Conventions

The Fat Lady Always Sings Twice

gc2smFrom the keyboard of James Howard Kunstler
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2016 hrc trump sanders

Originally Published on Clusterfuck Nation  May 30, 2016

 


That was the week Hillary began to look like the candidate who fell off a truck wearing a Nixon mask. Email-gate is taking on the odor of Watergate — the main ingredient of which was not the dopey crime itself but the stonewalling around it. The State Department Inspector General’s report saying definitively, no, she was not “allowed” to use a private, unsecured email server validated Donald Trump’s juvenile name-calling of “Crooked Hillary.”

We may never hear the end of that now (if Trump is actually nominated). And, of course, there lurks the Godzilla-sized skeleton in her closet of the still-unreleased Goldman Sachs speech transcripts, the clamor over which is sure to grow. Meanwhile the specter of the California primary looms, a not inconceivable loss to Bernie Sanders. And onto the convention in Philly which I contend will be even more fractious and violent than the 1968 fiasco in Chicago.

I’ll say it again: Hillary is a horse that ain’t gonna finish. The Democrats better be prepared to haul Uncle Joe out of the closet, fluff up his transplanted hair, wax his dentures, give him a few Vitamin B-12 shots, and stick a harpoon in his fist for the autumn run against the White Whale (if Trump is actually nominated).

The Republican convention in Cleveland is apt to be as bloody and violent a spectacle too (if Trump is actually nominated), with Black Lives Matters cadres having already promised to put on a show for global television and their Latino counterparts marching with Mexican Flags and cute signs saying: Trump: Chingate tu madre, perhaps garnished with the sobriquet pendejo. In such a situation, Trump has enormous potential to make things worse with his childish snap-backs. Hubert Humphrey in 1968 at least had the good sense to keep his mouth shut about the moiling multitudes out on Michigan Avenue inveighing against him.

The Vietnam War was a grave debacle, and it especially pissed off the young men subject to being drafted to fight in it, but the woof and warp of American life was otherwise intact. Blue collar workers still pulled in high wages in the Big Three auto plants, and women had not yet declared war on men, and the airwaves weren’t pornified, and there were still people in government with moral authority who loudly opposed official policy. The sobering martyrdoms of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy sanctified the opposition to the status quo. Even Hubert Humphrey himself, a thoughtful man underneath his Rotarian clown mask, began to turn away from Lyndon Johnson’s war hawks.

Nixon won. He surely benefited most not so much from the war issue and the riots in the streets as from the mass defection of Southern states from the long-entrenched domination of the Democratic Party — directly due to Johnson’s dismantling of the old Jim Crow laws. As a personality, Nixon was as much a pendejo as Donald Trump, but no one doubted his ability to run the machinery of government, if not the way they wanted to run it.

One difference today is that the two supposedly leading candidates, Hillary and Trump, are broadly loathed and mocked by people of all ages, not just disaffected youth. Trump appears to actually know so little about the major problems the country faces — energy, trade, the animus of foreigners — that he would be literally helpless in crisis. Hillary would enter the White House more mistrusted than Tricky Dick, and more starkly wired into the parasitical elites draining the body politic of its precious bodily fluids — in the immortal words of Doctor Strangelove.

Though it appears that Trump has consolidated the delegate vote needed for nomination, something tells me that a move is yet afoot to knock the gold ring out of his grubby fingers. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan is playing it very cagey and you can imagine that current party stalwarts and office-holders all over the land are wringing their hands over being asked to follow Trump into some dark night of the American soul. Paul Ryan must know that a coup at the convention is still conceivable and that the action inside the hall will be as violent as the street-fighting outside.

 


James Howard Kunstler is the author of many books including (non-fiction) The Geography of Nowhere, The City in Mind: Notes on the Urban Condition, Home from Nowhere, The Long Emergency, and Too Much Magic: Wishful Thinking, Technology and the Fate of the Nation. His novels include World Made By Hand, The Witch of Hebron, Maggie Darling — A Modern Romance, The Halloween Ball, an Embarrassment of Riches, and many others. He has published three novellas with Water Street Press: Manhattan Gothic, A Christmas Orphan, and The Flight of Mehetabel.

Romney/Ryanism in Tampa

Off the Keyboard of Steve Lendman

 Published originally on August 31st, 20121 on the Steve Lendman Blog
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Tampa may never be the same. Republicans left it pockmarked. At least they’re gone. Residents welcomed their departure. Three days of pre-scripted hokum were featured. Romney/Ryan speeches featured revisionist history. Democrats get their turn next week.
Campaigning is in high gear. According to Bloomberg, “you’d need six months to watch every presidential campaign ad.” As of August 22, 526,633 (30 or 60 second) spots were run.
By election day November 6, perhaps they’ll top a million. And that’s only for president. All House and 33 Senate seats are up for grabs. So are numerous others at state and local levels. They range from gubernatorial to local school boards.
A war of words hammers US voters nonstop. Relief won’t come until post-election. America’s campaign season never ends. Preparations begin immediately for the next cycle. Big money plans it that way. Candidates and officeholders either go along or find another line of work. Voters get betrayed every time.
Tampa was Exhibit A. Romney/Ryan represent socially destructive interests. Obama’s the same. Voters are stuck between fire and brimstone.
America’s political process is too dysfunctional and corrupted to fix. People should either vote independent or stay home. Both major parties are two sides of the same coin. Not a dime’s worth of difference that matters separates them.
They represent money power and imperial lawlessness. People needs are spurned. Bipartisan complicity plans destroying them entirely. Social America is on the chopping block for elimination. Political Washington’s vision is dark age harshness.
Obama/Biden/Romney/Ryan represent the worst of all possible worlds. Obama’s con man days began in Illinois. Before entering politics, Romney parlayed grand theft into super wealth.
As Bain Capital head, he profiteered by leveraged buyouts, asset-stripping companies, and leaving thousands of workers high and dry. As president, he’ll do for America what he did to one plundered company after another.
On August 29, Matt Taibbi headlined his Rolling Stone article “Greed and Debt: The True Story of Mitt Romney and Bain Capital.”
He calls him the flip side of Che or Trotsky. He’s a human wrecking machine. He’s right out of predatory capitalism’s central casting. He’s a visionary for everything harming people.
His campaign reflects “a shimmering pearl of perfect political hypocrisy.” He’s kept it hidden out of sight. Ryan’s his alter ego. He’s “a self-righteous anal, thin-lipped, Whitest Kids U Know penny pincher who’d be honored to tell Oliver Twist” the soup bowl is empty, go hungry.
On the one hand, Romney claims “a prairie fire of debt” is ravaging America. On the other, he got super-rich by “borrowing vast sums of money that other people were forced to pay back.” He’s one of the “most irresponsible debt creators of all time.”
In Ryan, he’s got “perhaps the only politician in America more pompous and self-righteous” than himself on the evils debt piled up by borrowed money. “No one in history has ever successfully run for president riding this big a lie.” In November, he may become the exception that proves the rule.
He’s unapologetic. He’s emblematic of Wall Street fraud, greed, and indifference about human need and welfare. He’s one of their own. He can be president, Treasury secretary and Fed chairman all in one. He represents everything wrong with America getting worse.
He’s a dagger at humanity’s heart. He’s the perfect frontman for destroying decades of social progress. Give him four years and it won’t exist. He endorses government of, by and for super-rich elites like himself.
He’s “a new and improved version” of Gordon Gekko dressed up in better PR and more grandiose notions of wealth and power. He envisions leveraged buying out America. He’ll leave everyone else to pay the tab.
His business model is scorched earth asset stripping. Expect ordinary people to be left high and dry. He wants America looking like one company after another he wrecked. He thinks it’s OK as long as his hands don’t look dirty.
His free market notions suck life from people. He’s a brigand who discards them like trash. He believes only making money matters. He made piles the old fashioned way by stealing it. Dirty money buys as much as honest cash. Romney got lots of federal help making plenty.
Government giveaways enriched him. So did business-friendly tax provisions. They facilitate leveraged buyout scams. They made Romney super-rich.
Before he took office, James Petras called Obama “the greatest con man in recent history.” He compared him to Melville’s Confidence Man. “He catches your eye while he picks your pocket.” Romney one-ups him and then some. He knows every dirty trick in the book to steal, wreck human lives, and get off scot free.
He’s the perfect frontman for financialized America. It uses money to make more of it without manufacturing anything. It prospers at the expense of others. It hides wealth in tax havens. It watches from the sidelines while America crumbles.
It’s being transforming into Guatemala, complete with police state harshness. Come January, Romney may head the grand scheme. Obama’s able to match him blow for blow.
Imagine the state of the nation four years hence under either leader. Imagine having endless wide awake nightmares. Imagine the worst of all possible worlds. Obama/Romney assure it. They’ll be no place to hide.
Take no prisoners defines their style. Romney comes off brash. Obama’s more subtle. Either way they’re flip sides of the same coin. Decades earlier Republicans and Democrats wouldn’t recognize their modern-day successors.
Political conventions today bear little resemblance to earlier ones. Predictability replaced suspense. In 1976, Gerald Ford contested Ronald Reagan on the convention floor to become Republican nominee.
In 1960, Jack Kennedy lacked a majority until Wyoming voted last. Everything now is pre-scripted theater. It’s like watching an old film aired many previous times.
Tropical storm Isaac/turned hurricane had first say in Tampa. It shortened circus shenanigans to three days. Reactionary extremism, hokum, grandiosity, and revisionist history took center stage. Influence peddling dominated behind the scenes deal making.
Pre-scripted bluster went off as planned. Dissembling obscured reality. Delegates were fed red meat malarkey. Tough issues were ducked. They were distorted by falsely claiming Romney/Ryan have ways to fix America.
Today’s political conventions are coronations, not nominations. Suspense and political honesty are nowhere in sight. Everything heard is predictable.
In Tampa, politicians impersonated actors. Clint Eastwood played the opposite role. He fell flat and then some. He sounded more under the table than over the top.
Critics called his cameo “bizarre” and “embarrassing.” At age 82, best stick to gardening. Even Republicans called it a mistake to invite him. Democrats make fools of themselves next week. Ready or not, Charlotte awaits their arrival.
They’ll match Republicans blow for blow. Rhetoric alone separates them. Politics on either side of the aisle reflect flip sides of the same coin. They’re lawless, merciless, inhumane, anti-labor, anti-welfare, racist, neoliberal, elitist, pro-business, pro-war, and anti-populist.
A previous article said both parties believe America’s future depends on greater wealth disparity, ignoring public need, waging war on humanity, silencing truth, and cracking down on non-believers.
On November 6, voters get to choose between either wing of America’s money party. Duopoly power offers no alternative.
A Final Comment
All week, Tampa was on virtual lockdown. Hundreds of protesters showed up. Thousands of cops confronted them. Media scoundrels largely ignored them.
They marched on the RNC’s convention site. Occupy Tampa came out. Ahead of convention week, they noted an unemployment crisis, a do-nothing Congress, and other vital unaddressed issues. They complained about security protocol restrictions compromising their First Amendment rights.
Occupy the RNC was there. They’re unaffiliated. They stand in solidarity with Charlotte DNC protesters. They railed against both parties. They’re tied to corporate rule, war, economic injustice, and freedom extinguishing policies.
America’s “entire system….is rooted in greed and power.” Exploitation and oppression are prioritized. They demand better like others. They facilitated logistics for protesters.
They published Tampa Principles. They support political diversity within their struggle for social, economic, and environmental justice. They’re committed to treating everyone with respect.
They oppose repressing dissent, surveillance, infiltration, disruption, police brutality, and restrictive “free speech zones” far from convention activities. They united for change not possible without sustained commitment.
Code Pink came out in force. During Romney’s speech, their members stood up chanting and unfurling banners saying “People over Profits.” “Democracy is not a business.”
They interrupted Ryan’s speech. They demanded women’s rights, control over their own bodies, and healthcare, not warfare.
They stormed the streets and convention site day and night. They delivered messages saying end wars and get money out of politics. They explained America’s broken electoral system. What’s the point of kicking out bums for new ones.
Dressed as pink police, they staged mock citizens’ arrests at every Condi Rice event. At a pro-Israeli one, they denounced its illegal occupation. They spoke out against war on Iran. With barely a chance to exhale, they’re off for Charlotte and more demonstrations.
Others in Washington shut down a busy intersection as Romney was about to accept his party’s nomination. They chose a spot known for activism.
They protested his politics of the rich. They held signs saying “Stop the Romney economy.” “We are here to protest Romney’s nomination.” People need to hear disenfranchised voices.
Others must lend support. The only solution is world revolution. Change comes only from the bottom up. It’s time to challenge the beast and slay it.

Police riot at Zuccotti; the “American Spring” begins in Norfolk

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“Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.” ~JFK

Which, unfortunately, may be the point.

By now you will have seen some of the news about the police riot at OWS on Saturday night. Why on earth would police feel the need to clear people from the Wall Street area at 11:30 pm on a Saturday night? The streets are empty down there at that hour. The answer will be apparent with a little inference . . .

The NYT article below is pretty good, with one singular exception: I really wish the Times and other journos would stop hiding behind the word “clashed” to describe what occurs between the police and protesters, in what might be more accurately described as a police riot. Being led away in handcuffs is not “clashing” with the police. Having your head smashed into a plate glass window so hard it shatters the window is not “clashing” with police.

A police state is in place, at the beck and call of King Bloomberg, and paid for in large measure by an extra generous JPM donation to the Police Benevolent fund. And the wholesale repression evidenced by Bloomberg’s thugs, obviously designed to crush the movement, should only serve to invigorate it.

The Constitution is clear: “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” It does not say you need a permit to march. It does not say you have to confine your march to the sidewalk. It does not say you must have a permit to use a sound system or bullhorn. These are all abridgments of our Constitutional rights, invented by the New York Police Department, and others like them around the country who mirror their example. Bloomberg’s private army is issuing illegal and unconstitutional orders, making illegal arrests and committing scores of unlawful acts.

 

This weekend’s demonstrations and police riot come on the heels of Greg Smith’s indictment of Goldman Sachs. The same week, we are told, that Bloomberg went to GS to lend his support to the robber barons he worked for. This mayor has lost all credibility when it comes to class differences and the plight of the working class and the poor. I suspect OWS and the many groups throughout the country that it has spawned will warm up their activities along with the weather. A weekend protest in Norfolk against the NDAA and EEA was pretty well attended, and even some Tea Party people joined in protesting the endless incursion of what used to be rights. A couple of police cruisers attended these modest efforts, although it was reassuring to see our old friends parked along our gathering.In other news, the final trial for Occupy-related defendants in Norfolk General Court is scheduled for Friday. Thus far, Norfolk Occupiers are 4-0 against the city’s law enforcement and judicial system. Which is much better than my NCAA bracket.

 

-Surly

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Read more at

http://www.breakingnews.com/topic/occupy-wall-street-protest

From the NYT:
Scores of Occupy Wall Street protesters were arrested on Saturday night as police officers swept Zuccotti Park in Lower Manhattan and closed it.

Dozens of demonstrators sat down and locked arms as officers moved in about 11:30 p.m. The protesters chanted “we are not afraid” as the police began pulling people from the crowd, one by one, and leading them out of the park in handcuffs.

The operation occurred after hundreds of people had gathered in the financial district to observe the founding of Occupy Wall Street six months ago. Earlier, protesters had embarked upon a winding march, after which police officers made initial arrests of about a dozen people near the park.

By 11:30 p.m., as police officers massed on Broadway, a commander announced that the park was closed. Those inside shouted back that the park was obliged through an agreement with the city to remain open. The commander then announced that anyone who remained inside would be arrested and charged with trespassing.

After clearing the park, police officers and private security guards began placing a ring of metal barricades on the park’s perimeter, as those who had been arrested were placed inside a city bus.

At one point, a woman who appeared to be suffering from seizures flopped on the ground in handcuffs as bystanders shouted for the police to remove the cuffs and provide medical attention. For several minutes the woman lay on the ground as onlookers made increasingly agonized demands until an ambulance arrived and the woman was placed inside.

By 12:20 a.m., a line of officers pushed against some of the remaining protesters, forcing them south on Broadway, at times swinging batons and shoving people to the ground.

Kobi Skolnick, 30, said that officers pushed him in several directions and that as he tried to walk away, he was struck from behind in the neck. “One of the police ran and hit me with a baton,” he said.

Earlier that afternoon, as protesters gathered under blue skies while carrying banners and signs, the day was in some ways reminiscent of the first time the Occupy protesters gathered in mid-September. Just after 1 p.m., brandishing placards with messages like “Take back government from corporations,” the crowd left Zuccotti Park headed south on Broadway, chanting the now familiar slogan “We are the 99 percent.”

When the first protesters set foot in the financial district six months ago, few people imagined what would follow, including a two-month encampment in Lower Manhattan, similar camps in cities across the country and critiques of corporate greed becoming part of the national dialogue.

The movement was mainly quiet during the winter, but organizers said they were aiming for a springtime resurgence.

“It’s just a reminder that we’re here,” Brendan Burke said, as the crowd marched past the New York Stock Exchange. “It’s an opportunity to remind Wall Street that we aren’t going anywhere.”

In several respects, Saturday’s march was similar to the inaugural one. The crowd was small but spirited and marched past the bronze sculpture of a bull at Bowling Green, which had served as a mustering spot for the first march. Marchers were accompanied by police officers on foot and on scooters who at one point blocked access to Wall Street, just as they did on Sept. 17.

And, as they did that day, the marchers made sudden turns that appeared to surprise the police and walked along Wall Street for at least a brief time.

At one point, several demonstrators stood on the steep steps of Federal Hall and chanted “1-2-3-4, I declare class war.”

Later, members of the group ignored orders from the police to remain on sidewalks and flowed onto parts of Exchange Place and Beaver Street. Later, on Broad Street, a deputy inspector turned to a sergeant and said, “We got to start collaring some.”

For the next 30 minutes or so, things remained calm as marchers stuck to the sidewalks and entered Zuccotti Park.

But then, just after 2 p.m., police officers began telling a large group of protesters that they could not stand on the sidewalk on a stretch of Liberty Street. Officers pushed the crowd until more than 100 protesters on the sidewalk were pressed against a wall that borders the park.

Then the police began grabbing and arresting people, taking into custody at least half a dozen. Officers surged into the crowd, dragging protesters toward the street, as people yelled objections.

“They were grabbing people randomly,” Zachary Kamel said, adding that his girlfriend, Lauren DiGoia, had been arrested while dancing on the sidewalk.

One sergeant grabbed a woman wearing a green shirt by the bottom of her throat and shoved her head against the hood of a car. A moment later, another officer approached and forcefully pressed her head against the car before placing her into the back of a police truck.

Over the next few hours, protesters conducted meetings inside Zuccotti Park and held a dance party fueled by a saxophone and a battery of drums. Sporadic moments of tension also arose.

At one point, the police arrested a handful of protesters on Cedar Street near Trinity Place. A few moments later, near Cedar Street and Broadway, a police captain pushed a man by the shoulders for almost a block, then released him when a crowd loudly demanded to know whether the man was under arrest.

The man, Charlie Gonzalez, 31, said that the captain had told him he was not permitted to stand on the sidewalk.

About an hour later, the same captain pushed another man several hundred feet east down Cedar Street, about a block from Zuccotti Park, and briefly detained him.

That man, Yoni Miller, 19, said he was counting officers standing in rows near Broadway when the captain forced him to walk around a corner onto Cedar Street, then asked him if he was a terrorist or was planning any crimes.

Paul Moore, 25, said that he was videotaping the encounter when the captain asked him for identification and began pushing him away, telling him he was not permitted to document what was happening.

After nightfall, the number of people inside the park swelled to more than 500.

About 10 p.m., some of those in the park began a regimen of running and dancing that they called “spring training,” which they said was meant to prepare for coming demonstrations.

At 10:30, protesters sprung up a green tarp, folded over a piece of rope suspended from two trees near the center of Zuccotti Park. Security and police officers looked on from the perimeter.

 

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The impact that climate change and urbanization are having on the thermal-energy balance of the buil [...]

Although there is a general consensus about the trends of current climate change, the North Atlantic [...]