Going Nativist

The battle over the travel ban echoes our history from the founding, slicing deep into the heart of American sympathies: Are refugees and migrants coming ashore to be seen as humble ‘guests of the nation?’ or as American as anyone, just for getting through the gate? George Washington said he was building an “asylum for the oppressed” of all nations.  And so the Statue of Liberty, the Mother of Exiles, with her world-wide welcome. 

Italian Immigrants at Ellis Island

Kansan-Kenyan Barack Obama embodied the whole dream: an America for searchers, strivers, migrants like his father: the polyglot nation-of-all-nations, not the world’s master but the world’s story. And now the counter-story from the man who doubted that Obama was born American, much less that he belonged in the White House. 

The ‘who we are’ question, between Immigration Nation and Fortress America, is one that all our show guests have explored deeply and widely, traversing all sorts of social, political and historical terrains. Neil Swidey, a staff writer for the Globe, brings back to life the story of the anti-Immigration movement in Boston at the turn of the 20th century. It’s a story of Brahmins and ‘barbarians’; a story of privilege, of savage inhumanity, and of unenlightened righteousness.

Francis Fukuyama reframes the argument in ideological terms, arguing that to be an American is to espouse a particular political creed. In his own words:

You have political values that define what it means to be American. It’s not tied to religion, to ethnicity, to race. So that anyone who espouses those values can be an American.

Aziz Rana partly agrees with Fukuyama, that a kind of American creed rests at the foundation of American identity. Or at least it did, at one particular period of time. From the mid-20th century on through to the end of the Cold War, a form of American identity was manufactured as a weapon to be used in ideological warfare with the Soviet Union. Prior to WWII, American identity was inextricably bound up with race.

Nadeem Mazen, brings in local politico perspective to our immigration debate here in Greater Boston. In 2013, Mazen became the first Muslim city councilor in Cambridge, Massachussetts, and was recently re-elected after running a Bernie-esque hyperprogressive grassroots campaign. His position on the city council and his work with the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) inspired the Bannon-led newsroom at Breitbart to label him “Hamas on the Charles.” Now, Mazen is striking back at the islamophobes in the White House and making a general call for Muslim-Americans to run for public office.

Sheida Dayani, a Persian-born poet and translator, tells us about her initial reaction to “the human ban” and how paradoxically she feels most American when teaching Persian texts to her students at Harvard.

Listen below to her poem entitled The Ordinary Man of this Neighborhood.

Guest List
Neil Swidey
Globe magazine staff writer and author of Trapped Under the Sea
Francis Fukuyama
a senior fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies at Stanford University and author of Political Order and Political Decay and The End of History and the Last Man
Aziz Rana
professor of law at Cornell Law School and author of The Two Faces of American Freedom
Sheida Dayani
poet, translator and preceptor of Persian at Harvard University.

Related Content


  • lukelea

    broken link

    • opensource_staff

      show’s up now bruv

  • How apropos American Experience is running back to back documentaries on right wing
    extremists.

    Power politics can be confusing.
    Obama & the immigrant story, yet he deported recorded numbers. (I realize there was an
    accounting change, but he allowed it to be so.)

    Somehow I knew James Michael Curley could get mentioned if only because of the Edwin O’Connor effect. I stuck with Obama for 8 years and I guess Curley is your guy – but is he a good example of anything?
    Does loyalty create an automatic equivalency? I mean, is Obama as good as Curley just
    because we are loyal or is it just bias?
    Politics seems to be all about winning, not merit.

  • Pete Crangle

    Dinner Time at the DC Swamp

    1. The Age of Demagogues is always with us. Indra gasbag edition.

    “If this were a dictatorship it would be a heck of a lot easier… as long as I’m the dictator.” — George W. Bush, Y2K

    Demagogues feed on the Neglectorate like vampires, and vice versa. The current and growing crisis in our civic institutions is not due solely to the petulance, duplicity, and incompetence of Donald Trump. Nor is it attributable to the calculating malevolence of Alt Right platform architect Stephen Bannon, the Iago/Goebbels love child. Nor can this crisis be reduced to a Junta configured Robber Baron government that is a made to order version of crony state capitalism with an iron fist — a belligerent assembly of vandals and nincompoops. This crisis has not been caused by the Byzantine methods of American politics, such as, the electoral college or gerrymandering or a two party stranglehold. Fake news didn’t usher us here. A cursory peek into US history will inform one that none of this is particularly new.

    The crisis of government that has been growing for some time is symptomatic of deeper and more pernicious problems. We live in a time of extremity. And in this extremity, we live as a highly atomized crisis cult. In the last election cycle, the citizenry was offered a crop of candidates engaged in a rhetorical coarsening of dumbed down talking points that were essentially a flurry of policy free cheap shots. Burlesque campaigns, corrupt and/or incompetent candidates, in concert with the corrosive influence of money, are symptomatic of a culture that is running out of road for which it can kick the cans of intractability.

    The current US political system offers the type of leadership and a tenor of behavior that one should expect for a culture that is in decline, tilting towards collapse. As the problems become more serious and more threatening, the politics and rhetoric become more unhinged, farcical, and potentially lethal on a mass scale. And sure, the current GOP government will certainly thrive and opportunistically capitalize on the chaos and instability that it will create and shape. This is a government that will offload blame and reject accountability with bellicose aplomb. If there is one thing that serves Donald Trump to solidify his position of dominance, it is chaos and instability. It feeds him and Bannon, and a growing movement built on resentment and fact-free unreality.

    But, the chaos and instability that fans the resentment and unreality will help others, too. It will feed Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell. It will feed any number of speculators, shareholders, corporate executives, and board rooms. It will feed the security, weapons, and surveillance sectors. It will feed the energy and financial services sectors. It will feed the for-profit prison and detention sector. It will feed corporate Democrats. It will feed lobbyists and consultants. It will feed media venues, including smaller independent media outlets, that speak in the language of spectacle, and not in the lexicon of citizenry or accountability (not ROS!). Black markets will flourish. All will be fed to the capacity of Mr Creosote. And then, when they have been filled beyond point of peak satiety, they will extract even more in an exercise that is baked into late capitalism — to devour government and the public commons for enrichment and civil subjugation. Vampire Squid, a term used by Matt Taibbi to describe ruthless corporate behavior, seems an apt metaphorical description for these opportunists. And it is We The People who will be served up as the wafer thin, after dinner mint. The trough feeder will continue to expand in this ongoing crisis, and it will be myriad in its hogs and scoundrels, and brutal in its etiquette.

    Within this context, I confess my favorite Trump campaign bromide to be Drain The Swamp! Drain the swamp? The swamp has been devoured by a parasitic elite that run DC. The Trump Administration and GOP Congress have swamped the drain. The Democrats did so before them. It is only in technique and rhetorical flourishes where they differ. The Deep State and corporate interests seem to hum along just fine regardless of which party holds the keys to the oval office, or congressional majorities. A bloated arms sector is not a product of a Trump Administration. Nor is the Deep State. But, his administration is likely to capitalize upon it as it seizes control.

    On the domestic front, there is churning and acrimony. During the Obama Administration, there was a renewed blossoming of racial supremacy and ethnic nationalism. The Birther movement was an effective dog whistle to express this for both fringe media and corporate media. It was mothers milk for their point/counter-point narrative. It helped boost ratings, and kept shareholders and advertisers satisfied. However, in addition to the blossoming of Caucasian, ethnic-national movements, and media outlets that cultivate such movements, the liberal class and liberal institutions participated for years in the co-creation of the current, worsening crisis. Until this is internalized collectively by those who have not gone off the rails, the crisis will not only grow worse, it will have no viable opponent, and hence, no means of repair. There will be no means of achieving an equilibrium that is inclusive and sustainable.

    Looking to any current US political party (GOP, Democratic, Greens, Socialists, et al) is an exercise in whistling past the graveyard. The two mainstream political entities are not rehabilitatable, and should be abandoned. US political parties could best serve the political laity by digging their graves somewhere in the Nevada desert, and burying themselves with their social media accounts along with them.

    Current US Politics, as realized through professional political parties and the corporate media that covers it, is a for-profit venture. And therefore, political media is completely and utterly bereft in its commodity myopia. For-profit activity creates no space for alternatives, let alone coverage of germane issues. It is accurate to identify the US political system as a duopoly. It is reasonable to describe our party system as two parties, with one paymaster. The paymaster is the opulent class and lobbying sector, and corporate, mainstream media is both owned by and serves paymaster investments. Hence, political parties that have not been subsumed by this ethos, are simply irrelevant, and lack the gravitas or critical mass for successful participation. Insurgent parties and candidates face intense problems of inertia that is intended to exclude them from any mainstream access. Moreover, they tend to be populated by candidates and operatives who are not ready for prime time. Barriers to entry for participation should not exist in a functional democracy. The first amendment is drowned out by the political party duopoly, the corrosive influence of corporate-personhood capitalism, and a corporate media sector driven by the perversion of the invisible hand.

    • Pete Crangle

      2. Bubbleland

      “You furnish the pictures and
      I’ll furnish the war.” — attributed to William Randolph Hearst (1863 –
      1951), maker of fake news and creator of alternative facts

      The
      United States is an Empire wrapped in an Imperial Project. To manage
      this dynamic, or dial it down, is not an exercise for half-baked
      neophytes. The United States is an extremely dangerous country.
      Furthermore, without a critical mass of support, and sustained pressure
      placed upon the two party system, there will be no move to change this
      dynamic.

      True believers without a parade to join or lead are
      essentially irrelevant. The civil rights movement existed for years.
      Martin Luther King, Jr. became its spokesman and face. And most
      importantly, Martin Luther King, Jr became one of the most powerful
      leaders in the history of this nation, with the possible exception of
      Lincoln and FDR. None of these men were saints, but their impact was
      immense, and on the whole, positive. But exceptions do not a rule make.
      And of course, the current road we’re on is one of spectacle, horse race
      coverage, poll porn, war fever, and bothersiderism. With the continued
      consumption of media spectacle and personality cult, the broke down
      nature of our political structures will continue unabated. We now hang
      in the balance between a catastrophe and our dear leader’s next Twitter
      outburst.

      The Overton
      window
      has been pushed off the neoliberal/neoconservative
      cliff. The current resistance to the Trump administration and GOP
      legislature, occurring in the streets, rallies, social media, and by
      professional and amateur satirists, is thus far primarily based upon
      upholding a status quo. This is the ghetto of the contemporary liberal
      mind. It makes little demands, and is almost always rocked on its heels.

      Thus far, the current resistance is not simply a defensive
      posture to hold hard fought ground. It suffers from the beggars bowl of
      political imagination. Large numbers of pissed off people demanding to
      be continually marginalized by those who hold power does not a movement
      make. It affirms subservience. Growing a sustainable and persistent
      movement that pushes the power elite into a posture of actual service to
      the common good will take much more.

      For any movement to have
      effect, it must disabuse itself of any notion of ever taking formal
      power. It must reject any establishment corruption. It must exist as a
      counter to the institutions of power. And, it must be persistent and
      vocal, and most critically, demand and be granted a place in the arenas
      of relevance as a first among equals. Thus far, such movements have been
      politely blown off by media parasites as Dirty Hippy Malcontents,
      Militia Racial Supremacists, Clueless Millennials, Uppity Minorities and
      Women, etc. The status quo line on such groups is: Unserious. Outside
      the mainstream. Absurd. Mocked and/or marginalized by the liberal class
      within the political media arena; at least, up until the recent past.
      Hopefully, this is changing.

      Grass roots movements that build
      upon hyper-masculinity and racial supremacy that punch down upon the
      marginalized are always easier to bootstrap than movements that build
      upon inclusivity and civil rights. These movements play upon an
      underclass that is permanently rooted in a have-not status. Overlords
      understand the condition of being rooted in this underclass all too well
      — push the narrative that such a condition can be endured as long a
      white neoserf isn’t a serf of color, or an illegal serf, or some
      ‘otherized’ group that can be demonized. Demagogues have known for eons
      how to play the game of class struggle by putting bottom feeders at each
      others throat. One’s dead end is invisible when one’s focus is the
      vanquishing of a fellow dead-ender. The battles are so fierce among the
      dispossessed, because ultimately, the stakes are so low. Overlords
      understand it, and manipulate it for control and sport.

      Racism
      and xenophobia is the classic means of differentiating dead-enders. Fear
      and anxiety attended to by loathing and violence, are easy fodder to
      serve up, especially to those who have come to feel neglected and
      scorned by elite institutions. Paradoxically, this dovetails quite
      fittingly with a Christian, Muslim, or Judaic spiritual system. These
      systems all encourage martyrdom and victim narratives. An apocalyptic
      correction, God’s wrath, the requirement for strict obedience, a
      differentiated special people, and a High Priest class that will direct
      this fury, are never far from the defining narrative and its expression.
      This is the playbook of the zealot’s pulpit, and it is the playbook of
      propaganda media, particularly conservative, propaganda media.

      One
      must surrender and submit to a paternal figure of omnipotent strength
      and insight. Skepticism and belligerence is directed outward, preferably
      at elite institutions that make a pretense to mouth the rhetoric of
      inclusiveness and rationality. Inclusiveness in the neoliberal era is to
      be left behind economically and marginalized culturally. Rationality
      has tended to be neoconservative in its Imperial Projects. There are
      very few outcries about dead victims of US Imperialism, or global
      refugees from either the centers of power in DC, or déclassé victims in
      the Rustbelt. That is to say, the disaffected working class seem to have
      very little problem or concern for allowing our Imperial Projects and
      corporate robber barons to shit all over the globe, as long as they can
      keep themselves fat, dumb, and entertained. Karma will reap what it
      sows. Blowback is not a safe space.

      The dispossessed see Donald
      Trump and Stephen Bannon not merely as political operatives; they are
      for all intents and purposes, avenging prophets and high priests who
      have come to bring law and order to a complex and evil world — a world
      where ethno-demographics is the axis of action. It is the morality of
      the dispossessed to demonize the ‘other’ and empower a fixer who has
      heard their agony, and will repair their woes. This is not simply an
      exercise in ethnic cleansing, or a purging of society of its dissident
      malcontents. It is an exercise to bring justice through a moral
      cleansing. Boss Trump and Iago Bannon will require complete obedience in
      their domination. And they will MAGA through an exercise of moral
      cleansing that will provide and endless supply of villains to scapegoat,
      deport, torture, imprison, and execute.

      Expect show trials,
      deportation reality TeeVee, and a steady stream of false flag psyops to
      keep the herd satisfied. The Bowling Green Massacre is a superb example
      of gaslighting towards hypernormalisation. Furthermore, as with the
      special op mission in Yemen that went south, there will be a parade of
      debacles to be celebrated as monumental victories in this Orwellian
      disaster. There will never be enough walls to build, or scapegoats to
      purge, to provide those caught in this fever any sense of security or
      connection to a larger, constructive cause. This is the dead-end of
      nihilism. And frankly, from my perspective, it’s not even entertaining.

      Within
      the current context, the liberal class continues to fail. Irony,
      satire, point/counter-point bologna, and political horse race coverage
      that feeds revenue to executive hacks who run corporate entities, not
      only does nothing to ameliorate the problem, it exacerbates it, it
      deepens the wounds, and it pushes the Neglectorate to reject cultural
      and physical reality. If one thinks SNL, Comedy Central, PBS, NPR, Cable
      News, Broadcast Television, or your favorite op-ed pundit will man the
      barricades with you, you are likely in for a unpleasant awakening. They
      give a not a tinker’s damn about anything other than a status quo that
      keeps them in positions of dominance and power. It is more likely to be
      Amy Goodman, or a growing independent cadre of young journalists, who
      will do the reporting on events of actual consequence and import. Don’t
      expect much from any celebrity infotainment personality that peddles a
      steady stream of corporate sanitized claptrap. It pays to stay in the
      bubble, report on it, give forecasts as to its status, because that’s
      where most of the liberal establishment hang out and report from:
      bubbleland.

      Bubbleland is symptomatic of our moment of severe
      extremity. We are not simply in another gilded age. We are in an age of
      ecocidal destruction of global scale. We are in an age of massive
      physical resource exhaustion and habitable life support depletion that
      will essentially collapse. (Over 2 million miles of pipeline in U.S.
      North America to move carbon around, and still, it’s not enough) We are
      in an age of permanent crisis management that expresses itself through
      endless war, migration crises, and domestic security and surveillance
      policy that is draconian in its pacification modalities. We live in an
      age where government and corporations will turn its citizens and
      customers into an internal colony of debtor serfs. We live in an age
      where terms like “school to prison pipeline” and “gig economy” describe a
      very narrow band of survival options for a growing underclass of debt
      slaves. We live ruled by a government who serves its corporate paymaster
      first, and treats the citizenry as a mere consumer herd that has little
      rights and little responsibility. And while enjoying itself in the cult
      of consumerism, the citizenry has slept through its reductions. The
      Benetton herd is upset. And some are now surprised and horrified that a
      government that has always been run as a criminal enterprise, both in
      its foreign policy and domestic policy, now puts on the unmistakable
      face of an actual criminal enterprise.

      Francesco
      Goya, Fight with Cudgels

      3. Death Cage match: Hope v Anxiety

      “This
      may be the year when we finally come face to face with ourselves;
      finally just lay back and say it — that we are really just a nation of
      220 million used car salesmen with all the money we need to buy guns,
      and no qualms at all about killing anybody else in the world who tries
      to make us uncomfortable.” — Hunter S. Thompson, “Fear and Loathing: On
      the Campaign Trail ’72 ”

      On August 9, 2016 at a rally in
      Wilmington, N.C., Donald Trump raised the possibility that gun rights
      supporters should take matters into their own hands if Hillary Clinton
      were to be elected president and appoint judges who favor gun control
      measures. Trump was crowd-sourcing political assassination. This was on a
      Tuesday. Tuesday’s, apparently, are the day of the week when President
      Obama would sit down with his national security team and decide on the
      fate of those on the kill list — the disposition matrix. The day of the
      week is irrelevant, but the coincidence is not without its bitter
      illumination.

      Working over the kill list. This is an exercise in
      extrajudicial killing. Executive overreach of this sort has historical
      precedence. This is the power of autocrats, tyrants, dictators,
      emperors, kings and queens, and lords of the manor. It is a clear
      violation of due process in the name of national security expediency. It
      is the cloak of tyranny that allows a single individual and a tiny
      cabal of courtiers and experts to decide life and death decisions
      without checks and balances, or separation of power oversight. And, it
      is funded with black budgets with no accountability of costs and
      expenditures. We get the bill, but we don’t get to see it. In other
      words, we pay for the privilege of a lethal, intrusive,
      extraconstitutional executive that can legally kill any one of us, its
      citizens, without due process, in the name of security and expediency.

      In
      this context, factor in propaganda, fake news, and hypernormalisation
      chaos. It is a clusterfuck of epic proportions that will damage our
      society beyond repair. We won’t have to remember the Bowling Green
      Massacre. We’ll be trying figure what is happening to our citizenry
      under an executive with little constitutional restraint, and an appetite
      to devour the constitution for its own ends. The kill list will be
      pointed inward with ever more extreme prejudice by a Law & Order
      administration and its clique of henchmen and reprobates. This is not a
      golf & leisure executive. This is an iron fist that will hammer away
      on the weakest scapegoat first.

      But, why not? We do like us some
      killing. In early February of 2017, Bill O’Reilly conducted an
      interview with Donald Trump. Putting aside the massive egos and probable
      erectile dysfunction filling such a room, some of the questions and
      responses were intriguing. O’Reilly asked Trump his opinion of Vladimir
      Putin. Unsatisfied by Trump’s initial response, O’Reilly pressed him by
      pointing out that Putin is a killer — a state leader who orders killing
      to be absolutely clear. To slightly embellish Trump’s response: There
      are a lot of killers. You think our country’s so innocent? … Trump’s
      thought bubble: What? Did you not understand this, Bill? Where have you
      been? All your books are about killing this guy or that guy. Wake up
      O’Reilly and smell your own book sales.

      Donald Trump is correct:
      The United States is full of killers who do a lot of killing. Random
      petty violence. Domestic violence against women and children. State
      violence. We abound in killers. They roam our corridors of power with
      impunity — from Goldman-Sachs to Raytheon to Exxon to Corrections
      Corporation of America to all branches of government. Media mouthpieces
      celebrate their adventures or suppress their criminality. Always have.
      We are not so innocent, says our 45th president. He is absolutely,
      positively correct. I applaud this statement of simple, historical fact.
      It is bold in its unvarnished candor, and drives our polite society of
      Empire slightly mad. Fairy tales of American exceptionalism are pierced
      by such assertions of historical fact. Trump is to be commended, and
      then held accountable for the criminality his administration has already
      committed and will likely continue to commit.

      Fat chance of any
      accountability. Why should Donald Trump be held to a higher standard
      than the Bush Administration or the Obama Administration in our post
      9.11, War on Terror, boondoggle era? Bush/Cheney and Obama/Biden roam
      free, unperturbed by moral or ethical accountability. Why not
      Trump/Pence? Killers with power are never killers. They are protectors
      of the realm. Above law and accountability. Their actions in such
      matters are beyond review for all, except history. The citizens have
      sent that message loud and clear by their apathy and lack of concern for
      the ethical and moral rathole this country dropped down into decades
      ago.

      The citizenry needs to come around to a basic understanding
      about our government, and governments in general. The ruling classes are
      never moral nor ethical. It is a mistake to consider it otherwise.
      Governments are not moral entities. They do not architect themselves by
      ethical rules out of altruism and esprit de corps. They are constructed
      by rules that express power.

      That is to say, governments are
      expressions of raw, tribal power that are managed not by some airy
      competition of ideas or virtue, but by conflict, and a zero sum ethics.
      It is the citizenry, and various groups that represent the citizenry,
      that hold moral and ethical codes, and make demands based upon those
      codes. It is the citizenry that must demand and guide a tribe’s ethical
      behavior and moral compass. Government must be forced to tune into its
      citizenry. When that devolves, or is corrupted, or the channels for
      dialog are no longer functional between the laity and those in power, we
      are left with raw lawlessness that is not only reckless, but
      ultimately, nihilistic. Nihilism does not stop at gated communities or
      any other boundaries. It will bleed into every corner of society that
      has decided by fiat, every man and woman is a law unto themselves.

      Trump,
      and his support, is the face behind a mask the United States has worn
      for over 240 years. A country that has been involved in hot, military
      war engagements for over 212 years; not counting any number of extremely
      aggressive covert operations. What these numbers boil down to is that
      for nearly nine years out of every decade of its existence, the United
      States has been at war with an endless supply of enemies. The people and
      government of the United States see the world through the frame of
      violent tribalism and theft, for all war and conflict are driven by
      theft and plunder, and a desire to humiliate and exterminate an enemy.

      Trump’s
      bald assertion that we failed in Iraq by not seizing Iraqi oil reserves
      is exquisite in its simplicity and immorality, not to mention a
      comprehensive cluelessness about constraints placed upon belligerents by
      the Geneva Convention. Boss Trump’s war lord bravado exposes what lies
      behind all war and conflict. It is not nation building or moral
      imperative or peace that drives wars. It is not strategic geopolitics,
      though this is a useful side-effect and convenient justification. It is
      theft and plunder, attended to by humiliation and extermination. This is
      what drives war and conflict. Modern war, since the sacking of Jericho,
      has tended to be total in scope, and plunder and theft the spoils of
      its venture.

      Boss Trump, a lawless and reckless BS talker,
      understands war with an idiot-savant’s insight. And he is correct about
      us. We are not so innocent. As a society we hold fast to a death ethos,
      not a life ethos. This is imperative in understanding our core history,
      because without this understanding, we will continue to make only the
      most tepid demands of those who hold the levers of power in our
      so-called name. The modern era has the most highly technical means of
      industrial levels of violence and mass surveillance ever known in human
      history. Thus, it is even more important that we eschew personality cult
      and our consumer subjugation to the institutions of dominance, and
      begin to drive ourselves towards the best interests for all, not the
      few.

      If you’re thinking in terms of political parties, you are
      thinking about the wrong instrument. This must come from the bottom up
      and leapfrog and blindside our political institutions. Why? There is one
      very simple reason. Nature and the gathering catastrophe is going to do
      just that: leapfrog and blindside all human institutions of power. And
      when this hits the bend in the catastrophe curve, and things begin to
      accelerate further, our institutions of power will have only one
      response, and it will not be democratic. It will be nihilistic and
      homicidal on a mass level. It is already occurring. Migration and
      refugee policy is at the heart of a problem that will only get worse as
      the planet tilts away from an equilibrium amenable to life. Neoliberal
      policy makers or tyrants will not manage or finesse this problem. But,
      they will offer up the 99% as a sacrifice to maintain their positions of
      power, and the survival of their genes. Yes, it is just that bleak,
      which is much bleaker than a Trump administration that will likely
      attempt to morph into an autocratic, post-unitary executive, if given
      even a modest chance to do so.

      The problems we face are much
      bleaker, and much more critical than a crises of democratic principles,
      or lofty ideas about the separation of powers that keep government from
      morphing into a dictatorship. That is to say, the crises of politics
      that are manifesting are symptomatic of a larger and deeper problems
      having to do with the aforementioned categories of catastrophic peril
      that is largely ignored by Bubbleland. We face a moment of probable
      depopulation through various means and effects. From plague to drought,
      from flood to famine, from war to industrial accident, from climate
      change to soil depletion. We are at a moment of extremity. The 10
      plagues of Egypt as a global redux, will seem quaint by comparison.

      This
      is where we are. Don’t blame the younger generations for this screw up.
      Millennials didn’t get us here. This is where my generation and the
      preceding generations have delivered us. We have sent a bill to the
      future that it will likely be unable to pay. We have all participated in
      its creation in ways large and small. I include myself, first and
      foremost.

      So, what is to be done? That is where progress begins.
      A question. Confusion. Humility. Seemingly insurmountable odds. There
      are no guarantees of happy endings, or doomed endings. The poetic vision
      of Nero fiddling while Rome burned will be supplanted by the current
      crisis. The human species now bickers with itself as the planet is
      cooking itself into oblivion. Politics is approaching its end game — a
      period that may last several generations. Resistance and becoming
      ungovernable is a start, but in the longer game, irrelevant. Events, of a
      global scale, are in the driver’s seat. The crisis will only deepen and
      become more intractable. This is where we are now. It is a moment that
      requires revolutionary thinking and action.

      I will leave off with
      a final quote: “Neither do men put new wine into old bottles: else the
      bottles break, and the wine runneth out, and the bottles perish: but
      they put new wine into new bottles, and both are preserved.” Matthew
      9:17, KJV A toast then, to an future that becomes less and less
      uncertain swith each passing day. We have bequeathed the future a stark
      imperative — that of life and death. Thus far, we have failed it. I wish
      it well, though our neglect has not benign.

      Thank you Chris, team ROS, and guest. Well done, as usual.

  • Pete Crangle

    Dinner Time at the DC Swamp

    1. The Age of Demagogues is always with us. Indra gasbag edition.

    “If this were a dictatorship it would be a heck of a lot easier… as long as I’m the dictator.” — George W. Bush, Y2K

    Demagogues feed on the Neglectorate like vampires, and vice versa. The current and growing crisis in our civic institutions is not due solely to the petulance, duplicity, and incompetence of Donald Trump. Nor is it attributable to the calculating malevolence of Alt Right platform architect Stephen Bannon, the Iago/Goebbels love child. Nor can this crisis be reduced to a Junta configured Robber Baron government that is a made to order version of crony state capitalism with an iron fist — a belligerent assembly of vandals and nincompoops. This crisis has not been caused by the Byzantine methods of American politics, such as, the electoral college or gerrymandering or a two party stranglehold. Fake news didn’t usher us here. A cursory peek into US history will inform one that none of this is particularly new.

    The crisis of government that has been growing for some time is symptomatic of deeper and more pernicious problems. We live in a time of extremity. And in this extremity, we live as a highly atomized crisis cult. In the last election cycle, the citizenry was offered a crop of candidates engaged in a rhetorical coarsening of dumbed down talking points that were essentially a flurry of policy free cheap shots. Burlesque campaigns, corrupt and/or incompetent candidates, in concert with the corrosive influence of money, are symptomatic of a culture that is running out of road for which it can kick the cans of intractability.

    The current US political system offers the type of leadership and a tenor of behavior that one should expect for a culture that is in decline, tilting towards collapse. As the problems become more serious and more threatening, the politics and rhetoric become more unhinged, farcical, and potentially lethal on a mass scale. And sure, the current GOP government will certainly thrive and opportunistically capitalize on the chaos and instability that it will create and shape. This is a government that will offload blame and reject accountability with bellicose aplomb. If there is one thing that serves Donald Trump to solidify his position of dominance, it is chaos and instability. It feeds him and Bannon, and a growing movement built on resentment and fact-free unreality.

    But, the chaos and instability that fans the resentment and unreality will help others, too. It will feed Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell. It will feed any number of speculators, shareholders, corporate executives, and board rooms. It will feed the security, weapons, and surveillance sectors. It will feed the energy and financial services sectors. It will feed the for-profit prison and detention sector. It will feed corporate Democrats. It will feed lobbyists and consultants. It will feed media venues, including smaller independent media outlets, that speak in the language of spectacle, and not in the lexicon of citizenry or accountability (not ROS!). Black markets will flourish. All will be fed to the capacity of Mr Creosote. And then, when they have been filled beyond point of peak satiety, they will extract even more in an exercise that is baked into late capitalism — to devour government and the public commons for enrichment and civil subjugation. Vampire Squid, a term used by Matt Taibbi to describe ruthless corporate behavior, seems an apt metaphorical description for these opportunists. And it is We The People who will be served up as the wafer thin, after dinner mint. The trough feeder will continue to expand in this ongoing crisis, and it will be myriad in its hogs and scoundrels, and brutal in its etiquette.

    Within this context, I confess my favorite Trump campaign bromide to be Drain The Swamp! Drain the swamp? The swamp has been devoured by a parasitic elite that run DC. The Trump Administration and GOP Congress have swamped the drain. The Democrats did so before them. It is only in technique and rhetorical flourishes where they differ. The Deep State and corporate interests seem to hum along just fine regardless of which party holds the keys to the oval office, or congressional majorities. A bloated arms sector is not a product of a Trump Administration. Nor is the Deep State. But, his administration is likely to capitalize upon it as it seizes control.

    On the domestic front, there is churning and acrimony. During the Obama Administration, there was a renewed blossoming of racial supremacy and ethnic nationalism. The Birther movement was an effective dog whistle to express this for both fringe media and corporate media. It was mothers milk for their point/counter-point narrative. It helped boost ratings, and kept shareholders and advertisers satisfied. However, in addition to the blossoming of Caucasian, ethnic-national movements, and media outlets that cultivate such movements, the liberal class and liberal institutions participated for years in the co-creation of the current, worsening crisis. Until this is internalized collectively by those who have not gone off the rails, the crisis will not only grow worse, it will have no viable opponent, and hence, no means of repair. There will be no means of achieving an equilibrium that is inclusive and sustainable.

    Looking to any current US political party (GOP, Democratic, Greens, Socialists, et al) is an exercise in whistling past the graveyard. The two mainstream political entities are not rehabilitatable, and should be abandoned. US political parties could best serve the political laity by digging their graves somewhere in the Nevada desert, and burying themselves with their social media accounts along with them.

    Current US Politics, as realized through professional political parties and the corporate media that covers it, is a for-profit venture. And therefore, political media is completely and utterly bereft in its commodity myopia. For-profit activity creates no space for alternatives, let alone coverage of germane issues. It is accurate to identify the US political system as a duopoly. It is reasonable to describe our party system as two parties, with one paymaster. The paymaster is the opulent class and lobbying sector, and corporate, mainstream media is both owned by and serves paymaster investments. Hence, political parties that have not been subsumed by this ethos, are simply irrelevant, and lack the gravitas or critical mass for successful participation. Insurgent parties and candidates face intense problems of inertia that is intended to exclude them from any mainstream access. Moreover, they tend to be populated by candidates and operatives who are not ready for prime time. Barriers to entry for participation should not exist in a functional democracy. The first amendment is drowned out by the political party duopoly, the corrosive influence of corporate-personhood capitalism, and a corporate media sector driven by the perversion of the invisible hand.

  • Potter

    I did my protesting in the late 60’s but this seems much more urgent and scary. I appreciated most the philosophical and historical take in the first part of the show. I am thrilled by the activism and enthusiasm expressed in the second part. Because of this last election, the horror of it, I think we are more aware than we were of the seriousness of the divisions, what that could ( and did or will) bring, and how vulnerable or fragile our democracy and the “creedal” narrative is. In fact I am not sure we are on the same page anymore with the other half. Will it take 40 years? Maybe it will be so painful that it will not.ope not even the 10 that it took Italy (if it is settled there). Maybe we will find a sort of consensus about our creed as a nation… something good enough. If we do it will be more real, more honest than it has been. I think we have been living in bubbles and with illusions. One thing we have to straighten out is religious and racial tolerance, the good of having it ( oh Trudeau I love you!)) What Trump has done is bring all this garbage, this baggage,out. He has outted us using his continuing deceptions and dangerous misguided notions . Now let’s get rid of him.
    Thank you for a well designed program.. as usual.

    • czarnajama

      So long as Trudeau stays true to his path, it’ll be OK up North. However, the opposition is building, and if oil prices stay low or drop, the pressure will increase as oil-extraction-dependent Western Canada feels the pain. Canada has a long history of welcoming refugees, but even with a Minister of Immigration who came to Canada as a Somali refugee, the tolerance of Canadians will be sorely tried as more and more refugees cross the US-Canada border to flee Trump. Trudeau has two and a half years to the next election, but much will change before then. Don’t forget, Canada’s largest city elected a Trump precursor as Mayor in 2010, and that kind of nihilism still has strong support.

  • Pete Crangle
  • A in Sharon

    A racial, ideological, philosophical or historical analysis of immigration is all subservient to the forces depicted in this graph. There will be regions in the US with enough economic growth and prosperity that they will welcome continued immigration. Many areas and populations will be hesitant to go along with the ride. Permanent growth less than 3% means the walls go up.

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/7d8249f5055e07a84a4f4e8a814f370ad1470fc7c2c297a897ee005653a43fc8.jpg

    • czarnajama

      This is very revealing, and shows just how much the Reagan-Thatcher revolution was one of the rich finding their way out of the period of 1970’s post-Vietnam, post-Nixonomics stagflation. Having a bar for the top 1% in the above diagram may be even more revealing (drat, I gave my copy of Piketty to my son!).

  • Pete Crangle