Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Our Banana Republic -- Memories and The TINA Principle

[OT: Oxygen! I got the small tanks yesterday. What relief. Couldn't deal with the big ones and the huge "portable"concentrator. Well, it's got wheels, so yah, it can be rolled from room to room, so there's that. Portability! The small tanks, about the size of a large wine bottle, can be carried about with a shoulder strap and the oxygen is dispensed in little bursts as you breathe. They last much longer than the big tanks that way, 4 hours or more as opposed to an hour and a half or less. I like it. And let me tell you, it is the simple things these days that make me smile... Oh my yes...]

Gold plated toilets. Damn, Dude has gold-plated everything. WTF? Why would anybody even want that?

But let's look back in our history. Do they teach history any more? They say that Civics isn't taught any more, so maybe they're not teaching history either.

Ms. Ché and I were yakking the other day about Our Day ("Why can't they be like we were, perfect in every way?")  We've long been convinced that our years (1965-66)  were the last high school graduating classes in California to get a comprehensive education. It was downhill from there, and we cite as evidence our nieces who went to the same high school I did. Things had changed radically from Our Day. And they, our nieces, did not get anything like the education we did. I wouldn't say they got an education at all.

We had to take six periods in class every day throughout three years in high school and one year (9th grade) in junior high -- it wasn't called middle school in those days. We took foreign language  -- Ms Ché Latin and Spanish, me French all four years; science, history, math, social studies, civics, English, Ms Ché was also taking performing arts classes and performing in plays; I wrote a couple of plays in college prep English classes which were then performed by the drama students. Electives were few, and for me, there was almost no time for much besides regular college prep classes (it wasn't called Advance Placement until several years after we graduated and went on to higher education... another story entirely.) We had to successfully complete 250 units as I recall to graduate. In order to receive scholarships and other benefits to go to college or university, our grade points had to be above 3.2, which wasn't an easy challenge in those days. Our teacher worked us hard and expected excellence.

My senior English teacher was a Stanford graduate married to State University drama professor, and her standard for us was modeled on Stanford's English class requirements. It was her intent that whether or not we went to Stanford (I think only one of those in my senior English class did) we would be prepared for any college or university English class, and because we would be prepared for that, we would be prepared for any other college course as well.

My French teacher was a Columbia graduate who had been a student at the Sorbonne when Paris fell to the Nazis. She spent almost a year in Nazi controlled Paris before she was "miraculously" able to return to the United States. Her last name was Cohen, and when she told us about this, we thought "Oh my god, she's just lucky she wasn't sent to the camps for liquidation." She said she had friends who were rounded up, but that there was little chance she would be. Not only was she American -- and at the time, the US was not at war with Germany -- but she wasn't a Jew, she was a WASP from Long Island. She would marry a Jew later, but at the time, she didn't feel she was under any particular threat because of her religion or nationality, though she knew people who were, and it tore her apart. She  was just glad to get out of there, and when she returned to Paris after the War, she said she was devastated. The city had survived more or less intact, but the people were so traumatized she wondered if they would ever recover from what they'd been through.

My chemistry teacher's last name was Tsuda. He was Nisei, and he was sent to the camps during the War. He was a teenager at Manzanar, and his experience there shaped his attitude toward the "America" as an adult. He graduated from UC Berkeley with high honors, but he had to wait until after the War, and until after some of the Anti-Jap agitation in California had died down before he could attend and complete his degree. All of the high school students he taught were white... go figure. He had no open animosity toward us, but I wouldn't say he liked us or gave a shit about us, either. I never did learn chemistry to speak of, and I doubt that more than one or two students in my class did.

When I was in high school, I lived next to the site of one of the transit camps for Japanese-Americans on their way to relocation. I knew there had been a military facility there called Camp Kohler. It had burned down-- I didn't know when at the time, but I found out later the fire was in 1947 when the camp facilities were being used to house returning US veterans and their families. All that was left of the camp were the concrete barracks pads, charred wood, fused glass, bits and pieces of metal, overgrown asphalt roads, and a spirit. A dark spirit.

I don't recall if Mr. Tsuda ever spent time at Camp Kohler before being sent to Manzanar (probably not, but who knows... ) What I do recall was his barely contained rage about what had happened to him and his family under the Stars and Stripes. I recall he mentioned being in Japan before the war and how beautiful it was, and he had returned after the war, I think he said in 1952 or 53 (Korean War? Was he a vet? I don't remember....) and it broke his heart. So much of Japan was still in ruins, of course. But it was the  broken people that hurt his heart more. I don't recall him specifically mentioning Hiroshima and Nagasaki but it was very much on our minds given the nuclear tension we were all living under during the Cold War.

I could go on describing my memories of high school and my teachers, but these examples give an idea of the kinds of people they were and the kinds of experiences they shared with us. Wartime memories were of course very important because they had so strongly shaped our parents and our teachers, and WWII had completely transformed the world we came into as post-War Boomers.

There was a level of prosperity and well-being that Americans had never experienced before. There were also severe strains and the early stages of general social unrest that seemed to begin in California and spread outward from there. Of course it had not started in California, but it became focused there as the youth rebellion took hold and Hippies became a Thing.

Ms. Ché and I were on the cusp of all that.

No doubt we were rebels, but generally were not part of the Hippie scene -- which we saw for its self-evident commercial aspects more than its social importance. We would go to San Francisco from time to time during the hey-day of Hippiedom, but it was not necessarily an attractive thing. It was just another Thing, not the only thing. We had friends who moved to the City and became part of the Scene there, and we saw it as them being who they were, not as something we were compelled to emulate or necessarily wanted to.

We did attend the Monterey Pop Festival the summer after the Summer of Love, and we almost went to Altamont, but thankfully did not.

In 1966, Ronald Reagan was -- "impossibly" -- elected governor of California promising to bring an end to the student unrest, suppress the rebellions in the black ghettos, and ensure that nothing like that ever happened again.


His methods were cruel and violent on the one hand, more subtly destructive on the other. He deliberately set out to wreck California's Progressive operating system, and he largely succeeded. After California's Progressive Era was brought to a screeching halt under Reagan, he and his cronies would  apply the lessons learned nationwide.

And so here we are, Banana Republic.

Progressivism was itself the Enemy. Ripping it out root and branch was neither wise nor possible, but what the Reaganites did was set in motion its self-implosion and collapse, first by discrediting it, then by pushing on carefully selected pressure points -- including public education, mental health care, and "law and order" -- to produce desired results in time if not immediately. They knew what they wanted  but they didn't always know how to get there.

What they wanted -- and largely got -- was a reversion to pre-Progressive California and ultimately a pre-Progressive America.

In other words, a Banana Republic ruled by caudillos, whose favor had to be curried or else. Corporate control of government would replace Progressive "experts" and public servants. Elections would be manipulated for desired results. Tax burdens would be lightened for the well-off (why should they be forced to pay taxes anyway?) and fees in lieu of taxes would be increased for everyone else. Government would be operated by and for the rich, and barely function at all for anyone else. Public education would be administered to death. There would be no more "free" higher education in California. Students would pay increasing fees and tuition until going to college at all would be too expensive to even think about. The quality of public education at every level would decline, to the point where high school students would graduate pig-ignorant, and college graduates would barely begin to comprehend what an average high school student understood in previous generations.

"All against all," "greed is good," and "There Is No Alternative" would become the new reality.

And so it was. So it is.

I have long been a critic of Progressivism for cause, but not necessarily the same cause as its Reaganite critics. It's racist and authoritarian at its core, even in decline, and those factors were in large part responsible for the uprisings that presaged the Reaganite reaction. Progressivism led to some good things to be sure, but the costs were very high, especially for marginalized populations. Progressivism could not mask its racism and authoritarianism, though in a late fight for survival, it tried to.

The argument was that compared to Reaganism, Progressivism was less racist and less authoritarian. The lesser of two evils, eh?

Besides, what are you going to do? You have a choice between the radical return to the Bad Old Days or continuing on a failing course of what was seen as public sector stupidity.

Nobody I know of in the political realm bethought themselves to come up with something better than either choice.

There was no alternative. "None of the Above" was not an option.

Nixon was elected president in 1968, and compared to Reagan, he was practically a Communist. He was a genuine California Progressive but on the dark side of the movement, and eventually he was driven from office, not so much because he was a criminal, but I believe because he was going bonkers and had become unstable and unreliable. His judgment was so severely impaired and his actions so arbitrary that he was seen as a clear and present danger to the survival of the  Republic. That's something Our Rulers do not and cannot talk about. We the Rabble are not to know just how incompetent Our Rulers are. Please.

Incompetence is part of the package of public sector destruction that Reaganites set in motion in California and spread all over the country once they achieved the White House.

They didn't want competent public servants, and they saw to it that at the Rabble level, competence was often unavailable from government. This was actually a genius move because it destroyed confidence in government ("of the people and by the people") to get necessary things done. The only success allowed to government in the future would be police, prisons and jails, and in time, even that would be largely taken away with the substitution of private prisons, much like private schools would replace government schools.

They used some of the social strengths of the liberal-Progressives against them, and it worked.

I would say that initially the Reaganites were very weak, and they didn't really know how to do what they wanted to do. Progressives then offered them  a helping hand to get things done. They set the stage and the standard model for their own destruction. They cooperated and collaborated. Oh my, we've seen so many examples of this throughout history, haven't we?

We see echoes of it in the actions of the few Democrats still in office nationally. I wouldn't call them Progressives, good doG no, but they act as the rump remainder of what used to be Progressives.

They are notorious collaborationists.

It is one reason among many they aren't elected any more. They offer no policy alternatives, only procedural and personality ones. Bless their hearts.

The Mini-Mes of Destruction. USA! USA!

You gotta elect me cause I'm not him! YAY Me!

Jeebus what a goon show.

Thanks to Jill Stein -- bless her heart-- we're finding out just what a fucked up scam this latest election was. Honestly, at this point there is no way to tell who the voters chose in the battleground states, as there is no way to accurately count or recount their votes in too many jurisdictions. There's no way to know.

We've been experiencing fucked up scam "elections" for so long that a lot of people seem to take it for granted and accept the announced results on faith -- because you can't do anything else. There is no way to show that faith results are right or wrong. They just are what they are.

Electoral fraud appears to be pervasive but unprovable -- by design.

Voter fraud is something else altogether and appears to be rare, but maybe not. Again, there's no way to tell.

And in the common perception manipulated by the media, there's no difference. The two are conflated all the time, deliberately and with malice aforethought.

It's becoming very clear that we do not know and we cannot know who the voters in the battleground/recount states actually chose to become president. And if we can't know the actual vote in those states, it puts into question the actual vote in every other state.

And that's not even considering the active voter suppression efforts that have been under way throughout the country for years.

Reports indicate that millions of otherwise eligible voters were prevented from voting or had their votes tossed out due to a wide variety of suppression efforts, and in at least some cases due to the whim of election officials. The suppression efforts during the primaries were highlighted -- and they were extraordinarily varied and frequent. By the general election, it was all but taken for granted that the same sort of suppression would occur on an even wider scale, and nothing would or could be done about it.

After all, There Is No Alternative.

How much longer this corrupt and corrupting system can endure is anybody's guess.

With the advent of Golden Boy to the White House (will he choose to live in his hotel, will he sell or rent rooms in the White House, say tuned campers!) the inherent instabilities may become so severe that it all collapses.

I'd say we're close to that point now.

I've thought for some time that Trump will not be inaugurated Jan 20, but if he is, he won't serve more than a year in office. This is based on instinct rather than any evidence, so I won't say it's a prediction, but because he is personally so unstable -- and is known to be -- it seems to me unlikely that the Deep-State/Permanent Government will allow him to rule as president or anything else.

On the other hand, I'm not seeing any effort at all to contain him.

So.... we don't know. We can't say. And for the moment, there is no alternative to his ascension.

As they say, We Are So Fucked. No matter what.

What a whirled, what a whirled.

Meanwhile on the Standing Rock/Archambault front. Wow. As I expected, the announcement that everybody should go home, they weren't needed any more, was met with shock, outrage, and resistance. Chad Iron Eyes, a prominent Standing Rock Sioux, all but called Archambault out for this bullshit. But some people did try to leave in the blizzard and some ran off the road and otherwise wound up in dire straits. What was he thinking? This is crazy.

There have been many attempts to rationalized Archambault's statements as primarily a matter of "safety" -- but when so many people who tried to leave were caught in the blizzard and were stuck, the "safety" argument fell apart. Safety for whom, eh? Not the Water Protectors.

Most of those who stayed were obviously better off than some of those who tried to leave.

Apparently there have been some modifications since the "leave now" statements were issued. Realizing -- gee, ya think? -- that leaving under blizzard conditions is probably unwise, the tribe and (interestingly) Morton County and AoCE officials have extended their hands to "help" by opening shelters for those who don't have winterized camping facilities, and for those who would rather not travel in such weather. Morton County officials (the source of so much pain) have said they will respond to any emergency and provide assistance to anyone who needs it due to the weather. This after saying they wouldn't.

I've been around Indian politics enough to recognize or at least suspect what's going on, but I'd rather not get into it right now -- because I can't do anything about it, and it will have to be resolved one way or another by those on scene. I don't doubt it will be, and it might get pretty ugly.

Indeed, what a whirled.

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