Thursday, August 17, 2017

The Alt-Left

There was no Alt-Left until Trump invented it.  Actually, all our wordsmith president said was “There is blame on both sides” and some journalist made up “Alt-Left” as a counter to Alt-Right (an umbrella label for right-wing extremist groups).

So, who makes up the Alt-Left?  As the Alt-Right actually exists, it’s easier to define its membership.  So, the Alt-Right consists of the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazis, White Nationalists, white supremacists, some extreme NRA members, Hell’s Angels, Vigilante groups, Survivalist groups.  More than anyone else, they tend to be white and Christian and male and straight, even if most white Christian straight males are not Alt-Right themselves.  They believe that they alone are true Americans.  They are not just conservative, they are fringe conservative.

As there really isn’t any Alt-Left, we are free to make it up as long as it fits the anti-protestors in Charlottesville.  If the Alt-Right is exclusionist, the Alt-Right must begin as inclusionist.  So, Communists, socialists, Bernie Sanders, unions, LGBTQIA people, non-whites, non-Christians, and anyone whose identity as an American is insecure.  So, fringe liberal.

When these two groups clash, it is possible to imagine them refighting the Civil War, the Alt-Left fighting as the Union and the Alt-Right as the Confederacy.  But a real war this time would go the other way, as Alt-Right types tend to own firearms and Alt-Left types do not.

The only good thing I can say about this labelling and this division, is it is better that it be out in the open than underground.  If our democracy can’t handle it, so be it.

Y'all should take in the memorial service for Heather Heyer, the girl who was killed in Charlottesville, especially her Mom's trenchant eulogy that begins some 50:00 minutes into the service and her Dad's touching eulogy some 14:00 minutes in.  The Left, whether Alt-Left or ordinary Left, needs to listen.  The idea is to speak up, make noise, be heard; otherwise you get what you get, a world defined by others.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Stupid Libertarians

I entitled this essay “Stupid Libertarians” to get your attention, or maybe the attention of self-identifying Libertarians.

Some of the smartest friends I have ever had were Libertarians.  I never understood why they were Libertarians, and I think that we argued at cross-purposes, each of us not really understanding the other.

And I know that there are different flavors of Libertarianism.  But they have a common core.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Repeal and Replace

Republicans are in trouble.  Repeal and Replace is a great campaign slogan but it is fraught with land mines that are armed and dangerous.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Intro to Ben's Care

If you are young, reasonably healthy, have a decent job with employer-paid health insurance, you may well wonder: why is health care such an important political issue in the United States?  But you may know the answer anyway: 1) too many Americans have no access to health care because of poverty or bad health, and 2) over-all, health care costs our economy way too much (17.8% of the GDP on its way to 20% by 2024).

But before I begin my pitch, may I ask you about your last doctor visit.  Do you know how much your doctor billed your insurance?  Do you care how much he or she billed your insurance?  How much would you care if you had to pay for the visit yourself?  And knowing how much he or she charged, would you have made the appointment in the first place?  No, really, answer these questions honestly before reading on.


Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Plan B: Mars

The Space Between Us is a 2017 movie that I do NOT recommend as it is heartbreakingly depressing.

It’s the story of a boy who is born and raised on Mars whose heart (larger) and muscles (weaker) are adjusted to life on Mars but not on Earth.  He takes a trip to Earth to find his father and the girl he has fallen in love with via cyber chat.  But he can’t survive for long on the Earth, and in the end, he has to return to Mars.   “Home Sweet Home” say the boy and his father overlooking the barren red Martian landscape at movie’s end.  The sentiment is fake and it is obvious.

But the premise of the movie is stupid.  “If we had to, mankind could make a fresh start {on Mars}.  We’re in trouble and it’s our fault.  … Mars is a planet ripe and ready for life.”  We have made such a mess here on Earth that we need a backup plan, a Plan B, and Mars is it.  So, they begin to colonize Mars, 6-8 Earthlings at a time.

Monday, May 1, 2017

The Death Tax

There is no such thing as a “death tax” in the USA.  The Death Tax is what Republicans label the Estate Tax as a way to manipulate folks who are not affected by it to condemn it, for the political benefit of their wealthy friends.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Ah, Grover Norquist

Svengali comes to mind.  Svengali was a very famous (and fictional) opportunist who seduced and dominated a young girl named Trilby.  But she was his only victim.  So, Svengali doesn’t make the cut.

Rasputin comes to mind.  Grigori Rasputin was a very famous peasant of late Tsarist Russia who had enormous influence over the Court in pre-revolutionary Russia.  But his power was short-lived.  So, no, Rasputin doesn’t make the cut.

The great Mesmer comes to mind.  Franz Mesmer was a German physician who is credited with inventing (or discovering) hypnotism.  So feared was he in his day that the word Mesmerism pre-dated the first use of the word hypnosis by nearly 100 years.  I don’t know, is Mesmer the real deal?

But surely Grover Norquist is the real deal.