I may dust off this blog for the Trump years, or may not. But this thread I think belongs here.
Here's a little manifesto from a long-time colleague Vladimir Klimenko. Since it's on open Facebook I'll copy it for my few hundred readers here. What follows is my own little manifesto.
How this plays out is anybody's guess right now. My own guess is that Trump will hang on for a bit. The non-Trumpian GOP leadership fears him, just as Germany and Italy's traditional conservatives feared opposing their strongmen in the '20s-'30s. His party, which itself increasingly reflects the Tea Party right, controls all levers of gov't. Trump will intimidate mainstream corporate media, which may well back down in the face of his threats. The opposition energy generated by the Women's March may block Trump sooner rather than later, but I suspect that some of this energy may falter in the absence of quick, substantial victories. Much of the currently visible opposition consists of older, whiter, more educated and affluent liberals who have something to lose. It remains to be seen how willing people will be to go head-to-head with a state that will be increasingly prone to arrest, blacklist, audit, and otherwise harass citizens.
In the immediate future the Admin will push hard and win some points, at least in the public eye. Its zig-zag policies will, initially, succeed in placating different constituencies. A new factory in the Rustbelt, a cancelled China contract here and there, a postponed mine closing in W. VA, a few more deportations and some spectacular bombing raid in the Middle East. Some much-touted miles of a so-called "wall." The stock market may climb for a bit more. But the global economy is sensitive to thoughtless, rash moves. This new round of protectionism, along with the unraveling of the EU, and Trump's own saber-rattling will not be good for the stock market. Nor will any serious Chinese displeasure. At some point we will see drastic moves in currencies, energy, trade, commodities. A eurozone illness will infect Wall St, which itself will be primed for a downturn due to what promises to be more unfettered financial speculation. And then there's the question of the streets.
Under Trump, the feds are 100% guaranteed to crack down on any replay of Standing Rock in order to send a message. Will we also see the rise of freelance enforcers, armed Trumpista militias in public, an American version of the early Weimar-era German Freikorps? What will happen when the bullyboys inevitably burn more crosses, spray-paint more swastikas, beat up more gay or trans kids, and humiliate more latinos on the streets? How long before another wave of police shootings sets off the next round of urban rioting, to be followed by massive unrest on college campuses? And how long before these, in turn, spark even larger, angrier mass protest marches around the country? And what happens if these are hijacked by violent anarchists (whose key players always include a healthy dosage of undercover cops & FBI) who turn street marches into orgies of vandalism? Increasing numbers of everyday Trump voters might get buyer's remorse.
This might fracture the unity between Trump & the GOP. By that time Trump will have committed a mountain's worth of ethics violations. Conservatives with a strong moral core will find it untenable to even pretend to support him any longer. But if threatened with impeachment, Trump may well go the extra mile: start an overseas conflict in order to turn around and accuse his critics of treason during wartime. It's all been done many times before, in the USA included.
This time, however, is different. In bygone years the White House was inhabited by flawed but at least professional, realistic politicians, not wannabe tyrants with delusions of grandeur. And none of that even touches the mother of all concerns: our planet's fragile natural balance will not wait for us to get our act together. Moral of the story: much depends on us. The question, as always, is how quickly an opposition can galvanize itself into an effective force. Protests are good, but they are not enough. Elections are key, but a) democracy itself is under siege and b) the Democratic Party is in desperate need of revitalization. We have a lot of serious work to do. And by "a lot," I mean hard, persistent work over time. This will not be a sprint. There will be no quick, easy, painless victories. Let's hope that violence is kept to a minimum, but I rule out nothing. The longer this sh*t storm goes on, the more likely it becomes that all options are on the table. Adelante!
I think the contours of this statement have some validity. I'll keep it and see if it comes true in 2 weeks or 2 months or 2 years. I don't think the marchers in NYC or DC are going to lead the vanguard. I think they aren't substantive and Trump can keep them distracted with non-essentials. The Standing Rock thing might be put down with the National Guard but maybe even by a determined bunch of local sheriffs and even people on the left are not going to go to the mat for violent asshole protesters even if Amy Goodman victimizes herself. Standing Rock is not going to be an Occupy in the winter.
California is where I would look for the real protest movement and real swells of resistance. Silicon Valley will not allow its maids and gardeners to be kept out of the state or not allowed to visit their families and not get back in. So they will use their main invention, social media, to create a groundswell of interest. I'd like to think the Catholic Church will lead the sanctuary movement as it did in the 1980s. Suddenly, we may see godless heathens in Silicon Valley who hate religious believers get churchy and appreciate why churches are needed for something like helping refugees and immigrants. Putin will try to confuse California with the Moscow-backed California secessionist movement. But hopefully the Catholics and the geeks will just ignore him and do the right think.
We are already seeing the spectacle of a tie-less former CIA and Goldman Sachs man being proffered as the best hope for keeping our liberties. And a fair number of white professionals on the Left Coast who don't like to get dirty at demonstrations may prefer that option and they may have more success than you or me. (Maybe I will send them $5 now that I don't have Hillary to send $5 to). I am still in my period of mourning over Hillary and I will not be sending my contribution to the ACLU, which I ceased when they backed Snowden. Nor re-opening my subscription to the New York Times, when they backed Snowden. If the left will throw Snowden under the bus, and connect the dots between the WikiLeaks that harmed Hillary's election and brought us Trump, starting even in 2010, and the WikiLeaks that brought us Snowden, I may hold my nose and overlook all their silly stuff and support them again. But no, tis not to be.
I'm afraid trying to make the environment the subject of what is basically just your rewarmed call for the usual socialism lite is just not going to work.Obama implied at his inauguration that he was going to heal the planet and prevent the waters from rising but it just meant green jobs for his pals and his cadre-org pal Van until he became too embarrassing like his preacher friend. Neither Manhattan or Fiji will go under water because Trump is in office for 4 years, and if ice caps melt it will not be due to our cows or gasoline but Russian drilling in the Arctic and China. So let's be grown-ups here and not push bullshit as an organizing tool. And I speak as someone who lives in a building the first four floors of which were under water in hurricane Sandy, and who spent 3 weeks in the dark losing my income. I don't have a problem "getting" climate change as do millions of others. But it's about the solution for it, and whether it is socialist or capitalist. That really is what it's about for those you imagine are "deniers". Heaven forfend that the left return to LABOUR, which used to be their obsession when I was a young woman, but which they jettisoned in favour of their insular identity politics and campus PC. Let some more conscientious members of the left return to WORKERS, and not get hung up on whether they are white or black workers. And let them bear down on Flint, if it is true Flint doesn't really still have clean water. Let them do this with a serious, credentialed black woman doctor who actually helped the children with lead poisoning, and not the idiotic Michael Moore.
The media needs to grow up and get out of its bubble in the worst way. Only relentless seriousness of purpose and documentation will win. Bullshit about sizes of crowds or sizes of hands will not cut it, they are dangerous and stupid distractions. The media that never covered the dramatic drop in Obama's own crowds in the second term is untrustworthy trying to compare the apples and oranges of a civic event -- a woman's demonstration -- with a state event -- the inauguration of the party with the minority of members in the capital. Full stop. Lists of Spicer's lies and all this other listicle bullshit needs to stop in the worst way. No journalist worth his salt should be barking arrant nonsense about how we "can't" have Trump investigate his voter fraud claims because "this will cause more voter suppression". The left is completely untrustworthy on their voter suppression claims because they dropped them like a hot potato when they thought Hillary was winning and didn't even revive them after Trump won! So let Trump research, let him forget to find findings, let the press also research and remind him and stop this bullshit implying that people whose mail returns are disenfranchised or victims of racism. Be not afraid. If Trump's investigation really causes more "caging," report it. But if caging is true (and I don't believe in it) it already exists, and is not "caused" by Trump investigating it. Fear not.
Violent anarchists are not created by provocateurs from the FBI, Vladimir. When was the last time you went to a demonstration? I went to Occupy. I've been to all kinds of things. These people are assholes ALL on their own, trust me on that. Watch them. See what they say and do. They do not need the FBI to behave like assholes. They don't even need Putin to behave like assholes although Putin helps more than people realize on everything from animal rights extremists to vegans to opposers of fracking. An end to violence on the left starts with a repudiation of communism and socialism, which substitute ideology and "the means justifies the end" for due process and rights. Due process and rights are ALL that has ever brought lasting change to this country and that's why we need these groups that have become ridiculous parodies of themselves like Amnesty, stumping for Leonard Peltier (!) and Human Rights Watch stumping for Snowden (!) to give up this idiocy and start monitoring the real cases that will be coming. They are not credible. We will need a new widow of Lenin with these human rights groups, believe me.
I am waiting for a movement that will bring accountability not only to the government but to the sectarian and extreme social movements in this country that keep bringing us things like Nixon or Reagan or Trump. I will wait in vain because I'm too old now to go on demonstrations. But you younger people need to make a movement that does not have Angela Davis, who advocated and used violence, on its platform. That does not have Elizabeth Warren, who advocates pardoning Ethel Rosenberg, who is not framed but guilty. That does not have Bill deBlasio, whose first act in office was to cave to animal rights extremists and focus on Central Park carriages instead of homeless human beings. You Russians in this thread have got to understand why these movements cannot have Angela Davis and Elizabeth Warren. You who hated on Hillary and banged on for Sanders, who was in YPSL, are part of why we have Trump and you need to own that. If you want to keep having leftist Soviet-style movements, go ahead. You will die screaming about neoliberalism and Hillary speaking to Goldman Sachs while we lose our freedoms.
Let me add here that I think Vladimir's predictions of more people rising up like Black Lives Matter because there will be more police shootings of blacks is not something I share.
It's not because I don't think there won't be any more police shootings, as sadly there will be.
But I think the dynamics will change. I think Obama was useless or worse on this issue, and I think the leftism of his administration encouraged and tolerated worse extremism and sectarianism on the left. They saw there was an opportunity to "get in" and they pushed harder, became more violent and more extreme. The police killings are a dynamic that has worsened because of in fact killing of policemen, violent demonstrations that then spark a new round of police crackdowns spiralling upward.
But when there isn't the leftist in the White House and the dog-whistling to extremists, but a new-found resolve of law-enforcement everywhere as well as ordinary people like the store-owner roughed-up by the Ferguson police victim, we may not see these demonstrations as large or as violent or as persistent. I am going by the recollection of the 1960s moving into the 1970s and then the 1980s, with the change to Reagan and then Bush. This dynamic may repeat, I don't know. I could be wrong. But so could Vladimir.
Standing Rock could escalate and become more violent because not only Obama allowed it to be, but he signalled that the Army Corps of Engineers could become a politicized player. That's all changed now and the sectarians will not have backing and funding and political weight and we may see them dwindle away. I am definitely not convinced of the validity of the Standing Rock cause, because I read of all the studies and town meetings and re-routings that went into the pipeline issue and I'm not convinced it's the horror claimed by Democracy Now. To be sure, we just saw a pipeline spill in Canada and anything is possible. But I'm not convinced, and Amy Goodman using the trespassing-as-journalism gambit doesn't convince me. Maybe Standing Rock will be the Greenham Common of our age, but I just don't think violent extremist urban campers, in Occupy, or rural campers who trespass and damage property in Standing Rock, are going to get the masses swelling behind them. Give it up guys, it's a non-starter. Your zealotry and extremism on so many, many issues over the years (including on the Kremlin) just doesn't cut it.
Let me just point out another little thing to document for the record. I always ask the question of myself (and this is something we debate in our family now and then as a popular topic) as to whether the POTUS affects my daily life. Am I better off now than I was in 2008? The reality is, after 8 years of Obama, I'm actually worse off. That's the topic for another day, and yes, I got health care I didn't have before out of Obama -- but health care that you can shut off in a day because it's stupid isn't a solution.
This week, suddenly I got a wad of letters from the IRS claiming I was in violation of my installment plan, I hadn't paid and was defaulted, and that now I had to pay the full amount, an impossibility. Since I had steadily paid on time and had records of payment, I was confident when I called the IRS it would be cleared up.
An IRS agent instantly told me that my account was paid up and the issue wasn't any actual default. They were a bit puzzled. One thing that puzzled them was the fact that I received these notices on the same date that they were dated, an impossibility as snail mail takes awhile to go from one state to another, maybe 3 or 4 days.
I spent literally hours on the phone trying to resolve this. At one point another agent told that over the phone, I could dictate to them all my income and budget information and it would be re-established. Normally you fill out a numbered form to do this, but I saw no reason not to do it on the phone. I was dropped from waiting on hold for 45 minutes at one point and will have to start again.
This is the second or third time this has happened to me. And one other really odd thing happened to me awhile ago -- I suddenly received an big-ass notice from the IRS that I had gadzillion taxes to pay immediately, because I had huge 1099s. All my little $500 or $1000 checks from little freelance jobs were ballooned with extra zeros in this document to $50,000 or $100,000. It was bizarre. This isn't some clerical error. This is a malevolent force who sits at a computer and adds zeros to every document you have to create this insanity. This isn't the delivery in late January or early February, but another time period so it's even more bizarre.
Surely such an insanity would be instantly cleared up by an IRS agent who would look at the 1099s you and your employer ALREADY submitted in your return, right? They couldn't possibly believe such an insanity, right? That you went from earning peanuts to earning hundreds of thousands? But while puzzled, they could only demand that I re-collect new 1099s from each and ever employer -- even they themselves ALREADY had them DIRECTLY from those employers. That was a huge chore and I did it but -- weird, eh?
What this is, is harassment. And I don't think it's harassment from conservatives or alt-right or embryonic Trumpistas. Not then or now. I think it's Russians who have invaded this system like every other system and use it at their whim to harass people they don't like, in my case for my critical writings about Russia. Obviously, people will think this is a crazy conspiracy theory. That's why I document things like this and keep a watch on them. Now that I have 3 or 4 of them I really do have to wonder what's up. I have a meager income, a very modest life, no yachts or cars or fancy pension plans or any of those things. So when the IRS bears down on me, instead of, say, Donald Trump, it makes no sense.