Posted tagged ‘Russia’

07.16.17 Not a single patriot

July 16, 2017

I belong to a Facebook group for the summer camp I went to 47 years ago. (Damn, I’m old!) On July 4, this year, someone posted a request for people to share their Independence Day memories from back then. What I recalled (proudly) was the campers raising the flag upside down and backwards to protest the Vietnam War – it was either 1970 or -71. And I remember the camp owner giving us a harsh lecture on patriotism. “Love it or leave it,” was the mantra of the day.

I remember being called a commie for walking down the street with long hair in my teens. Worse epithets were used against those who opposed the Reagan’s defense buildup in the ‘80s. And the militarists went ape shit, as usual, when people who were neither brainwashed nor morons stood up against the Iraq War. (That was when Maryland governor Bob Ehrlich [R – of course] spent taxpayer dollars to infiltrate community peace groups who were such a threat to. . . what exactly?)

It was the right – and increasingly the Republican Party – that declared, “If you’re not with us, you’re against us” and accused us of being traitors.

Notwithstanding my belief that the US has more often than not been a hypocrite in touting democracy, I am a democratic patriot. Democracy is not merely about holding elections, but rather making them free and fair, inclusive, and backed by a robust civil society and a judiciary that acts for justice (imagine that!). This is the only system of government that fosters individual dignity and the rights of all to influence outcomes, at least in its ideals.

Come the year 2017, democracy has been under assault for a decade around the world. In the past two years, Hungary, Poland, and Turkey (among others) have more or less given up on it, adopting ever-more authoritarian practices.

The US Republican Party has never seemed to care much for democracy.* Prime example: voter suppression. To a certain extent, it is inherent in conservatism to oppose a full franchise, because the idea is to preserve the power of those who already have it. But the Trump regime has raised contempt for democracy to a whole new level. Not only does Trump praise authoritarians around the globe (including in the aforementioned countries), but his rhetoric and policies have put our own (albeit flawed) democracy in grave danger, not the least by ceding power to Russia, America’s most dangerous adversary.

At least since the infamous “pussy tape” last summer, predictions that the GOP would imminently abandon Trump have been a mainstay of every new crisis. It has never happened. With the revelations of the past week, it still has not happened.

To be fair, the conservative intelligentsia and pundit-class have turned on Trump en masse. Columnists from David Brooks to Charles Krauthammer have been pummeling Trump, as well as calling out their party for its utter lack of principle.

But, even given a clear and present danger to national security, GOP members of Congress cannot step away from their one true cause: enriching the wealthy. Oh yeah, there are the usual two or three GOP stewards who mumble a few words of gentle criticism, but they intend no action and their colleagues go on fiddling while Rome burns. (John McCain is a particularly heinous example, because he knows better: It’s not enough to sound smart by saying you know there will be “more shoes to drop,” Sen. McCain. Do something about it!)

It is clear now that Trump could indeed shoot someone on 5th Avenue (as he said last summer) without losing his base. It won’t matter if he is caught fucking a little boy in the Oval Office or is on video handing the nuclear codes to Moscow: racist voters won’t abandon him; neither will Fox News or Breitbart. As for GOP elected officials, the only hope of peeling some away will be indictments against Trump henchmen. Even then, only those who perceive an immediate threat to reelection will turn.

No outrage is too much for the GOP: the same people who have used patriotism as a bludgeon for decades. With push having come to shove, they don’t give a shit about their country or anything but themselves and their monied pals.

I can only hope that a sufficient number of Americans note and remember for years to come this GOP-led assault on our fundamental institutions and ideals. I’m not holding my breath.

*I encourage readers to re-read this piece: 11.07.16 The GOP’s existential threat to democracy.

©2017 Keith Berner

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01.29.17 Watch your words

January 29, 2017

What we call things makes a difference (note the Tea Party use of “Death Panels” — this was no accident). Here are two vocabulary changes I am now adopting:

  • I will not refer to the cabal that temporarily rules our country as an “administration” or “government.” Rather it will always be “Trump regime,” “GOP regime,” and (when I think even that is too gentle), “fascist regime.” Regime conveys the illegitimacy of the racist authoritarians in power and their contempt for the norms of democracy and rule of law.
  • I will make few, if any, further references to Great Britain or the United Kingdom. It is the racists of England who produced Brexit, just as the racists of the United States brought us our regime. The other nations that make up the UK had nothing to do with it. And as England carries this noxious policy through (led by PM Theresa May, who has appointed herself Trump’s lapdog, making even the ever- docile Tony Blair’s relationship with W look well adjusted), Scotland will certainly leave. So, “Little England” will be left (perhaps with its own lapdog, Wales, and perhaps with Northern Ireland in order to keep the Troubles from erupting again). Little England is a contemptuous moniker for a once-great nation that will deserve the international isolation it ends up with.

I maintain a “boycott list”: countries I will never set foot in because their people have chosen a path of racism, authoritarianism, and/or aggression. I am hereby adding Little England to that list, which now includes Austria, Hungary, Israel, Poland, and Russia. (Elections in Russia are hardly free and fair, but with Putin’s astronomical approval ratings, we know where the Russian people stand.) If I weren’t a US citizen, this country would certainly be on my boycott list, at least until the current regime were replaced.

©2017 Keith Berner

07.27.16 Fox News right now (#foxalternaterelality)

July 27, 2016

Trump’s encouragement of Russian espionage and interference in the US presidential race is the top (or 2nd) story on: NYT, Washington Post, CNN, NBC, ABC, CBS, NPR right now. It does not exist AT ALL on Fox News. (The top story there is about Bernie supporters defecting to Jill Stein [the Green Party candidate].) #foxalternaternatereality

While a number of GOP security hawks have abandoned Trump, the rest of the party will now suddenly forget its decades-long hostility to Russia and Putin. Apparently, nothing will interfere with their lust for power. (Trumps explicit racism certainly didn’t break their stride.) #GOPhypocrisy

12.10.10 Evil & Betrayal

December 10, 2010

I’m examining my overwhelming feeling of rage against President Obama and the Democrats.

After all, it isn’t they who came up with the idea of putting the country in hock and stealing from the poor so that the ultra-wealthy could be even wealthier.  That idea is inherently evil, made more so by the lack of even theoretical claims (however misguided) that this radical redistribution might provide some benefit to the overall economy.  (In case you haven’t been following the analysis, giving more money to the ultra-wealthy doesn’t produce any stimulative effect on the economy, because the ultra-wealthy already have all the cash they need and won’t spend any extra influx, like the poor and middle class would.  And it is spending – not saving – that will create jobs and stabilize the economy.)

The full-time commitment to serve the wealthy and only the wealthy — as the highest priority in the land — was invented by the GOP and is nearly wholly owned by them (with some so-called “moderate” Dems joining in).  The GOP is evil from top to bottom and in between.

So why is my anger at the Dems often so much more palpable to me?

It’s like my feelings about Israel.  It would be very had to make an objective case that Israel ranks at the top of countries in terms of mistreatment of minorities, human rights abuses, and illegal hegemonistic agression towards its neighbors.  But my outrage about Israel is so much more present in my consciousness than is my anger at China or Russia (for example).  Partly, of course, this is because my tax dollars are paying for Israeli crimes.

But there’s something else at play here:  I expect Israel — supposed democracy, home to “my” people — to be better than that.  I’m also so overwhelmed by the magnitude of evil perpetrated by China and Russia — and by the shear size of those countries — that I can’t grasp it in my little brain.  My utter helplessness and hopelessness in the face of big evil makes me shove it out of my consciousness.

Back to US politics.  I expect — I need better from the Democrats.  It is a simple, immutable, HUGE fact of life that Republicans are evil.  It is Democrats who are supposed to stop them.

I’m realizing as I type this: betrayal is what sets off my very present, very conscious fury.  And I am furious with Obama and the Democrats again.  As usual.   These fucking idiots – these weak, cowardly, incompetent Democrats – consistently hand the rope to hang us to those who certainly will.  Giving away the store before negotiations have begun.  Failing to make clear convincing arguments to the American people.  Infighting.  Self-hatred.  Fearing shadows.

How bad is it?  Bad enough that Commander-in-Sellout, Barack Obama – the man who can speechify when it comes to campaigning but can’t say a coherent, persuasive, progressive word in office – has turned on us.  This utter failure as president has the gall to call progressives “sanctimonius”?!  With friends like this . . .

But, of course, Obama isn’t our friend.  Neither was Bill Clinton, whose own failures and flaws led to the GOP wave of 2004 and then spent the rest of his term pitching right-wing ideas and just plain enjoying the company of reactionaries better than that of liberals.

Of course, the reality is that Democratic betrayal is as expected and immutable as GOP evil.  Maybe I’d be better off trying to shove the Dems out of my consciousness.  But, then where would I turn?

Answer: nowhere.  Hanging on to the constant betrayers is all I have in this godforsaken political system.  It’s just extremely hard to hold on to any hope at all when betrayal is the best one can hope for.

©2010 Keith Berner