Saturday, January 24, 2015

Muslims and Christians: An Email Exchange

Muslims and Christians: An Email Exchange
P. Schultz
January 24, 2015

On Thu, Jan 22, 2015 at 4:28 PM, Peter Schultz ‪ wrote:
"Considering a long, bloody history of Manifest Destiny noted for the slaughter of “savages” and the lawless, violent spirit of places like Deadwood, South Dakota, during the gold rush, D.H Lawrence characterized “the essential white America” this way: “The essential American soul is hard, isolate, stoic, and a killer.” In 1973, Richard Slotkin wrote a now-famous book on the mythology of the American frontier called Regeneration Through Violence."

On Jan 23, 2015, at 9:17 AM, Paul wrote:

Not sure why anyone would limit the quotation to "white America," seems to apply to every corner of the world to me. –P

On Fri, Jan 23, 2015 at 2:26 PM, Peter Schultz wrote:
I am imaging, as this was written in a review of "American Sniper," which seems to be playing great popularity, and given that the US has been labeled, “the United States of Amnesia,” that the quote seemed especially applicable here. But, of course, I could be wrong. 

On Jan 23, 2015, at 4:17 PM, Paul wrote:
Did you see American Sniper?

We human beings are particularly good at spilling blood for all manner of reasons. --Paul

My response:
Yes, I did. And of course you are correct about human beings, but what is at issue here, as I understand it, is the American capacity to spill blood while playing the victims, ala’ the aftermath of 9/11, and other attacks on us while ignoring their sources in our policies that embrace an all-too-willingness to kill or try to annihilate those we deem our “enemies” or those just in need of some “education” about “democracy!"

American Sniper is as good a piece of propaganda for this mindset as I can imagine. Americans are beset by the “savages” in Iraq for no apparent reason, other than their “savageness” - but we, the USA is not savage, and this despite the fact we invaded a nation that had not attacked us or threatened to, which resulted in the deaths of thousands, if not hundred of thousands, of Iraqi civilians. [Of course, the movie’s scene prior to seeing the sniper join the Navy Seals is of 9/11, but no mention is made that Iraq had anything to do with that.] So, what appears in this story, is a story of American soldiers being attacked savagely by those defending evil Muslims who just “hate us.” It is, once one remembers that our invasion and occupation of Iraq was pure imperialism, based on lies told even by the president, a most astounding retelling of what happened. 

And now bumper stickers are being sold that say, “God bless our troops! Especially the snipers!” sometimes followed by a cross. Sounds and looks like a Christian crusade to me. And I must say, to make this situation just another manifestation of “human nature” reminds me of what my mother said to me, a long time ago, when I asked about a priest in our hometown, who had been removed from our parish because of some sexual “indiscretion:” “Peter, priests are just men.” Wow, OK, I got it: Men are pedophiles or sexual deviants and, therefore, “all was good” or, at least, normal. No wonder the church got away with its facilitation of pedophilia for so long. 

“Oh well, Peter, we human beings are good at killing so, hey, relax, man. Besides, the Pats are in the Super Bowl again! All is good here or, if it isn’t, it is all ‘normal.’” Tell me, when does our being particularly good at killing, and killing apparently in the name of religion, reach a point where you might be concerned? As you can tell, I have reached that point already……but, of course, I could be wrong. Perhaps “it is all good.” 


Sunday, January 18, 2015

Muslims and Christians: A Email Exchange

Muslims and Christians: A Email Exchange
P. Schultz
January 18, 2015

            Here is an email exchange with a friend and former student. Seems worth publishing here.

On Jan 17, 2015, at 4:44 PM, email sent:
First, I want to clarify what I meant by my post....liberal class in the way that Chris Hedges would say it--a privileged group of white people who wish to balance a genuine concern for equality, social justice, etc with a comfortable life within the economic paradigm they claim to critique (not pejoratively like a Republican) . Though I too am concerned with bigotry, I just hope the liberal response is honest enough about the real threats posed by  the public display of religion in general, never mind one based on a capricious deity, who was  willing to be violent to gain submission. It seems that though all religions can be debased, Islam's debasement  can be especially bad for everybody.

The Oklahoma City bomber was Christian in the sense that he liked social control that a certain modern  interpretation of Christian morality provides, but he was a decidedly political actor. The Unabomber gets a pass in some way because he had really good points (unlike Muslims) he just carried out his protest poorly--not that an occupation link is enough to morally require you to distinguish yourself, any more than a mailman would have to explain why he's different than his "gone postal" brethren.

I'm not sure if "Je Suis Charlie" or not....I take the Pope's stand that the violence was horrendous, but that the publication had long since passed the line of offensive and derision. I don't want to align with either of them.

As for your remarks on the United States and fascism, I couldn't agree more. I find no comfortable element of popular, conventional culture to participate in. The Sniper movie is a perfect example....I can't believe it's not being questioned, and I'm surprised A list "liberal" Hollywood types are participating with clear minds.

I struggle with how to proceed with my young boys. If i want them to succeed in the conventional sense I'll have to dilute the intensity of my views, but I'm only so good at compromising in that way....One thing's for sure, there's no coming back from this. Even if we suspend the economic decline with last minute down the road can kicking, we are culturally moribund.

Be well, and enjoy the what I assume is the freedom of your retirement. All the best,  

 My response: 

Interesting and thoughtful. But I am uncertain of some things. (1) Did you mean to say that Islam has no "really good points" as did the Unabomber? As you write of Islam's "debasement" I am assuming you did not.

(2) Is your reference to "a capricious deity, who was willing to be violent to gain submission" a reference to Catholicism or Islam or both? Seems to me that a religion that flaunts a bloody crucifixion as its central image fits this description rather well, as violence comes in many forms. Or is this a reference to Judaism and the rather violent capricious deity it worships, ala' the Old Testament? This may be wrong but if you mean to single out Islam as a violent religion with a capricious deity, then I must say I remain unpersuaded, that is, to it being uniquely or uniquely different than Christianity or Judaism. Religion and violence go together very well, as Machiavelli might say, while pointing out that religion does not know how to properly, that is, proportionately, use violence or disguise it by "civilizing" it.  Our revealed religions all seem to be "willing to be violent to gain submission" on behalf of a "capricious deity." [And did you really mean to describe the Unabomber's actions as a "protest" conducted "poorly?" I describe him, as I describe those who killed in Paris, as murderers, plain and simple.]

One issue is: Is there a campaign that is anti-Islamic? Note: I don't think the issue is an academic one, Is Islam more or less violent than, say, Christianity? This is an issue but not a pressing one, it seems to me, because it is one that is being used for political purposes, to justify and fortify US imperialism especially in the Middle East, as well as the totalitarian-like measures such as the Patriot Act and the actions of the NSA. And, of course, as should be all too obvious today, politicians and other political actors like the media are willing to use academics and academic arguments to their advantage. It is interesting to me how so many academics don't get this and actually think they are in charge, when in fact they are merely pawns.

You may criticize the examples used by the wife of a friend but she stated the issue, at least for me: Is our solidarity directed at Islam, ala' Boston and Paris? Let me say that I find the Boston bombing most illustrative here or rather the reaction to it revealing: The "attack" was relatively minor, but the city was shut down (!), the hysteria was remarkable, and some things very revealing such as the fact that the date of the bombing did not become the number used in connection with the mantra, "Boston Strong," as that would detract from what was clearly the intentional use of "9/11" to describe "ground zero" in NYC. [The original "ground zero" was in Nagasaki and Hiroshima!] Rather, the number used, which seemed comedic to me, was "617" or the area code for Boston! Of course, this number faded from view as it made no sense at all.   

And then again, here is something that has struck me recently: Why is it that when a fundamentalist, born again Christian like George Bush - a description he embraced during the campaigns willingly and frequently, saying that his Christianity defined him, even "saved" him, and played a role in his "deciding" - wages a war that kills thousands, even hundreds of thousands of civilians, as happened in Iraq, a war he called " a crusade," he is not described as a born again, fundamentalist Christian? Whereas when any Muslim kills, even when they kill a relatively few people, they are described as "Muslims" and we go looking for that allegedly intricate and cunningly hidden "network" of "Muslim terrorists?" You may say Bush was " a decidedly political actor" but when he spoke of "eradicating evil" or of "a crusade" he is revealing the importance of his religion and its impact on his "deciding." But it could be said of those we label "terrorists" are acting in "a political capacity." And if attacking the "World Trade Centers" and the Pentagon - and trying to get the White House or the Congress - isn't political, I don't know what is as those are political targets. They did not, e.g., target churches as some, especially in Europe, have targeted mosques. And bin Laden was opposed to our policies, e.g., stationing troops in Saudi Arabia. And, more generally, opposing policies seems pretty political to me and yet, again, it is his religion which receives top billing, while Bush's religion does not. This "story," that our politicians act from non-religious motives or that their religion does not facilitate violence serves a political purpose, namely, it facilitates and strengthens our imperialism, at least among those who reject Bush's fundamentalist, born again religion. And, of course, this allows Bush to appeal to both the religious and the non-religious while propagandizing that it is only "some" Muslims who are "savages." He only needs to condemn "some" to condemn all, ala' the frequently heard refrain that "Muslims need to stop Muslims from committing violence/'terrorism'!"

So, yes, I do agree with the wife of a friend: The solidarity we are urged to embrace is against Islam. [And your email kind of confirms this when you say, as many have said, that Charlie Hebdo is hardly a unifying force; in fact, it's agenda is to disrupt while "dissing" the downtrodden, the despised. I am not Charlie, no thanks. And if it disappeared today, the world would be a much improved place. It could hardly support a rally for solidarity.]

And, more generally, this sounds to me like a replay of the rhetoric used during the Cold War against communism. I have heard it all before only then it was "Kill a commie for Christ." Now, it is, although disguised, "Kill a Muslim for Christ." A newsperson on Fox News actually said we have to "Kill, kill, kill!" and there was no doubt she was referring to Muslims. Truly astounding.

I went to see "American Sniper" and it was more of the same. It was such good propaganda that even Chris Kyle's description of the Iraqis as "savages" seemed to make sense. But then if one remembered that Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11, that it had never attacked the US, that it in fact had been an ally once, that it had no WMDs as claimed, you had to ask, "Who is more savage, the insurgents in Iraq or the US?" Is it more savage to kill a young boy with a drill [the insurgents] or blowing him to bits with a drone or missile? Both seem pretty savage to me. And if you wish to, watch a movie entitled "The Wind That Shakes the Barley," about Ireland and the IRA in the 1920s and you can see how American troops in Iraq acted just like the Brits did in Ireland in those days and how the IRA acted like the insurgents in Iraq.  And I would bet the Brits attributed the IRA's "savagery" to Catholicism.

Retirement is great. I can read what I want. So glad I quit when I did. I am glad to see you and Tina prospering together. It is never easy to live with a Yankee fan from it is good that you are a Sox fan without strong opinions! ;-) Your children will do fine despite you and my prediction is: When you express your opinions, at least while they are teenagers, they will sneer at you........and this is good and should not surprise you. As my mother use to say, "the fruit don't fall too far from the tree!"


Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Conversation: Muslims and Christians

Muslims and Christians
P. Schultz
January 14, 2015

Conversation #8

Heard January 14, 2015
“Boy, those Muslims are really something, aren’t they?”
“I guess so. But what do you mean?”
“Well, you know, the killings in Paris of those cartoonists and others.”
“So, you think they did that because they were Muslims?”
“Of course I do. Don’t you?”
“Well, I am sure that’s part of it. But what about George Bush’s invasion of Iraq?”
“What do you mean? I don’t get it.”
“Did he do that because he’s a born again Christian? After all, he did use the word ‘crusade.’”
“Well, I didn’t think of it that way.”
“Why not? You didn’t have any trouble thinking of the Paris killers as Muslims, did you? But you didn’t think of Bush, when he was waging a war which took the lives of hundreds of thousands Iraqis and which he called a ‘crusade’, as a ‘Christian .’ That seems strange to me.”

Conversation #9

Heard January 15, 2015
“Yesterday, you implied that Bush’s Christianity should be recognized as important.”
“Yes, indeed, I did. Why do you ask?”
“Well, because Christians don’t go around shooting cartoonists, even those that might blaspheme about Christ or Christianity.”
“Yes, indeed they don’t. But what of it?”
“What do you mean, what of it? That shows the difference between Islam and Christianity.”
“Well, let me ask you: Why would a Christian like Bush shoot cartoonists? They don’t need to.”
“They don’t?”
“No, they don’t. They don’t have to shoot cartoonists when they can invade entire countries, bomb them into submission, and remove and even slay their rulers. It is only the relatively powerless who have to kill cartoonists, just as it is only the relatively powerless who have to use suicide bombers. Christians like Bush don’t have to use such bombers; they have B2 bombers and drones. Which makes me ask you again: Why don’t you see Bush as a Christian when he kills people but you do see ‘terrorists’ as Muslims when they kill people?’
“That’s a good question.”

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Assaulting Freedom Everywhere, Really?

Assaulting Freedom Everywhere, Really?
P. Schultz
January 8, 2015

            Here is a sentence taken from an editorial in the NY Times, which of course has been read or heard in many places since the killings in Paris:

“A terrorist attack on the French satirical weekly is an assault on freedom everywhere.”

            Well, if in fact the attack in Paris is “an assault on freedom everywhere,” does this mean that the regime in Saudi Arabia is also an assault on freedom everywhere? Or does it mean that the regime in Uzbekistan is an assault on freedom everywhere? Or does it mean that the regime in Egypt is an assault on freedom everywhere? And does it mean that when the US government fails to respect the freedom of the press by trying to convict journalists and others who publish stuff the government does not want published, e.g., the Pentagon Papers or Snowden’s revelations, that this is an assault on freedom everywhere?

            In other words, what makes for “an assault on freedom everywhere?” Or is it to be assumed that when governments assault freedom this is not an assault on freedom everywhere? And if this is the assumption we are being encouraged to make, then this is a very strange situation indeed.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Who Got the Power? Warren, Cruz, Boehner v. the 1%

Who Got the Power? Warren, Cruz, and Boehner v. the 1%
P. Schultz
January 7, 2015

            Below are links to two articles on what appear to be diverse topics. One is entitled, “The GOP’s Grand Con Job: Why Its Cynically Scheming to Dupe the 1%.” And the other is entitled, “Elizabeth Warren’s Surprising Compliment: Why Comparisons to Ted Cruz are Good.” But although they seem to be devoted to different issues, they address the same issue: Who got the power, politicians or the 1%?

            Now, of course, it would be foolhardy to make this an either/or choice, but it is not foolhardy to wonder if the conventional wisdom that it is the politicians who are in the service of those with the money is as accurate as it claims to be.

            In the article on Warren and Cruz, the author argues that such a comparison, made after Warren “named names” in the Senate when she said “Responding Citigroup’s complaints about financial reform, “let me say this to anyone who is listening at Citi [group]. I agree with you Dodd-Frank isn’t perfect. It should have broken you into pieces!” As Parton says in her article:

 “That’s unusual. The millionaires club also known as the Senate is an unlikely place to hear anyone call out a major banking institution by name and declare that it should be broken into pieces, especially one that one they allowed to write legislation to loosen regulations. One simply doesn’t air the Senate’s dirty laundry that way.”

            And so, Warren aroused the ire of some pundits, who was labeled “the Ted Cruz of the left.” Parton’s argument was two fold: First, this is just an insane comparison, as evidenced by Cruz’s comparison of those who refuse to overturn Obamacare to those who supported or acquiesced in Hitler’s rule. But, second, she points out that this comparison is “good” because it underlines that Warren, like Cruz, has power and she has power because she “derives [her] power [not] from cozy relationships with big business but from [her] cozy relationship to average people.” And as Parton notes, this is ‘a grave threat to the system they’ve [the establishment] spent so much money to create for themselves.”

            This illustrates something that is too often overlooked, viz., that for those with money to be able to control politicians, it is required that politicians go along with the ruse that they are in the thrall of those with money. And for this arrangement to become “a system” requires that it be accepted by almost all politicians and not spoken of because otherwise, when politicians appeal to the people and openly point out the collusion between the moneyed and the powerful, that collusion is almost bound to fail. Warren and Cruz both illustrate this.

            And then when you read the piece by Elias Isquith’s on Boehner, you learn that despite reports that “Boehner claim that he’d like to use his new power to strike a deal with President Obama to cut social insurance spending and raise taxes,” this is not really what is going on. What is actually going on, according to Isquith, is that Boehner and his allies are holding out the promise of such “a grand bargain” in order to keep the 1% in their camp so they, the 1%, will fund the Republicans’ attempt to win the White House in 2016. As Isquith puts it:

“Boehner and company are fully aware that the chances of them doing “big things” between now and January of 2017 are slim-to-none. At the same time, they know that they’ll only be able to enact major policy changes if a Republican wins the next White House race and if the GOP maintains control over both the House and the Senate. And, crucially, they know that they won’t be able to do any of those things unless they continue to benefit from the 1 percent’s unprecedented political largesse. So what other option does that leave them than to humor the business class’s desire for a grand bargain and immigration reform while keeping those fundraising pitches coming?”

            So, it is the 1% who are being manipulated or used by the politicians and not the other way round, according to Isquith.

            I would offer two emendations to Isquith’s argument. First, I would emphasize more than he does that Boehner and his allies are most concerned, not with winning the White House in 2016, but with protecting their own positions of power. So, by “failing” to strike “a grand bargain” and contending that such a bargain is just not doable now, they keep the insurgents in their own party in check while appearing to bow to their wishes.

            Second, I am less certain than Isquith is that the Republicans like Boehner want to win the White House “to enact major policy changes.” They are more concerned with preserving the status quo and, hence, their own power than they are with enacting major policy changes. To do that might feed the power of the insurgents like Cruz, thereby displacing the establishment types like Boehner and, as Parton pointed out in her piece on Warren, upsetting the well-established and profitable apple cart. And this is why I am not persuaded that these establishment Republicans worry all that much about not winning the White House in 2016. What better to preserve the status quo than to extend our “divided” government for another four years at least?

            Still, it interesting to find two pieces that illustrate the argument that it is the politicians that are powerful and not merely oligarchs like the Koch brothers. The latter need the help, the collusion of the former to maximize their power, and the former are able, because they control the processes of governing, to milk the latter for money while pretending to do their bidding. It is an interesting situation.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Our "Police State"

Our “Police State”
P. Schultz
January 5, 2015

            Make no mistake about it: Our “police state” is showing its colors. Here [link below] are many of those labeled “New York’s Finest,” and even some police not from New York, protesting Mayor de Blasio who was attending and speaking at a funeral of one of the slain policemen in New York City recently.

            In my mind, there is nothing very important about the protest in itself, just as there is nothing very important about most protests in our political order. Although not many would agree, I think that protests solidify rather than undermine the prevailing alignment of political forces. They might make the protesters feel good, feel powerful, but what they demonstrate is their relative powerlessness. As someone wrote somewhere, angry blacks protest, even violently at times, while angry whites elect the likes of David Duke, Ronald Reagan, or George Wallace. Who’s got the power? Not the protesters.

            And I believe these protests demonstrate the same phenomenon. Many are upset at the police for their behavior but why? What does this protest demonstrate? That a lot of the police don’t like de Blasio? Well, we knew that already. And what is the effect of this protest? The police decide to make fewer arrests, as if that demonstrated their power! Think about it: They demonstrate their power, allegedly, by not using their power. Would that the Freikorp in Germany in the 1920s and 1930s had demonstrated their power this way. This seems to me to be somewhat analogous to those who would “shut down government” as a way of demonstrating their power, only to find out this tactic doesn’t work and that they lose power in the bargain.

            The police think they are protesting de Blasio but, in fact, they are protesting, as all protests do, the prevailing alignment of political forces. As a result, they are demonstrating just how politically powerless they are. They can no more change the basic alignment of forces in New York City by their “show of force” than the American military could change the basic alignment of forces in Vietnam, Iraq, or Afghanistan. To change that alignment requires political action, not military or military-like actions. You would think that, after several wars that seem to change very little, this would be obvious to more people.

            So, let the police protest, just as other protesters should be allowed to protest. Neither set of protesters are a threat to the prevailing political situation. Neither is a threat to our “civil” society.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Jeb Bush, the Republicans, and 2016

Jeb Bush, the Republicans, and 2016
P. Schultz
January 2, 2015

Below is an email exchange, continued this day from an earlier exchange, parts of which might have already been posted here. But, as usual, read from the bottom up if you wish to follow this exchange as it unfolded.

Of course, Matthew, what I wrote to P. G., which you are so kind as to send with this email, helps explain why establishment Republicans would be able to support Jeb despite his "relatively liberal stance on key issues." That is, if they think it is beneficial to win back the presidency. They also have little reason to fear a Hillary presidency so it becomes a question for them, "what will it cost us within our own party to support Jeb?" If the price is too high as they see it, unduly feeding the insurgency, they will help to ensure that Jeb doesn't' get the nomination or, if he does, that he loses the election. Illustration: Bob Dole's candidacy in 1996 when many Republicans, looking toward 2000 and perhaps knowing of Clinton's dalliances ["inside the Beltway" is a small town in actuality], did not support his campaign and were not sorry when he lost. They rolled the dice that they could beat Gore and so did not have to support Dole, who was never a favorite of the party's establishment. 

As noted, when politics is conceived as a series of "policy problems," and not as a contest over the "alignment of forces" within a particular society, what results is a politics of the status quo. The basic, underlying arrangement of political forces, whether the "liberals" or the "conservatives" are in power, stays essentially the same. This is why some people argue that for all of his rhetoric indicating his "radicalness," that even FDR was essentially in service to the status quo. This may go too far. But I am convinced that LBJ's support of the war in Vietnam served the same purpose, and which is why I am quite open to the argument that he would rather Nixon be president than Humphrey. Behind the opposition to the war was an alternative politics that, if successful, would have changed in basic ways the configuration of political forces in this country. Riots in Chicago at the Democratic convention? Why even those could be made to serve LBJ's purposes. Would Daley's police department help? Why not? It probably wasn't even unpleasant for Daley to see the long hairs beaten to pulps and it served the party's interests. Nixon won, but despite all of this, only barely, illustrating that Johnson's fears for the status quo were not unwarranted. Then, under the guise of pursuing peace, the war continued and even intensified, while Nixon ended the draft, knowing that this would quell much of the opposition to the war. And, of course, he was smart enough to rely on bombing, not troops, to pursue the war and intensify it. Many dying, you say? Hey, come on, we are all "realists" here and we know you cannot make mayonnaise - or preserve the status quo - without breaking some eggs. As many like to say, "Freedom isn't free!" Nor is preserving the status quo!! 

As Karp argued, it is one of the myths of our political system that both parties want to win each and every election, regardless of how a win would impact the power of prevailing and prevalent politicians. [Ask yourself why the Republican Party in Massachusetts could find candidates that could win the governorship but, allegedly, could not find candidates, Scott Brown the exception that proves the rule, who could win in the legislature or in Congress. Perhaps it is because the party did want to pay the price it would have to pay to win those seats.] Once one sees this possibility, everything or an awful lot changes in how we assess the actions of politicians. And, of course, it is quite interesting how little attention is paid to a politics of the status quo, despite the fact that preserving the status quo is one of the most common political phenomenons. It is as if we want to believe that our politicians are all seeking, not so much getting and/or maintaining power, but are all seeking to undertake basic changes whatever the impact of these changes on their status. And, of course, in a political order that revolves around "professional politicians," this status is not something to be sneezed at, which is an argument for term limits. 



On Jan 2, 2015, at 7:07 AM, MB wrote:
"However problematic any of his business interests could potentially be, it is Mr Bush’s relatively liberal stance on key issues such as immigration reform, gay marriage and 'common core' national education standards that may make it harder to win the Republican nomination" (

On Fri, Oct 24, 2014 at 11:50 PM, Peter Schultz ‪ wrote:
As George Carlin said once: "What's all this stuff about "same sex marriage? My wife and I have been the same sex ever since and even before we were married. I don't get it." 

On Oct 24, 2014, at 11:05 AM, MB wrote:

"The issue was same-sex marriage.  The day before, Bush in his State of the Union address had defended 'the sanctity of marriage,' which was code for opposing legally sanctioned marriage between gay couples.  In an election year, it was an obvious appeal to Bush's conservative base, a way of reminding them that whatever their misgivings about his other policies, this was a president in tune with their social views" (Baker 304).

On Tue, Oct 21, 2014 at 3:05 PM, Peter Schultz ‪ wrote:
Apparently you have not understood what I wrote: I said that "raising issues"  is a peculiar kind of politics, an elitist and disempowering kind of politics that human beings who are not awed by their own intellectualism and the alleged intelligence of "experts" and "analysts" reject.....and with very good reasons, as these "experts" and "analysts" have failed time and time again. You write back and reassert that we need to talk about "the issues I raised." No, I don't and won't because were I to do that I would be conceding the argument to you and, worse, conceding the worth of the conventional wisdom which you are content to embrace in your "issues" brand of politics. 

On MSNBC the other day, Andrea Mitchell was interviewing the woman running for governor in Texas, Wendy Davis, I think, about an ad she had run featuring an empty wheelchair that pointed out how her opponent had consistently favored as a judge the wealthy over the not wealthy in law suits for damages for personal injuries against corporations, and this after he had himself collected millions in a similar case - hence, the empty wheelchair. Mitchell had her panties all in a bunch over the empty wheelchair -"Oh, how insensitive!" - and then asked Wendy Davis whether this issue was more important than the issue of access to abortions in Texas. I yelled at the radio: "It's the same fucking 'issue,' you dumb ass!" I am sorry to say that while Davis made the same point, she was too polite in her response for my tastes. 

This is what happens when you adopt an "issues" brand of politics. Abortion, and, yes, even climate change, ebola containment, and even economics get severed from the social and human context in which they occur as if they were isolated phenomena the resolution of which have no implications for the power relationships in our society. In fact, this is one reason why an "issues" brand of politics is popular: Because it allows us to ignore the very real power "imbalances" that exist in our society and, thereby, perpetuates the status quo. The Progressives embraced such a politics - as an alternative to what was then called, appropriately, "populism" - because it would ensure their right to govern, to rule over its all-too-many and all-too-unsavory immigrants "flooding" the nation then and supporting those unsavory city machines. 

So, no, my argument is not "largely irrelevant for the issues [you] raised." You just have to try to understand that your brand of politics is peculiar, why it is peculiar, and why it is little more than a front for preserving the status quo. Or to simplify: If you say "A" and I say "B", you shouldn't say "A" again. It doesn't get us anywhere.