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The United States of America is dead. Long live the USA (as a second nation).

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More and more people are realizing that there’s no point arguing with Trumpsters. They are emotional, and don’t respond to facts. As my previous post explained, their mix of religious morality and business ethics means evidence is meaningless. While on an individual basis, we can make friends with these people and nudge them back towards reality, most people except the likes of Bernie Sanders cannot speak to thousands, even millions at time. So it is a lost cause trying to win back the country.

And because of the unrivaled success of neoliberalism to color our view of everything from health care to national defense, any electoral victories will be short-lived, a mere reprieve from even harsher rule of the dollar.

The only way for sane people who want a peaceful, inclusive society is to rebuild one themselves. We must adopt the rhetoric of the Trumpsters, from states’ rights to FREEEEEEDOM!, to build a Blue America. They say they want competition. Then, let the two Americas compete, side by side.

The country’s lost. We must reboot it, just like when a franchise dies of old age in Hollywood. The longer we wait, the more people will die (from the end of ACA, water pollution, and everything else), and the more wealth and power the 0.1% will have accrued. The chances of that will diminish by each election cycle.

We’ve been fighting since the Civil War. It’s time to let them go.

Written by Gnostradamus

Mon, 2/20/17 at 1955

Posted in election, politics

The last place we need to worry about fake news is on the Internet

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Gaffes. Alternative facts. They are the reason Donald Trump is the President, and why his opponents have all failed to stop him.

All the hand-wringing against the avalanche of fake news on the Internet ignore the most important and scary aspects of the phenomenon. First, the guy in the White House, and his backers, actively employ the tactic to advance their political agendas. (So other Internet fake news are of secondary concern.) Second, fake news have been around for thousands of years.

The problem goes to the heart of Donald Trump’s successful campaign. It is the culmination of decades, nay, centuries of religious renewals, and of capitalist expansion. There are two areas where facts don’t matter: religion and business. More people have come to accept that facts don’t matter as much as the heart, the opposite of Enlightenment. And more people now accept that the primary and even sole aim of any enterprises is profits.

Barack Obama was elected at the nadir of free-market economics in the United States, when a house of cards (and fake mortgages) almost brought down the world. But he didn’t go after any of the people guilty of fleecing the rest of us. Eight years went by and not a single Wall Street CEO went to jail for destroying trillions of dollars. Consequently, he and his party became the source of evil in the eyes of many Americans, and free market crony economics staged an improbable comeback, culminating in the election of a businessman to take over the U.S. government.

The other battle in American society has been religion’s role in people’s lives, in schools, in governments. There, too, facts matter not. We are told that faith is what gives our lives meanings, that spiritual beliefs are more important that facts on the ground. Taken to its logical extreme, we can ignore everything from global warming to charter schools to discrimination. Life is so much simpler when all that matters is what you believe.

Democrats have failed to stop a single nominee of the Trump presidency, despite historically unprecedented disapproval ratings for a new president. They are losing the war because they don’t realize who they’re fighting against: white supremacists for whom money is everything. Many are too idealistic and still believe money can’t buy everything. But when everything, even schools, are for sale, it can and will.

Written by Gnostradamus

Sun, 2/12/17 at 2232

The merger of USA.gov with USA.com

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Many people, including Democrats, held out hopes even after the election of Donald Trump that he would fulfill some of his campaign promises to drain the swamp that is the American body politics.

After appointing white supremacists and billions to just about every cabinet post there is, the merger of the federal government with multinationals is almost complete. (Read this excellent piece from MarketWatch if you haven’t: CEOs pandering to Trump risks dangerous ‘caudillo capitalism’.)

As Mr. Coumarianos pointed out, the United States of America is moving inexorably towards Russian-style crony capitalism, where businesses thrive (or not) based on their friendliness with the leader of the country.

First, the Supreme Court gave human rights (freedom of speech) to corporations, fulfilling the lawyer’s trick of giving corporations personhood. Then, Republicans prevented a legitimate president from nominating a Supreme Court nominee for a year, and the Democrats barely put up a fight (because more than a third of rank-and-file agreed it is reasonable). Finally, the businessman is given the key to the highest halls of power.

The installment of Donald Trump to the White House is the ultimate victory of neoliberalism: The federal government is officially for sale. Welcome to the end of the democratic experiment in America.

Written by Gnostradamus

Tue, 1/3/17 at 2058

Posted in election, politics

Change: Obama’s Legacy Was To Rehabilitate neo-conservatism for a President Trump

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Faced with the opposition in civil war, this as an election for Hillary Clinton to lose. With the help of the Democratic Party, she did.

Already, The Guardian has an article blaming “liberals” for the loss; other pundits will explain away what happened. But when a Democrat loses Pennsylvania, it’s much more than candidates, but what they represent.

Brexit was the warning that people are left behind, that they are angry. And they buy into whatever the corporate overlords demanded. Only Trump understood that anger. Oh, and Bernie Sanders.

Throughout the primary and well after, Clinton operatives denigrated Sanders and his idealism. Devoid of their passion to do good, she would never build a commanding lead.

Even if Clinton had won, her brand of elite, Wall-Street-friendly politics meant it was only time that a truer believer in laissez-faire would take over.

Obama laid the groundwork for Clinton’s defeat. His first 100 days should have focused on a broad revamp of labor laws. Wall Street and trickle-down economics had been completely discredited by the stock market crash of 2008, and Americans across the political spectrum voted for change. Obama should’ve rebuilt the only conscientious dissenters of corporate power, the labor unions. When radical Justices handed down Citizens United and gave the wealthy a blank check to buy out politicians, Obama should’ve fought it in every state, to rescue our democracy.

Instead, he saved AIG executives’ paychecks (a contract is a contract), sat on his hands on health care for two years until everyone disliked it for opposite reasons, and allowed himself and the Democrats to get blamed for the Great Recession through an austerity that dared not speak its name.

Wall Street and trickle-down economics had been completely discredited by the stock market crash of 2008, and Americans across the political spectrum voted for change.

Make no mistake, this is the biggest disaster for the United States since the repeal of Reconstruction. As corporate Democrats swing even further to the right in search of that illusive “middle”, as the party of Roosevelt and Johnson completely forget to serve the working poor, Republicans now control all branches of the federal government, and most state legislature and governor mansions. Trump’s brand of racism, sexism, and corporate domination will meet no resistance in the land of free-to-grab-whatevers.

Written by Gnostradamus

Wed, 11/9/16 at 0613

What’s really scary about the Trump phenom

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Donald Trump calling Ted Cruz an “anchor baby” was pretty hilarious,  but the charge hasn’t stuck because unlike Obama, Cruz’s skin is much lighter.

Like most of other inflammatory comments from Trump, Americans seem to fall into three camps regarding the mogul’s quotable quotes and candidacy. They either love it, hate it, or laugh it off. What most don’t realize is that win or lose, Trump’s candidacy marks the end of American politics as a democratic experiment, and the beginning of it as a business.

The Supreme Court decision that gave corporations real citizenship–“Citizens United”–marked the beginning of the end of the democracy. Individuals literally lost power to entities known as the Corporation. For two-hundred-plus years, an experiment that started as companies colonized a new continent (for the Europeans) seemed to have gotten better and better. It began by giving companies “personhood”–literally treating them as a person, so it can have its own assets, debts, even criminal offenses. But what seemed for a long time like a clever legal tactic has been taken almost to its logical conclusion. Conservative justices decided that corporations have freedom of speech like the rest of us, so they can spend as much as they want, and without public disclosure, to advocate their positions, to campaign for or against candidates (through various legal contortions). The only thing corporations lack now is a vote in the booth, but who needs that when you can buy elections?

But while some liberal groups have been sounding the alarm on Citizens United, the battle has moved well beyond that line. It is hard to imagine now a time when news anchors don’t promote TV shows or movies, or when news networks happily lose hundreds of millions of dollars or more every year. But it was so for decades, more than a century, even. Only in the mid-2000s, did Fox News start promoting its shows and other entertainment lines in the heretofore sanctity of the newsroom. Quickly, other networks fell in line because moguls were no longer satisfied with the cachets of journalism, but demand profits from every line of business, including the newsroom.

Like good ol’ capitalists, they didn’t stop there. Businesspeople like Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina realized that they could make more money and gain more influence, even if for a limited time only, by running for office. Win or lose, they would have a glorious few months to mine their 15 seconds of fame.

No one, though, has as much experience in self-promotion than Donald Trump. So here he is, badmouthing anyone who dares to pose a risk to his new business. In the world of reality TV, it is the best and only way to survive. As the long-time “star” of such a show, Trump knows exactly how to play the game.

Many people worry what a Trump nomination would mean for the country and its standing in the world. Worry not. Even if he loses, more businesspeople will run, and eventually one and more will win. If there’s one sector bigger than public education that money power loves to get its hands on, it’s the American body politics. Regulation, taxation, riches of an unprecedented scale are waiting to be be plundered.

Written by Gnostradamus

Thu, 2/18/16 at 1312

Sending veteran officers to crime hotspots – What does the shift by NY’s top cop say about Teach For America

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Raise your hand if you think rookies fresh from Police Academy should be sent to crime-ridden neighborhoods, instead of local precincts where they are partnered with mentors.

Amazingly, this has been a decade-long policy under the Bloomberg administration in New York City. In what the New York Times calls a “fundamental” shift, the new Police Commissioner William Bratton announces that first-year officers will be assigned to local precincts to learn from more experienced officers. Mr. Bratton hopes that the change will also prevent inflaming tensions in those communities due to inexperience and perhaps heavy-handiness from inexperienced cops.

How does this contrast with programs like Teach for America? Consider:

  • TFA and similar programs promotes heavily on college campuses and canvasses exclusively among people with no teaching experiences;
  • New members are sent into the most high-need and desperate schools and communities where more experienced and successful practitioners are not available
  • These new teachers receive virtually no mentoring through the two-year program (no one is paid to observe the new teachers on a daily or even weekly basis to provide specific supports)

As TFA continues to thrive on tens of millions of dollars of contributions from the Walton family alone, they purport to be the solution to the educational needs of students in the most impoverished and troubled states, such as Louisiana. With a new $100 million endowment and $350 million in assets, TFA is here to stay and will continue to grow. Real teachers and students and suffer under its relentless expansion and legislative captures.

Written by Gnostradamus

Sat, 2/1/14 at 1918

Apple’s patent win is like buying polos shirts–or all shirts–only from Ralph Lauren

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The $1 billion damage Apple just won in its patent lawsuit against Samsung will be debated, and appealed an litigated, for years to come. In a nutshell, Apple convinced a federal jury that its patents on rounded corners and swiping to unlock a touchscreen phone are valid. Leaving aside issues such as competency (many jurors do not use smartphones; one of them do not use a cell phone at all; and the most common brand among their phones is LG), this verdict is ridiculous, a poster-boy for the absolute breakdown of the patent system, which is now exploited by technology companies to prevent competition by stifling innovation.

With a touchscreen phone, how can you unlock it without a swipe? With a phone, how can you avoid being rectangular? To make it pretty, how can you avoid rounded corners? Furthermore, these elements can be found in prior art–commercial products or designs made by other companies before Apple popularized them. But both sides had only 25 hours to conduct the entire trial. Perhaps due to the limited time, evidence could not be shown. Witnesses could not be questioned.

This whole trial and verdict show the U.S. patent system to be broken, whose remaining purpose is to enrich lawyers and the people who hire successful ones. Why are clothing companies not allowed to patent their designs, yet Apple allowed to sue competitors for huge damages for things they did not even invent? What would happen to the apparel industry and its consumers if each designer could lock in their designs until they are no longer fashionable or necessary?

This is about profits, not right and wrong.

Written by Gnostradamus

Fri, 8/24/12 at 2024