Saturday, November 12, 2016

Last Call For The Jackpot Years

Legendary science fiction author William Gibson wrote The Peripheral in 2014, a book split into two possible futures, a bleak near future maybe 20 years out from now, and a further one in the 22nd century after a mutli-decade long systemic collapse of human civilization called the "Jackpot".

Gibson defines the Jackpot here:

William Gibson defines the Jackpot Years from m1k3y on Vimeo.

"Something that...struck me that I never noticed before is that our cultural model of the apocalypse is uni-causal and of very brief duration. So, Triffids come, world ends. Post-apocalypse. United States and U.S.S.R nuke each other to mutual destruction. Post-apocalypse. Like it's one thing and it happens.

And I thought "What if the apocalypse were multi-causal, complexly systemic, and took 40 or 50 years?" Actually, I initially thought "What if it took 400 years or 500 years?"  But that was too much time for my story, so I got it...down to 40. There's no reason why that wouldn't happen, that I can see. And actually, that's a lot more likely than a brief, uni-causal event.

But...I don't think we have the cultural equipment to hold that idea readily in our heads. It's not part of our mythology, despite the possibility that we might be already living in it. And that that fact may account for these creepy feelings that some of you have been having (laughs). Myself included!

"Jackpot" is of course a term of bitter irony, where all the wheels of fate came up perfectly in a once-in-an-epoch spin that left most of humanity dead after a systemic cascade failure scenario, one event led to a "new normal" and another even followed that, and another followed that, and by the time people realized what was going on the avalanche was in motion and nothing could stop it. The Dark Ages after all didn't just happen one idle, sunny Thursday

Probably the best parallel historically we have here is the US Civil War, merely the culmination of a number of events that began in the 1820s with states entering the Union after the Missouri Compromise, which led to Nat Turner's rebellion in 1831, the Mexican-American War, and so on, multi-causal, systemic, and deadly, costing 2.5% of the country's population over 40 years.

Are we in a Jackpot years scenario now?  I don't honestly know.

Worth thinking about though.

That's Real White Of You Donald, Con't

Never forget that given a choice between electing America's first woman president with a long list of accomplishments and a serial sexual harasser who has never held political office that white women overwhelmingly chose Trump.

The Clinton campaign and many commentators suggested that Clinton’s attempt to break the nation’s “highest, hardest glass ceiling” would draw strong support from women across the country. But in interviews, white women who support Trump said his record as a businessman and his policy positions resonated with them more strongly than Clinton’s candidacy as a woman.

Aimee Riley, a 34-year-old orthopedic surgeon from Richmond, Virginia, said she did not want the government to raise taxes on top earners. “I have worked so hard to get out of poverty,” she said. “I was raised to earn my own success, and feel strongly that I deserve every dollar I will now earn as a surgeon.”

In her everyday hospital work, Riley said, she saw many people “who think they deserve a handout and aren’t willing to do the work they are capable of”. Trump is “business-minded and not handout-minded, and I think this will instill a sense of effort and hard work in our country”, she said.

Like other Trump supporters, white women emphasized the importance of having a president who would nominate the right kind of supreme court justice. “I was delighted to vote for Donald Trump, because he’s a pro-life advocate,” said Laurie Jones, 45, outside a polling station in New York City. Jones was accompanied by her seven-year-old daughter.

Jones, a nutritionist who lives in downtown Manhattan, hoped that Trump’s selection of supreme court justices would be able to overturn Roe v Wade and return the question of abortion rights to the state.

“I voted for Trump because America has struggled with simple economics and needs a change,” said Lizzie Whitmire, 35, a Catholic mother of two from Dallas. “I also want someone who is angry about terrorism and radical Islam.”

After the publication of a video that showed Trump boasting about how he could get away with kissing and groping women because he was famous, followed by accusations of sexual assault from 12 different women, the received wisdom was that Trump had lost the female vote.

But white women who voted for Trump downplayed his behavior to different degrees. Some said they believed he fundamentally respected women. Others said they did not, but thought his sexism would not undermine his ability to carry out the change they wanted.

Jones called Trump an “imperfect person, like all of us”. She said: “I do believe he does like women. He cares for his daughters and wife and female employees. He does respect women.”

Trump got 45% of white women with college degrees, and two-thirds of white women without them. And he STILL lost the popular vote.  But that was enough to give him electoral college wins in Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio and Pennsylvania (and very nearly Minnesota.)

And in the end they voted for the sexual criminal because "he was one of ours and would hurt those people instead."  That's precisely why they voted for him, to hurt people of color, to hurt LBGTQ people, to hurt Muslims (and let's be honest, Jews).

If this was a "change" election, Republicans in charge of the House and Senate and state legislatures would have been nuked too.  No, this was a "Go back to 1955" election.

And white women led the way.  The Republican War on Women has been won by the GOP, and now the real pain begins.

Or, to put it simply:

And that's why she lost the Midwest and the election.  Period.

The King Of The Useful Idiots

Bernie Sanders makes the case for what the Democrats need to do now, and absolutely reinforces the false notion that Democrats lost on "economic anxiety" rather than overt racism, misogyny and white identity politics.

Millions of Americans registered a protest vote on Tuesday, expressing their fierce opposition to an economic and political system that puts wealthy and corporate interests over their own. I strongly supported Hillary Clinton, campaigned hard on her behalf, and believed she was the right choice on Election Day. But Donald J. Trump won the White House because his campaign rhetoric successfully tapped into a very real and justified anger, an anger that many traditional Democrats feel.

I am saddened, but not surprised, by the outcome. It is no shock to me that millions of people who voted for Mr. Trump did so because they are sick and tired of the economic, political and media status quo.

Working families watch as politicians get campaign financial support from billionaires and corporate interests — and then ignore the needs of ordinary Americans. Over the last 30 years, too many Americans were sold out by their corporate bosses. They work longer hours for lower wages as they see decent paying jobs go to China, Mexico or some other low-wage country. They are tired of having chief executives make 300 times what they do, while 52 percent of all new income goes to the top 1 percent. Many of their once beautiful rural towns have depopulated, their downtown stores are shuttered, and their kids are leaving home because there are no jobs — all while corporations suck the wealth out of their communities and stuff them into offshore accounts.

Working Americans can’t afford decent, quality child care for their children. They can’t send their kids to college, and they have nothing in the bank as they head into retirement. In many parts of the country they can’t find affordable housing, and they find the cost of health insurance much too high. Too many families exist in despair as drugs, alcohol and suicide cut life short for a growing number of people.

President-elect Trump is right: The American people want change. But what kind of change will he be offering them? Will he have the courage to stand up to the most powerful people in this country who are responsible for the economic pain that so many working families feel, or will he turn the anger of the majority against minorities, immigrants, the poor and the helpless?

Yes Bernie.  Turning "the anger of the majority" against people of color, Latino immigrants, and the politically weakened is exactly what his entire campaign was about.  And now that message has shown that it can still win, it's going to be what his entire presidency is about as well.

And you helped him more than any other liberal in the country.

You are the King of the Useful Idiots, Bernie.  Thanks for nothing.

It's Payback Time, Con't

Adam Serwer grimly notes that the GOP having unfettered control of the federal government means the move to obliterate President Obama's legacy and render him a Carter-like footnote is now in full effect.

The federal government currently protects people’s ability to find a home, to make a living, to cast a ballot, to worship freely, to drink clean water and breathe clean air. A Trump administration can leave these rights unprotected for the people most vulnerable to having them denied because of the color of their skin or their faith, before having to ask Congress for a single vote on legislation. 
The conservative backlash against Obama limited much of his agenda after the first two years to things that could be achieved by the executive branch. Trump can easily reverse these steps, beginning, as Bloomberg reports, with Obama’s extension of relief from deportation to undocumented immigrants. That will affect some 750,000 people. Trump can shift deportation priorities so that undocumented immigrants previously considered a low priority for deportation––mothers with U.S. citizen children, for example––no longer will be. That proposed ban on Muslim immigration? He won’t even need Congress.

The entire civil-rights enforcement apparatus of the federal government will be under the control of a candidate who campaigned on using the power of the state against religious and ethnic minorities, proposing to ban Muslim immigration, establish a “deportation force” to purge the country of America’s largely Latino population of undocumented immigrants, and establish “national stop and frisk,” a policy that has targeted black communities. The Obama administration’s aggressive enforcement of anti-discrimination law in housing, employment, and voting is likely to suffer. The Obama era saw an unprecedented rise in the Justice Department’s efforts to combat racial discrimination in local policing. Trump campaigned with the explicit support of unions representing law enforcement, and on “giving power back to the police.” 
Will a Trump administration continue to enforce federal religious-freedom laws in cases where local jurisdictions attempt to prevent mosques from being built? Will it advocate for Muslim women who are told by their employers they are not allowed to cover their hair at work? Would a Trump Equal Opportunity Employment Commission continue Obama’s aggressive interpretation of civil-rights law protecting LGBT workers? Should women who are sexually harassed by their bosses expect that a president who bragged about sexual assault will defend their rights? Will the strict rules on sexual assault on college campuses to survive in the Trump Department of Education? In each of these cases, the Obama administration moved to use federal power to protect the rights of minorities; absent the same commitment, they will not enjoy similar protections under Trump.

The Obama administration promulgated strict rules under the Clean Air and Clean Water acts. Republicans have already indicated their intention to revoke them, consequences that will be borne by everyone, but most explicitly by the poor and people of color.

All of this will almost certainly vanish by the end of next year.  We will be told that such executive actions were always immoral, illegal, and unaffordable, and the massive austerity cuts coming will be necessary because Obama "bankrupted" America.

But mostly it's minority groups who will have to pay the most.  And some will pay with their lives.
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