Clueless in New York

As if anyone needed any more proof that Donald Trump has no idea what he is talking about, there was last night’s debate — which also proved that we in the audience have no idea what he’s talking about.  What he presents is a blank slate on which his supporters chalk their fondest wishes, nothing more.

I’m sure he’s claiming he won the debate.  But he also said he lost it because his mike was defective.  Maybe the mike was adding sniffling noises to his gibberish, I don’t know.

As for those sniffling noises, Twitter is ablaze with arguments over whether the cause was illness, allergy, cocaine, or Adderall.  We will never know for sure, because we will never be sure of anything about Trump

All I know for sure is that he’s gotten as far as he has by regurgitating everything that was wrong during the Bush years as if Obama created those problems (he didn’t) and hasn’t corrected anything (he has).   And Trump’s true believers lap up this nonsense.  They get two things out of this: a paper hero, and a continuing excuse to hide from the truth.

And oh yes: he’s white and Obama isn’t.

What Trump gets out of it?  His name in lights, millions skimmed off his campaign coffers into his own companies, and possible Russian backing (they own him, after all) for his further business entanglements (you can’t call them deals) and maybe even in the Oval Office, should he get there.  Oh, and then there’s Deutsche bank.  And all the other stuff.

Let’s just say that it all looks like a huge scheme to bail Trump out of financial hot water, which he is almost certainly in, and keep his name in lights and keep him living in the manner to which he is accustomed.  (One right-wing fanzine site even posted a photo essay explaining why Trump could not live in the icky old White House…it’s not posh enough for him.)

What’s left out of the scheme?  Service and governance, two things Trump knows nothing about.

And no, they are not the same as “business.”  A lot of his supporters fend off criticism by claiming he’s a successful businessman.  See the paragraphs above; he is not.  As a further example, one bank estimated his worth at MINUS $250,000,000.  Even if that’s not true, the jerk’s a definite walking debt-bomb and is clearly looking to make some sort of “deal” by capturing the White House, to get his ass out of the fire.

Even if he were a business whiz, as the current governor of Illinois (a multi-millionaire businessman) is finding out, business and government are two different subjects entirely, involving two different skill sets.  Rauner is quickly becoming famous for stalemate and inaction simply because he is so confounded by that.  (He’s an asshole, too, but…)

Trump appears to have an aptitude for nothing but flim-flam.  He’s known to other billionaires as an empty silver spoon and a swindler.

He’s never even come close to holding public office, and he has no idea at all of what the word “service” means.  In the past 16 months I heard a lot from the right wing about how supposedly unqualified Hillary Clinton is for the Presidency.  Odd that I’m hearing it not at all since Trump got the nomination.  It’s as if the charge was ridiculous to begin with (and it was), and considering what the Republicans have now, no one dares mention it anymore.

Which is to say that Trump is not only patently unqualified, but clueless.  He would have done far better in some other country with “Prince” before his name, but maybe not even then.  Even princes seem to have more demanded of them than he has ever had.  All he knows how to do is maintain his lifestyle, no matter what the cost.

Personally, I do not want to be part of that cost.  I trust not many others do, either.

 

This is what happens when you don’t believe science

Yep, that’s it: you start believing in weird shit uttered by cranky old televangelists.   And the Stupid of the Day award goes to…Pat Robertson

 

My Generation is Different…NOT

First I must mention that if one insists on dividing up the population by “generations” and attributing to those generations titles and unique characteristics, then I am without a generation.  I was born between the Boom and the Bust, and well before the alphabet soup.  My group has been called Boomers (incorrectly), Bust-ers (also incorrectly, as one year of the “bust” included the largest number of births recorded up to that time), the Envelope generation, the Cuspers, and Generation Jones.

As both Barack Obama and Osama bin Laden are/were of Generation Jones, it’s hard to assign a set of characteristics to my bunch.  Like every other generation, we are as varied as the sun and moon.  If anything we do tend to be slightly more spiritual than our predecessors the Boomers, and slightly less materialistic than whatever part of the alphabet soup it was that followed us.  But again, I said those differences are slight if they exist at all.

Now let’s go back a bit, to the anti-war protests of the 1960’s and early 1970’s.  Yes, we have to go here, because Fox News is trying to paint the Occupy movement as consisting of the same sort of people.  You will see why it does not.  You will also see why it is not a generational thing, and why embracing that notion is stupid and dangerous.

It’s hard to conduct a survey 40 years after the fact (particularly difficult when the media coverage at the time was as almost, but not quite as skewed as it is today), but the anti-war “peace and free love” movement of the 60’s/70’s seems to have consisted largely of college students.  I may be wrong, but I believe that at the beginning of the Vietnam war college men were exempt from the draft, and at some point that exemption was ended and that’s when the campus protests started.  If that’s not the case, they may have been protesting because if they flunked out of college, or graduated, all of a sudden they were eligible for the draft again.

Before that, Vietnam had been a “rich man’s war and a poor man’s fight,” much as all wars had been to that point (in fact, I believe that quote may be from the time of the U.S. Civil War).

In short, it was easy to paint all the protesters in one large brushstroke with the words “spoiled brats,” and the media did just that.  The protesters ended up hated and marginalized (although their fashion sense made some marketers a lot of money and that continues to this day), and the sharp divisions caused by this newfangled generational ghetto persist even now.  In fact, to hear some people talk, you’d think that actual hippies from the 1960’s have somehow been magically resurrected, their youth intact, and are out on the streets protesting again.  Damn hippies!

Much as today, college was far from a universal experience, and it was expensive.  Quite different from today, and largely because of the unions, one didn’t need to be a banker, lawyer or doctor to make enough money to buy a house and a car and raise a family, often on one salary alone.  The middle class was alive and well.

And so the protests of that era were confined largely to college boys who did not want to go to war, rebellious middle-class kids who hated suburbia, and a few of the actual poor people who got stuck fighting the war.  As I said, it was a protest defined by generational divides that were heavily promoted in the media and swallowed whole by the protesters themselves in the conceited belief that yes, the Baby Boomers were different.

It was also, keep in mind, something that pitted the young protesters against the unions, who were very conservative at the time, jealously guarding that middle class they had created — that middle class that some of the kids were rebelling against.

Then the war ended and so did the protests, and the next thing you knew, Generation Jones was being labeled as the most conservative generation in history.  I wasn’t that way before the label and have never been since.  I do know that a lot of my friends, both young and old, have become brainlessly conservative out of fear of losing their middle-class status (which most have, anyway).   But it’s not all of us by far.

Some of the protesting Boomers and a few of my generation went on to become bankers, lawyers, politicians and marketers, and they strove to stamp out the unions and the middle class.  From the marketers we got an endless alphabet soup of newly-created and supposedly unique generations, all in the effort to sell stuff.  And as time went by, I couldn’t help noticing that all these new generations were as indistinguishable from one another as the Joneses had been from the Boomers and probably all the generations before.

Why?  Because human beings are divided by types of experience (and the ability to clearly recall experience), not by some mythical generational gizmo that, every 5 years or so, magically creates brand new, shiny, sparkly beings to sell things to.

This brings us to the Occupy movement.

As I understand it, the Occupy movement represents the 99%.  The 99% are not all of one generation unless there was some huge, unnoticed baby boom about 20 years ago accompanied by an equally massive and unnoticed die-off of elders.

Fox News and others are trying to paint the Occupy movement as identical to the anti-war movement of 40 years ago, with some success among those of us old enough to remember the protests, but not the details.  Unfortunately,there are a fair number of those.

And lately, some of the Occupy folks are not only playing right into the stereotype, but supporting it.

I’ve noticed this twice on Facebook recently.  With the first incident (blaming all people of my generation for the economic condition of their generation), I managed to argue back successfully.  With the second incident, where someone who runs a Facebook group called something like “organization for educating misinformed Tea Party patriots” posted an almost INCREDIBLY ageist slogan and then was pretty awful to the people who protested, I threw up my hands and quietly un-subbed.

I have some questions for people like this: why is it so chic to rage against those who bully gays, minorities, etc., and then turn around and be an ageist twit?  And do you have one shred of proof that EVERYONE born more than 20 years before you is in the hated 1%?  If you do, I’d like to see it.  And I’d like to see the money, because I have never had much.

And I have another question: what guarantee do you have that your “generation” won’t turn around in another 20 years and plunge the world into yet another economic crisis with their selfishness?  There is no guarantee.

Remember, people are not divided by some mythical generational calendar invented in a marketing department.  People are divided by experience.  It’s harder to sell to experience (which is why marketers hate experience and hate older people who have it).  But it’s easy to learn from it, even if the experience is not your own, if you will only try.

The biggest lesson to remember is NOT to let Fox News and others make the definitions.  The hated 1960’s hippie protester stereotype does not apply here.  Don’t fall for any attempt to make it stick.

Miscalculations

Imagine living in such a blinkered world that you have no idea what’s going on right in front of your face.  Okay, so you answered, “yeah, all you need to do is look at the nearest Republican.”  Smartass 🙂

It’s true.  But it still is astounding, isn’t it?

Just think of the recent Republican miscalculations: the Tea Party, Palin, Bachmann, Santorum, Perry, the economy, the environment, the right-wing assessment of the 99%ers, etc.

The teabagger movement, such as it is/was, can be counted as a backfire big enough to launch someone into space.  At its height, it was being touted as “concerned citizens getting involved,” and “patriots,” and blah, blah, blah.  Even with all the gun-toting, threats, and misspellings, no one in the mainline media had many bad things to say about them.  Even when it became apparent that the group was largely composed of astroturf, it didn’t seem to bother anyone enough to comment on it much.  The worst criticism was coming from comedians and bloggers.

At its height, the movement was tiny.  This was another thing that got distorted without much comment.

And then, like any corporate-bred fad, it started to fade.  But this fact was ignored.  The teabaggers were still considered so influential that a Republican Presidential candidate debate was held in the Tea Party’s name.

And somewhere in the middle of all of this, the 99%ers started occupying Wall Street and other financial centers across the country.  Instantly there was a stark contrast that went largely ignored: the contrast between a “created” movement that simply existed to give the impression of massive hatred of Obama, and a natural-born protest movement born of years of economic outrages.

The reaction from the mainline media and the Faux News clowns?  OUTRAGE!  Hippies!  Communists!  Divisive!  Violent!  Losers without jobs who want a handout! Never mind that some 70% of the 99%ers are employed!

Which brings me to my next point: the economy.  Wow.  That was and is beyond a giant miscalculation.  But still, 3 years into the biggest economic failure in modern history, Republicans are still touting the very failed policies that landed us where we are now, and no bankers have gone to jail even though, as I’ve heard it, their outrages continue to the extent that  the U.S. taxpayer could end up paying for bank failures in Europe any day now.  That’s not paying for European WELFARE, mind you, it’s paying for their failing banks, which our banks have been bailing out, and now via some loophole are about to transfer the liability for that to US…meaning you and me.

So let’s look back 30 years, to the Reagan administration (with which most of this current crisis began), and ask, “how the hell was this supposed to work?”  And we will conclude that it didn’t and hasn’t and won’t.

Okay, so here we go:

Start by demonizing the unions.  Then erode the middle class.  Label the wealthy “job creators” and then reduce their taxes so they can “create more jobs.”  Demonize women, blacks, hispanics, and Muslims.  Jews are problematic, so we’ll loudly worship Israel at the same time we quietly hope all the Jews “go home.”  (This is a HUGE dilemma for right-wingers, who are actually quite anti-Semitic, and it is something that they are currently trying to project onto the 99%ers — thankfully without much luck so far.  Projection is a big thing with the right wing; whatever they accuse others of, you can be positive they themselves are guilty of.)

Meantime, ship millions of factory jobs to other countries.  Then demand that everything from janitorial work to CEO requires a college degree — or two or three — and then charge up to hundreds to thousands of dollars for each degree. Never forgive the gigantic loans most students have to have to get through school.  Then declare the degrees aren’t good enough and/or Americans are too expensive to hire (never mind that the biggest expense with most U.S. employees is HEALTH CARE COVERAGE which could be eliminated by that awful SOCIALIZED MEDICINE), and ship as many of the rest of the jobs overseas as we can, and to whatever extent is possible, hire immigrants at subsistence wages  to do what’s left.  Tell Americans that these immigrants are “Doing jobs (you) don’t want to do.”  Make it harder and harder to apply for a job, let alone get one.  Label those without jobs “losers” and condone efforts to keep them out of the job market, even as the government takes away their benefits.  Oh yes…meantime, exponentially increase the cost of housing wildly beyond inflation, even as you populate the builders’ payrolls with low-paid immigrants who are non-union.  Saddle homeowners with huge mortgages, then take away their jobs IF they have jobs.  Then foreclose on homes and call their former owners “losers.”

And oh yes…deregulate.  Promote the myth that regulation is a job killer.

While we’re at it, why don’t we talk about abortion to the exclusion of everything else?  Never mention the word “regulation” even as you are touting policies that would make women’s reproductive organs the most regulated things in the U.S.

Okay, tell me…how was this supposed to work?  And yet yesterday I read in the Chicago Sun-Times — in two columns, no less — that all this crap is still a good idea and we only need to keep making the same mistakes to make them work.  One even said that deregulation is the answer.  I mean, really.

I once heard a saying: if you keep doing the same thing, you’ll keep getting the same result.  And so it may be with the Republicans.  Right now they are rolling on bloated ambition born of their “success” in 2010.  But it’s another miscalculation, because what happened in 2010 was much like what happened in 1994.  I suppose it is only delusions of grandeur that are keeping the Republicans from seeing this.

So I say to them, go ahead, continue your war on women, your war on the middle class, your war on the environment.  Just keep thinking you have the majority on your side when in fact your support amounts to a fraction of a percentage of a minority. Dismiss the 99% out in the streets as hooligans and don’t think for a minute about what their collective  name actually means, or even a second about the set of circumstances that brought them there.

Great.  The more miscalculations, the better.  It may be the way to finally get rid of you all.

P.S. — Watch Old Fart’s take on abortion.  It’s priceless:

The Sandwich Cookie Syndrome

Herman Cain.  Michele Bachmann.  (and even) Sarah Palin.

What do they have in common?  They’re all sandwich cookies.  I’d say the brand name but I don’t want some giant corporate conglomerate on my ass.  They aren’t worth the trouble.  Suffice it to say that the most popular sandwich cookie through the years has had vanilla frosting on the inside and chocolate cookies on the outside.  Other such cookies have different outsides and insides, but usually (not always), the basic scheme is the same: the outside is very different from the inside.

Many years ago I started to notice what I am now calling the Sandwich Cookie Syndrome.  No surprise that the first raging example to come to light was Phyllis Schlafly, that good old-fashioned white-bread “lady lawyer” who just HATES anything smacking of women’s rights, leave alone the fact that without women’s rights, she’d never have entered college let alone law school.

The primary symptom of the Sandwich Cookie Syndrome is that you label everything, but when the labels become inconvenient, then you put “oh, but s/he’s a GOOD *label*,” and the shortcoming of having a bad label is instantly overcome.

To put it simply, if you hate blacks, you support the “good” black Herman Cain.  If you hate women, you support things like Bachmann and Palin — “good” misogynous women.

And how are they “good?”  Well that’s easy.  They just take the conservative view on everything — the more extreme, the better.  Never mind the ironies, conflicts, cruelties, untruths, and outright lies; if you are “good,” they are forgiven because your presence is very comforting to the blinkered set.  Doubt it?  Then explain Cain, who seems to be too thick to accept any truth, Palin, to whom the truth is merely a vague inconvenience, and Bachmann, who is a complete stranger to the truth.  And that’s not even touching the issue of Stupid, which is equally present in all three of them.  But none of this seems to bother conservatives much — at least, not now.

Sandwich cookie-ism an easy ticket for the fame-hungry.  That is, it is an easy ticket until election day.  Then they find out the truth: a black is still black, and a woman is still a woman, and conservatives want neither for President.

And so in the end you are left with media pundits — you know, sorta like Sarah Palin *wink*.

New Heights of Irony

I was just about to comment on Rick Perry getting trounced at last night’s CNN-hosted Tea Party debacle (which I hadn’t seen, but considering the coverage of it, felt like I had), when this was pointed out on my Facebook feed via Americans Against the Tea Party:

‎”Well, I’m offended for all the little girls and the parents that didn’t have a choice.” – Michelle Bachmann on Rick Perry’s mandated HPV vaccinations.

Choice.  Well, ain’t that just the height of irony.

For that matter, I’m offended too, Ms. Bachmann.

The Mother of all Sons of Bitches

In the past few days we’ve been drenched a tidal wave of conflicting messages about the Tea Party.  For instance, someone, somewhere has decided to try to save Sarah Palin’s career.  As an example of this, YahooNews ran a love letter to her in the guise of “opinion” just the other day.  The writer never got down to specifics — possibly because there are none — but instead waxed poetic about how Palin just oozes liberty and justice and holy inspiration, and about how moving her movie was (yes, so moving that people probably moved away from theaters to get away from it), and how anyone who hates her is afflicted with “Palin Derangement Syndrome.”  How hopelessly unoriginal, particularly in the face of the far more real Obama Derangement Syndrome that has been used as feed for an entire movement — the Tea Party, such as it is.

And it’s the Koch-backed Tea Party I am talking about here.  In the last few days they have had enough ups and downs in the media to knock anyone permanently dizzy, leaving alone the fact that they were dizzy to begin with.

Of course there’s the fact that a Koch brother was caught on audio saying something about launching “the mother of all wars” against the Obama administration during the reelection campaign next year.  The left were outraged; the right just probably silently nodded their noggins.  I was left wondering  just why such an untantalizing figure would directly quote a hated, deposed and hanged dictator, while hiding behind an Astroturf populist political party of his own creation.  Seemed rather ironic, if not just plain stupid.

And then we heard that Palin’s speech the other day drew a bigger audience than did Romney’s in the same state.  This was designed to scare moderate Republicans into kissing the Tea Party’s collective ass, when it is the size of that ass that has come under question.  Interestingly, it was hard to pin down just how big Palin’s audience was. But then the amateur videos started to leak out and seemed to indicate that if there were not an historic, possibly life-threatening stampede out of the venue after she spoke (which was before the keynote speaker of the event spoke), then the audience couldn’t have been very big to start with.

And then there was James Hoffa referring to the Tea Party as “sons of bitches,” and the immediate joke that this had shocked the teabaggers so badly that they dropped their “Obama is Hitler” signs.  Certainly, after scrambling to pick the signs up, they started whining about threats of violence against them.  Never mind that one of their own tools has been threats of violence.

And then, of course, came one of those ubiquitous surveys saying that approval of the Tea Party is at an all-time low, and at least one left-wing blog announced that we are witnessing its death.  Got news for you: it seems like the majority of the U.S. public has never heard of the Tea Party (and/or is not sure what the hell the Tea Party is).  So who were the survey-takers asking?

And tell me, even if it’s true that the Tea Party is dying, how does an Astroturf faux party die?  I think it will merely change its name and become yet another bogie man to scare moderate Republicans to the right.  There is too much at stake here for the Koch brothers and their ilk to give up that easily.

The only way to end this game is to keep coming out with the truth.  And the truths are these: the Tea Party is not real, so let’s stop examining it as if it were.  Sarah Palin is nothing more than a publicity whore.  And the Kochs are behind the whole thing.  Why?  Because they think the life of an Untouchable in India is good enough for 98% of us.

And in this case, the mother of all sons of bitches is nothing more than publicity.  If you don’t pay attention to the Tea Party or Palin, they are finished.  The Kochs, operating in the shadows, are another deal altogether, but the answer there is to expose them at every opportunity.

It is possible, folks, but we just have to keep looking at the man behind the curtain and not so much at the curtain itself.