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Sunday, April 02, 2017

Vision Bored


jimf said...

We still love you Mr. President. All will be forgiven!
In Trump Country, Shock at Trump Budget Cuts, but Still Loyalty
Nicholas Kristof
APRIL 1, 2017

TULSA, Okla. — Rhonda McCracken is a kindergarten teacher
and a Republican who voted for President Trump. Now she’s
wrestling with the consequences.

McCracken’s deep-rooted conservatism is matched by a passion
to support Tulsa Domestic Violence Intervention Services,
a nonprofit that helped her flee an ex- who she says beat
and choked her, once until unconsciousness. . .

“They saved my life, and my son’s,” she said, her eyes liquid.

So she is aghast that one of Trump’s first proposals is to
cut federal funds that sustain the organization. . .

I came to Trump country to see how voters react as Trump
moves from glorious campaign promises to the messier task of
governing. While conservatives often decry government spending
in general, red states generally receive more in federal government
benefits than blue states do — and thus are often at greater risk
from someone like Trump. . .

Judy Banks, a 70-year-old struggling to get by, said she voted
for Trump because “he was talking about getting rid of those illegals.”
But Banks now finds herself shocked that he also has his sights
on funds for the Labor Department’s Senior Community Service
Employment Program, which is her lifeline. . .

“If I lose this job,” she said, “I’ll sit home and die.”

Yet she said she might still vote for Trump in 2020. And that’s
a refrain I heard over and over. Some of the loyalty seemed to
be grounded in resentment at Democrats for mocking Trump voters
as dumb bigots, some from a belief that budgets are complicated,
and some from a sense that it’s too early to abandon their man.
They did say that if jobs didn’t reappear, they would turn against

One recent survey found that only 3 percent of Trump voters would
vote differently if the election were today (and most of those would
vote for third-party candidates; only 1 percent said they would
switch to voting for Hillary Clinton).

Elizabeth Hays, 27, said her life changed during her freshman year
in high school, when four upperclassmen raped her. Domestic
Violence Intervention Services rescued her, she said, by helping
her understand that the rape wasn’t her fault.

She’s profoundly grateful to the organization — yet she stands by
Trump even as she is dismayed that he wants to slash support for
a group that helped her when she needed it most. “We have to look
at what we spend money on,” she said, adding, “I will stand behind
my president.”

jimf said...

Looking back on 50 years of "accelerating change":
When Martin Luther King Came Out Against Vietnam
David J. Garrow
APRIL 4, 2017

Fifty years ago today. . . the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered
the most politically charged speech of his life at Riverside Church in
Upper Manhattan. It was a blistering attack on the government’s conduct
of the Vietnam War that, among other things, compared American tactics
to those of the Nazis during World War II. . .

[T]he speech. . . highlighted how for Dr. King, civil rights was never
a discrete problem in American society, and that racism went hand in
hand with the fellow evils of poverty and militarism that kept the
country from living up to its ideals. . .

He recommended that all young men confronting the military draft
declare themselves conscientious objectors, and he called for the
United States to halt all bombing and announce a unilateral
cease-fire while preparing to “make what reparations we can for
the damage we have done.”

But the war wasn’t just a mistake; it was “a symptom of a far deeper
malady within the American spirit.” Civil rights, inequality
and American policy in Southeast Asia were all of a larger piece.
When “profit motives and property rights are considered more
important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism
and militarism are incapable of being conquered.” He concluded by
calling for “a worldwide fellowship that lifts neighborly concern
beyond one’s tribe, race, class and nation.”

The Riverside crowd gave Dr. King a standing ovation, but editorial
denunciations were swift and harsh. The Washington Post criticized
his “sheer inventions of unsupported fantasy” and lamented how
“many who have listened to him with respect will never again accord
him the same confidence.”

The New York Times called Dr. King’s remarks both “facile” and
“slander.” It said the moral issues in Vietnam “are less clear-cut
than he suggests” and warned that “to divert the energies of the
civil rights movement to the Vietnam issue is both wasteful
and self-defeating,” given how the movement needed to confront
what the paper called “the intractability of slum mores and habits.”

Even some of the black press lined up against him:
The Pittsburgh Courier warned that Dr. King was “tragically misleading”
African-Americans on issues that were “too complex for simple debate.”

Dr. King was unmoved. . .

jimf said...

> But the war wasn’t just a mistake; it was “a symptom of a far deeper
> malady within the American spirit.”

So there was this Iraq war veteran named Michael Prysner
( )
who made a controversial speech in 2008:
[W]hen I first joined the Army, we were told that racism no
longer existed in the military. A legacy of inequality and
discrimination was suddenly washed away by something called the
'Equal Opportunity Program. We would sit through mandatory classes
and every unit had this EO representative to ensure that no elements
of racism could resurface. The Army seemed firmly dedicated to
smashing any hint of racism. And then September 11th happened and I
began to hear new words like 'towel head' and 'camel jockey' and the
most disturbing: 'sand nigger.' And these words did not initially
come from my fellow soldiers but from my superiors: my platoon sergeant,
my company first sergeant, battalion commander. All the way up the
chain of command these terms, these viciously racist terms were suddenly

And I noticed that the most overt racism came from veterans of the
first Gulf War. And those were the words they used when incenerating
civilian convoys. Those were the words they used when this government
delivered any target(ing) of civilian infrastructure; bombing
water supplies knowing it would kill hundreds of thousands of children.
Those are the words the American people used when they allowed this
government to sanction Iraq. And this is something many people forget.
And we can't forget. . .

[H]istory did not start with us and since the creation of this country,
racism has been used to justify expansion and oppression. . .

We were told we were fighting terrorists, but the real terrorist was
me and the real terrorism is this occupation. Racism within the military
has long been an important tool to justify the destruction and occupation
of another country. It has long been used to justify the killing,
subjugation, and torture of another people. Racism is a vital weapon
deployed by this government. It is a more important weapon than a rifle,
a tank, a bomber or a battleship. . .

Those who send us to war. . . do not have to fight the war.
They merely have to sell the war. They need a public who is willing to
send their soldiers into harm's way and they need soldiers who are willing
to kill or be killed without question. . . [T]here will only be a war
if soldiers are willing to fight, and the ruling class: the billionaires
who profit from human suffering care only about expanding their wealth,
controlling the world economy, understand that their power lies only in
their ability to convince us that war, oppression, and exploitation is
in our interests. They understand that their wealth is dependent on their
ability to convince the working class to die to control the market of
another country. And convincing us to kill and die is based on their ability
to make us think that we are somehow superior. Soldiers, sailors, marines,
airmen, have nothing to gain from this occupation. . .

[W]ithout racism soldiers would realize that they have more in common
with the Iraqi people than they do with the billionaires who send us to war. . .

[O]ur real enemies are not in some distant land. . . people whose
names we don't know, and cultures we don't understand. . . The enemy
is a system that wages war when it's profitable. . . the CEOs who
lay us off our jobs when it's profitable. . . insurance companies who
deny us health care when it's profitable. . . banks who take away our
homes when it's profitable. Our enemies are not 5000 miles away,
they are right here at home. . .

Plus ça change. . .

jimf said...

Ah, the good old days.
Monday, December 15, 2008

Set Your Scandal Clocks Now: How Long to Impeachment?

I speak, of course, of President Elect Obama.

Why on earth would I have meant the city drowning economy demolishing
endlessly lying civil-liberties abolishing war mongering war profiteering
war criminal George W. Bush?

jimf said...

I didn't see a copy of the NY Times this morning so, faute de mieux,
I settled on the NY Post.
Trump shows we finally have a fearless leader back in the White House
By Ralph Peters
April 7, 2017

Leadership. That’s what we lacked for eight years. . .

Incontestably, our president became ... presidential.
He passed his first pressing foreign-policy test with dispatch and guts.

The United States is back. There are, indeed, red lines.
And the enemies of humanity cross those lines at their peril.

Nor was the lesson lost on President Xi Jinping of China, who,
with perfect timing, is our president’s guest at Mar-a-Largo.

The coming days will see no end of partisan second-guessing,
hand-wringing and, yes, actual repercussions. But
President Trump did the right thing. . .

[T]he president knocked it out of the park on his first time
at bat in the foreign-policy big leagues.

As I write these lines, I’m unabashedly proud to be an American.
Republican, Democrat or independent, you should be, too.
Once again, we stood on the side of justice and humanity.

It’s been too damned long, but we’re back.

Ah, the incomparable frisson of the early hours of a
new war!

So what **is** the Times saying?

Putin Calls Attack ‘Significant Blow’ to Relationship
18 minutes ago

Acting on Instinct, Trump Upends His Own Foreign Policy

Russia Suspends Cooperation With U.S. in Syria After Missile Strikes

The Grim Logic Behind Assad’s Targeting of Civilians
Trump’s Far-Right Supporters Turn on Him Over Strike
U.S. Allies in Middle East Praise Trump’s Missile Strike

Frank Bruni
The Riddle of Trump’s Syria Attack
There’s nothing constant or certain about our new president.

After the Missiles, We Need Smart Diplomacy on Syria
President Trump did the right thing. The hard part comes next.

As expected, a rather less sanguine (not to say bloody-minded)
tone than that taken by the tabloids. So what else is new?

I guess Edward Snowden now has somewhat less reason to be worried
that Putin will hand him over to the latter's erstwhile pal,
The Donald.

Gotta wonder if this is going to turn into a proxy war with
Russia. Nukes? Who said anything about nukes? :-0

Dale Carrico said...

People decided Obama's foreign policy in Syria was "feckless" (you may recall, that was the policy that got Syria to destroy chemical weapons stockpiles with a major escalation of operations on our part, which seemed to me palpably preferable as outcomes go to most alternatives actually on offer at the time) and therefore any bit of belligerent theater, however hypocritical and useless, gets to be presented as "strong."

Of course, it is especially egregious that Trump uses the deaths of the very children he otherwise demonizes and refuses asylum to justify a hail mary of empty reckless warmaking in the hopes a rallying around the flag might halt his unprecedented falling approval, I honestly cannot say on the foreign policy substance though I didn't expect something sufficiently similarly gross to happen in the administration of my own preferred candidate Hillary Clinton when it comes to Syria.

I never thought we had any good options on foreign policy (and even the admissions above hardly lead me to make the arrant idiocy of so many others in my general neck of the radical intellectual left woods and fancy "look, a birdie!" was somehow a better or more credible foreign policy candidate than Cthillary was) and the inability of the left to defend what Obama got right in foreign policy (especially to the extent that this was often a matter of deft pragmatics in the face of unprecedented obstruction rather than some sort of implementation of ideals or best practices) while at once critiquing its limitations and articulating better alternatives, both practical and ideal.

The idea of a smart and skeptical and opportunistic multilateralism building binding agreements and providing nonviolent alternatives for the adjudication of disputes and solution of shared problems -- especially in the face of the planetary climate problems, medical promises, and alternational media network formations -- is something liberals seem to prefer to share at an almost intuitive level, rather than elaborate and repeat on our own terms.

In this, the American left seems reluctant or even possibly incapable to actually name for itself or its interlocutors its own vision on its own terms. Refusing to say what a strong American foreign policy might be on our own terms, we borrow defensive paranoid aggressive terms from the right and strengthen their injurious associations even as we intervene through them, or we allow our strength to be parodied as weakness and all too often this attribution becomes a self-defeating destiny. Maybe this is because the ambitious-aspirational left was internationalist or is now environmentalist in ways that are perpendicular to foreign policy debates as they play out, or because the partisan-pragmatic left seeks to be bipartisan in ways that undermine the formulation of principled alternatives.

I worry that the American left still seems incapable of articulating, let alone sustaining, a prevalent common sense vision (capable of reconciling and mobilizing a nationally-viable majority-coalition that can win elections) of good accountable government and what a good accountable government can and should do: That is, equitably administer common goods, including maintaining the scene of informed nonduressed consent to the terms of everyday commerce by ensuring equitable access to law, civil rights, social security (universal healthcare, nutritional assistance, guaranteed housing, living wage/basic income, retirement/long-term unemployment/disability support), reliable information and education, and the ongoing substantial subsidization of not-for-profit collaborative research, criticism, and creative expressivity.

I guess it is no great surprise to find incoherence and inertia in American left foreign policy discourse when we find incoherence and inertia in American left domestic policy discourse. Capitalisms, socialisms, imperialisms, anarchisms -- so much philosophy, such bad rhetoric.