Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Commentariat Central: Post-Kavanaugh Blues

As long as the New York Times keeps ignoring the war-mongering Atlantic Council's advice to shut down reader commentary, I'll keep shoving my two cents into their digital piggy bank of views, which they euphemize as "sharing our thoughts."

It seems like only yesterday that the liberal press was editorializing against Brett Kavanaugh, and it seems like only today that we're being advised to put all those bad memories of rape and corruption and mendacity behind us and redirect our energies toward the vaunted Blue Wave, and support corporate Democrats.

In his latest column, Paul Krugman describes the trauma of Christine Blasey Ford as being of "of secondary concern" within the big picture of looming Republican authoritarianism and Trumpist brownshirts. His colleague Charles Blow sarcastically tells readers to "rue the day and rend your garments" like hormonal lunatics, because Kavanaugh should suddenly be the least of your enemies. "Liberals get so high-minded, they lose sight of the ground war," he chides, referring to the looming midterms.

And about those loudmouthed protesting women beating on the doors of the Supreme Court:
On one level this would provide relief and release for a pent-up demand by most Americans to be heard and to calm some of the chaos. But, catharsis is an emotional response and an emotional remedy.
Hear that, ladies? Charles Blow says it's time to stop emoting and follow the sage advice of Charles Pierce, scribe of Esquire, "the magazine for men", and get to work fighting the racist Constitutional originalists by organizing a brand new constitutional convention which will require the permission of only two-thirds of our divided states.

First, my response to Blow (much inspired by my current reading of "Black Reconstruction In America" by the great socialist W.E.B. Du Bois):
If the Kavanaugh Caper proves anything, it's that the white men of the GOP are pining not so much for the Founders as they are for the oligarchic slave-owning planting class of the antebellum South.

Here's looking at you, Mitch McConnell.

This isn't a new civil war, as some pundits claim. The old civil war never ended. It's been going on with varying intensity more than 150 years. Donald Trump just ushered in one of its greatest revivals yet, abandoning the smarmy dog whistle for a bullhorn.The GOP has likewise stripped itself bare, flaunting its racism and sexism in an orgy of shamelessness.

That's not to say we should therefore put our blind faith in the Democratic Party, some of whose leaders are already urging us to "move on" for the sake of our sacred institutions, as they abandon any idea of impeaching Kavanaugh. That would be too, too unseemly. All you "purists" must realize that if the Dems pull this stunt, the GOP will only get their revenge down the road. And anyway, as the Times just reported, Wall Street is putting its corrupt money on the Democrats this year.

The media coverage of Trump's "victory" this week has also been downright disgusting. How quickly the pain of Dr. Blasey Ford and countless other women has been forgotten in the group-think coverage of horse race politics.

Co-opting, dividing and conquering regular people is how the ruling class racketeers roll. Don't fall for it. Vote, and then keep afflicting the comfortable.
And in response to a critical reader who thought I was unfairly sliming Trump voters as one bigoted monolithic voting bloc:
To clarify: I'm talking about the white male leadership of the GOP, not white male voters who vote Republican. Trump has displayed his own racism and sexism in countless ways, both verbally and operationally - his Access Hollywood remarks, describing Mexicans as rapists, his attempted dismantling of social safety programs, and of course his notorious birther campaign.

He co-opts the white working class male just as the oligarchic planters did during slavery. Poor whites fought the Civil War for the rich and were the hired overseers of slaves and bounty hunters of slaves so that the rich could bask in their own laziness while producing absolutely nothing. They deflected their own bad qualities on their enslaved work force and propagandized to the poor whites that with a little hard work, they too could aspire to the owner class. Likewise, Trump pretends to be on their side because after all, they have their white masculinity in common.
 Slavery ended, but the propaganda has proved more or less successful ever since. This is what I mean by divide and conquer. Our rulers would hate for the white working class and the black and brown working class to get together in solidarity against the modern day oligarchy.

Trump won because neither the white nor the black working class in rust belt states turned out for Hillary Clinton. Many who'd voted for Obama picked Trump. It's wrong to call all Trump voters racist and sexist. Plenty are just plain fed up and desperate.
As far as Krugman's standard diatribe against Trump and the Republicans' "paranoid style of politics" and incipient authoritarian rule is concerned, I do admit that I let my feminist anger get the better of me, and as a result, did not get many recommendations for this response:
 How quickly liberal men are calling the seating of Kavanaugh "of secondary concern" or "time to move on." That's a pretty callous response to the millions of women whose own pain at the hands of predators was rendered newly raw by the testimony of Dr. Blasey Ford and others with the courage to speak out. Now that Kavanaugh's in, we're lectured that too many angry women might be spawning a backlash and endangering the so-called Blue Wave of the midterms. It's disgusting.

So let's pivot again to Trump, Trump and nothing but the Trump and ignore the fact that he is but the symptom of the equally noxious neoliberal style of politics which been devouring labor rights and the social safety net for going on half a century now.

Authoritarianism is already here. Just witness the recent "no debate needed" bipartisan appropriation by a near-unanimous Senate of nearly a trillion more dollars to the dreaded Trump regime to wage endless war.

  Look at Joe Biden, the current front-runner for the presidency. A "New Democrat," he impoverished millions of women in the 90s with his bankruptcy reform legislation and helped send millions of men to prison in the misguided war on drugs, which was really a war on black drug users. He will never prevail against Trump, who knows where all the bodies are buried... because they either aided his fraudulent rise to riches, or they turned a blind eye to it.

That's Trump's fascistic appeal. He pretends to eat his own, and his base feels replete.
Here's how a fellow reader named "Gerry" cut me down to size by erecting a straw-woman:
I think you paint with a too broad brush when you condemn liberal men as aiders and abettors of the Republican supporters of Trump. I don't hear any of my male liberal friends saying that the seating of Kavanaugh is of secondary concern and that it is time to move on. We are doing what we can to regain control of the House by volunteering and contributing. We are supporters of the Mueller investigation.
You sound mixed up to me. What are your politics?
My reply to "Gerry" --
 Um...Paul Krugman used the words "of secondary concern" right here in this column. He sounds like too many other liberal male pundits I've been reading and listening to these several days.

As far as my sounding "mixed up" is concerned, that his exactly how how Brett Kavanaugh and others described Dr. Blasey Ford. They also demanded to know what her politics are.

There has been much attempted gaslighting of women by both liberal and conservative men. The liberals concern-troll it by calling us emotional and confused, while the conservatives come right out and pronounce us nuts and liars.

But according to you, it's all good as long as Dems support Mueller and give money to candidates.

I rest my case.
The proscribing of the "narrative" to one's required membership in either right wing of the duopoly serves to stifle dissent. Liberalism is not the same thing as leftism, despite the ridiculous claims of Republicans who accuse the centrist business-friendly leaders of the Democratic Party of being Marxists. Thinking outside the corporate partisan box simply does not compute. The establishment media have done their job, and done it well.

Meanwhile, David Brooks, who is now practically indistinguishable from his liberal right-wing Times colleagues in their obsessive loathing for the lone corpus of Donald Trump, is back from book leave and has wisely completely ignored the Kavanaugh Caper and the midterm elections. 

Instead, he's shilling for another for-profit venture which involves corporations getting into community organizing by funding programs which use poor (mainly black) children as data banks. He desperately describes it as "A Really Good Thing That's Happening in America."

Visiting one South Carolina center called the "Spartanburg Academic Movement," or SAM, Brooks gushes:
SAM organizes the community of Spartanburg around a common project. Then it creates an informal authority structure that transcends public-sector/private-sector lines, that rallies cops and churches, the grass roots and the grass tops. Members put data in the center and use it as a tool not for competition but for collaboration. Like the best social service organizations, it is high on empathy and high on engineering. It is local, participatory and comprehensive.
SAM is not a lone case. Spartanburg is one of 70 communities around the country that use what is called the StriveTogether method. StriveTogether began in Cincinnati just over a decade ago. A few leaders were trying to improve education in the city and thinking of starting another program. But a Procter & Gamble executive observed, “We’re program-rich, but system-poor.” In other words, Cincinnati had plenty of programs. What it lacked was an effective system to coordinate them.
Yep, you guessed it. This is the same market-based neoliberal approach to government and social services that helped produce Donald Trump, and turned the Democratic Party into the Republican Party and the Republican Party into Insanity Central. Just the mention of P & G should set off alarm bells. It is what's called an oligopoly, a consolidated corporate behemoth which has cornered the market on most of the items you see on your grocery store shelves, with its garish plethora of brand names offering a false "choice" to consumers. 

That's the noxious genius of neoliberalism itself it just keeps rebranding itself. Life itself is just one great big advertisement.

David Brooks does not, of course, go there. Instead he is so excited about the continuing privatization of public spaces and the corporate enslavement of human lives that 
Frankly, I don’t need studies about outcomes to believe that these collective impact approaches are exciting and potentially revolutionary. Trust is built and the social fabric is repaired when people form local relationships around shared tasks. Building working relationships across a community is an intrinsically good thing. You do enough intrinsically good things and lives will be improved in ways you can never plan or predict. This is where our national renewal will come from.
My published response:
 While sounding warm and fuzzy, the gathering of data on children "from cradle to career" does have sort of an ominous Brave New World ring to it.

Who becomes the eventual recipients of all this valuable and intrusive data? Facebook, Amazon, the NSA, for-profit testing companies, anti teacher union PACs, or any corporate entity prepared to pay money for it?

This sounds suspiciously like another iteration of the increasingly discredited for-profit charter school movement which has sought to supersede good government education policy and the expenditure of public money on children.

So rather than unquestioningly celebrate the efforts of philanthrocapitalists and corporations seeking to burnish their public images with these kinds of slick "community" programs that purport to "measure" pupil progress, our free and fair press should dig deeper and do their journalistic duty: follow the money.

Rather than simply concentrate on kids "from cradle to career", America must start concentrating.on all its people from cradle to  grave. We already have some of the worst education and health outcomes in the civilized world.

A pivot to government in the public rather than private interest would include Medicare for All, debt-free college, a guaranteed federal jobs program... in other words, a rebooting of the New Deal for the 21st century.
If the wealthy investment class really wants to help poor children, let them stop bribing our politicians and start paying their fair share of taxes.


BAB said...

Karen, people like you are the very reason the Atlantic Council wants to shut down reader comments. Keep it up.

Clueless It Seems said...

The public education that I received back in the day (the 1950s and 1960s in DC no less) was much better than what the crazy rich pay 10s of thousands of dollars for today for their "kids" to get white advantages and join the old boy and girl networks. I was able to change careers in my middle 30s because of this education. People don't seem to understand that Amazon - and Bezos owns EVERYTHING - and all the big Silly Valley coporations are consolidating and taking everything away. I am neither a Repukelican or a Dimocrat. I have always believed in keeping my eyes open and not necessarily being on the "winning" team. Sometimes you win some, sometimes you lose some, and sometimes you tie some. It's gray and not black or white. It's WAY past time for us to have more than just 2 parties. And no, I didn't vote for any of 'em. I wrote it in (wasted my "vote"?) for Mickey Mouse or Goofy. I forget which.

Anna Radicalova said...

Looks like Nikki Haley might have been the anonymous op-ed writer who criticized Trump. According to CNBC last Friday, the search for the culprit seemed to have stalled/faded for some reason. Then right after the federal holiday Monday, Nikki Haley announced she was resigning as U.N. Ambassador. Busted!

Haley was the only one, as far as I know, to issue a formal denial by writing her own op-ed in the Washington Post. 'The lady doth protest too much'!

Trump is going to save her and himself embarrassment by keeping it on the lowdown. Her penance will be to campaign like hell (it will certainly feel like it) for Trump's re-election. She probably also has to sign a non-disclosure agreement so she can't cash in later.

Anonymous said...

Go Taylor Swift!