where corruption is endemic and expected. Any politician trying to get things done will probably have to make questionable connections.

Bernie’s wife, Jane, is also supposedly tarred by questionable actions vis a vis an education fund. No one is pure.

As for Trump: his whole career has been built on legally (that’s why so many lawsuits) bilking contractors, workers, students, and ordinary people in virtually all his “business” dealings. That’s how he’s made his money.

If you don’t vote for the Democrats (including Hillary) you are making it easier for Trump to be elected, and he could win. He’d probably have the mob with him—and his own mob. He’s admired Putin and Saddam because that’s the kind of dictatorial regime he wants to lead himself: he’s also on board to discriminate against: immigrants, Latinos, blacks and the LGBTQ community (despite his careful repeating of the initials in his speech). He would abolish the health care act, privatize Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, while cutting taxes on the wealthiest, thereby creating huge deficits that would require slashing government services to any except the very wealthy. And, he’d build up our military (now accounting for 40% of all defense spending in the entire world), so he’d probably need new taxes: maybe an “America Tax”, a sales tax or a value-added tax that would hit the poor especially hard (they are his favorite victims in business, after all).

I’ll vote Democrat to protect my children, all of whom are identified as in the LGBTQ spectrum. I’ll vote to protect a Supreme Court that could become either even more conservative than it was with Scalia, or could be progressive if Hillary gets to appoint his replacement and the other Justices getting too old to serve. That court will serve long after I’m dead.

I’ll also vote to insure that we have someone leading our country who is sane, not unstable and unpredictable.

That Hillary has also signed on for a good part of Bernie’s agenda is a bonus we could work for. It would be impossible for us to even think about the Bernie agenda (except maybe through violent revolution) if Trump were elected.

The idea that, even if Trump got elected he couldn’t do anything, is unwarranted. He offered Kasich the Vice Presidency, in which he, the VP, would be in charge of Domestic and Foreign Affairs, i.e. the one getting things done for Donald. It’s very likely Pence signed on for the same deal. And there are all sorts of radical ‘conservative’ Republicans who would do the kinds of things outlined in their platform. Pence would dismantle as much of the Federal Government as he could, except for Defense, Homeland Security and DOJ. If he and Trump were elected, they’d probably take Congress, too. And, of course, the Supreme Court, since he, or Trump, would have the pleasure of appointing the most conservative, pro-monopoly-corporate, “Christian,” anti-LGBTQ lackeys they could find.

Tell me: what would voting for Jill Stein do, if Trump were elected?

Would her 3%—5% make a difference in the election? You can already see it in the polls: Jill takes votes from Democrats. Trump and Hillary were neck and neck, when Stein and Johnson were included in the latest polls, while a pairing of Hillary only against Trump shows Hillary slightly ahead.

Voting for Jill Stein, if Trump were elected, would signal to him that the left is divided and weak, so he can destroy us as predatory “leaders” are apt to do: by turning us against each other.

Maybe, he/they have already done that, with the help of Brietbart, Fox News, Limbaugh, and all the other right-wing propagandists.

I hope not, but if so: Welcome to their LaLa land!

War of All Against All?

It’s hard to believe Micah Johnson alone made so much mayhem, and up-ended a growing awareness that black lives haven’t mattered, but that they should. Now, some white people blame Black Lives Matter for Johnson’s rampage!
It’s almost as if some white racist group, maybe one of the ones endorsing Trump, paid and trained Micah in the fine art of killing white people, in order to start their much anticipated Race War.
It feels as if humanity’s response to trouble is violence. When violence becomes endemic in a society, dictatorship often follows: to quell it.
Thus, if we have well-armed crazies, or groups, attacking the police, and the police attacking civilians, it is likely that many will feel that the only answer is a ‘strongman’ aka a dictator.
Trump has not offered himself as Dictator, as Julius Caesar explicitly did, but he has presented himself as “strong,” “tough,” and independent, his own man, unconcerned with “political correctness,” appealing to white men angry about their loss of dominance, as well as their loss of economic security, and priority.
I suspect that Trump’s appeal to, let’s call them the white, psychologically disenfranchised, less educated men, is not so much in the substance of what he says—mostly zippy one-liners—but in the way he says it. His pronouncements are meant to enrage and mobilize, not to lay down a political platform. What he’s for may be fairly obvious, and is sometimes even revealed (like his comment that wages are too high), but as far as his followers are concerned, that’s not the point at all.
The violence on both sides of the divide legitimizes violence by the State. So, Trump’s projection of “strength,” much of it simply bravado, makes it that much more plausible to many, that what the US—and the world—needs is a Strongman: Trump as popularly elected dictator.
Many will see the shootings by and of police as justification for “a strong hand,” to bring society back to order—with white men on top, of course.
To create peace and positive relations between races, or between law enforcement and minorities is much more difficult. As Obama remarked, the tensions may not even be resolved in his children’s lifetimes, certainly not in mine (I’m 77).
But, through the civil rights movement, the feminist movement, the LGBTQ movement, American society has evolved beyond the patriarchal white supremacy of the Jim Crow era. Obviously, it has a long way to go. BlackLivesMatter posits a simple idea: black lives matter as much as white lives, not less.
So, how to respond to Trumpophiles?
Show that Trump, by both his pronouncements and his business actions, can’t be trusted: he’s changed positions, sometimes even mid-speech. Even more revealing, he’s ripped off the little guy, time and time again; that’s how he built his fortune, like the stereotypical crooked used car salesman multiplied many times over.
Then, look at what he favors (lower wages, punishing woman for abortions, tax cuts for the wealthy, dismantling government services, like Veterans care, Obamacare, small business loans. Want protection from loan-sharks like pay-day lenders? That’ll go away under Trump. Want protection from banks? Trump wants them as his friends; he wants to dismantle any regulations that “hamper” their operations, maybe even sub-prime mortgages redux, or pay-day loans. With his five bankruptcies in Atlantic City casinos, Trump made money; his creditors, including many small business-people, lost big-time: they were paid back pennies on the dollar.
That’s legal larceny; he transferred their work, and money into his pockets and kept it, because he hired sharp lawyers.
The real reason Trumpophiles support him is: because he implicitly and explicitly gives them the freedom to express their rage against the myriad “others” who seem to have challenged their supremacy and had significant successes.
That rage has a lot to do with our soaring rates of inequality, which create vast social gaps between people in, supposedly, middle class America.
Rage is also fear, which, may be the reason for the police shootings and the Dallas sniper.
Police are taught to shoot at body mass, the biggest target, which is why so many black people are killed. So many are shot, however, because white policeman have been taught from childhood to fear black men, so when they encounter one, the meeting is tense and the cop shoots because he expects the worst and acts on it: as he did with Philando Castile; shooting him because Castile was reaching for something, telling the cop he had a permitted gun, but was reaching for his wallet—the cop had asked for his license and registration. Because Philando was black, the cop shot him (four times), not knowing which he was doing: reaching for his wallet, or his gun. If he had been white, the cop would have waited a fatal instant longer and would not have shot him.
Micah Johnson wanted to kill white men, because he was afraid and angry that white cops were killing his people, so black people never felt safe. I know I’d be enraged; I wouldn’t go out to shoot cops, but desperate people do desperate things. How would you feel if you had to fear for your life every time you drove to work? How would you feel if everyone with your color skin, also drove in fear?
In the long run, the solution for the violence, desperation and anger is a radically more equitable distribution of wealth, to lessen the gaps, or tears in our social fabric.
In the short run, just recognizing that people are hurting and fearful on both sides, and sharing that fear and the hurt would get us started on the right track: closing, or narrowing social gaps and tears.
It will be a long road, but the alternative is a new kind of Fascism and/or race war.

Hillary, Bernie, Trump and the Realities of Protest Voting

Bernie Sanders has generated a genuine movement, but it may have peaked too late to win the Democratic nomination. So, what are Berniers to do? For a Bernier like me, voting for Hillary is a difficult lift. Part of the consciousness raised by Sanders is the systemic corruption implicit in the Democratic Party’s dependence, since Bill Clinton, on raising millions of dollars from wealthy donors and corporations. Hillary is certainly part of that system.
On the other hand: Trump is now the presumptive nominee of the GOP. He appeals to the baser instincts of the disenchanted, the angry, the racist, those who feel left behind by either party establishment. Trump’s a fraud, but clever enough to brush aside all scrutiny through his mastery of media.
Think of Trump as if he were the petty dictator of a Third World state, financed by his exploitation of victims like the ones who went to his university, or got fleeced in his casinos.
The least bad that could happen, if Trump were elected, would be: repealing Obamacare, privatizing Medicare and Social Security and eliminating income support programs. Further, he’d appoint as many as four Supreme Court justices in his first four years. Abortions could be outlawed and women could be prosecuted for them. Guns would be protected in white neighborhoods, questionable in ‘other’ neighborhoods. Unions and labor would see their rights weakened, enforcement eliminated.
Republicans argue it’s Government overreach to regulate anything.
The economic consequences of a Trump takeover would be, per orthodox Republicanism: cutting taxes “across the board,” especially for corporations. However, Trump likes to do the deals himself; he doesn’t want to pay taxes, he wants Uncle Sam to pay him: for building the wall, for example. He could become the first $100 billion leader of a nation, from all the money he’d make, just on the wall. But he wouldn’t stop there.
Beyond the corruption, deficit hawks would use the rising deficits (from tax cuts) to justify cutting all Government programs other than defense and law and order. A depression could ensue, although you wouldn’t know it, if it benefits corporations owning the media.
So, who loses most, who gains most from a Trump Presidency?
Losers: all non-whites, all immigrants, most women. They don’t lose just because they will have fewer jobs and no job security, or will be sent “home,”or because they, again, can be legally discriminated against (along with LGBTQ). They will also lose because so many of the services that make life possible for the less fortunate, would be cut. Further, minorities and the poor would bear the brunt of climate change disaster, a near certainty in a Trump Presidency, for reasons given below.
With a Republican/Trump Supreme Court, there would be no reprieve from this regime, because the court would make it easy for the GOP to permanently gerrymander Congressional and state majorities, to restrict voting and to maintain a permanent GOP Senate supported by corporations and billionaires, and GOP Presidents funded by them.
Think of it: a Republican Supreme Court for the next 30 years! I won’t be around that long. A GOP monopoly for longer.
The winners: Big corporations and their leaders and the wealthy more generally; he would lower their taxes and regulatory oversight, not just his own. Corporations would rule. Psychological winners: white males would be winners, the way Po’ Whites were in the segregated South. Kept poor, they were reconciled to their poverty by knowing that black people under them were even poorer and under their control. White supremacist support for Trump is symptomatic of the direction the nation would go with Trump as President.
If Trump is elected, put your money in the Defense industry and you’ll probably do well, because his fragile ego will cause wars or armed disagreements all over the world. Better to make the guns, than to have to go out and shoot them; leave that part to the losers.
Fossil fuel corporations would be winners: Trump advocates expanding production of all of them, while reducing or eliminating regulations: a dream for the Koch Brothers.
What is the worst that could happen if Hillary were elected? She might be pulled into wars, too. She does seem to have a weakness for the Military. But she knows that one of her worst decisions was to vote for the Iraq war. Neither Libya, nor Iraq have been anything but disasters. So, she’d likely be more wary of military involvement.
Hillary would keep and try to expand Obamacare and all the other programs like Medicare and Social Security, and income support programs. She might consider a “public option,” i.e. open enrollment for Medicare for all, a backdoor to Single Payer and also the debt-free college program she advocated, to deal with student debt.
Trump would probably encourage more for-profit colleges like Trump University.
Hillary’s tax policies would start with Obama’s; she has made many commitments to reducing inequality, so, she would attempt to lower taxes on the poor and raise them on the rich. It may not be her highest priority, the way it is with Bernie Sanders, but she would push in that direction.
Trump would do the opposite. Lowering taxes on the wealthy and raising them on the poor is the Republican prescription for reducing inequality (by increasing opportunities from all the “good jobs” the wealthy will not create and the shit-jobs they might). Trump has even said: “wages are too high.” He and the GOP would increase inequality; more wealth would be siphoned to the top of the income pyramid.
As for the big banks, Hillary wouldn’t summarily break them up, like Bernie, but she would insist on strict regulation, and breakups would be possible.
On the other hand, Trump wants to repeal Dodd-Frank regulation of banks. He’d just want to insure that bankers were his friends, so he could call up Jamie Dimon, or other bank CEO’s, and get what he wants. He certainly wouldn’t want them punished for fraud; he’s done similar, so you could expect more fraudulent behavior from Wall Street, not less, in a Trump Presidency.
Climate change/global warming: Trump usually denies there is such a thing. After all, large Republican funders, fossil fuel owners and handlers, would be bankrupted if forced to keep their assets in the ground. So, with Trump as President, expect no meaningful attempts to curb greenhouse gas emissions. Trump has now said unequivocally that he is for expanding coal, oil and gas production, and advocates reducing regulations to make that possible. He’s also pledged to reject the Paris agreement on controlling global emissions. Therefore, expect full-blown climate disaster.

It’s the worst time for this to happen, and it’s something that could never be undone.
Clinton would press to alleviate climate change, as would Sanders, the latter perhaps more single-mindedly. Clinton would have to be persuaded: to stop fracking, for example; to eliminate fossil fuel subsidies, to stop leasing public lands for oil/gas/coal extraction. But she would know that a significant part of her constituency would support her for doing this. She has also supported the Paris climate agreement. Trump’s followers want more drilling, more fracking, more digging, more fossil fuel jobs. Why worry about grandchildren?
Bernie Sanders is right on all these issues: taxes, banks, inequality, climate change, etc. And he acknowledges the danger of Trump and the violent passions being unleashed—on both sides. But it looks from here as if Bernie’s unexpected successes have turned his head, just a little, even though it’s virtually impossible, given party rules, for him to win a pledged delegate majority.
Bernie didn’t say he’d hurt Clinton to weaken her if she were the nominee, but he does imply she deserves to be hurt, that she’s corrupt and that her allies have skewed the primaries in her favor (probably true). He’s also, reportedly, trying to win over super-delegates with the argument that he’s better positioned for the General Election and less vulnerable to Trump attacks. He may be, but, no one knows what would happen if Bernie were the nominee. He’d certainly be labeled “crazy Bernie,” by Trump and attacked as a radical Commie. He can’t become the nominee unless existing party rules are abandoned, but how could he run as Democratic nominee, if Hillary has garnered more votes and delegates? As fantastic as his latest victories have been, even landslides in California and New Jersey would not earn him the necessary delegates to win at the convention.
Reforms are clearly necessary in Democratic Party rules, and Bernie supporters will demand revisions, but negotiations are in order, not diktats. I hope we don’t have 1968 redux. The nominee and the party were weakened enough in 1968 that Tricky Dick Nixon was elected, just four years after Democrats had one of their greatest victories. If progressive Democrats tear down Clinton and the party on which she runs, a Trump triumph becomes more likely, especially if progressives vote third party in the election, or write-in Sanders, in effect, a half-vote each, for Trump.
Nevertheless, the Bernie or Bust movement is a real one. A lot of Berniers are repelled by “establishment politics.” To them, Sanders represents the real thing; he addresses the real issues and confronts the inherent corruption of a party (the Democrats). Most of its office-holders still claim they can accept money from big banks, fossil fuel corporations and other representatives of what Bernie has labeled “ the Billionaire class,” without being corrupted by them.
Hillary points out that she never changed a vote or has given a favor in return for money she received from Wall Street interests. Outright bribery is rare. It’s more subtle corruption that’s a major problem. Having friends like JP Morgan CEO, Jamie Dimon, is not bribery, but it does change the way you view the world. Familiarity between Wall Street leaders, Presidents and Cabinet Secretaries probably explains why, despite widespread evidence of fraud, Wall Street executives have not been prosecuted for it: their banks have been fined billions, instead. Therefore their questionable activities continue.
Having been politically awakened, many Berniers feel there is no going back. How can you support a party (Democrats), or a candidate (Hillary), when you know that both are major contributors to systemic corruption?
And yet, to reiterate: if Trump is elected there will not be just systemic corruption, but government by and for billionaires, abortions banned, services for the many slashed, taxes extracted from the not-wealthy, while the wealthy’s taxes are cut. Minorities would be discriminated against even more, immigrants would be driven out, torture would be revived, and civil liberties would be under threat. The environment would be under sustained attack, and Trump would likely have ongoing conflicts (some armed) with many nations around the world.
Protest votes can have real consequences. While Hillary haters won’t feel those consequences as soon, or as deeply, as non-whites, immigrants and the poor, everyone would ultimately regret their short-sightedness if Trump is elected.
The would-be protest voter should consider her/his complicity if a Trump regime is made possible by their electoral protest, principled as it may well be.