Sunday, December 31, 2023

Nikki and the S word.

It's easy to come up with the answers to certain historical questions in life. Who was the first president of the United States? What is the name of the country that attacked the United States at Pearl Harbor? What was the date of the terrorist attack on the United States orchestrated by Osama bin Laden?  If you guessed George Washington, Japan, and September 11, 2001, move to the head of the class. (If you guessed John Hanson for the first question you're just a history snob, and you probably have better things to do than read this post.)  And of course there is this gimmie: What was the cause of the Civil War between the states? These would all be easy questions for any typical school aged child in the United States. If you are running for president of the United States, and you are the former governor of a Southern state and high ranking government official, you shouldn't have to even think about it. But that's what Nikki Haley did when she  attempted to answer this question asked by a gentleman she considered a "democrat" plant.  

Nikki went all pretzel with her attempt to answer the question because she did not want to offend republican voters. Particularly those MAGA loyalist who she is still trying to court. In the world of half of republican voters, and most MAGA loyalists, the Civil War was more about good Americans just wanting to hold on to their property without the government telling them what to do, than it was about enslaving and cruelly treating  fellow human beings. This part of American history has been completely whitewashed by the American right, and Nikki Haley knows this. So rather than show some courage and speak the truth about the real reason for the Civil War (or as they call it in the South: 'The War of Northern Aggression') Nikki chose to dodge and obfuscate. It was painful to watch this Indian American daughter of immigrants, as she tried not to offend republican voters, explaining away the Civil War as some government overreach gone bad. 

Nikki Haley might or might not win the republican nomination to be president. Right now it's not looking good for her, but things could change. The thing is, she was gaining momentum. She did it by being a typical double-speaking politician who tried to be all things to all people. Shifting positions and giving nuanced takes to not get locked into a box that she couldn't talk her way out of later on. 

It's been working for her so far, and even her slavery misstep might not hurt her in the long run. I just wonder how she lives with herself.   

"The first thing I should have said was slavery," Haley said on "Cavuto Live" Saturday. "I completely agree with that. When you grow up in the South, slavery is a given. Like when you think of the Civil War, you know it was about slavery. That's never been in question."

Sure Nikki. Until the next time you're in front of a right-wing crowd.  If only you had the moral clarity to speak the truth. That would have been so refreshing.   

Tuesday, December 26, 2023

Season's greetings.

Happy holidays to you and your families, field hands! 

Let's enjoy these freedoms while we can. With the 2024 elections looming, and a strong possibility that the Scrooge might be our leader, we don't know how much longer we will be able to enjoy these freedoms. 

Peace on earth and goodwill to all. 

Thursday, December 07, 2023

Five-alarm warning.

 I'm getting tired of sounding the alarm.  Mr. Trump told America in no uncertain terms, that if he is reelected he will be a dictator from "day one".  And still, incredibly,  there are folks out there who don't believe that he poses a serious threat to this country and everything we stand for. (I see you Chris Cuomo and Mitt Romney.)  Just imagine, almost fifty percent of the people who will vote will no doubt vote for this guy, and there is a really good chance that he could win. His surrogates are already plotting how to get revenge on his perceived enemies, and those enemies include members of the press.  Yikes!

I am going to post an excellent article I read recently about this very subject, it was written by Marc Elias writing for Democracy Docket.  After you read it I would love to hear your thoughts. 

Here goes: 

"Donald Trump is plotting to overthrow American democracy. It is not a secret, and he is not subtle. The only question is whether enough people will care enough to stop it.

Trump is not hiding his intentions for a second term. Echoing Hitler’s rise to power, he has called his political enemies “vermin” and promised his supporters that, if elected, he would be their “retribution.”

Trump’s enablers have outlined a plan for him to replace tens of thousands of career civil servants with MAGA loyalists and to take personal control of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to prosecute his political rivals. He is almost certain to use an old law — the Insurrection Act — to convert the military into his personal domestic police force.

Since his power comes from a bottomless capacity to lie, he has contempt for the free press, which he calls the “enemy of the people.” He recently suggested that the government should censor or shut down media platforms he dislikes.

His most brazen attacks on democracy manifested in the aftermath of 2020. Since his loss to President Joe Biden, Trump has advocated for discarding lawful ballots, tampering with election certification and throwing out entire states’ results. 

He supports voter intimidation and voter suppression, often with a racist dimension. Recently, he unveiled a new “guard the vote” strategy, urging his supporters to monitor the vote-counting process in blue cities like Atlanta, Detroit and Philadelphia. If Trump regains power, these abuses would just be the beginning.

Though state laws generally govern elections, Trump would assuredly use the federal government to seize voting machines and ballots. Anyone who thinks that a re-elected President Trump would not insist on controlling ballot counting and certification has simply not been paying attention.

Trump’s attack on the legal system would not be confined to spurious criminal prosecutions of others. He would also use it to personally benefit himself and his most violent supporters. 

He would almost certainly pardon all the Jan. 6 insurrectionists. Worse, he would abuse his office to block his own criminal prosecutions. 

Regardless of the law, he would immediately take steps to fire all the prosecutors in the two federal cases against him. Who would dare stop him? The DOJ and the military would become a weapon to end all four criminal cases in which he is a defendant, while initiating retaliatory criminal investigations against others

If all of this sounds terrifying, it is. If this sounds unrealistic, then you have learned little from history of how democracies are replaced by despotic regimes. Hitler did not come to power in a coup, but rather from democratic elections. The same is true with many of the authoritarians today.

Even if you doubt that this is correct, it is not a risk worth taking.

Blaise Pascal, the 17th century mathematician, is responsible for the foundation of modern risk theory. In his famous “wager” he argues that even non believers should live a life as if God exists. If God does not exist, the downside of living a pious life is relatively small; but, if God does exist, the consequences of living a lavish life are infinitely bad. The lesson: measuring risk requires one to consider not only the likelihood that an event will occur but also the consequences if it does.

Trump will do anything to win in 2024 and the Republican Party will aid and abet him at every turn.

You may believe that the likelihood of Trump destroying democracy is low. You may think he will lose the election, or that our system of checks and balances will hold him back.

But what if you are wrong? " {More here} 

Maybe things aren't so bad after all. I am not alone in sounding the alarm. Hopefully a lot more people will hear it.