Friday, August 30, 2019

Washington Post Says Anger Is So Yesterday

Now that Joe Biden is, by growing corporate media consensus, heading for both the cognitive and political sunset of his life despite his current lead in polls, it's time for them to elevate Elizabeth Warren, the better to denigrate Bernie Sanders.

It's time once again to call the Tone Police.

Since the "Bernie Bro" trope has outlived both its utility and credibility in light of the fact that women and minorities are supporting Sanders in ever greater numbers, the corporate media must find a new trope. Actually, it's only an update on the 2016 trope that had Sanders suffering from a chronic anger management problem.

The manufactured dilemma contrived by the Washington Post is that since Donald Trump has already cornered the market on anger, staying mad at social and economic injustice makes Bernie sound just too Trump-like for the sensitive sensibilities of even past Bernie supporters, a handful of whom the Post carefully cherry-picked to quote in its latest anti-Bernie propaganda piece.

Anger is just so damned exhausting and so futile, says the Post, that these Bernie fans might as well support Elizabeth Warren. Although she, too, broadcasts anger at her campaign rallies, her version is supposedly softer and less "cantankerous and rowdy" than Bernie's. Reporter Hailey Fuchs writes:(bolds are mine)
In 2016, Sanders and his supporters shared a visceral anger at the nation’s economic and political systems, which they contended had been corrupted by wealthy capitalists. Hillary Clinton proved the perfect foe for an anti-establishment campaign then. But with a sitting president who has also used anger to galvanize his base and claims to represent the antithesis of the Washington elite, some now find that aggressive messaging unappealing.
 The overall dynamics also have shifted. During the 2016 presidential cycle, the independent senator stood alone in his — oftentimes cantankerous and rowdy — fight for a single-payer health-care system, tuition-free four-year public college and a $15 minimum wage. Several presidential hopefuls have fully embraced his once-radical ideas without adopting his boisterous tone.
Naturally, the Post article is accompanied by the usual unflattering photo of Sanders, mouth wide open in a grimace, finger pointed threateningly at all the sensitive sensibilities in the audience.

He and his angry supporters are not only mad, the Post says, they might even be ill-informed, since they merely "contend" that capitalism corrupts politics. Hailey Fuchs, a recent graduate of Yale with an impressive triple major in ethics, economics and politics, apparently has never read the numerous studies which conclusively prove that capitalism absolutely does corrupt politics. Take, as just one example, Martin Gilens's "Affluence and Influence" study showing that deep-pocketed donors invariably get whatever they want, in the way of tax breaks for themselves and cuts in social programs for everyone else, from the politicians who "we" are invited to vote for every two and four years. Fuchs is therefore being a bit unethical, to put it charitably, when she insinuates that Sanders supporters are using their guts (viscera) rather than their thinking brains in "contending" that such corruption exists in all levels of government. Then again, she is no doubt interested in continuing her career at a paper owned by the richest man in the universe.

So while Elizabeth Warren can and does sound every bit as angry as Bernie Sanders at her own campaign rallies, she has also been quietly courting Democratic Party insiders and its undemocratic super-delegates to reassure them that deep down, she is on their side. This tactic is apparently working, because the Washington Post, the New York Times and other consolidated media behemoths are not so quietly boosting her candidacy. Why wouldn't they? She is said to appeal to the highly educated bourgeoisie, while Bernie is totally down with the down and outs, a/k/a the working class and the poor.

Of course, the scary angry "Bernie-tone" that the Post claims is so suddenly upsetting to both his current and former supporters is pure propaganda, if not genuinely fake news. 

The people who are really scared of Sanders are the ruling elites. They're terrified of the righteous - and global - anger of the Sunrise Movement, Black Lives Matter, Extinction Rebellion and the Yellow Vests. So the Washington Post buries the true lead, and actual truth, 13 paragraphs deep into the article: 
It’s not as though [Warren is] content to thunder against the evildoers like an Old Testament prophet. That’s much more his mode,” said William Galston, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and former domestic policy adviser to President Bill Clinton. “Sanders sees [his campaign] as a revolutionary mass movement to upset the established order. While Senator Warren is obviously very dissatisfied with the status quo, she describes her campaign in very different terms and terms that I think are less scary.”
Sanders isn't scary to oppressed people and poor people. He's scary to rich people and the centrist Democrats, neoliberal think tanks, party operatives and consultants who serve them. They have sunk so low as to join with the GOP in pathologizing  the anger of the very people they have victimized with four decades of cruel neoliberal austerity policies. 

In the interests of surface fairness and balance, the Post smarmily concludes its latest Bernie hit piece by tempering its propaganda with quotes from people who can relate to Bernie's anger. Here's the problem, though: the inconvenient fact remains that, just like every other human being, he's aged three years since 2016 - and that is suddenly giving them pause. He is, sadly, also not black or a woman. To convey this desired scary message, Hailey Fuchs searched for the perfect squeamish Sanders supporter. She hit the desired jackpot with this doozy: 

But the Sanders supporter is concerned that her candidate will fall short of the nomination once again. She worries that his age — 77 — will be used against him, and that other voters may be drawn to a candidate who offers the appeal of diversity.
(Jennifer) Convery was not quite sure how Sanders could expand his voting bloc.
“He reaches out as much as anybody else as much as he can. He’s not going to change who he is and how he is, so he can’t make himself younger or black or a woman, so I don’t know,” she said. “What do you do? You’re not going to change your points.”
Gosh, if only Bernie wasn't so damned white and kvetchy, his fair-weather friends would feel ever so much better. It's not that they care about identities as such, it's that other people care. If other people care, it's because the Post tells us that unless we, too, start to care about cosmetic appeal and "electability," we'll get four more years of Trump. So squelch that anger, all you tired, poor, huddled masses of America!  

If only there were more righteous anger in the United States. Except for the vibrant youth movements battling for a green new deal, America's electorate are not yet taking to the streets, as they are in Hong Kong, France, Haiti, and elsewhere on the planet. Is it because we have enough streaming services, social media accounts, drugs, booze to keep us placidly hiding our quiet desperation? More likely, it's because most people are already finding day-to-day survival enough of a challenge and often have to work second or third jobs just to make ends barely meet.

As Oscar Wilde wrote more than a century ago in The Soul of Man Under Socialism, it is actually abnormal for economically struggling people not to feel intense rage at an oppressive system which insists that we should be grateful for whatever crumbs fall from the rich man's table while heeding the hackneyed  advice to "keep calm and carry on" - even as the Democratic party elites do their utmost to ignore the ongoing climate catastrophe by refusing even to discuss it at a presidential debate. 

It's worth quoting Wilde at length (and assume that he uses "man" in the generic sense - not that he cared a whit about political correctness, of course) and applying his critique to the trite and tiresome lectures of the Washington Post and the rest of the oligarchy-controlled media:
Disobedience, in the eyes of anyone who has read history, is man's original virtue. It is through disobedience that progress has been made, through disobedience and through rebellion. Sometimes the poor are praised for being thrifty. But to recommend thrift to the poor is both grotesque and insulting. It is like advising a man who is starving to eat less. For a town or country labourer to practice thrift would be absolutely immoral. Man should not be ready to show that he can live like a badly fed animal... No, a poor man who is ungrateful, unthrifty, discontented, and rebellious, is probably a real personality, and has much in him. He is at any rate a healthy protest.
"As for the virtuous poor, one can pity them, of course, but one cannot possibly admire them. They have made private terms with the enemy, and sold their birthright for very bad pottage. They must also be extraordinary stupid. I can quite understand a man accepting laws that protect private property, and admit of its accumulation, as long as he himself is able under those conditions to realise some form of beautiful and intellectual life. But it is almost incredible to me how a man whose life is marred and made hideous by such laws can possibly acquiesce in their continuance.
"However, the explanation is not really difficult to find. It is simply this. Misery and poverty are so absolutely degrading and exercise such a paralysing effect over the nature of men, that no class is ever really conscious of its own suffering. They have to be told of it by other people, and they often entirely disbelieve them. 
 "That is the reason why agitators are so absolutely necessary. Without them, in our incomplete state, there would be no advance towards civilisation."
Oligarchic propaganda sheets like the Washington Post want to scare people stupid. Candidates like Bernie Sanders, with his ambitious new climate plan, want to scare people out of the toxic, capitalism-imposed stupor of what some critics are calling the Necrocene, or the Age of Death.

The bright side is that seriously broke, seriously depressed, and seriously exhausted people probably have neither the money nor the energy to breach the paywalls of the major cable and print outlets to be tainted overly much by the corporate propaganda. So maybe there's hope for "civilization" yet.

Monday, August 26, 2019

When Virtue-Signaling Backfires

Trump Allies Target Journalists Over Coverage Deemed Hostile to White House is the scare headline in Monday's New York Times.

The lead paragraph follows up with the desired alarmist tone. Cue Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia - or if you're not all that adventuresome, just settle for Joe McCarthy's America:
A loose network of conservative operatives allied with the White House is pursuing what they say will be an aggressive operation to discredit news organizations deemed hostile to President Trump by publicizing damaging information about journalists.
OK, so at least Trump hasn't as far as we know yet ordered a hit on a reporter, as Richard Nixon did on muckraker Jack Anderson. Or seized the phone records of reporters and subpoenaed journalists to testify against whistleblowers, as Barack Obama did.

So are the Trumpies going through reporters' garbage to glean their private financial information? Interviewing old girlfriends or boyfriends or spouses to dig up some sleazy dirt on them? Tapping their phones? Hacking their email accounts? Breaking into doctors' offices to steal their medical or psychiatric records?

Well, not quite:

 It is the latest step in a long-running effort by Mr. Trump and his allies to undercut the influence of legitimate news reporting. Four people familiar with the operation described how it works, asserting that it has compiled dossiers of potentially embarrassing social media posts and other public statements by hundreds of people who work at some of the country’s most prominent news organizations.
This is truly shocking stuff. The Trumpies have had the unmitigated gall to read embarrassing information posted by the journalists themselves on social media. And not just regular journalists, like the ones targeted by the Washington Post and the shadowy Prop Or Not organization in 2016,which accused both right-wing and leftist writers of being witting or unwitting Putin operatives who helped steal the election from Hillary Clinton. The public social media posts that are being collected by the Trump operatives were written by employees of some of the most prominent and important news organizations in all of Corporate America. And the operatives are not only reading their social media posts, they are nefariously secreting them in Putinesque dossiers for sordid political purposes!

The Times breathlessly continues:

Operatives have closely examined more than a decade’s worth of public posts and statements by journalists, the people familiar with the operation said. Only a fraction of what the network claims to have uncovered has been made public, the people said, with more to be disclosed as the 2020 election heats up. The research is said to extend to members of journalists’ families who are active in politics, as well as liberal activists and other political opponents of the president.
How can one make something public that is already in the public domain, for all to see? Could the "research" extending to journalists' families possibly include the widely-known fact that the spouse of NBC anchor Chuck Todd is a paid Democratic Party official, or that CNN personality Chris Cuomo is the brother of the New York governor, or that CNN legal analyst Laura Jarrett is the daughter of chief Obama aide Valerie Jarrett, or that nepotism is pretty much a standard hiring and promotion principle within the consolidated, oligarch-controlled media? The Trump operatives aren't saying, and neither is the New York Times. But when the operatives do leak out their treasure trove of widely available speech transcripts and public tweets and Facebook posts, I'm sure that the Times and the Post and all the rest of the Prominents will be right on it.

Of course, if the right-wing operatives are also targeting lesser-known (and unprotected) critics and writers, that would be a completely different story, ranking right down there with Prop Or Not. But it's telling that the Times seems to be restricting its First Amendment concerns to its own employees and to those employees of other "major" outlets.

No prominent major outlet has ever, for example, written critically about the Prop Or Not smear campaign against some 200 relatively powerless writers and websites. We still don't know the identities of those who compiled the blacklist and tried to ruin the careers and reputations of those decidedly non-prominent journalists.

While it keeps its readers in suspense, the Times claims that at this moment it is virtually impossible for them to speculate on future possibly career-destroying leaks. This is especially true since the already-leaked media posts were all true,  and even future, already-public information from the past is also true, mainly because the targets themselves had already openly and honestly leaked and exposed and even bragged their own dirt and hypocrisy back when, as the Times insists, they were mainly callow, brash young adults who didn't know enough to keep their vile qualities to themselves.

Nonetheless, the Times pleads ignorance, because admitting that it doesn't examine either its potential hires' or its current employees' social media histories would be tantamount to admitting that they really don't care if their staffers don't practice or believe in what they now preach. They are loath to admit that their screening practices are also a bit on the shoddy side. The newspaper was caught with its pants spectacularly down only last year, when new editorial hire Sarah Jeong was fired after only six hours on the job when her own fairly well-known public association with Neo-Nazis was publicly "leaked" all over social media.

But that was then, and the Times has conveniently shoved that ancient truth down its memory hole. And this is Now: 

It is not possible to independently assess the claims about the quantity or potential significance of the material the pro-Trump network has assembled. Some involved in the operation have histories of bluster and exaggeration. And those willing to describe its techniques and goals may be trying to intimidate journalists or their employers.
But the material publicized so far, while in some cases stripped of context or presented in misleading ways, has proved authentic, and much of it has been professionally harmful to its targets.
It is not until we delve deep into the Times coverage that we get to the true nitty-gritty of the piece. Here is the carefully buried lead: it seems that a pair of editorials decrying Donald Trump's recent anti-Semitic remarks and the shady employment past of his new press secretary had been edited by a staffer on the political desk who a decade ago had written a bunch of his own nasty racist and anti-Semitic tweets. And when the Trumpies called the newly "race-woke" paper out on its hypocrisy, the Gray Lady was not amused:
One person involved in the effort said the pro-Trump forces, aware ahead of time about the coverage... were prepared to respond. Early Thursday morning, soon after the profile appeared online, Breitbart News published an article that documented anti-Semitic and racist tweets written a decade ago by Tom Wright-Piersanti, who was in college at the time and has since become an editor on the Times’ politics desk. The Times said it was reviewing the matter and considered the posts “a clear violation of our standards.”
My published comment:
The right-wingers are using "reverse virtue-signaling" and cashing in on the obnoxious Call-Out Culture to do damage to writers whom they perceive to be their political opponents.
When, for example, they exposed a reporter's old anti-Semitic tweets, it wasn't for the purpose of fighting xenophobia, but to gleefully point out that liberals ("elites") can at times be as hypocritical as reactionary neo-fascists. This is not to excuse the anti-Semitic tweets by the reporter, because a 20-something should know better. His excuse that he was only trying to rile up his peers falls flat.
 Journalists and aspiring journalists, and for that matter, anybody who cares about their careers and life prospects should probably just stay the heck off Twitter. As the article points out, once you press "submit" or "send" there is no going back. Your whole life can be ruined because of a few ill-advised words that will float forever in cyberspace to be plucked, sliced, diced and taken out of context.
What's more disturbing, to me, is that the Trumpies are also targeting the relatives of reporters in an obvious effort to get them to self-censor. It has the whiff of organized criminal extortionists who threaten the children of their targets to get them to pay up and shut up.
 Journalists and all writers should fearlessly keep writing articles and commentary and forgo Twitter wars and trolling. It's a waste of their talents, it's mentally exhausting, and it can come back to bite them.
Like a bedbug in the New York Times "Wellness Room" for embattled and Twitter-exhausted journalists. 

Thursday, August 22, 2019

The Spellbound Summer of Trump

Salvador Dali Animation From the Film "Spellbound"

It's been quite the surreal week of weeks in the Show of Shows.

Donald Trump retweeted a right-wing testimonial proclaiming him King of the Jews and the Chosen One, even as he accused any Jew who votes for the opposition party ( a/k/a The Enemy) of stupidity and disloyalty.

 He called the Danish prime minister "nasty" because she scoffed at his offer to buy Greenland. He is stalking away from an upcoming state visit to Denmark the same way he's pretended to walk away from other real estate deals his whole adult life- including his ultimately successful and highly leveraged acquisition of Mar-a-Lago at a relatively cheap (for him, personally) price after he and his lawyers performed much local government finagling, arm-twisting, whisper-campaigning, gaslighting, and other tricks of the property plunder trade.

So give the Greenland debacle some more time. Despite his legendary short fuse, Trump is a very patient man when it comes to real estate. He is also a lot smarter than he lets on in his word-salad tweets and rants. It should be fairly obvious that his craving for Greenland is proof that he is indeed rationally tethered to the reality of climate catastrophe. Greenland will turn green as the ice melts. It would be quite the haven for a good chunk of what The Economist in 2011 optimistically forecast to be the comfortable survival of hordes of remaining "reasonably rich people." The Brave New "Smart" World-Creators. The Chosen Ones. The Saviors.

You can help Trump and the Chosen Few to seal the deal and relocate for their own national security and that of their heirs by forking over $25 for a special t-shirt. It'll make you feel so cool while you swelter in our increasingly hot summers. Because Greenland will be closed to the proles, unfortunately.

But wait. There's more!

To effect what his cohort deems the survival of the fittest, Trump also ordered that refugees and immigrants be imprisoned indefinitely in border concentration camps and other lock-ups as vaccines, basic hygiene products and timely medical care are withheld from them. Even the newly "race-woke" New York Times euphemizes these gulags as "family residential centers." This hearkens back to the recent past when, for nearly a decade, the Times euphemized the Bush-era program of waterboarding and sleep deprivation and other torture techniques as "enhanced interrogation" methods.

I'm sure there is still more Trump atrocity news, but I can't think of any more right off the top of my head and I'm too bummed out to go in search of the latest criminal caper or yet another example of the opposition party's group ennui. All the Democrats can do is counter-tweet in tepid outrage as they stuff themselves full on Iowa corn dogs, fund-raise to the hilt in the Hamptons or vacation their blues away on Martha's Vineyard.

It's the Dog Days and the dog-tired days and everybody is exhausted.

That is pretty much the whole point, isn't it? To make us so depressed and feeling so helpless that we're rendered paralyzed and even questioning our own sanity. It doesn't make us feel any better to realize that Donald Trump is acting nuttier than usual because he's worried about the coming economic recession and his plummeting poll numbers. Examining his damaged psyche is a complete waste of time. Been there, done that.

As the late psychiatrist Andew Lobaczewski wrote in Political Ponerology, authoritarian leaders' diseased psyches can easily spread to the rest of society. Emotionally damaged demagogues like Trump possess the preternatural ability to spread their malignant personality defects far and wide, spellbinding whole societies into veritable contagions of mass psychic distress. 
'Persons with an innate talent for intuiting psychological situations tend to take advantage of this gift in an egotistical and ruthless fashion. In the thought process of such people, a short cut way develops which bypasses the handicapped (brain) function, thus leading from associations directly to words, deeds, and decisions which are not subject to any dissuasion.
Such individuals interpret their talent for intuiting situations and making split-second oversimplified decisions a sign of their superiority compared to normal people, who need to think for a long time, experiencing self-doubt and conflicting motivations.
 "Such characters traumatize and actively spellbind others, and their influence finds it exceptionally easy to bypass the controls of common sense. A large proportion of people tend to credit such individuals with special powers, thereby succumbing to their egotistic beliefs. If a parent manifests such a defect, no matter how minimal, all the children in the family evidence anomalies in personality development.
 "Subordinating a normal person to psychologically abnormal individuals has severe and deforming effects on his or her personality: it engenders trauma and neurosis. This is accomplished in a manner which generally evades conscious controls. Such a situation deprives a person of his natural rights: to practice his own mental hygiene, develop a sufficiently autonomous personality, and utilize his common sense. In the light of natural law, it thus constitutes a kind of crime - which can appear at any social scale, in any context - although it is not mentioned in any code of law."
Witness the apparent helplessness, if not the outright collusion, of Nancy Pelosi and other Democratic Party leaders on the imprisonment of refugees. Without so much as a blink, they robotically appropriated Trump the billions of dollars he demanded for his cruel militarized border policies. All that Pelosi reportedly demanded in return for her cooperation was to be "kept in the loop" about child migrant deaths as they occur.

In a healthy society, Lobaczewski wrote, the activities of spellbinders can usually be stifled fairly quickly. But in an unhealthy society, riven by extreme wealth and social inequalities, the spellbinder finds that people are amenable to his influence. And all that "normal" people can do is moralize and express disgust, rather than do anything concrete to stop the madness. That would necessarily include acknowledging the evil of their own policies, which helped give rise to Trump in the first place.

There are many psychopaths behind the scenes who steer and/or enable Trump even as they pretend to condemn his words. Even the "good" Democrats seem  increasingly exhausted by the futile effort of telling the president he ought to behave himself so that the quiet work of the oligarchy can proceed apace, and they can pretend that bombing and droning people to death in foreign countries is not also a form of hideous racism.

 Trump's deviant personality is no more deviant than American hegemony itself. He is simply the exception to the unwritten rule that it's the skillfully discreet psychopaths who, after careful corporate vetting, win high office because, as Lobaczewski wrote, "they have thought-processes more similar to the world of normal people; in general, they are sufficiently connected to the pathological system to provide a guarantee of loyalty."

It's telling that in the updated preface to his book, Lobaczewski used the George W. Bush administration and its immoral invasion of Iraq as a prime example of how the psychopathy of leaders can infect societies, specifically those (Congress, media) who normally might be in a powerful enough position to combat it.

So we ordinary people have to protect ourselves both from Trump and from the equally dangerous, reactionary, self-righteous and ineffectual ruling class reactions to Trump. Our own psychological health as individuals and as members of society depends upon it.

We should be neither the helpless Ingrid Bergman wife in Gaslight nor the hapless Ingrid Bergman therapist in Spellbound. We can't play the part of analysts and critics only to succumb and let our emotions of fear and disgust rise above our intellects. We can't be good citizens if we criticize the villainous Trump one minute, and then besottedly fall for the next slick political marketing campaign and neoliberal savior the next.

Howard Zinn was right: "The really critical thing isn't who's sitting in he White House, but who is sitting in the streets, in the cafeterias, in the halls of government, in the factories. Who is protesting, who is occupying offices and demonstrating? Those are the things that determine what happens."

Even Bernie Sanders, who judging from the latest polls has a better than ever chance of winning the presidency, acknowledges that he can't do it alone, that the residual evil and sickness of Trumpism will last long past the time that Donald Trump physically leaves the scene.

We have miles to go before we sleep. And gallons of coffee to drink.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Plutocratic Procuresses

 Jill Biden, wife of Joe, seemed to channel Ghislaine Maxwell, madam of the late Jeffrey, when she strove to seduce a group of apparently squeamish New Hampshire voters this week:
“Your candidate might be better on, I don’t know, health care than Joe is, but you’ve got to look at who’s going to win this election,” Dr. Biden said. “And maybe you have to swallow a little bit and say, ‘O.K., I sort of personally like so-and-so better,’ but your bottom line has to be that we have to beat Trump.”
 How many double entendres can you spot in just that one paragraph? 

A procuring woman has to do whatever it takes to pressure and entice and stimulate all the warm bodies necessary to service the depraved man in her life. When they can consistently emphasize their own education bona fides, it helps to make their sordid mission in life seem more palatable and less hypocritical. Their frequent appearances at schools and their stated devotion to teaching also helps their intended targets to overcome their initial lack of enthusiasm, if not their understandable reactions of downright fear and disgust. Or, so the pedagogical procuresses seem to assume.

Meanwhile, the still-living, hair-sniffing, neck-nuzzling, knee-fondling Joe Biden has plunked down six figures to start airing his first Iowa TV ad, which is entitled "Bones."

Biden's "We Know In Our Bones" slogan is certainly a lot more virile than Barry Goldwater's flaccid "In Your Heart You Know He's Right" loser of a line of 1964, don't you think? Seeing how "Go All the Way With LBJ" won in a landslide that year, poor Barry was a case of electile dysfunction for the record books. 

On the bright side, the Joe Biden Bones ad lasts for only one minute.

So just in case you're still feeling wistfully nostalgic for the sexy Obama-Biden epoch, here's another adorable (and quite deliberate, if you ask me) double entendre-laden Jill Biden classic from Campaign 2012. It was delivered at a school. An Ivy League school, to be exact. The guffawing testosterone-fueled future plutocrats in the audience sure know how to appreciate subservient self-deprecating humor from womenfolk who can't ever get enough of their powerful menfolk who can't ever get enough of uttering the word "folks" at least fifty times a day. That, folks, is the true staying power you can believe in. 

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

"Race-Woke" New York Times Asleep At the Switch

It's almost enough to make you feel sorry for the New York Times. 

Their nearly three-year-long Russiagate-centric "resistance" to Donald Trump in tatters. all they have left are the two Pulitzers for the bold, fear-mongering propaganda provided to them by national security think tanks, former CIA officials and Democratic Party operatives, a body of stenography deemed eminently prize-worthy by a panel of judges comprised of their fellow Russophobes. 

Bereft of their overarching Narrative, they needed to plot their next Big Theme. and this is what they've come up with: they will deign to spread the word that the president of the United State is a lifelong racist and xenophobe who appeals to lifelong racists and xenophobes, which is even worse than being either a witting or unwitting Russian stooge. This shocking realization apparently dawned on Times management only a few weeks ago. And therefore, the Times will be on it, from here till Election Day 2020 and maybe even beyond.

Still smarting from the liberal backlash against their recent banner headline announcing that "Trump Urges Unity Against Racism"  and its subsequent replacement with the still wishy-washy "Assailing Hate But Not Guns," top brass at the paper convened an emergency meeting with reporters and editors to figure out what, exactly, their journalistic function should be for the duration of the Trump reign.

Slate, the online magazine, obtained a cringe-worthy recorded transcript of the meeting, in which Executive Editor Dean Baquet educated the troops about the narrative strategy for the coming years.

Here are the remarks by Baquet that had Trump gleefully shrilling "Witch Hunt by the Failing NYT!" The bolds are mine:

The day Bob Mueller walked off that witness stand, two things happened. Our readers who want Donald Trump to go away suddenly thought, “Holy shit, Bob Mueller is not going to do it.” And Donald Trump got a little emboldened politically, I think. Because, you know, for obvious reasons. And I think that the story changed. A lot of the stuff we’re talking about started to emerge like six or seven weeks ago. We’re a little tiny bit flat-footed. I mean, that’s what happens when a story looks a certain way for two years. Right?
I think that we’ve got to change. I mean, the vision for coverage for the next two years is what I talked about earlier: How do we cover a guy who makes these kinds of [racist] remarks? How do we cover the world’s reaction to him? How do we do that while continuing to cover his policies? How do we cover America, that’s become so divided by Donald Trump? How do we grapple with all the stuff you all are talking about? How do we write about race in a thoughtful way, something we haven’t done in a large way in a long time? That, to me, is the vision for coverage. You all are going to have to help us shape that vision. But I think that’s what we’re going to have to do for the rest of the next two years.
Translation: stories about Donald Trump henceforth will be carefully framed through the lens of his personal racism in particular and the endemic racism in the United States in general. Be sure to read the whole transcript of the meeting. It's a valuable behind-the-scenes primer about how the actual Manufacture of Consent gets done. Now, if only we could get the transcript of a meeting plotting how to negatively cover Bernie Sanders, either in 2016 or in the current campaign. There probably isn't one, because the careerist reporters assigned to cover Bernie, both at the Times and at other corporate outlets, know without having to be told what their subtle, teensy flat-footed marching orders are: stomp, kick, repeat as necessary whenever his rising poll numbers and crowd sizes so indicate.

The newspaper's worthy "1619 Project," Baquet actually acknowledges during the meeting, would never have seen the light of day were it not for Donald Trump. This crash course in American history relies very heavily on previous scholarship on slavery, reconstruction and Jim Crow, much of the research emphasizing the true capitalistic roots of slavery and its aftermath of institutionalized oppression of minorities and the continued power of the white patriarchy. The Times, though, is subtly and unsurprisingly emphasizing the white supremacy part over the capitalism which actually spawned it and nourishes it to this very day. Self-examination can only go so far, especially with a popular, oligarchy-threatening Democratic socialist named Bernie Sanders running for president. 

The admission by Dean Baquet - that the Times examination of the roots of racism and American conservatism is inspired by the Trump presidency - is what has the Trumpists howling with their own overblown outrage.

Showing how hard it is to parody right-wing extremism in the Age of Trump, The Onion was not really exaggerating when it had Newt Gingrich lambasting the 1619 Project as "shameless abolitionist propaganda."

The real shamelessness is that Times is selectively speaking truth to power only about a century too late. That's because the newspaper did not exist in its current form until the 19th century, post-Emancipation, and thus cannot be blamed for the "peculiar institution."  It is speaking truth to power for the express purpose of making Trump's Democratic presidential opponents and the Vichy Democratic collaborators in Congress look good, by comparison, in the run-up to 2020. It's history presented in the interests of party politics and virtue-signaling.

So, no,  I don't feel sorry for the New York Times and its embattled leadership. Despite the smattering of canceled subscriptions due to its shockingly bland, Trump-friendly headline in the wake of the recent gun massacres, its profits have skyrocketed by a whopping 66 percent since Trump's election. This is the same paper that went broke after the 2008 financial collapse and had to take out an emergency loan from oligarch (and big Clinton telecom deregulation beneficiary) Carlos Slim, just to stay in business.

Of course, criticizing the Times at this fraught moment in end-stage capitalistic history makes me, by binary-dictated default, a closet Trump supporter, if not still a persistent Russian stooge, in the eyes of many of my liberal friends. Yes, of course, America has its roots in racism and slavery and land-grabbing and genocide. But were it not for Trump, wouldn't the Times (under a Clinton Restoration) have gone right on ignoring history and propping up capitalism-fed white supremacy? It was Hillary, after all, who during a debate with Trump, sternly announced: "I want to send the message that America is already great. And we are great because we are good."

Perhaps in subtle collusion with his employer's new Narrative for the coming year or two, columnist Paul Krugman now blames Germany (wink, nod) for the global Neoliberal Project's damaging fixation on austerity, without so much as a wink or nod to the Mighty Moderate Obama Technocracy's influence in perpetuating both domestic and European austerity regimens in service to the global rich. At least Krugman offers a minimal smidgen of even-handedness to balance out the flat-footedness, correctly pointing out that Trump is blaming Europe for the totally wrong reason, that they are injuring America while supposedly enriching themselves at everyone else's expense, especially Trump's base of Real Americans.

But when Krugman says, correctly, that American deficit hawks as they existed during the Obama administration were also nothing but a bunch of hypocrites, he carefully absolves Barack Obama from having anything at all to do with it. The last regime is never even mentioned in his column, either by name or by party:

 Some background: Around 2010, politicians and pundits on both sides of the Atlantic caught a bad case of austerity fever. Somehow they lost interest in fighting unemployment, even though it remained catastrophically high, and demanded spending cuts instead. And these spending cuts, unprecedented in a weak economy, slowed the recovery and delayed the return to full employment.While debt alarmism ruled both here and in Europe, however, it eventually became clear that there was a crucial difference in underlying motivation. Our deficit hawks were, in fact, hypocrites, who suddenly lost all interest in debt as soon as a Republican was in the White House. The Germans, on the other hand, really meant it.
Oops. They took the last Leader of the Free World at his literal word. Their bad. An examination of even the recent past can get so damned selective sometimes. Memories are short, and memory holes are deep. Krugman did not hesitate to criticize Obama's austerity policies and tepid stimulus package once upon a time, particularly during his first term. But now that centrist Democrats are running on the nostalgic fumes of Obama's myth-based rosy legacy, facts and truth be damned.

One of these truths is that the austerity measures imposed under his administration disproportionately affected Blacks and Latinos. The extension of the Bush tax cuts for the benefit of the wealthy white patriarchy in 2010 dealt a particularly harsh blow to already-oppressed, dark-hued people.

My early-submitted response to Krugman was once again delayed for many hours and buried in an avalanche of hundreds of reader comments, due to some mystery algorithm that, we are assured, has absolutely nothing to do with human censorship:

Phony populist that he is, Trump has seized upon the global misery caused by austerity, and has made it into a lethal weapon in his self-serving arsenal. Far be it for Trump to even pretend to "feel your pain" - because in order to control his fan-base and keep it riled up and resentful, he has skillfully taken their hardships and made them his very own.
 What could possibly be worse than losing your home, your health, your job, your savings? Why, for the elites and the immigrants and the media to deny the Triumph of the Will of The (real) People, in trying to deny him his re-election! They're ruining "our" economy out of pure spite! (Never mind that his own policies, such as they are, are based mainly upon spitefulness.)
Of course, his anti-elitist rhetoric masks his fealty and service to the very same "enemy" elites and corporate media conglomerate that he purports to despise.
He bypasses the media by tweets, and then the media dutifully reports on all his tweets the minute they appear. It's all Trump, all the time.
Unfair Advantage: Trump.
 Meanwhile, the EU technocrats and their banker pals have managed to crush the once truly populist Left ruling party in Greece so thoroughly that Syriza has now formed coalitions with newly rising Trump-like parties.
Trump is what happens when "centrist" rulers block emancipatory democratic politics, putting profits for the entitled few above prosperity and justice for the many.
 He is the quintessential scavenger.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Jeffrey Epstein's State-Assisted Suicide

Wouldn't it be a supreme irony if it turned that one of the Neoliberal Era's most notorious and hedonistic symbols died as an indirect result of the very austerity agenda that his pluto-political cohort have been ramming down our throats for the last four decades?

The latest twist in the Jeffrey Epstein saga is that he died because both the guards who were supposed to be checking his cell at a Manhattan federal jail every thirty minutes fell asleep on the job, apparently simultaneously. And thus was Epstein, rank opportunist to the last, allowed to enter into his own eternal rest unimpeded. At a jail nicknamed The Tombs, no less.

The question is not why the jailers nodded off  - one or both were working double shifts on top of several days of previous "severe overtime" - but why there were only two guards on duty to monitor some of the country's most dangerous criminal defendants in the first place.

The obvious reason is the severe budget-cutting in our neoliberal age of deficit hawkery.  Prisoners, along with other perceived dregs of society, are a low priority when our corrupt political class has only so many trillions of dollars to allocate to war and weapons and corporate welfare for their wealthy benefactors. Their time is also severely limited, what with endless meetings with corporate lobbyists, the counting of their donors' weighted votes, and decisions about which low-priority groups to punish next. Should it be old people, sick people, hungry people, indebted students, prisoners?

Yep. All the above.

And the Trump administration, to help cover the cost of the massive tax cuts rewarding Jeffrey Epstein's class of tycoons, proposed in February that 1,000 more workers be cut from the federal prison system and that 6,000 additional jobs be eliminated through attrition.

"This isn't right, and this isn't safe for America. This isn't good policy, especially when you have a president of the United States that says he supports law and order," said Eric Young, president of the American Federation of Government Employees' Council of Prison Locals.

Jeffrey Epstein was a true anomaly, a near-billionaire Member of the Club who tragically got caught up in a carceral justice system which is usually reserved for the poor and the powerless and, occasionally, a notorious criminal like El Chapo. The Mexican drug lord was held accountable because he symbolized the Duopoly's War On Drugs, which is code for its war on poor drug-users. The drug-trafficking roles of the US Military and the CIA  are thus more easily ignored or forgotten.

El Chapo, who spent two years in the same jail as Epstein until his conviction, had already been notorious for escaping from prison in Mexico. It thus seems highly unlikely that he was ever guarded by only two sleep-deprived staffers during his stay in a facility renowned for its ultra-tight security.

So my own conspiracy theory is that nobody had to directly murder Jeffrey Epstein in order to keep him quiet about all the important people he had dirt on for their participation in his various financial scams and global sex trafficking ring. All that some higher-up had to do was approve a whole bunch of vacations at the same time, and then force the remaining skeleton crew to work punishing overtime shifts. And as an added insurance policy, they assigned one staffer to the Epstein detail who wasn't even a trained guard.

Oops. Nobody could ever have predicted.... A full investigation will be launched.... Heads will roll - as long as they're unimportant heads.

Another unanswered question is why Epstein was even arrested and charged again, a full decade after completing his sweetheart deal of a sentence. I doubt very much that it was sudden concern for his victims in the Me Too era, mainly because the Trump administration and its Department of Justice are not exactly known for their empathy or altruism or sense of justice for all.

It could have been public pressure on the somewhat liberal Southern District of New York branch of the federal justice system after Julie K. Brown's blockbuster series about the sweetheart deal appeared in the Miami Herald.

But my suspicion is that Epstein's arrest, coming at this belated moment in time, was mainly done for political reasons. It could have been a way for Trump to get revenge on his former pals, Bill and Hillary Clinton, and a whole slew of other important Democratic politicians, celebrities and wealthy donor class liberals in Epstein's social circle. If the cache of documents released on the eve of Epstein's apparent suicide had implicated Trump in any major way, would they have been released?  

It does kind of reek of oligarchic intra-class warfare, with Epstein's victims still being treated a bit like afterthoughts as the pundits argue about how many times Bill Clinton boarded the Lolita Express. Was it four, or 24, or even more?

The rumors of Epstein's possible double life as a Mossad agent or FBI informant certainly add to the intrigue and conspiracy-theorizing that's taken the country by storm. There has even sprung up a whole new media sub-genre of conspiracy-theorizing about the genesis of Epstein conspiracy theories. A sub-sub-genre is the narrative that if Donald Trump tweets out a conspiracy theory, it automatically makes everybody else proffering a similar theory a prima facie idiot by association. The churnalism being committed about the Epstein matter is even more deranged than usual.

The passive-aggressive drugging by sleep deprivation of Epstein's minders to effect Epstein's suicide makes perfect sense, because sleep deprivation of the masses is a primary form of socially controlling the masses. Chronically tired people don't think as critically, they tend to get sick a lot and eat poor diets, and they tend to die prematurely of such things as heart disease and diabetes.

Sleeping also eats into the profits of the owners and bosses. Sleeping is for slackers and losers. Those prison guards should have had better control over their brains and their circadian rhythms. Shame on them for sleeping on the job! They were members of a union, for crying out loud, plus they have taxpayer-funded pensions. What we need now, my friends, is the complete  privatization-for-profit of our federal prisons to avoid any more Jeff-like tragedies in the future and to bring closure and justice to the future victims of predators that we prosecute whenever it's convenient or profitable to us to feign concern for lesser mortals. 

As Jonathan Crary writes in 24/7: Late Capitalism and the Ends of Sleep:
Sleep is the irrational and intolerable affirmation that there might be limits to the compatibility of living beings with the allegedly irresistible forces of modernization. One of the familiar truisms of contemporary critical thought is that there are no unalterable givens of nature - not even death, according to those who predict we will all soon be downloading our minds into digital immortality. To believe that there are any essential features that distinguish living beings from machines is, we are told by celebrated critics, naive and delusional. Why should anyone object, they would counter, if new drugs could allow someone to work at their job 100 hours straight? 
According to press reports, at least one of Epstein's guards had put in about a hundred hours in the preceding week. He or she apparently was not imbibing sufficient amounts of caffeine or other stimulants  to stay awake. So what the plutocrats need is not a War on Drugs but a War for Drugs. Telling workers to sleep on their own time is meaningless, given that there is little to no free time for people to sleep, let alone enjoy themselves. More and more people can survive only by working several jobs or putting in double overtime shifts.

Rich people think they're immune from what they themselves have wrought, but by damaging their employees they are only hurting themselves and their partners in crime - including, as it turns out, Jeffrey Epstein.

Lack of sleep is deadly. Just days after Epstein offed himself, a New York City firefighter dropped dead of a heart attack after working a 24-hour shift. 

Heads will roll. But only little, tortured, sleep-deprived heads.

Monday, August 12, 2019

New American Gothic

Make no mistake. This was a gleeful victory celebration for the pair of D.C. comics who currently reside in the White House. At the same moment that the Joker and Catwoman were holding up the human spoils of their Campaign of Cruelty and Fear, ICE agents were terrorizing at least a thousand other children by arresting several hundred of their parents, who were working for low wages at a poultry processing plant in Mississippi.

I wouldn't be surprised if the Trump family had invested in chicken futures that very morning, betting that the price of drumsticks will soon be skyrocketing for the lack of undocumented foreign workers in the nation's factory farms. That, besides their banal celebration of the latest gun mayhem, could have been another cause for their macabre grimaces in this now-iconic photo.

For those of you who haven't been keeping up on the news, the baby in the picture is the orphaned son of two of last week's victims of the Walmart massacre in El Paso, Texas. Little Paul had been released from the hospital before the Trumps' victory tour, but was summoned back for use as a prop after still-admitted patients refused to meet with the couple. The two other adults in the photo are Paul's aunt and uncle, perhaps invited to pose so as to quash speculation that the Trumps might even be applying to adopt or foster the child out of a sense of guilt.

I suppose it could have been worse. Melania could have been wearing the same Mussolini-inspired "I Really Don't Care" jacket she wore on a previous trip to Texas, when she visited incarcerated immigrant children who'd been ripped away from their parents on orders of the Trump administration. At least, unlike many of them, little Paul of El Paso isn't being housed or even trafficked ("placed for adoption") by the for-profit agency owned and run by Education Secretary Betsy De Vos's fundamentalist Christian family foundation.

The El Paso hospital picture is about as close to a maternal statement as Melania is willing to go. She holds the baby in the same way that a newly-crowned beauty queen holds her bouquet of roses. Donald could be giving the triumphant thumbs-up not only to celebrate the victory of Trump-inspired freelance gun violence, but to signal that he's very proud of his wife for winning the Miss MAGA pageant. It's an even greater honor than winning one of his Miss Universe titles, back when he still owned that particular meat market franchise.

At long last, Melania has evolved from mere arm candy to spokeswoman for a fascistic version of feminism. She is so liberated that she gets her own arm candy trophy, in the form of a helpless little baby. 

Luckily, both little Paul and his aunt and uncle are bona fide US citizens in Texas, which until only recently in the history of global imperialism had been part of Spain-invaded Mexico. It was briefly an independent republic before it became a state, post-US invasion/annexation. The shooter who attacked Hispanic-looking people in the El Paso Walmart perhaps was unaware of the historic fact that Texas was populated by Hispanics and Indian aboriginals long before the white folk refugees and migrants (and yes, a few fugitives and criminals) ever took it in to their heads to begin settling there in droves, especially in the 19th century.

The keyword is "Fact." Trump and his post-fascist fellow travelers don't need any stinking facts to arrive at their own special Truths. They abhor facts. Even the  kinder, gentler, and increasingly senile white supremacist presidential contender Joe Biden let the cat out of his own right-wing bag last week when he announced that "We choose truth over facts."

The denial of both present reality and history are tenets of faith in right-wing populism, which according to historian Federico Finchelstein is nothing less than the direct post-World War Two offshoot of the fascist totalitarian regimes of the 20th century, which lost their legitimacy after the Nazi genocide and Allied/Soviet victories. 

Fascism never died. It has simply evolved into new forms. It has always been a worldwide phenomenon, despite the discovery by the corporate media conglomerate that far-right nationalism is a sudden worldwide phenomenon fueled by oligarchs and their think tanks and media outlets. The current form, as exemplified and amplified by Trump and explained by Finchelstein, operates within more or less democratic systems even as it belittles, challenges and damages these same systems. What all the right-wing/post-fascist populist iterations have in common is their devotion to cruelty, their gospel of fear of foreigners (xenophobia), their hatred of the Enlightenment and liberalism, and their strongman-type leaders who purport to act for "the People" and against so-called invaders and elites: the "Anti-People." 

As Finchelstein quotes the late Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges, "most abominable of all, they promote idiocy."

The way to fight this idiocy is not, as many Democratic centrists like Biden simplistically propose, a return to the same "moral" neoliberal austerity agendas that helped to bring Trump to power. Coupled with their own cruel and idiotic resistance to policies like Medicare For All, debt forgiveness, guaranteed affordable housing and living wages, their neoliberal program not only ensures the survival of Trumpism, it willingly conspires with Trumpism. It also hastens the death of the planet through polluting militarized capitalism run amok.

Of course, the idiocy exemplified by the baby-holding photo proudly posted by Melania herself is also very cunning, designed as it is to provoke liberal outrage. This mass outrage in its own turn allows the Trumps to portray themselves as the victims, in fake solidarity with the very same left-behind people they oppress with their antisocial policies, but who've been taught to identify with the true oppressors and to direct their hate and fear to immigrants and other powerless manufactured enemies.

This technique is what the late Christopher Hitchens described as "co-opting populism in the service of elitism" in his critique of former Trump pal Bill Clinton.

Centrists falsely conflate Trump's right-wing populism with Bernie Sanders's left-wing populism, which is really nothing more radical than FDR-style liberalism.  New Deal programs have been under relentless duopolistic attack since the end of World War Two. Democrats, using the propaganda of #Russiagate, actually employ the same "Us Vs.Them" rhetoric as Trump and his fellow-travelers. In draining democracy of every last ounce of its emancipatory potential, these centrist technocrats abandon actually-existing people every bit as cruelly and effectively do their right-wing Republican counterparts. 

All they have to offer us are the grimaces frozen on their faces. They put the dental back in presidential. What is modern electoral politics, after all, but the shiny veneer covering up all the rot?

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

How Sociopaths Lecture Psychopaths

I hadn't wanted to write anything yet on the Texas and Ohio shooting sprees, because I was and still am trying to absorb the horror, and think about it some more before adding my own two cents to the mass outrage. I find it very hard to think clearly when I feel so mad and yes, helpless. 

Watching a cardboard cutout of Donald Trump laboriously reading the platitudes written for him by a public relations flack was bad enough. Actually, I should have stopped at my first attempt to watch his statement live-streaming on the New York Times homepage. My old computer combined with slow Internet speed showed a blurry image of the president, with an endlessly rotating buffer-circle perfectly centered over his face, completely obliterating his features. It was like a cartoon rendering of our fiendishly cartoonish president suffering a bad dizzy spell.

So I switched to C-Span and unfortunately got a much clearer cartoon of the cardboard cutout Trump struggling to read in a voice so monotonous and lethargic that it was chilling.

I'd still been feeling mad and scared enough when I clicked on the Times again this morning and was hit by a sanctimonious op-ed written by Susan Rice, Barack Obama's former national security advisor and co-architect of the US's destructive Libya regime-change war, and currently a very highly-paid board member of the Netflix entertainment empire.

After expressing the outrage that we all feel at the murders and at Trump's role as a hate and violence instigator bar none, Rice bemoans what liberal interventionists and their neocon brethren usually bemoan whenever they talk about Trump: America's sudden, shocking loss of Standing in the World.

It was a dream world in which the rest of the world totally loved the United States, or at least relied on the United States to bring peace and love and democracy to it.... or at least feared the United States enough to kowtow to its awesome might. Rice opines:
When the president of the United States reveals himself to be an unabashed bigot, attacking minorities in his own country, America’s ability to stand credibly against human rights abuses, especially repression of minorities in other countries — from the Uighurs in China to Shiites in Bahrain and Christians throughout the Middle East — is thwarted in ways lasting and immeasurable. Dictators around the world encounter no opprobrium from our government and are comforted to find a fellow traveler in rhetoric and policies that demean his own people.
In case anyone needs reminding: A majority of the world is populated by what we Americans call “people of color.” To fight terrorism or prevent the spread of pandemic disease, to stem weapons proliferation or organized criminal organizations, to address climate change or punish outlaw states, we need the willing cooperation of nations around the world. None of these transnational security challenges can be combated effectively by the United States alone.
She ignores the truth that American administrations have long propped up those corrupt dictators who enable US-based corporate plunder at the expense of their own citizens. Her idea of an "outlaw state" is Venezuela, upon whose people economic war was declared in the Obama administration. She does not mention that the US military is the biggest polluter on the planet and that the US is the largest arms manufacturer on earth. 

She's upset because Trump has deprived the murderous Military-Industrial Complex of its precious mask of humanity and rectitude 

And Susan Rice would not be a neoliberal warmonger in good standing if she didn't also blame Russia, with its nine global military bases so unfairly competing with America's thousand or so. Black people also were apparently either sanguine or comatose about police abuses until those damned Russian trolls got them all riled up and prevented them from turning out for Hillary Clinton.
Most dangerously, President Trump is serving up to our adversaries an ever more divided and weakened America, one that is animated by suspicion, rived by hatred of the “other” and increasingly incapable of uniting in the face of external threats. Russia, above all, continues to exploit and exacerbate these divisions.
During the 2016 presidential campaign, Russian trolls stoked American white nationalism while amplifying black anger about police brutality in an effort to suppress the African-American vote. Today, President Vladimir Putin of Russia continues to use social media to undermine our democracy and provoke internal conflict
She counters Trump-style xenophobia and fear-mongering with Democratic Party-style xenophobia and fear-mongering.

As a matter of fact, I would not be surprised if the Establishment now co-opts the latest gun massacres to justify even more corporatized government censorship of independent news sites and security state oppression of citizens than it does now.

My published comment to Susan Rice:
That Trump has reduced our country to a "fresh nadir" and is endangering people with his vile rhetoric is beyond question.
 But to say that the US previously had "credibility" as a global human rights champion is a real stretch, given our relentless wars of aggression and regime change. These wars have unleashed an immigration crisis, most widely being felt in Europe, with its own rise in right-wing populism. Blaming the immigrant "other" for the effects of unfettered capitalism and climate change and state-sanctioned terror (bombs and drones) aimed disproportionately at dark-hued people isn't just a Trumpian conflagration, although his Twitter bully pulpit certainly pours oceans of gasoline on it.
Previous presidents have been lots more skillful and glib at spewing platitudes of love and peace to help US citizens to more easily ignore the horrors being done in our names in faraway lands.
Trump is giving tacit permission for disturbed individuals to act out their violent fantasies. It's a scorched earth policy at its most extreme and its most dangerous. That such violence has now come home to roost should come as no surprise, especially in a country that has more guns than people, where most people don't have a few hundred dollars in savings for household emergencies or retirement, where tens of millions of people lack basic medical care, and where the death rate has risen for a third straight year.
 Defeating Trump is only the tiniest first baby step to cure what ails us.