gemli is a trusted commenter Boston

I was wondering how to find the political tie-in to this column about a country full of grinning idiots who are grateful for waffle makers at a Motel 6, but mercifully Mr. Brooks provided it. He wants us to be thankful as we eke out an existence in our capitalist meritocracy*. Lower your expectations, America, and be grateful for what little you’ve got. It’s the first plank in the Republican platform.

This country may have been a capitalist meritocracy years ago but now it’s more of a plutocratic kleptocracy, in which a few rich people get richer by using their political power to further fill their offshore bank accounts. They’ve found a way to run the economic engine in reverse, sucking money from the poor and middle class while ignoring government’s responsibility to invest in infrastructure, and to take care of the citizens who made their wealth possible.

Instead of a real economy, Brooks recommends that we appreciate a magical economy. This would be heartwarming and delightful if we were stupid, and didn’t know when we were being scammed.

The galling part is that we’re supposed to be thankful for it. Be glad as corporations are given the rights of people. Smile as their religions decide what your insurance will cover. Feel safe knowing that one day all immigrants and minorities will be securely locked away in privatized prisons.
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*Technically, a country in which Donald Trump is the Republican front-runner isn’t so much a meritocracy as an idiocracy.

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gemli is a trusted commenter, Boston

It was worth the wait. Obama has rendered the years of Republican obstructionism moot. Their clever ploys of the faux filibuster and the bellicose bullying and the Bibi embarrassments have fallen flat, and while Republicans were patting themselves on the back for their midterm “sweep” of Congress, Obama was planting the seeds for a bumper crop of reforms. Now, in the months preceding the presidential primaries, Obama is reminding people what Democrats stand for.

Republicans, on the other hand, are reaping what they sowed, which is precisely nothing. They’ve doubled-down on the sneering hate-speech and the empty rhetoric that appeals to the slack-jawed, resulting in a three-ring-circus of Republican anti-candidates who must run on negative accomplishments. It’s all about what they closed down, eliminated, blocked, cancelled and squashed. The only thing they built up is the bank accounts of their like-minded multi-millionaire brethren. When Donald Trump is getting buzz, you know the hive is diseased.

Obama has paved the way for a Democratic victory. Nothing is guaranteed, but even a somewhat compromised Hillary Clinton, energized by a we’re-mad-as-hell-and-we’re-not-going-to-take-it-any-more message from Bernie Sanders, gives me reason to hope for change. Come to think of it, that’s what Obama promised all along. He just didn’t say when it would happen. Maybe it’s now.

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While reading the comments to David Brooks’ op-ed in the NYT today, I came across this one from a Charles from NYC which just about sums things up:

Charles New York, NY 19 hours ago

I find it fascinating that Elizabeth Warren is always held up as the exemplar of the “far-left” of the Democratic Party. The policies Senator Warren advocates are consistent with mainstream American public policy from the inauguration of Franklin Roosevelt in 1933 to the inauguration of Ronald Reagan in 1981. That half-century of our history was marked by very high marginal tax rates on the wealthy, rigorous government oversight of financial markets and corporate governance, protection of American manufacturing, the creation of robust social safety nets for working people, and a labor force that was one-third unionized. It is no coincidence that the era also saw the rise of the great American Middle Class and a significant reduction in income inequality.

The irony is that conservative politicians are among the first to look back upon these decades as a “golden age” in America while at the same time attacking the policies that made that age possible. It is also no coincidence that the center-right economic policies that Mr. Brooks is so enamored of have led to the destruction of the Middle Class, the return of soaring income inequality, and the rise of the new Plutocracy. The sole reason that many Americans believe that Senator Warren’s ideas are radical is because people like Mr. Brooks keep calling them that. It is time we stopped believing the labels and started remembering how progressive economic policies have worked for the majority of the American people.

How we have swung to the right! Will we ever swing back to mainstream American public policy as it used to be? Not unless we have a major uprising in this country, which seems unlikely given the way the media is controlled and congress has been gerrymandered.

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Almost 70% of Republicans believe we should take out ISIS asap.

Here’s what Zbig thinks:

“The worst thing we can do is to become the sole combatant against the forces of evil that are operating in that region. We have to avoid any direct collision with the world of Islam, we mustn’t label the enemy as Islamist, but we must work with those governments in the region that are prepared to defend themselves. … The key point I have in mind is that strategically we are not the chief protagonist in the region, because if we are, we become the inheritor of the colonial era, and we even become more hated in the region than is the case today.” ~ Zbigniew Brzezinski

I agree with Zbig.

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I used to be able to use the Simple Tags plugin without a problem. But that’s no longer the case. It’s not yet upgraded to WordPress version 4.1.1, the version I have which is the latest. So, I think I’ll skip doing tags for posts until Simple Tags gets upgraded.

Yesterday I ran into an awful problem trying to log in to wp-admin. What happened was….. nothing, just a white screen, no completion. This panicked me at first but then I decided to go to wordpress support and leave a message about my problem. By the afternoon I noticed my query had moved way down on the list, almost 100 were ahead of me! But then around supper time I actually got a reply. And it was a good one. The person suggested I test the plugins, one by one, to see if one of them was the culprit. This meant I had to login to the host site where all the code exists. Fortunately I had saved the password so I was able to login and do what he suggested. By trial and error I found the offending plugin, WP-SpamFree, so I deactivated it. Turns out this plugin so far only works for previous versions of wordpress.

Another night of single numbers, but 27F is predicted for today. We got a dusting of snow last night, far less that the 3 to 6 inches predicted. So maybe the grip of winter is weakening?

Yesterday I took the Subaru over to Profile Subaru for a Recall fix and of course they found more stuff to do. But today in a few minutes I’ll be taking the car down to Rusty’s for an inspection sticker (way out of date on that!). I want to show Rusty what Profile Suub came up with for needed repairs, two of them each running about $880. Maybe Rusty can do them for less? Or maybe not, we’ll see.

Lots to do in the next couple months: sell house, go to Costa Rica, buy apartment at Thornton Oaks or OceanView. The only certain thing is I’ll be going to Costa Rica (to the Osa peninsula) with Phyllis and her sister Jennifer from March 16 to 23rd.

Another blast of cold arctic air is hitting us tonight. My thermometer read -5.3F just now (9:30pm). I heard on my car radio this afternoon that the rapid warming of the arctic is having an effect on the Gulf Stream causing it to change its usual warming pattern. This behavior is of course very complicated as I found out when I spent a little time researching online. But clearly big changes are beginning to occur in the ocean currents. So, will spring ever come? Certainly this year, one hopes, but are there mightier changes in store for us in the not too distant future?

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No snow either and quite a bit of sun early on. I felt a little tired at church today and had some trouble singing but I came through well enough, even if with a slightly scratchy throat. Charles Howes did the service and had an excellent program about the importance of love, “standing on the side of love” as the UU’s say.

Charles reminded us of the nastiness and evil prevalent because of lack of love. For example, in Boston people stealing parking spaces and breaking windows because of frustration with the snow, and three young people in North Carolina senselessly murdered by a frustrated person who felt they took his parking space and that they deserved to die because they were Muslims. Very very sad and very tragic. Lives at basically their beginnings, early twenties, wiped out. Whole futures that now never will come to be.

How incredibly precious is life. To waste it is the ultimate tragedy.

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As a result of seeing “Selma” recently I was reminded of Henry Hampton’s “Eyes on the Prize”. Available in Netflix I added it to my queue, received it, and now have watched the first of three discs. The first disc covers the 1950’s period up through 1962. I had forgotten the circumstances of Emmet Till’s murder and the great difficulty of James Meredith enrolling in Old Miss. The mob rule in the south and the deep prejudice was pretty profound back then, maybe some improvements since then in minds and hearts but not an awful lot. Of course, I’ve got no way to know for sure.

At any rate, thinking of Henry Hampton reminded me of Bob Hohler who worked with Henry and who I had known, along with his wife Barbara who I had a special crush on, at the Arlington Street Church back in the 1950’s and 60’s. He had quite an effect on me. He was a powerful intellect, a dead end kid who was strongly self educated. He left Barbara back in the 1960’s, remarried, and died while on vacation in England with his new wife in June 2011, just a month after Cynthia died, and Barbara died in the same month as Bob, June 2011. Strange coincidences and that year 2011 one could maybe say was a right of passage for me.

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This has been the coldest winter I’ve experienced in a very long time. In fact I can’t remember a colder one. There may have been such winters and I just don’t remember them. The 1930’s? Could be. It’s useless to speculate. In any case it’s been colder than Hell here in Denmark, Maine. Also, a lot of snow! There was a year during the 2000’s where we got even more snow I think. I’ve got some photos. But this year takes the cake for cold combined with great amounts of snow.

Is this evidence against global warming? Far from it. In fact it’s evidence for global warming because this term really implies extremes in weather. For example in California they’re having drought like conditions in winter, very little or no snow or rain. And didn’t I just hear yesterday that this January was the warmest on record averaged over the entire globe? So there you have it climate deniers.

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