The Tale of a Stereotypical Berner

A fable of disillusionment from (ironically) a deleted Reddit account.

nowBefore Bernie Sanders, it was Ron Paul. Before Ron Paul, it was Dennis Kucinich. Before Dennis Kucinich, it was Howard Dean. Before Howard Dean, it was Ralph Nader. And so on and so forth back to Eugene McCarthy in 1968.

For nearly fifty years, middle-class white college ideologues have latched onto this candidate or that, firmly believing that their political awakening has miraculously coincided with discoveries of Great Truths that escape the Brainwashed Morons that make up the electorate (and which just happen to align perfectly with their own particular socioeconomic interests), and that this Great Man is going to be the one to take the country to the promised land.

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Boko Haram kills 80+, burns children alive

Christian Science Monitor –  A survivor hidden in a tree says he watched Boko Haram extremists firebomb huts and heard the screams of children burning to death, among 86 people officials say died in the latest attack by Nigeria’s homegrown Islamic extremists.

Scores of charred corpses and bodies with bullet wounds littered the streets from Saturday night’s attack on Dalori village and two nearby camps housing 25,000 refugees, according to survivors and soldiers at the scene just 5 kilometers (3 miles) from Maiduguri, the birthplace of Boko Haram and the biggest city in Nigeria’s northeast.

The shooting, burning and explosions from three suicide bombers continued for nearly four hours in the unprotected area. Troops arrived at Dalori around 8:40 p.m. Saturday but were unable to overcome the attackers, who were better armed, said soldiers who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Rise of the robots threatens the poor

And thank you very much, oh Mister Roboto, for taking my job, when I needed it…

Financial Times – Automation and the march of the robots will prove most disruptive to the world’s poorest nations, with 85 per cent of all jobs in Ethiopia in danger of being lost, according to new analysis.

Nepal, Cambodia, China, Bangladesh and Guatemala are among the other countries most at risk from “premature deindustrialisation.”

It claims to have seen the first signs of this trend, with the pace at which global supply chains are fragmenting starting to slow, and even go into reverse in some countries. The Philippines, China and Malaysia all sourced a greater proportion of the inputs for their manufacturing exports from their domestic market in 2011 than they did in 2005.

New York Times Endorses Hillary Clinton

NYT’s insights and content have driven learning and debate at The Agonist for many years. It comes as no great surprise that the editors of the Gray Lady have drawn many of the same conclusions we have about the Democratic candidates.

New York Times: Hillary Clinton for the Democratic Nomination – “In the end, Mr. Sanders does not have the breadth of experience or policy ideas that Mrs. Clinton offers. His boldest proposals — to break up the banks and to start all over on health care reform with a Medicare-for-all system — have earned him support among alienated middle-class voters and young people. But his plans for achieving them aren’t realistic, while Mrs. Clinton has very good, and achievable, proposals in both areas.”

The editors of the Washington Post criticize Bernie Sanders’s fiction-filled campaign – “Mr. Sanders is not a brave truth-teller. He is a politician selling his own brand of fiction to a slice of the country that eagerly wants to buy it. He assures Democrats concerned about the political obstacles in the way of his agenda that he will lead a “political revolution” that will help him clear the capital of corruption and influence-peddling. This self-regarding analysis implies a national consensus favoring his agenda when there is none and ignores the many legitimate checks and balances in the political system that he cannot wish away.”

If a real revolution were unfolding, Congress would already be stuffed with new faces and Obama’s bill signing hand would be cramping. Progress takes work and compromise, not bluster and promises.

Just For Fun…,

let’s try to answer a couple of questions posed by Numerian in his piece on The Bundy Bunch…, that by the way…, he has updated after the latest incident out there in Oregon…, Bundy Brothers Initiate War With U.S. Government.

Foremost…, let me say that I am pretty much totally in agreement with his, “This has been, from the start, an adventure in stupidity by privileged white ranchers who entertain fantasies of playing soldier” statement.  But it is fun to speculate and try to answer those questions I mentioned earlier.

Where are they going to get food?  That was the first question that came to mind when a group of self-appointed “militia” members seized a small federally-owned nature preserve tourist center in southeast Oregon this week. 
Why the Bundys chose to leave their armed compound in the first place is something to be wondered about, but boredom could easily be the answer. They’ve been in the compound for nearly a month, with no sign that the federal or local authorities were going to grant some of them their wish to die in a fiery showdown between the government and “patriots.”  They’ve been allowed to go into the nearest town for food and supplies with no interference from the authorities, and where they could meet with some of their supporters who chose to wait in the comforts of town rather than join the insurgents on a possible martyrdom mission.

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Merkel says refugees must return home once war is over

Reuters – Merkel said it was important to stress that most refugees had only been allowed to stay for a limited period.

“We need to say to people that this is a temporary residential status and we expect that, once there is peace in Syria again, once IS has been defeated in Iraq, that you go back to your home country with the knowledge that you have gained.”

Merkel said 70 percent of the refugees who fled to Germany from former Yugoslavia in the 1990s had returned. She urged other European countries to offer more help “because the numbers need to be reduced even further and must not start to rise again, especially in Spring.”

American Anti-Intellectualism Is Nothing New

1964 Pulitzer Prize Winner

We are all shocked, shocked I say, at the rising wave of anti-intellectualism threatening our plans and institutions. The airwaves are packed with blustering regressives, the polls are stacked with Trumpsters. Books like American Idiot and The Dumbest Generation grace our bookshelves. We huddle in cafes lamenting the fall of the American empire, afraid we’ll be first against the wall.

Except anti-intellectualism has always been part of society. Ask Galileo or Socrates. Here’s a snippet via Wikipedia:

“Anti-intellectualism in American Life is a book by Richard Hofstadter published in 1963 that won the 1964 Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction. In this book, Hofstadter set out to trace the social movements that altered the role of intellect in American society. In so doing, he explored questions regarding the purpose of education and whether the democratization of education altered that purpose and reshaped its form. In considering the historic tension between access to education and excellence in education, Hofstadter argued that both anti-intellectualism and utilitarianism were consequences, in part, of the democratization of knowledge. Moreover, he saw these themes as historically embedded in America’s national fabric, an outcome of its colonial European and evangelical Protestant heritage. Anti-intellectualism and utilitarianism were functions of American cultural heritage, not necessarily of democracy.” Read More

Democrats Keep Pushing Gender Wage Gap Myth

magnify-dollarObama reinforced it in the State of the Union. It’s a plank of Hillary’s platform. Today Bernie Facebooked it to mixed reviews:

Women are making 79 cents on the dollar compared to men. For women of color it’s even worse. African American women earn just 63 cents for every dollar a white male earns, while the figure for Hispanic women is just 54 cents. That’s nothing but sexism and discrimination.

But there’s a convincing argument that the gender pay gap is a myth. Attempting to address a phantom problem with new regulations would have negative side effects, not all of which can be predicted. The attention would be better spent on the latter half of Bernie’s message, the plight of minority workers, but even then he’s a little off the mark.

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The Barack Obama Foundation for Constitutional Protection

ObamaJuly 2918

As an integral part of Barack Obama’s legacy as a Constitutional Lawyer and President, his Constitutional Protection foundation is focused on improving the lives of all the Peoples of the United States.

In a direct quote, Obama said:

“In harmony with my oath of office, in which I swore to uphold and protect the Constitution of the United States, We are focused on enhancing and strengthening Constitutional protections for all people in the United States, in opposition to forces who practice a close reading of the Constitution with intent to devise mechanisms to exploit apparent loopholes. Read More

Why Egypt’s Arab Spring Boomeranged So Badly

Tahrir Square, Cairo, April 2011

Haaretz – Five years ago, Cairenes poured into the street and brought down Mubabrak, only to find themselves with a new dictator and a sagging economy. What went wrong?

Their conclusion: Cultural conservatism – in the Arabs’ case embedded in a fealty to traditional Islam – is probably the biggest obstacle to economic development. It distrusts democracy and entrepreneurism in equal parts and is what insured that Egypt’s revolution would fail — and will keep the country poor until things change.

Given that even Nobel Peace Prize winner, Arab Spring poster child Tunisia continues to struggle, it’s getting harder to find examples of productive revolution in the new millennium.