Saturday, December 3, 2016
This Complex, as you know, has several components to it. First, those who suffer from the Biff Complex suffer from an irrational fear of empirical facts. Second, those who suffer from it confuse and conflate right wing fantasies and delusions with empirical reality. Third, those who suffer from it mistake authoritarian fifth grade bully boy behavior for a reasoned and empirical argument. Finally, those who suffer from the Biff Complex live in a lala world of their own and are impervious to anything but the fantastic and delusional discourse of right wing demagogues.
Conclusions? To paraphrase Giles the earth is doomed.
Monday, November 21, 2016
Are these four types of Ebenezer Scrooge liberalism really new? Nor treally. National Review style neoliberalism has roots in the negative reaction to the French Revolution in the late 17th and 18th century, The new Christian Right with its authoritarianism, apocalypticism, anti-communism, god gave us capitalism, anti-Semitism, and beware of the big government mentality, has roots in the old Christian Right of the New Deal era. Libertarianism has roots in Hobbes and the Austrian libertarians. The paranoid right has roots that go back to the Book of Revelation.
Are their similarities betwen these four groups? I think there are. Bill Buckley, seems to be exemplary here. While presenting an intellectually sophisticated image to the public Gore Vidal showed in 1968 that beneath Buckley's calm and "intellectual" exterior lurked a paranoid Christian conservative with a host of phobias, homophobia and commiephobia amongst them. And let's not forget that Buckley was one of the key apologists for that most paranoid of post-WWII neoliberals, Joseph McCarthy. Needless to say, Donald Trump with his universalisation of capitalism, his paranoias about Muslims and Mexicans, his Norman Vincent Peale Christianism, and his fifth grade bully mentality, seems to me to be a Bill Buckley for the 21st century. Trump just doesn't hide his bully boy, authoritarian, and phobic interior behind a pleasing public veneer. As the French say, the more things change the more they stay the same.
Saturday, November 12, 2016
First, virtually every American, some libertarians and anarchists along with right and left freedom of speechers perhaps excepted, engage in so called political correctness. When right wingers, for example, censor textbooks, that is, political correctness as well as a violation of freedom of speech. Whenever the religious right pushes for public rather than individual silent prayer in schools that is political correctness and a violation of freedom of speech and freedom from religious theocracy. Ironically, a lot of those pushing for the dominance of the role of Christianity in the public sphere are often those most critical of Islamic theocratism.
Second, isn't it ironic that those who proclaim that their freedom of speech is being violated demand, proclaim, in the next breath, that flag burning, which the Supreme Court has ruled is freedom of speech, must be eliminated? Obviously, those who want flag burning, which isn't numerically speaking all that prevalent by any political group, are engaging in political correctness and are undermining guarantees in the Constitution they claim to be devoted to?
Third, banning SOME types of assault rifles and some types of bullets is NOT banning ALL guns or ALL bullets. That is simple logic.
Fourth, Christians are individually free to do anything that doesn't violate the law including pray to their imaginary gods in their public school. The law we have in the US is, when it comes to the public square, freedom from religious domination. The Founding Fathers did not like theocracy, which they saw in action, which is why they wrote separation into the laws of the land. Again, ironies abound here. What is the irony that abounds? Those who proclaim devotion to the Constitution out of one side of their mouth, proclaim their willingness to destroy it out of the other side of their mouth. I suggest to those of you who don't like the separation of religion and state guaranteed in the US Constitution move to a place where they don't have it such as Saudi Arabia. Love it or leave it dudes and dudettes.
Fifth, Republicans AND Democrats both supported deindustrialisation and trade deals, two things that sent jobs overseas. Bush the first negotiated NAFTA. Clinton got it passed. The reason they did it is because of their ties to economic elites who like cheap labour because it allows them to line their pockets even more than they already do. The fact that many of those who blame one party or one political ideology or another can't see the obvious, that both parties work for Wall Street, shows how ideologically blind they are.
Sixth, the tax rate on the wealthiest Americans has fluctuated over the 20th century. It was high during WWI and declined afterwards. It was in the 90% range under Eisenhower, fell to 70 some percent under Kennedy, and fell to 50 some percent under Nixon. The neoliberals, Republican or Democrat, those compassionate neoliberals, brought down tax rates on the rich during their years of dominance and have essentially and effectively undermined the progressive nature of American taxation since the 19801s. Taxation, by the way, varies cross culturally. The Scandinavian countries have, generally speaking, higher tax rates on the wealthy than the US. We must also be cognisant of the fact that official tax rates are not, for a variety of reasons, the real tax rates on the rich. The rich, like Trump, in reality, have gotten away with paying zero taxes for a variety of reasons. Tell Trump to do the same for you if you have the balls or ovaries and see what you get in response.
Seventh, single payer health care makes more economic and moral sense than that labyrinthian piece of legislation which the Democrats gave us. I know, in the age of runaway narcissism it is hard to think of anyone else but yourselves. By the way, the fact that the Democrats didn't, when they controlled the federal executive and legislative branches, give us the most economically and morally--greatest good for the greatest number--forgrounds how weak as water Democrats are.
Eighth, dudes are not being emasculated though I sometimes think we should cut off the cocks of rapists. Transformations in the economy are transforming gender and work. More women are working because they have to to help their families make it in a world dominated by the shit paying and little benefits service sector. By the way, Trump, for all his bluster, will not be able to bring manufacturing back to the US unless wages decline to levels similar to that in poor semi-peripheral countries and poorer peripheral countries where wages are low. But I know, as Barnum said people will swallow anything.
A last obvious fact: If you help destroy the planet you are killing yourselves and those who come after you including your children and grandchildren.
Let me close this missive by bemoaning that it is a pity that so many on all sides of the political spectrum prefer stereotypes and caricatures to simple humanity. Many liberals and leftists did not support Clinton. I didn't. I did not vote for either major party candidate. Many of them offered real critiques of Clinton as opposed to demonisation of Clinton. But I know, generally people prefer simplistic and naive either/ors to reality.
Saturday, October 29, 2016
Saturday, October 22, 2016
Nothing is better than The Wire, in my opinion, in showing us how compassionate neoliberalism really operates. Tommy Carcetti, the man who mirrors neoliberals like Clinton male and female, Bloomberg, O'Malley, and Schwarzenegger, will do anything to get elected. Carcetti gives off the appearance of a family man with a family right out of a Norman Rockwell painting but behind his wife's back he carries out at least one extramarital affair. One imagines that he is carrying on more. He practises patented compassionate neoliberal macchiavelianism when he manipulates a close Black politician to run for mayor against the incumbent Black mayor in order to assure that the Black vote splits giving him the election victory.
The dominant reform that compassionate neoliberals seem to offer in The Wire is gentrification through rehabilitating old homes or building new upscale apartments and condos. This may increase monies brought in through taxes but it leads to, to pick a few obvious examples, the displacement of those who really need the government to do something for them, the poor, it leads to a decline in other housing stock, it leads to increased black market activities, it leads to resignation, and it leads to increased corruption.
The real hero of The Wire is the precinct commander Howard "Bunny" Colvin, who creates "hamsterdams", zones where drugs can be sold relatively freely. The sell your drugs here zones have their downsides but they also lead to decreased crime in other parts of Baltimore. To his credit, Carcetti jumps on board this scheme. When he is told that his support of the free drug selling zones will hurt his chances to be elected mayor of Baltimore, however, he follows the tried and true compassionate neoliberal path, he bails.