As anyone who knows me is well aware, I get confused very easily. So the other afternoon when I was using the drive-up ATM near my favorite grocery store, I somehow managed to make a wrong turn, thereby exiting the parking lot through an entrance lane. Before I could drive off, a woman in a […]
The comic strips “Doonesbury” and “Bloom County” are having a field day with this primary season, and who can blame them? The debates are like catnip to cartoonists, especially the Republican displays of cartoonish aggression. This Sunday’s “Doonesbury” is especially chortle-worthy: Doonesbury, February 14, 2016.
© G.B. Trudeau – All Rights Reserved.
Featured image: Reilly Butler/Flickr.
A sobering article from the Los Angeles Times: Too Poor to Retire and Too Young to Die. My spouse and I have diligently worked and saved our whole married life, to provide for our own retirement and our kids’ educations. Our parents did the same, but had more of a safety net, such as company-funded retirement benefits. Those seem to have gone the way of the Dodo.
I don’t think our country has any real idea of the crisis that’s going to hit when that demographic phenomenon known as the Baby Boom hits its 70s, which starts this year, seventy years after the Baby Boom began in 1946. We’ve allowed a generation’s worth of unprecedented wealth creation to become concentrated in the hands of billionaires and corporations since 1980. We’ve allowed infrastructure and basic public services to crumble. And if we don’t get our act together and reclaim some of that undertaxed wealth through revised estate taxes for these mega-fortunes, we risk permanently entrenching this concentration of money and power.
The billionaires distract us by linking their situation to that of people like my family: middle-class people who worked and saved in the hope of being independent and comfortable, not obscenely rich, in our old age. Basically, they are asserting that if they get taxed, savers like us will also lose what we’ve worked so hard to accumulate. Baloney. There’s a huge difference between the size of their estates and ours. We need to stop getting distracted by the political gibberings of the likes of Donald Trump. While we react to his outrageous “campaign”, he is laughing all the way to the bank.
The more I see of Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Fox News and the rest, the more I am reminded of the rise of fascism in the last century. Xenophobia is on display, with know-nothing values, corporatism, authoritarianism, etc. This is nothing new, we’ve seen it before, but it has been repackaged with modern communications and given a smoother surface. And it is scary how many of today’s leading lights of the GOP have fathers who are alleged to have been quasi-fascists: the Koch brothers, Donald Trump, Ted Cruz. For an instructive look back, here’s what Salon.com has to say: It Can Still Happen Here, which recounts the 1944 article written by then U.S. Vice President Henry Wallace, on the danger of fascists in America.
“The American fascists are most easily recognized by their deliberate perversion of truth and fact,” Wallace wrote. “Their newspapers and propaganda carefully cultivate every fissure of disunity, every crack in the common front against fascism. They use every opportunity to impugn democracy.”
In his strongest indictment of the tide of fascism, the vice-president of the United States saw rising in America, he added:
“They claim to be super-patriots, but they would destroy every liberty guaranteed by the Constitution. They demand free enterprise, but are the spokesmen for monopoly and vested interest. Their final objective toward which all their deceit is directed is to capture political power so that, using the power of the state and the power of the market simultaneously, they may keep the common man in eternal subjection.”
Sound familiar? Scared yet? I am.
Only this, and tears:
I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. In my earlier post on events at Yale, “Heckling, Hate and Halloween”, I noted my opinion that the Yalies had taken the bait and made themselves into a publicity stunt for an organization named FIRE, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. Somehow, its president had been present during a confrontation between the undergraduates and one Prof. Nicholas Christakis, the Master of Silliman College (one of the residential colleges at Yale). He hit videotape paydirt when one of the Yale students started screaming at the good professor, shouting him down and cursing him out with a string of four-letter words. Of course, he recorded it on his smartphone; FIRE posted his video online and commented freely on it, after which it was picked up and sent viral, first by rightwing bloggers and websites and then by many others. What good luck for FIRE! Publicity!
Turns out the president of FIRE wasn’t there by luck, accident or coincidence. Continue reading
The viral news of this week — leaving aside the serious issues of war and peace in the Middle East, ongoing genocide in Africa, incursions into international waters by China, etc. — was the reaction of undergraduates at Yale College to two emails sent to them by various faculty and administrators. The first, send by a group concerned with Intercultural Affairs, reminded students to avoid racially and ethnically offensive Halloween costumes. The second, sent to students in one of the residential colleges by its Associate Master, criticized the first message and questioned whether it was appropriate for Yale to manage expression by its students or if it would be preferable for Yale students to monitor each other and — gasp! — have thoughtful, respectful conversations about their disagreements.
So far, just another tempest in an academic teapot. But when an advocacy group called FIRE (Foundation for Individual Rights in Education) got hold of the story, and its president recorded and aired a video showing a confrontation between some students and the Master of Silliman College (who is married to the Associate Master), the story went viral. Lines were drawn in the sand and loud voices at both extremes of the political spectrum have been raised. Score one for FIRE! Free publicity!
Here is my take on it, in part. Continue reading
For those of you who may not read The New York Times, here’s a sobering piece of news: Death Rates Rising for Middle-Aged White Americans. Basically, so many white Americans with less than a college education are dying prematurely from things like suicide and substance abuse that they are causing a statistical anomaly. This came to researchers’ attention when they realized that “unlike every other age group, unlike every other racial and ethnic group, unlike their counterparts in other rich countries, death rates in this group have been rising, not falling.” So they started digging into the details of that data. ” [P]oorly educated American whites … are dying at such a high rate that they are increasing the death rate for the entire group of middle-aged white Americans, Dr. Deaton and Dr. Case found.” Dr. Angus Deaton, by the way, is a 2015 Nobel Prize winner in Economics.
Furthermore, the impact of this sudden increase in death rates in a specific age group is so dramatic, “Dr. Deaton had but one parallel. ‘Only H.I.V./AIDS in contemporary times has done anything like this,’ he said.” Continue reading
Events of the past week — yes, I’m talking about the shootings in Oregon — have made me, in one of my oft-used phrases, “sad and mad.” And it seems as if it is no longer possible to have a civilized public discourse about these horrible public events. So — can I talk? I’m not trying to change anyone’s mind about gun ownership. I grew up with guns, my father owned at least a dozen, I know how to shoot, and I honestly do not see any good reason why gun safety and ownership cannot be reasonably regulated in ways similar to cars, for safety reasons. So that’s my POV. But I want to talk — politely — about something else. Continue reading
I have a love-hate relationship with The New York Times’ “Room for Debate” feature. I know the whole point is to present, in brief, conflicting points of view. It just riles me up. And this past week’s topic REALLY riled me up. “Is Honesty for Suckers?” . I think in our culture, at this time, it probably is. But that doesn’t mean I plan to become dishonest or I envy those who are. It just means I have resigned myself to foregoing some of the rewards that I have seen dishonest people reap for years. And I’m okay with that, as I am very fortunate in many ways, and I’d rather be myself (and live with myself) than go through life the way they do: rushing to grab every advantage, making and dropping “friends” along the way, unable to sustain loving, real relationships (funny how many of these folks seem to have dysfunctional personal lives). If that makes me a sucker, so be it. Honestly.