Monday, November 21, 2016

About Those Participation Trophies …

Dear Cody,

I’ve seen the message you left for “People Older Than Me” on behalf of “People Younger Than Me”, which has had over 331,000 views at this writing [11/19/16]. For the benefit of everyone else, let me repeat it:

Dear People Older Than Me:

Shut up about the f**king participation trophies. We didn’t ask for them. We didn’t want them. We didn’t cherish them and polish them while thinking about what special, gifted children we are. They were annoying clutter on our shelves that we had to throw out in secret so we wouldn’t hurt YOUR feelings. And if we knew back then that you were gonna bring it up every time you disagreed with someone under 40 for the rest of f**king time, we would have told you where to shove that cheap plastic statue.

People Younger Than Me

Mass Immaturity

Cody, I’m sure you’re sick of the references to the participation trophies. As a friend of mine pointed out, only the really little kids just starting Little League got participation trophies. Eventually, they went out with the ball tee, and you had to learn to play to win just as you had to learn how to hit a pitch. Which is to say, you had to learn to risk losing just as you learned to risk getting hit by a pitch. Participating is a minimum requirement; getting a trophy for it is like receiving an award for putting on your pants.

Just to show I get the larger point, I’m sure you’re also tired of the sneering references to “safe spaces” and trigger warnings and being called “delicate snowflakes”. I suppose it’s also our fault that many people of your generation come to adulthood ill-equipped, lacking confidence, self-esteem, and the normal skills to cope with adversity, unprepared to accept the risks that are part of life in an unsafe world. And if your cohort has shown some rotten behavior as a result of the recent election, I must admit many adults haven’t shown mature behavior either before or after the election.

But in case you missed it, Cody, that was the real point of the “participation trophy” reference — not that your cohort thinks of themselves as special, gifted people, but rather that they throw temper tantrums or break out in noisy tears like spoiled, entitled brats at the least sign of opposition. You’re angry, sad, or afraid? So what; it’s still unacceptable. When you have these episodes of mass immaturity, that’s when we start talking about participation trophies. We don’t simply disagree with you; we find your manner of disagreement absurd and contemptible. No one has to take you seriously just because you do.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Trump’s Plan: “Make America an Oligarchy”

I published Friday’s post a couple days later than I wanted to because my home Internet connection was down. In that post, I reflected on the degree to which elite arrogance had led to Donald Trump’s astonishing victory. But for anyone who thought voting for Trump was a vote for reform, I have news for you: We’re about to enshrine an oligarchy in power, where they can finish the wrecking of the American economic base. And We the People made it happen.

The Triumph of Neoliberalism

While liberals were wrecking windows and cars in a heartwarming display of love and inclusiveness, wearing safety pins for solidarity (because they don’t need them to hold their diapers together), and boomers and Gen-Xers were displaying their contrasting maturity and level-headedness by abusing Hispanics and committing hate crimes, the President-elect was putting a team together of the very people he promised to kick out of Washington to help him plan out the pillaging of the American economy and environment on behalf of the 1%. Speaking of promises, Trump is thinking of keeping some of Obamacare in place — most likely, the parts that keep your rates jacked up, while disposing of those parts that impose costs on the rich.

While you all were fretting over whether Trump would turn SCOTUS to the far right or Hillary would turn it to the far left, whether Christians would be herded into re-education camps or undocumenteds into deportation camps, whether we’d build a wall between us and Mexico or tear down the walls between “gendered” bathrooms, you missed the elements of Trump’s platform which signaled that he really is as much a member of the Establishment as Clinton … and that he really doesn’t empathize with the lower classes. All Trump’s race-baiting, rabble-rousing rhetoric was to distract you from the least appealing feature of his platform — his tax plan.

As I’ve argued elsewhere, it’s by no means unfair or unreasonable for those who own 89% of the nation’s assets and 95% of our financial wealth to pay 2/3rds or more of the government’s expenses. Those who rape — er, reap — more of the benefit of the laws should pay more for the establishment which guarantees those benefits. But Trump’s tax plan ignores all that. As Paul Waldman explains, “Trump’s tax plan would give 47 percent of its benefits to the richest one percent of taxpayers. Paul Ryan’s tax plan is even purer — it gives 76 percent of its cuts to the richest one percent in its first year, and by 2025 would feed 99.6 percent of its benefits to the top 1 percent.” Dodd-Frank is slated to be axed, freeing the financial industry to make risky gambles with other people’s money once more. And while there won’t exactly be an “energy-regulation bonfire”, expect clean-energy initiatives to be cut.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Message to the Elite: “You’re Running the Country Wrong”

© 2016 A. F. Branco, Liberty Alliance.
As I watched ABC’s George Stephanopoulos and his crew of talking heads begin the autopsy on the election late Tuesday night, I felt some dark satisfaction. I hadn’t been the only self-appointed expert caught flat-footed by Donald Trump’s and the Republicans’ victory. Most of the elite, the Only People Whose Opinions Count, were humiliated by an over-glorified carnival huckster who (in our wise estimation) did just about everything wrong that could be done wrong and still pulled the upset of the century.

Andrew Sullivan Throws a Nutty

And the funny thing is, having been so spectacularly wrong about this election, we, the chatterati of America who have been polluting your television screens and social media feeds for months with our hive-mind wisdom, still think you should take our social forecasts seriously. Case in point: Andrew Sullivan, who threw a classic spittle-flecked nutty on the Daily Intelligencer.

This is now Trump’s America. He controls everything from here on forward. He has won this campaign in such a decisive fashion that he owes no one anything. He has destroyed the GOP and remade it in his image. He has humiliated the elites and the elite media. He has embarrassed every pollster and naysayer. He has avenged Obama. And in the coming weeks, Trump will not likely be content to bask in vindication. He will seek unforgiving revenge on those who dared to oppose him. The party apparatus will be remade in his image. The House and Senate will fail to resist anything he proposes — and those who speak up will be primaried into oblivion. The Supreme Court may well be shifted to the far right for more than a generation to come — with this massive victory, he can pick a new Supreme Court justice who will make Antonin Scalia seem like a milquetoast. He will have a docile, fawning Congress for at least four years. We will not have an administration so much as a court.

You should read it. Sullivan is so hysterical over Trump’s forthcoming fascist state that he didn’t pay attention to what he himself wrote: Trump can’t keep all his promises. In fact, we ought to be wondering which promises, if any, he really meant. For instance, his website’s policies page doesn’t have a link to pro-life policies. Various press releases had mentioned his pro-life position; but hey! those press releases are gone now. And frankly, I don’t trust the GOP to hold his feet to the fire on the matter.