Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Dealing With "the Donald"

Dealing with “the Donald”
P. Schultz

            The above is a link to a review by Diane Ravitch, of the two books, those  being Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America, and The One Percent Solution: How Corporations are Remaking America One State At A Time.

            I am posting this for those who think the way to oppose Trump is labeling his supporters 'racist,' or 'moronic.' Trump and company are so far beyond such tactics that such name-calling merely facilitates those who have undermined our republic. Trump et. al. have an agenda, one that has the support of many of the very wealthy and is disguised as "libertarian" or "freedom loving." To defeat these people, you need an alternative agenda, and calling Trump "Orange 45" or lambasting his tweets or his followers won't do it. And, sad to say, the Democrats don't have such an alternative agenda, which is why they dream the impossible dream of impeachment.

Here is an example of an alternative agenda from Elizabeth Warren, but I bet you won't hear many Democrats pushing such an agenda.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

1992: A Political Fantasy

I have just published a book on the 1992 presidential election, entitled "1992: A Political Fantasy." It is a "fantasy" of how and why George H. W. Bush deliberately lost that election to Bill Clinton. It is listed on Amazon, the author being me, P. Schultz, and the title as given above. It is available in paperback for $12.99 and on Kindle for $4.99. At those prices, you can't go wrong.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

"Higher Education": Not So Much. An Exchange.

“Higher Education”: Not So Much. An Exchange.
P. Schultz

            Below you will find a link to an article published in the Washington Post on why “Trump conservatives” are dissatisfied, allegedly, with our colleges and universities. I posted this link on Facebook with the comment:

So glad I quit "higher education" when I did. Think about it: Now someone who is a "trained marksman" and can shoot the head off a rattlesnake is considered worth listening to on how to politicize even further than they already are politicized our colleges and universities. And trust me: There is nothing radical or even much that is unconventional going on in those institutions. Most professors seek above all else tenure and success and are as a result, as the smartest students know, just boring mouthpieces who never stray too far from "conventional wisdom." Besides, the BOBs, the Basic Old Bureaucrats, have the real power and these guys are as asinine - read "mainstream' - as any Trumpian conservative or Obama liberal would wish them to be.”

            My comment was met with this response from one of my Facebook friends, who is by the way not a Trump supporter in any way, shape, or form:

RS: “Not sure I agree. Much movement is occurring in non traditional education. I had a long discussion with our kids who are both in education and way smarter than I am and they explained about so many innovations in the pipeline.
So, take heart, Pete Schultz, the world of education is not all gloom and doom.”

            And this comment elicited the following from yours truly:

“But, of course, it is not "all gloom and doom" in education, or anywhere else, even in the Trump administration. This is the kind of assertion that is impossible and useless to argue with because it is so, well, meaningless or even inane. And I rest my case if your "kids" are defending "innovations in the pipeline." This is BOB, Basic Old Bureaucrat talk, which is generally meaningless, inane lingo having nothing to do with "education." It helps explain how we as a people have come to think that standardized testing is anything other than the means of destroying genuine education and producing more "bricks in the wall" who can work for corporations without realizing how meaningless their lives actually are. And this stuff is dressed up as "No Child Left Behind" ala' Bush, Jr. or "Race to the Top," ala' Obama. But then, again, you can put a dress and earrings on a pig but it is still a pig. Again, so glad I quit.”

            The exchange, illustrates among other things, why people like Trump are successful. Here is someone who, to be direct, knows little or nothing about “the education world” and the battles being fought there but, for the sake of “innovations in the pipe line,” ends up allying himself with those like the green beret marksman who was used as the basis of the Post article and “analysis.” Oh yes!

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Vietnam? Not So Much

Vietnam? Not So Much
P. Schultz

“Sometimes the light's all shining on me. Other times I can barely see. Lately it’s occurred to me: What a long strange trip it’s been.”  The Grateful Dead

            I have been reading this book, The Embers of War, about Vietnam in the 1940’s and 1950’s, when the US was just getting involved there, as we say. And all of a sudden I was “blinded by the light.” For the US, it was never really about Vietnam. Rather, it was about the United States and preserving the status quo here, preserving the regime that was being established, that had been established at least since the end of World War II.

            How can you preserve a political order best? It’s rather simple. By dying for it and/or killing for it. And that’s what Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon used Vietnam for, for dying and killing American soldiers – and others – in order to fortify, to preserve, and even to extend the national security state that had been created after World War II.

            That’s why we never seem to learn from “our mistakes” in Vietnam: Because our actions weren't mistakes and the same strategy is being used today, dying and killing in order to perpetuate our flawed, our unrepresentative, our oligarchic political order."Winning" in Vietnam or Afghanistan or Iraq or anywhere isn't important. What's important is the dying and the killing because that blood offering is that which renders our establishment secure.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

McConnell, the Republicans, and American Politics

McConnell, the Republicans, and American Politics
Peter Schultz

            Below is a link to an article from the NY Times, entitled “McConnell Gambled on Health Care and the Alabama Senate Race. He Lost.” This article is interesting because it illustrates the character of American politics quite well and how it differs from what conventional wisdom tells about our politics.

            According to the conventional wisdom, our political parties are conduits through which the popular will is translated into legislation and policies, making our officials “representatives” people of “good will,” who respond to the popular will as it manifests itself in polls and elections. In brief, our political parties are the tools of democracy, headed by well-intentioned politicians seeking to advance the common good.  

            Contrarily, however, what this article illustrates is that our political parties are controlled by “bosses,” here personified by Mitch McConnell for the Republicans, who seek to short circuit the popular will whenever that is necessary to preserve the status quo and the bosses’ power and status. One quote captures this very well: ““I think people here are frustrated, and they have bought into this narrative that Mitch McConnell is to blame, that he’s incompetent, that he’s part of the establishment, that he’s controlled by special interests and synonymous with the status quo.”

            This is a fairly accurate assessment of what is going on – although I would say that McConnell is not incompetent and that he is not controlled by the special interests – which is why the “frustrated people” are buying “into this narrative.” After all, “the narrative” is accurate! They, the frustrated, are beginning to see that their “representatives” in D.C. are not so much interested in representing them as controlling them in order to preserve the status quo. They are even beginning to suspect that the mainstream Republicans never intended to repeal and replace the ACA, insofar as they had seven years to come up with a replacement and did not do it. That is, they are catching on that those who claim to represent them and seek to turn their wants into legislation and other policies are more interested in preserving the status quo, interested in controlling them and not in representing them.

            The thing is: Our political parties and its leaders, its bosses, are not in the game of embracing democracy but, rather, are in the game of stifling democracy or rule by the people. This is, as the election in Alabama illustrated, as true of Donald Trump as it is of Mitch McConnell. It is also as true of Democratic Party as it is of the Republican Party. What are called “special interests” take part in this project but they are not playing the lead roles therein. It is within this project of preserving the status quo that these groups seek to promote their interests.

            People are frustrated across the political spectrum, as evidenced by the relative success of Bernie Sanders’ challenge to Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination for president last year. And their frustration stems from two facts, not taken into account by our conventional wisdom regarding our politics: (1) Our politicians are not, for the most part, people of “good will” who are “well intentioned,” trying to serve the people’s interests and desires. And (2) our political parties are not devoted to making democracy work but are, rather, devoted to ensuring that democracy doesn’t work so their bosses can preserve their power and status.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Why Is Trump So Bombastic?

Why Is Trump So Bombastic?
P. Schultz

            The answer to this question is pretty simple: Because the established political order is so fragile. To explain.

            Dissatisfaction – to say the least – abounds in the U.S. Large majorities of people tell pollsters that they no longer trust “their” government. These majorities are so large, the dissatisfaction so intense, that the legitimacy of the established political order – namely, that represented by Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, George Bush, and Barack Obama and which may be called our national security state – is endangered. It might even, as did the Soviet Union some thirty years ago, topple over and disappear.

            Something needed to be done and, low and behold, “the Donald,” who is promising to “make America great again,” appears. Why is this, why is he appealing? Well, first, this is what most Americans wish for, a restoration of “greatness.” There are few, very few Americans either among the liberals or the conservatives, who question whether greatness is desirable. They don’t question it because for them it means, allegedly, more security and more prosperity. They don’t realize, for example, that it was the pursuit of a restored greatness after World War II that led the French to defeat in Vietnam and Algeria. For these Americans, greatness is the thing, even the one thing that a nation should pursue. And they certainly don’t consider that our dissatisfaction stems from this pursuit.

            And, second, one way or another, Trump will restore our greatness. He is doing it rhetorically ala’ his bombastic speech at the UN the other day, as well as by his blatant nationalism that makes it seem that the US need not be fearful and should act as it wants to act. This is why Trump’s bombast, despite its shrillness, resonates with so many – because it is rhetoric of the strong, of the powerful, announcing that “Yes, the US is back! And we will take names and kick ass!”

            Another way Trump’s rhetoric restores America’s greatness is by reinforcing the myth, the story that the US became great by wielding its power freely, by asking quarter of no other nations, by taking what we wanted, the best part of Mexico, the Northwest territories, Hawai’i, the Philippines, the Panama Canal, Alaska, as well as markets throughout the Far East and even Europe, even while waging and winning not one but two “world wars” almost single-handedly. That is, for all of his alleged and self-proclaimed radicalness, Trump’s appeal rests on an overwhelmingly conventional and unexceptional view of American history. So, while he claims he wants to “drain the swamp” that is D.C., he actually thinks that that “swamp” was once the home of “super heroes.” Trump is so conventional that his thought relies on a comic book version of American history. Hence, the popularity of what seems at first glance to be his “outlandishness.”

            Thus, Trump’s bombast works because there is very little in it that is radical. Despite being shrill, being bombastic and seeming to be unconventional, Trump is merely the latest version of Ronald Reagan, who took us driving on coastal highways while it was morning once again in America. Such “greatness” asserted is, as Reagan promised, greatness assured. And in this way, just as with Reagan, Trump’s alleged “restoration” of America’s greatness will be indistinguishable from reinforcing the status quo.


Tuesday, September 19, 2017

The US and the Politics of Failure

The US and the Politics of Failure
P. Schultz

            Recently, it dawned on me that our nation, which some like to call “great” or even “the greatest” has a pretty sorry record over the past 50 or 60 years. For example, we lost the war on drugs, we lost the war on poverty, and we even lost the war on crime. Pretty amazing when you think about it.

            We also lost the Vietnam War, we lost the invasion of Cuba at the Bay of Pigs, but we did win the war in Granada – wow!- and the war in Panama – another wow! We are still fighting in Afghanistan after 16 years! We are still fighting in Iraq for almost the same amount of time! We are still fighting in Syria. Korea is still divided and that war hasn’t been officially ended yet. And now we are being forced to threaten to annihilate North Korea. Apparently, we don’t have a lot of options there. Not such a good record, is it?

            The Kennedy brothers, after failing to successfully invade Cuba and overthrow the Castro brothers, tried to assassinate them but, wait for it, failed. And some argue that after several failed attempts, Castro turned the tables on the Kennedys and killed JFK. The US successfully overthrew the “socialist” government in Iran, or so it seemed until the Islamic religious overthrew the Shah and still control Iran today. The US successfully overthrew governments in Guatemala and Chile, but the results were anything but honorable. And the US failed to overthrow the government in Nicaragua. Again, not such a good record.

            I mean even some of the events that seemed to be achievements turned out to be less successful than they were thought to be. For example, it was after the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 – now pretty much defanged – that race riots broke out throughout the United States and Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X were assassinated. And also after these laws were passed, the mass incarceration of blacks began, fed by the likes of President Nixon and Bill Clinton. And now we apparently need to be reminded that “Black Lives Matter.”

            Moreover, during the Clinton years, Tim McVeigh and friends blew up the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, while the ATF “successfully” dealt with the wackos in Waco, if you can call an action that resulted in the fiery deaths of almost two dozen children “successful.” At the same time, hundreds of militia groups were forming throughout the nation, which again seems like a sign that things were not going well.

            Moreover, consider the fate of our presidents since Eisenhower. Kennedy was assassinated, LBJ was run out of office by protests over the war in Vietnam, Nixon was forced to resign from the presidency because of Watergate, Ford attacked to free hostages who were already free, Carter was run out of the presidency largely because the Iranians seized our embassy in Tehran and held our diplomats hostages for quite some time, Reagan was on the verge of impeachment because of the Iran-Contra scandal when he sold arms for hostages while resupplying the Contras with the profits from the sales, while the Contras used US planes to transport drugs into the US to help fund their war in Nicaragua, Papa Bush couldn’t or didn’t want to win re-election, Clinton was impeached and finished up a rather pathetic figure,  Bush Jr. started a war in Iraq he couldn’t finish and which was based on lies or “misinformation,” while the economy collapsed in 2008, and Obama couldn’t finish Bush’s war either, couldn’t get a decent health insurance plan passed, and only re-election because the Republicans put up a candidate who couldn’t arouse even his own party to support him.

            This is not the stuff of legends, or at least it doesn’t seem so to me. So why do we call ourselves “great” or “the greatest?” It is, based on the evidence, hard to understand.