Reggie Jackson

“For the right amount of money, you’re willing to eat Alpo.”

–Reggie Jackson, quoted in The Sporting News, February 1, 1988

* * *

(from The Heretic’s Handbook of Quotations)

Front cover of "The Heretic's Handbook of Quotations


Amidst all the weeping, wailing, and gnashing of molars over the very real horrors of Donald Trump’s election, almost no one has talked about the very probable horrors of Hillary Clinton’s presidency had she won.

She was an unrepentant hawk. An interventionist (Libya, Iraq). She was a fan of drone warfare. She wanted to put in place a “no fly zone” over Syria, which could quite possibly have led to direct military conflict with Russia.

She would have been almost as abject a servant of the Israeli extreme right as Trump has turned out to be. This would, as under Trump, have bolstered the longstanding and accurate impression that the U.S. aids and abets Israel in its theft of Palestinian lands and in its oppression of the Palestinian people. If you want  permanent conflict in the Middle East, this is the recipe.

She, like Trump, would have been in bed with the brutal, authoritarian Islamists currently in power in Saudi Arabia, the Gulf states, and Turkey, as well as the repressive military regime in Egypt.

She was obsessively secretive and an advocate, likely an architect, of Obama’s war on whistle blowers. She would have continued that war.

Like Obama, she was chummy with the bankers and corporate elite — remember her $5,000-a-minute speech to Goldman Sachs?

I could go on. The similarity of many of her positions, both domestic and foreign, to those of Trump, Obama, and Bush the Lesser are legion.

But let’s talk about why she would have been a disaster from a domestic politics standpoint.

Had she won, she’d have faced a hostile Congress, and even if she’d wanted to make progressive economic changes (she didn’t), the Congress would have stymied her. (Her true priorities were revealed in her “no we can’t” responses to Bernie Sanders during the primary season.) Economically, it would have been more of the same for the next four years: the rich getting richer and the poor and middle class getting screwed.

It would also have meant that the corporate-lackey wing of the Democratic Party — a wing whose strategy has been purely to pander on social issues while serving the corporate and banking elite on economic issues — would have remained firmly in control.  Clinton’s victory would have cemented their control. Now, progressives might seize control of that party.

Had Clinton won, anger over economic inequality would have built, as the Republican propaganda machine (read Fox “News” and Breitbart) cast the center-rightist Clinton as a “leftist” or even a “socialist.”

This would have fed directly into the alt-right/neo-Nazi Trump-base narrative of “elite liberals” thwarting the economic well-being of ordinary Americans.

As gridlock set in even more deeply, anger would have continued to build, likely resulting in even more far-right Republican gains in the House and Senate in 2018, and the likely election of a smoother, more skilled Republican theo-fascist as president in 2020.

As is, we’re saddled with a grotesque excuse for a president: a narcissistic pathological liar, a whining, paper-thin-skinned bully who is obviously and grossly unfit for office.

As such, he’s inciting massive opposition. Millions of people who have never before been politically active have become so, doing everything from taking to the streets and engaging in civil disobedience to simply calling their congressional representatives or showing up at town halls.

Would this have happened under Clinton? No. Not a chance. At least on nothing approaching the current level.

Rather than the rise of massive progressive opposition, the neo-fascist, phony-populist right would have continued its ascension.

Now, Trump and his alt-right tools are in control, and they have to own what they produce. Their economic policies insure that they can’t deliver on their economic promises and will instead deliver more misery to the working class and what’s left of the middle class.

Thus, there’s already mass progressive opposition. And it will grow.

Some misinformed leftists have argued that the election of Trump was a disaster. It was. What they forget is that the election of Hillary Clinton would, in the long run (barring mass incineration), have been an even bigger disaster.


There seem to be two explanations for Donald Trump’s attacks on the courts, media, and objective reality: 1) He’s a whining, self-pitying baby who simply can’t stand it when he doesn’t immediately get his own way; 2) He wants to pull a full-Stalin by undermining the institutions that stand in his way — the judiciary and free press — and by creating a false reality in which his followers simply accept his bald-faced lies and self-contradictory statements while ignoring abundant and immediately presented contradictory evidence.

These two explanations are not mutually exclusive; both are probably correct.

So, what do we have to look forward to from Trump and his Republican enablers?

  • Repeal of the Affordable Care Act without anything approaching an adequate replacement. Trump and the congressional Republicans will almost certainly take their cues from the insurance industry and big pharma, making healthcare less available and more expensive for the vast majority of people. Probability: Virtually certain. 7-stars-72

 

  • Assaults on Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. Congressional Republicans will push for “entitlement reform” (never mind that people paid for these things through payroll taxes), which will amount to at the very least reduction in cost-of-living increases for Social Security and reduction of benefits for Medicare and Medicaid recipients, and more stringent eligibility requirements for Medicaid recipients. Probability: Virtually certain.
    7-stars-72

 

  • Full-scale privatization of Social Security and Medicare. The more ideological (read Ayn Rand worshiping) Republicans, such as Paul Ryan, will push hard for this. If this happens, they’ll likely sell it by leaving a weakened Social Security system and Medicare in place for those over 45 or 55, and privatizing both for those under those age limits. This would result in not only younger people losing those benefits in decades to come, but also resentment among them at paying for benefits for older people which they themselves won’t get. Probability: All too possible. 
    4-stars-72

 

  • Increased voter suppression. The Republicans have used entirely manufactured scare stories about “massive voter fraud” at the ballot box, while providing no evidence whatsoever of it, to push through restrictive laws in states across the country that make it more difficult to register to vote (e.g., among the elderly without photo ID and the poor who don’t have cars who’d have to travel to get state ID) and to cast ballots (restricting early voting). This has resulted in the disenfranchisement, at minimum, of hundreds of thousands of voters, and more likely millions of voters. Now, the Republicans seem poised to do this on a national scale. They’re unpopular (look at their approval ratings), desperate to hang onto power, and are very obviously willing to do anything to retain it, including betraying America’s (supposed) democratic principles. Probability: Very, very high. 
    6-stars-72

 

  • Use of a terrorist incident to suppress civil liberties. The chance of Trump creating a “false flag” terrorist incident are low, simply because of Trump and accomplices’ overall incompetence and the outright loathing the intelligence agencies have for Trump; they very probably wouldn’t allow him to get away with this. On the other hand, if there’s continued instability in the Trump Administration, and continued appointment of the grossly incompetent to decision-making positions, it’s all too possible, in part because Trump is playing into ISIS’s and Al-Qaeda’s hands through his fear-mongering rhetoric and Muslim ban. If there were a major terrorist incident, we can expect demonization of all critical voices and opposition movements, legislation restricting freedom of the press, freedom of speech, and freedom of assembly. Probability: Likely under 50/50, but only because of the professionals in the intelligence agencies. 3-stars-72

 

  • Worsening economic inequality. Trump’s economic policies overall, basically trickle-down economics (or as Jim Hightower puts it, “tinkle-down” economics), will result in continued and worsening economic inequality. Lowering taxes on the rich and corporations will do nothing to create new jobs, because demand creates jobs, not “job creators.” When low- and middle-income people receive more money, they spend almost all of it on food, consumer goods, utilities, and services — they have to. This creates jobs. When the rich receive more money, they spend it on stock buybacks, real estate (among other things, driving up the cost of housing), and luxury goods, such as yachts. This creates very few jobs. And this is the direction in which billionaire, entitled-heir Trump is headed. Probability: Virtually certain.
    7-stars-72

 

  • Continued scapegoating, fear-mongering, and demonization of all opposition. The Clintons, Barack Obama, and the other corporate Democrats paved the way for Trump’s success through their betrayal of those who elected them, through their abject servility to the corporate elite; this resulted in long-simmering anger among working and middle class people. Trump has taken full advantage of this anger and will continue to do so. Probability: Certain. 7-stars-72

 

 


“The only reason for time is so that everything doesn’t happen at once.”

–Albert Einstein (attributed–I have major doubts about this one, but it’s funny enough to post anyway)


It’s time once again to speak four of the most beautiful words in the English language: “Pitchers and Catchers Report.” (The two most beautiful words, are of course, “Play ball!”)

In honor of the start of Spring Training, our pal Leo passed along a link to SimplyHaiku which features a number of baseball haikus, some of them quite funny. Our two favorites are both by Ed Markowski, of Auburn Hills, Michigan. (Surprisingly, there seem to be a number of Ed Markowskis out there.)

We hope that you enjoy these haikus as much as we did:

up from Pawtucket
his error in slow-mo
on the centerfield scoreboard

and

shaken off a second time
the catcher flashes his
middle finger

Strictly speaking, these aren’t haikus, which consist of three lines of, respectively, five, seven, and five syllables. But we like these anyway.

 

Drummer Humor

Posted: February 12, 2017 in Humor, Music
Tags:

Since I moved to Tucson 25 years ago, I’ve played (“playing” meaning at least one paying gig) with 4 vocalists, 3 bassists, and roughly 20 drummers — I lost exact count ages ago, and I’m not even counting the ones that spontaneously self-combusted.

So, I appreciated the following ad that just appeared in the Musicians section of Tucson’s Craigslist, and have a hunch you might, too. Enjoy!


Qualified, Easygoing Drummer at Your Service

Decades of experience and a professional demeanor, I am the drummer you’ve been looking for.

I do not have a car and I do not have my own drums. I love to drink and I like to hit people in the mouth when I’ve had a few. I’ve hurt people before and I’ll do it again.

I will not learn your original material unless I’m paid $75 per hour per gig and I must be paid in advance. I do not know many covers and cannot commit to learning new ones unless I really dig the song.

My influences include Staind, P.O.D., the theme song to Malcolm in the Middle, and old Black Eyed Peas.

Additionally, I will need to crash with you for a while, as I do not have any source of income outside of my musical endeavors.

I cannot stress enough how much your band needs me at the rhythmic helm of the rock and roll ship. Call now.

Also, I do have a small narcotics habit.


About the only thing the anonymous genius who produced this forgot to add was, “Great rhythmic control. I can either rush or drag — I’m in control!”

 

 


Anarchist Cookbook front coverIn the new Anarchist Cookbook (2015), we considered various means to social change, recommending some and criticizing others, among them “simple living.” We noted its inadequacy as a primary approach to change, but also noted that both of us follow many “simple living” practices simply because they make sense.

A few days ago we received the following from Tammy Mackenzie, of the Print Our Home blog, which advocates simple living and has a large amount of material on various aspects of the subject. Her comments are presented here in their entirety.


Hello Mr. McHenry, Mr. Bufe:

Thank you for your excellent cookbook.

I humbly submit that your section “Simple Living”, page 48, is partially incorrect, and needlessly divisive. Here is a short essay to make the point and case, 800 words which include 17 primary and/or respected sources for reference. I hope that it can be of service.

Simple living is a process of making conscious choices about day to day life that are more ecological (2: Science Daily), more economical (3: Mother Earth News), and healthier (4: Johns Hopkins).  It is also adopted specifically by many people (5: Research Gate) as a way to reduce reliance on and destabilize consumerist / capitalist systems (6: Sagepub Journals). It’s called “simple”, because it happens that many healthy and affordable things are simpler than their mass-produced counterparts. Like vinegar for cleaning, or growing your own tomatoes instead of trucking them across continents.

Examples of ways in which people have “simplified”, or “found sufficiency” are well explained in your book’s chapter, Common Approaches to Social Change, page 48: “They include growing food locally, using alternatives to private cars, recycling, using recycled building materials, using environmentally friendly building practices (passive solar, etc.), using alternative energy sources, growing your own fruits and vegetables, and eating lower on the food chain.”

However, after acknowledging some of the very good reasons for making such choices, including large-scale stakes such as the fossil fuel industry and food additive subsidies, the conclusions of your book’s section on simple living are then incomplete, and partially incorrect, in 3 ways.

FIRST:

“Simple Living” is not a day-and-night drastic and expensive lifestyle change as your section concludes. For most people it is a series of incremental changes (7: Wikihow) towards better ways that save them time, money, and stress.

In fact, the “average” person who looks into Simple Living practices (8: Research Gate) is something like an enlightened soccer mom. Here are some demographics (6: Sagepub Journals).

  • They’re family-minded: 68% of them are married, 64% have children. In the literature, it is mostly women who report.
  • They’re urban and suburban omnivores: only 21% live on farms and though
  • 83% grow some food, only 21% are vegetarian or vegan.
  • They’re socially active: 67% are involved in community groups, 38% in barter or exchange groups, 90% want more political action on issues of pertinence to living simply.
  • They’re from all economic classes, with about 70% reducing their income as they go along.

87% of them are happier because of voluntary simplicity and, in western countries, some measure of simplifiying can be seen in 20% to 30% of the population, depending on the country.

SECOND:

Simplifying daily life contributes to non-violent social change in
important ways

  • Grows local economies: People in the habit of thinking in detail about how to improve little things tend to congregate into groups to share resources, think about bigger things, and start creating flexible local economies as well as food autonomy. Maker culture (9: Techshop) is an example of voluntary simplicity aggregating at mass scales.
  • Increases personal freedoms: Old (10: Yes Magazine) and new (11: Taylor & Francis Online) ways of doing things without mass-production are retained, and promoted, decreasing the population’s reliance on capitalist growth/waste cycles as well as on markets. It also saves people money (6: Sagepub Journals).
  • Inspires activism: Studies show that people get happier as they decrease their consumption of disposable goods and increase simplicity in daily life (6: Sagepub Journals). Further studies show that happy people are more likely to affect social change (12: Ideas.Repec.org). Anyhow, that’s how it’s working in Canada (13: Carleton University).
  • Involves the whole population: Some people are left out (14: Notre Dame University) of many of the ways in which social change can be inspired. These include young families, seniors, and handicapped persons. Simple living, by virtue of being accessible to all as well as its other advantages, makes it possible to mobilize a lot more of the 3.5% of the population (15: Rational Insurgence) we look to for social power.

Teaches people to think rationally: It is a rewarding way for people from all economic and social classes to learn how to research, critically analyze, test, and repeat experiments. Such skills are fundamental to learning to understand the current political and ecological situation.

THIRD

Intersectionality and respect are vital to social change.

The authorities and media have worked hard (16: Huffington Post, 17: Forbes) to make adherents of living simply look like cultish, dogmatic flower children. Consequently, even in anarchist and social change publications, derision is common and the strengths of simple living in educating people, helping to create community, and inspiring the autonomy that gives people courage to move are often overlooked.

Your book is truly a masterpiece, and will have an influence on humanity for a long time. I am concerned that the chapter on Simple Living as written risks being counter-productive to our shared social hopes, but am personally grateful for the many tools you have assembled for us.

References:

1. https://www.foodnotbombs.net/a.%20Anarchist%20Cookbook%20interior%207-30-15-1.pdf

2. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/02/160224132923.html

3. http://www.motherearthnews.com/homesteading-and-livestock/self-reliance/tips-to-save-money-zm0z14fmzrob

4. https://www.jhsph.edu/research/centers-and-institutes/johns-hopkins-center-for-a-livable-future/news-room/News-Releases/2014/Study-Suggests-Home-Cooking-Main-Ingredient-in-Healthier-Diet.html

5. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/270720813_Voluntary_simplifiers_as_political_consumers_Individuals_practicing_politics_through_reduced_consumption

6. http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1469540512444019

7. http://www.wikihow.com/Live-a-Simple-and-Peaceful-Life

8. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/228310981_The_Voluntary_Simplicity_Movement_Reimagining_the_Good_Life_Beyond_Consumer_Culture

9. http://www.techshop.ws/images/0071821139%20Maker%20Movement%20Manifesto%20Sample%20Chapter.pdf

10. http://www.yesmagazine.org/happiness/the-movement-to-live-more-simply-is-older-than-you-thought

11. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/13527260701869148

12. https://ideas.repec.org/p/diw/diwsop/diw_sp199.html

13. https://curve.carleton.ca/system/files/etd/3ab45993-4497-4fc5-9fc9-b482d516d9b3/etd_pdf/940c60612fde74d3a9e1c8ceb240c9ad/hatfield-voluntarysimplicitylifestyleactivisiminlate.pdf

14. https://mobilizingideas.wordpress.com/2015/09/02/who-gets-left-out-when-we-talk-about-activism/

15. https://rationalinsurgent.com/2013/11/04/my-talk-at-tedxboulder-civil-resistance-and-the-3-5-rule/

16. http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/phillip-vannini-and-jonathan-taggart/offgrid-living-voluntary-_b_3497138.html

17. http://www.forbes.com/sites/realspin/2012/06/28/to-discredit-the-anti-capitalists-pro-capitalists-need-to-learn-how-to-use-words/#3000426f60e3