Category Archives: USA

The world is waiting for the Democrats to become political

In today’s New York Times Paul Krugman (a really sensible voice, otherwise) for the nth time is convincing the already convinced that the Republican party is repulsive (which one must agree with). But there is something important missing.
A readers comment to NYT:

If the tactics used by liberal media are intended to promote the Democratic party in any way, it’s really puzzling. It’s main components seem to be the daily bashing of Trump, GOP and Russia.

If I were a Trump voter constantly called stupid, it wouldn’t make me run to the Democrats. And if Russian meddling was a real threat (it isn’t, listen to Noam Chomsky and many other sober people) I would certainly stick to GOP, where there are even more foreign policy hawks.

One thing clearly missing is positive marketing of a political program. What will the Democratic party do to win over Trump voters and the rest of the middle class, suffering from 30+ years of neoliberal destruction? And even encourage half of the electorate that doesn’t vote?

If I, as a foreigner, would give some impertinent advise it would be to focus on politics. There is a new wave of progressives emerging, some labeling themselves socialists (like the natural talent Alexandria Ocasio Cortez). In Europe they would barely qualify as social democrats, and their political programs are embraced here by most conservative parties.

The progressives offer real solutions to the problems people are struggling with, but the Democratic party establishment is hooked up to the donor class in a system built by legalized corruption. It’s not tenable in the long run.

An advice from a social democratic country: reconnect to the politics of FDR, your best president ever. Become more European!

A meltdown at US Open – for once the good guy wins!

In all attempts to justify Serena Williams’ behavior in the US Open final against Naomi Osaka some basic aspects have been overlooked.

I’ll make the only assumption that Williams didn’t suffer temporary insanity, but was fully aware of her actions and, after two decades in the business, knowledgeable about tennis rules. In that case the events were not so very pretty.

Williams did hear the first warning, the one after coaching. She contested it, but realized that the umpire didn’t retract it, something she also after twenty years knows that umpires never do.

Then when Williams’ serve was broken to 3-2 in the second set she smashed her racket, perhaps done impulsively in the heat of the moment. But that’s when the acting started. After getting the compulsory point penalty she approached the umpire saying “that’s a warning, ehh” pretending that the warning for coaching didn’t exist, which she fully well knew it did. She used her pretended unawareness as an excuse to start her raving attacks on the umpire, a despicable acting in an awkward show.

When she was broken back she realized that she wasn’t going to defeat this superior opponent. Setbacks like that is nothing Williams is very used to, and she is known to handle them not too well in the past. So, she made it into a prolonged tantrum, which required good acting skills.

The crowd (unlike the TV viewers) obviously didn’t know exactly what was said, but they saw her arguing fiercely, and started to brawl in her support. This is when Williams began playing the audience like a violin. Since it was her second warning she was docked a point, and the next game was to start at the ad court. But she demonstratively went to the deuce court, then slowly moved to the other side, head hanging, playing the victim card and inciting the crowd to more booing.

An ugly suspicion is that Williams speculated about Osaka to break down under the pressure from the lynch mob that the crowd had turned into. But if so, she was immediately refuted. The calm Osaka held her serve and then broke Williams easily to 4-3. Time for side change and for the final act in Williams’ hysterical drama. Her acting, with outbursts of senseless attacks on the umpire restarted on an even higher level.

Let’s still suppose that Williams knew what she was doing. That includes knowing that the next warning would mean a game penalty. But she also knew that the championship was lost; Osaka hadn’t crumbled. Thus, she had no reason to restrain herself, it was time for the great Serena finale. She screamed at the umpire, pointed a finger to his face, called him a liar and a thief. She practically begged for a warning and when she consequently got her game penalty the show could finally end in a firework of hysteria (forceful acting but somewhat overplayed).

When Williams failed to have the crowd intimidate Osaka, there was only one logic left for her behavior: to create a situation in which her loss could be blamed on an umpire, stealing the victory from her, thus exempt her from her own responsibility for playing badly. It was despicable, and it was not over.

Waiting for the prize ceremony, Osaka sat in her chair with a face expressing deep sorrow, looking down on her hands in her lap. The camera caught a second-long glimpse of Williams when she looked over at Osaka with a fox-like smile which seemed to say: I stole the joy of victory from you, anyway.

And the booing continued into the prize ceremony. There a female official said that this was not the result we wanted, thus in effect criticizing Williams for not living up to her expectations and, even worse, denigrating Osaka’s victory. The official also happened to overlook the millions of viewers around the world who loved the fact that Williams’ unsportsmanlike attempts to destroy her opponent had failed.

Williams and the crowd were a disgrace this evening, seriously damaging the reputation of US sports. YouTubers commented on this spectacle in masses, overwhelmingly with condemnations for Williams behavior. What moved our hearts was Osaka’s tears when standing on the podium while thousands of heartless haters booed at the top of their lungs; and when she begged forgiveness for ruining the night for the audience. “Thank you for watching the match” she whispered humbly, and our tears ran.

We thought: what has happened to you Americans? Are you taking your belligerent culture to the sports arenas as well? We know that your love for USA sometimes takes chauvinistic proportions (the Olympics in Atlanta was probably the most extreme Olympics in history, in that sense). But we also know that the most brilliant minds working for solidarity and peace are Americans. Those are our great hope for the future of the world.

The first reaction from mainstream media and PC feminists was to defend Williams as “fighting for women’s rights”. How preposterous! They took for granted that one of the most respected tennis umpires in the world had done sexist umpiring! And they didn’t give a damn about Osaka’s women’s rights which Williams bluntly disrespected (Naomi in fact being more of a woman than Serena). When the hurricane against Williams online and elsewhere became apparent, the tone shifted eventually.

Perhaps my initial assumption was wrong. Maybe Williams suffers pathological narcissistic personality disorder. Then her dramatic performance was that of a sick person, which gives her impunity. Then again, she has more than enough resources to get the best treatment in the world.

In any case, a wise career move for Serena Williams would be to retire from the tennis scene – definitely.

Peace in Korea doesn’t serve US interests

“Kim threatens to abandon talks with Trump.” That’s the message my newspaper wants me to focus on. I’m supposed to get the impression that Kim Jong-un is a whimsical, unpredictable dictator impossible to negotiate with. North Korea’s real reason is mentioned only in passing, and as if it was just a prevarication.

I watched TV with some friends the day the presidents of North and South Korea embraced and walked across the border back and forth. My first reaction was: “US will not allow that to go any further”. I didn’t have to wait many days to have that prediction come true.

The means by which US showed its intention was to launch a military maneuver in the South, in the middle of a sensitive peace process, fully aware of what reaction to expect from North Korea. That was a demonstration of arrogant condescension beyond decency, but an action our “civilized media” hardly observed.

There is no possible interpretation of this brazen action other than that the United States don’t want peace in Korea. Short of unconditional surrender, regime change and North Korea joining the other US puppet states, there will be no peace. That’s a low-odds estimate.

Peace in Korea could threaten one of US’s important strong-holds in a region where the Chinese competition becomes increasingly critical. And the US military-industrial complex will have nothing to gain from peace, either.

A no-brainer guess is that US will keep the Israeli-like, perpetual and low-intensive conflict alive in Korea. That will best serve the interests of the global hegemon. Peace-loving people may perhaps have to wait for the 90 percent of world’s population that don’t live in US or EU to put an end to war-mongering (and join China in peacefully “conquering” the world with aid, investment and trade).

Human Rights is for others to abide by

Volvo Cars is about to start a new factory in Charleston, South Carolina, employing around 4,000 people who will produce the new S 60 model. The Swedish union tradition is set out to meet the South Carolina union busting tradition. Let’s see how that turns out.

Nikki Hailey, now famous for saying peculiar things as US representative in the UN Security Assembly, is a former governor of South Carolina. In that position she maintained that her state would welcome more manufacturing jobs, but no unions.

– We dissuade all corporations with unionized employees to come to South Carolina, Haley said to USA Today.

There is nothing decided on the matter yet. According to Dagens Nyheter there are discussions going on with United Auto Workers. The factory will be inaugurated next month so the outcome is probably to be expected in a near future.

The corresponding Swedish union, which has very good relations with Volvo Cars, has urged the company not to take part in any union busting operations.

Maybe the most serious allegation that United States and other countries in the (so called) free world direct against China is that it has no respect for human rights. But there is more to human rights than just freedom of speech, for instance Article 23, mom. 4 in the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, which states:

Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.”

Gore Vidal once said that England invented hypocrisy. Since then the western world seem to have perfected the grisly concept.

 

Kim playing chess with Trump

How far from simple common sense have we come when we hear from our media about the possibility that the Peace prize could be given to Trump. The peculiar rationale would be that Trump has put pressure on Kim Jong-Un to make him compliant enough to cancel his nuclear weapons program.

Are we blind or is it just that Asians on average have a few points higher IQ than we? The whole scenario is of course a strategic triumph for the North Koreans. They have an enemy that never have hidden their wish to defeat or even obliterate them. This enemy is the strongest military power in history, performing regular maneuvers in which nuclear attacks on North Korea are simulated.

Despite its strength, this overwhelming power prefers to attack defenseless countries, for every possible aim (except legal once). The militaristic nation in question has declared North Korea one of its prime enemies. What would a North Korean leader with his head screwed on do in that situation?

He would to begin with see to it that his country gained enough military strength (to avoid the fate of Iraq and all the other victims of the merciless aggressor). A nuclear weapons program is the ultimate deterrence. Any aggressor is forced to think twice before doing anything stupid.

When the nuclear weapons are functional, and the defender has shown to the world that they have missiles to carry the warheads all the way to their most threatening adversary, there is a position of strength from which to negotiate. And so did North Korea.

One possible outcome of such negotiations could be that United States takes its military forces out of South Korea, an important prerequisite for a peace treaty. Without nuclear weapons as a trump card (sorry!) in the talks an outcome like that would certainly be unthinkable.

This seemingly self-evident scenario is obviously too difficult for western media to grasp. Or more likely perhaps: they don’t want to grasp it. It’s important to stick to the dramaturgy of children’s fairy-tales: the evil one is always evil and cannot do anything benign. The good ones are us.

 

Why bother about climate when Jesus is coming anyway?

The threat to the world posed by U.S. climate policy, as it is now established by the president, cuts even deeper than usually discussed. According to polls, almost half the U.S. population (40 percent) expects Jesus to return to the earth – in their lifetime – to bring all true believers to Paradise and destroy everything else. This mind-blowing conviction is held also by many members of Congress and other powerful individuals.

(Imagine half a billion Chinese seriously convinced that a Holy Dragon is coming down from the sky in a near future, salvaging all faithful communists and killing everybody else, before trashing the whole world. We would naturally consider them complete lunatics.)

If the believers in the Second Coming possess even a touch of rationality (which we thus hopefully may question) they cannot possibly care about global warming or any other conceivable catastrophe. They can live in the happy anticipation of their own near entrance into Paradise, safe in the thought that nothing can be done to rescue the infidels and the world anyway.

Why this creepy superstition, haunting almost half of U.S. voters, isn’t addressed more, or at all, is a matter of speculation. Does the establishment assume that people really don’t believe what they say they believe? It would be a risky assumption. These believers are obviously the people who constitutes the basis of G.O.P. voters, thus enabling the present state of affairs.

A more plausible speculation is that the establishment has no objections at all to religious stupidity. As a strategy in the class war it is just suitable that the masses are kept in faithful ignorance: “Suffer your meager fate on earth while the rich and powerful robs you blind, and you’ll be rewarded in heaven (‘you’ll get pie in the sky when you die’)”.

This strategy has been operative in holding back popular uprisings in Europe and elsewhere. In the U.S. it has even been successful in suppressing the development of peaceful worker’s movements.

When we look at the Middle Ages in retrospect it is more than obvious that religion and the church was a branch of the power exerted by the elite. People were convinced by the priests that God’s rules weren’t possible to change by humans. Thus, all kinds of insubordination were pointless.

That’s the root of the animosity between religion and socialism, and why the prelates hated popular movements working for enlightenment, equality and worker’s solidarity. Europeans solved this by shoving religion out of politics through worker’s struggle. U.S. has this act of maturity left to do. Let’s hope they do it before a final climate catastrophe hits us all.

Violence breeds violence. When will we finally learn that?

“Our thoughts are with the victims and their relatives. Just as they are with the millions of victims that western terrorism is responsible for, by unlawful use of force and wars of aggression.

Since the terrorist deeds hitting us are, beyond reasonable doubt, induced and provoked by our violence, there is a self-evident way to counteract them: stop our own crimes.

We should instead try the Chinese – peaceful – way to conquer the world: by aid, trade and investments.”

I posted those words on the NYTimes Readers Comments to an article about the Manchester attack, with to date not one “Recommend” from readers. On the other end of the list, with almost 700 Recommends, one finds the following sentences:

“When my son heard about this horror, he looked at me and said ‘Why, Mommy? Why would somebody do such a thing?”

“in the end I just said, ‘I don’t actually know. I don’t know why.'”

“we all so desperately want this to stop and we don’t know how to make it end.”

One can’t blame this woman since she is misinformed by our media like most of us. But on the other hand it should’t take much imagination to picture oneself in the same situation as a fellow human being in the Middle East, in countries torn apart by the merciless war machine hitting them from “the free world”. And if thinking alone doesn’t work, the Internet is abundant with testimony from the suffering people.

Take the interview with the Yemeni boy in his lower teens who had lived in the U.S. and moved back to his village, where he managed to convince his countrymen that America was a fair country. Then came a drone-strike killing innocent people, and all his efforts were in vain. They then naturally hated the U.S. and lived in constant fear of the drones, praising cloudy days because drones can’t fly then.

Or take the bombed wedding parties (at least eight such U.S. bombings since 2001, according to The Nation), together killing more people than all terrorist attacks in Europe in the same time-span. The human beings we threaten with immediate death are more eligible to “don’t know how to make it end” than we are. The only response some of them can think of is terrorism (they are in other words just as vindictive as many U.S. citizens after 9/11). These are just minor examples, the number of killed in Iraq alone exceeds one million by now.

It seems impossible that their terrorism will achieve any productive goal whatsoever. It will just induce even more atrocities from “the free world”, provoking further terrorism, in a never-ending loop. Contrary to what the woman above thinks, there is a simple way to break this loop: stop our violence!

Europeans and their offshoots in America have for 500 years dominated the world with military power. We have killed millions and millions of poor, innocent people through the centuries (besides shortening the lives of hundreds of millions through economic suppression.) Violence has worked as far as the western well-being is concerned. For those at the wrong end of the club it has been detrimental in all aspects. The new terrorism by the oppressed is a clear sign that our violence doesn’t work the way it used to.

China has demonstrated a way forward, we just have to achieve the same cultural and rational level as them. It should be easy: see and learn! A new era is dawning, as long as we can prevent the lunatics from incinerating the globe into nuclear ashes, or clean the planet from human beings through a climate catastrophe.

And yes! We can!

Media has created their own favorite enemy – Trump

It’s almost entertaining to experience the western media frenzy about the lies and deceptions by their main enemy Donald Trump. The man has the guts to stand up against Media! That’s not just a breach of etiquette but a challenge against a power that is not used to being challenged. At least not by politicians.

Corporate media is (or perhaps used to be) the conductor for the charades called US presidential elections, in which two candidates who mainly agrees on all important issues, differing only on superficialities, perform a media show devoid of substance. It is thus a matter of life and death for election campaigns to be on good terms with media, not least in order to stay clear of public scandals, something that’s usually crucial for the outcome.

This betrayal of real democracy by media is not limited to elections, and certainly not to the United States. Corporate media is constantly making politics a shallow spectacle in which the most important issues are put aside, paving the way for empty rhetoric, personal image and style, thus defining the boundaries for what’s fit for politicians to say. This is spiced with brainless propaganda to defame the official enemy states and their leadership. By this the hacks have been elevated to power, in a way (or in their own eyes) above politicians.

It goes without saying that search for truth is not a media hallmark, as is not high ethical standards overall. In the ambition to gain deniability media mostly avoid outright lies. But more efficient than straight lies are insinuations, spreading of rumors and, above all, suppressing and censoring important facts that are detrimental for the prescribed ideology.

Up comes then this self-sufficient man who breaks all rules and challenges the media right on. Journalists and reporters don’t see that he just holds up a distorting mirror in which they may look at themselves (and laugh in despair). After betraying the ordinary US citizens for decades by withholding the truth about a system that consequently has worked to deteriorate living conditions for the majority, with the goal of funneling obscene wealth to a tiny minority, the media and the entire establishment has lost every shred of credibility.

And they created Donald Trump (just as mini-Trumps have multiplied in most of Europe and elsewhere.) By downgrading truth, reason and rationality in treating politics, media has opened a highway for the absurd parts of the Trump ideology. Citizens are lured to promote a semi-fascist to power, a man who will start by depriving millions of his voters of their health insurance (and give that money to the rich) and presumably go on in the same direction.

We have seen it all before, and that one ended in a global war with 50 million people killed. When will they ever learn…

Dedication to achieve an unsustainable world

Making Scott Pruitt head of the Environmental Protection Agency is equivalent to making Sam Harris an Archbishop.

This willful ignorance, bordering to devoted stupidity, is a threat to the whole world (giving me the right to opinions in these Swedish postcards). But is the difference between extreme right-wing populism and ordinary right-wing politics a difference in kind or just in grade?

There can be no doubt that the last 35 years of neoliberalism, aimed specifically at enriching a miniscule minority at the expense of the large majority of ordinary employees, have paved the way thoroughly for any kind of revolt. That this revolt in the US took the shape of right-wing populism is certainly not surprising. The same tendencies are apparent in Europe too.

The entire US establishment in politics and media (including the liberals) has done everything to obscure the real reasons behind people’s grievances, and overlook the neoliberal mechanisms. This establishment has not given the people any comprehensible explanations, thus opening the floodgates for the stupid answers from extreme right-wing outlets: “your problems stem from others taking your money: the government, the immigrants, the lazy, the liberals – let’s get rid of them”.

The complacency against this fascist-leaning propaganda is nothing but logical. If I were a multi-billionaire I would gladly give room for such ideas, rather than tolerating progressive thought, which really would be a threat to my wealth. In the US it seems as if the established liberals in politics and media feel equally threatened by the real progressives. (It took some conspiratorial actions by DNC to keep Bernie Sanders away from power.)

United States harbor the most cultured people with the sharpest brains, and in politics they usually are dissidents. As such they are effectively barred from communication with the bulk of the population. It’s nothing surprising about that either, as those with economic power owns and controls the “free” media. But the progressive movements behind the scene are lively and bright. As seen by the Sanders successful case the possibilities for enlightened and organized young people to break through the iron curtain erected by the handymen for the economic power are encouraging.

Maybe we first must endure La politique du pire, as the French say, meaning that we are forced to let horrendous politics destroy everything before something entirely new can emerge from the rubble. That optimism in the long run makes it perhaps easier to live through the day ahead without crumbling from all the absurdities.

Trump is not a xenophobe, just a skilled demagogue

Let’s assume that Donald Trump’ s intelligence and knowledge are at least on an average level, or higher. Then one must conclude that he not for a minute can believe that illegal immigration is the root of 30 year’s stagnation or decline in living conditions for ordinary Americans. However, he is a master demagogue and knows what upset people the most. And he used that skill to manipulate the democratic system and win his first election.

We’ve been through this before in Europe and it ended no good. Trump’s tactics regarding foreign people are similar to those used by fascists then.

With some simplification one may say that neoliberalism has been the cradle in which today’s neo-fascism was nurtured. It goes like this: unfettered capitalism fails and creates crisis of all kinds. The result is stagnation for a majority and fabulous wealth for a few, while everything in the common sector crumbles.

It’s no mystery who gains and who suffers from this focus on privatizing everything and destroying the commons. Those who profit are calling all the shots, not least in the media, and will certainly not spend any energy informing the public about the real causalities. When people finally runs out of docility, up comes the right-wing populists with their popular but false answers.

Immigrants are the easy targets for populists. (We all have some innate xenophobe traits and it takes conscious thinking to repress them.) But people’s real grievances have of course only marginally to do with immigrants. That should be particularly obvious for US citizens with their rich country’s entire wealth created by immigrants. Still the Stranger Card pays off for populists – big!

Sweden is known for its open borders. With the surge in refugees arriving we had last year the largest percentage population growth since 1861. Is this from benevolence only? Hardly! This is where immigration is hurting ordinary people to some degree, namely in holding down worker’s wages, something the ruling property owners find most welcome (here they have a common interest with humanitarian liberals).

That’s not to say that immigrants and refugees are responsible for ordinary people’s problems. The main reason for these problems is instead a power-grab by the ruling elite, the capital owners, by which they have impounded most of the economic growth the last 30 years and funneled it to very few pockets (more pronounced so in USA than in EU, and even less so in Sweden).

But nor is it to say that immigration is problem-free for the society as a whole or above all for the newcomers. They are forced to live in quite meager circumstances, have difficulty learning a new language and finding jobs. The Social network in Sweden is not what it used to be and people are left to solve their own problems, not an easy task for individuals fleeing war zones and burdened by traumatic experiences. Desperation sometimes leads to riots with violence and counter violence between immigrants and right-wing groups, which adds to the aversion against immigrants and refugees.

Donald Trump knows quite well that the immigrants to US didn’t cause the depressing conditions for people during neoliberalism. He just uses them as a potent political weapon among his deceived constituency. He is probably also aware of the real reasons for people’s grievances. He just acts like the businessman he is: go full ahead and don’t bother about consequence beyond the next quarter, regardless of how dire they are.

On the other hand Trump has shown some insight into what created the current, giant refugee crisis, namely West’s unwarranted wars in the Middle East and North Africa. His expressed ambition to withdraw US from these wars is a hopeful sign (and a significant deviation from historic fascist practices). But on this issue he is at odds with strong forces in both parties and the outcome of that remains to be seen.