Should I have an opinion on Catalan Independence?

Well

“Catalonia will move on Monday to declare independence from Spain, a regional government source said, as the European Union nation nears a rupture that threatens the foundations of its young democracy and has unnerved financial markets.

Pro-independence parties that control the regional parliament have asked for a debate and vote on Monday on declaring independence, the source said. A declaration should follow this vote, although it is unclear when Catalan President Carles Puigdemont earlier told the BBC that his government would ask the region’s parliament to declare independence after tallying votes from last weekend’s referendum, which Madrid says was illegal.”

There is a lot to unpack there, and this all seems like surprisingly major news considering it’s barely been covered in the US media, especially considering the amount of media attention the Scottish Independence Referendum received.  In fact I doubt I would have heard anything about it if I hadn’t been following Julian Assange’s twitter feed.

The Catalonia region of Spain wanted a referendum on independence, the Spanish courts determined it wouldn’t be legal, and Catalonia went ahead and had one anyway.  Independence won and now they’re pushing to go ahead and declare independence by next week.

Wow.

In some ways, the referendum resembles Crimea’s referendum, which was illegal, since the Russians occupied Crimea and ran it, but it won anyway (or maybe because). But there is no big power to help this along in Spain; obviously the EU doesn’t count.  But the EU seems to be part of the problem.  Maybe it’s just me, but it seems that one of the supreme ironies of the European Union, and its goal of creating a United States of Europe, is that it’s existence is probably encouraging European independence movements.  There are multiple European independence movements that are ongoing and the idea that all of these subsidies and trade issues that are the concern of sovereign nations will be taken care of by the EU probably strengthens them.

As a rule, the EU opposes all of these independence movements among their members.  Catalonia fully expects to waltz right into EU membership, in the same way that Scotland intended to jump from leaning on welfare from London to welfare from Brussels. But the fact that the EU is there, willing to handle all of those pesky governmental problems for its member states makes it an attractive excuse/reason on any national independence movement.

But for right now, the EU is supporting Spain, and if Spain is serious about sticking with the court’s decision that the referendum is illegal, then what?  Are we looking at Spanish Civil War II: This Time it’s Regional?  And even worse, if shooting starts, what if Spain invokes Article 5 of the NATO Charter?  Is the US really going to get involved in a military conflict there? That is a real nightmare scenario.

…although, as far as military occupation duties go, Barcelona beats virtually everywhere else our military has been for the past few decades, if you have to fight a war, at least do it in a temperate climate with beautiful local girls.

As a general rule, I think the world would be a better place if each little language group and ethnicity could have their own nation. If I could wave a magic wand and make every national group its own nation, I would do it.  But not every group is going to make it as an independent nation.  It’s possible Catalonia could, but I never thought that about Scotland, even though every fiber of my being wanted to undue the results of the Battle of Culloden, I reluctantly concluded that Scotland, with the North Sea oil drying up, just couldn’t make it on its own, other than as the Venezuela of Europe.

Apparently the Scots agreed since they voted independence down.  And I feel the same way about Catalonia now.  My heart is with the independence movement, but my head is with a unified Spain.  That’s not unconditional however.  Liberals in the US view any call to “Blood and Soil” as straight out of Nazi-ville, but that’s what’s ultimately pushing Catalan secession, and all of the other independence movements both in Europe and worldwide.  Most people in the world have a sense of both place and identity, and although the West tries to pretend it’s an atavistic impulse, as outdated as the appendix, it’s still there, either just below the surface or bursting to the top.  If separation must come, best to do it peaceably.

 

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On The 60 Minutes Steve Bannon Interview

I missed the original airing of this on 60 Minutes, but I went back to watch it and folks, It’s actually worth watching.

Try Viemo here or the 60 Minutes site here.

Just a couple of observations:

Charlie Rose barely asked any questions, he mostly let Bannon talk, or at least he did on the original full hour and twenty minute version I saw (sadly now gone from the web). Rose might have looked like an interviewing tiger on the portion that actually aired, but on the full interview, Rose could have been asleep for large stretches and no one would have noticed.

Rose only seems to become animated when discussing the Access Hollywood video and immigration.  It’s as if he still doesn’t understand why the Access Hollywood video didn’t end Trump’s Presidential bid.  As for immigration, he simply repeated the rote “nation of immigrants” line and had no argument to Bannon’s counter arguments.

Because of Rose’s general lethargy, Bannon totally dominated the direction of the entire and really got to show just how brilliant the guy actually is.  His discourse on his history with Donald Trump included dates, meetings, and important news articles and the reporters who wrote them.  All off the top of his head.

Bannon gives every indication of being a backseat driver to an administration he is technically no longer a part of.  If you support Trumpism, that’s good news.

 

When the News No Longer Resembles News

I honestly think I’ve had about enough.  If you happened to catch Chuck Todd’s apoplectic reaction to President Trump’s news conference on Tuesday.

What made me reach my breaking point came at about the 1:34 mark, “…when was the last time you saw a President of the United States defend the cause of White Nationalists?”

It’s an insane smear, but I’ve no doubt that Todd was being totally sincere in his belief that Trump was rooting for the Nazi’s.  As for me, I’ve been a news junkie for decades. Up until the internet made it ridiculous, I had a subscription to the local newspaper and I would make sure I caught a steady stream of news shows on cable and the traditional nightly news. Most mornings I would have the morning news shows on in the background while I worked. So generally, I’ve watched a lot of news.  Not just hours a week but hours a day.

But I’ve never felt so estranged from what newspaper columns and talking heads on cable are babbling about as I have this year. It’s as if they are living not just in a different moral universe, but a different factual one as well. Their editorial decisions seem like they are being made by college student government rather than seasoned, professional editors. How can you spend 8 months on wall to wall Russia when there has yet to be any actual evidence of a Russia collusion story?  It’s simply a daily rehashing of a burned out conspiracy theory.

I’m tuning out the news more and more these days.  I can get all my news online with a lot less wasted time and no smug pomposity; which is particularly galling with their track record of inaccuracy.  After the election, it occurred to me that I would have been better informed if I had spent 18 months leading up to the election just reading Scott Adams’ blog than the hundreds of hours wasted watching Morning Joe.

Hopefully, when this age of mass hysteria and moral panic has passed, and the news media has returned to some sort of semblance of normalcy, I can return to getting my media news junkie fix.  But for now, I’ll be a lot healthier if I’m off the stuff.

12 steps…

Knocking Down History

In the same way that Dylann Roof improbably led to the banning of The Dukes of Hazzard from the airwaves, it seems almost inevitable now that the protest in Charlottesville, VA will lead to the razing of the Jefferson Memorial. The thought occurred to me when I saw the video of a statue of a Confederate soldier being toppled by a “group of more than 100 that included anti-fascists and members of organizations like the Democratic Socialists of America, the Workers World Party and the Industrial Workers of the World…”

 

 

The word and thought that crossed my mind when viewing this was, “barbarians.”

As a southerner, my view on confederate war memorials, graveyards, and statues are a bit too nuanced for a tweet or for your typical CNN news reader, so it’s a perspective that gets no airplay, even though it’s shared by millions of people.

The South was on the wrong side of the war fighting for the wrong cause that devastated the region. But the country went through a pretty long period of healing and reconciliation that included honoring the service of soldiers on both sides, a view that was made pretty clear at Appomattox and has mostly carried the day for a century after the war. Confederate soldiers were legally considered US veterans.

Now, a new generation wants to come along and undo that reconciliation. There are people in the south who have ancestors buried in confederate cemeteries who are now viewed by the SJW set as descendants of the equivalent of Nazi’s. They want those grave stones kicked over and pissed on, and every visible sign of history wiped away because it doesn’t confirm to a 2017 version of twitter morality by twenty somethings who are without a knowledge of history.

Part of this is the logical result of the leftist hatred of the south and its culture. They hate hate HATE people like me; southerners from the South. It’s a very popular bigotry but if I complain about it, I’m the bad guy.  Of course, I do appreciate the irony that I’m being judged by the circumstances of my birth, but under current year rules, what I was born as is far more important than who I am.

However I feel deep sadness that we’re going to plow over every historical site in the south and replace it with…nothing. A great loss for the entire country, but much of the country won’t realize it until it’s too late.

So getting back to the Jefferson Memorial; the “problematic” nature of the Memorial first publicly came up after the Charleston shooting.  Per the LA Times:

“CNN anchor Ashleigh Banfield this week questioned whether the Jefferson Memorial should be taken down because Jefferson owned slaves. “There is a monument to him in the capital city of the United States. No one ever asks for that to come down,” Banfield said.

Fellow anchor Don Lemon responded by saying Jefferson represented “the entire United States, not just the South.” But he added: “There may come a day when we want to rethink Jefferson. I don’t know if we should do that.””

We are getting much closer to the day that we “rethink” Jefferson.  Al Sharpton discussed the Jefferson Memorial on Charlie Rose last night and frankly, if you follow the logic, why wouldn’t we get rid of any mention of Thomas Jefferson?  He was a slave owner.  He did a lot of other stuff to, like help found the country and established our founding documents, but heh, slavery.  And of course, how could the Washington Monument be anything but an insult to every non binary gendered person of color?  A large pale phallic symbol soaring up to the sky, a patriarchal reminder of white supremacy…

To me, this seems like a more than bizarre self-hating fetish to destroy anything and everything that doesn’t match the narrow lines of acceptability of “the current year.” But since I’m an artifact of an earlier time, it only seems bizarre to me because I’m a relic of an earlier time.  To the millennials who danced around that fallen confederate soldier monument in Durham North Carolina, like a tribe of primitive savages, I’m the savage.  And thanks to time, they win.  They inherit the earth.

 

 

 

 

What Should Trump Do Next About Healthcare?

For those of you who were really expecting John McCain to come through and vote for the “skinny repeal” senate GOP healthcare bill…

Otter’s wise words ring true.  But it’s not like McCain didn’t warn you. He stated he opposed the bill when he voted to allow it to go up for debate.  So I’m not mad at McCain. He did exactly what I expected him to do, preen for the cameras, virtual signal for his media friends, and toss a big FU to the Republican Party.  It’s the same thing he’s been doing for years.  So why the surprise?

In fact, I think McCain did the GOP, and Trump, a favor. The various GOP “repeal and replace” bills were all terrible anyway as I recounted here.  None of them fixed the real problems with the individual insurance market or the exchanges.  So why should Republicans get their hands dirty in a rush to get anything passed when they will own the results?  And since none of their bills fixed the problem, the results will be pretty bad.

And of course, as time goes on, I’m less and less sure that the House and Senate leadership really wanted any bill to pass.  It seems like it would have been fairly easy to buy off most of the dissenting senators by simply allowing the people on the Medicaid Expansion to keep their plans, as I suggested back in June.  Did Mitch McConnell really think Lisa Murkowski was going to vote get rid of Medicaid expansion and reduce the federal contribution to Medicaid, when half of her state is on some version of Medicaid?  How did he think she and the other senators who are from states that have a large dependency on Medicaid would vote?  But if your real goal is to deliver Trump a failure, what better way than provide a sure fire failure of a bill that’s doomed to fail?  Admittedly I don’t have any evidence that they sunk the bill on purpose, but if not, they truly are incompetents.

So what now?  I think at this point, Trump should recognize that of the many enemies he has in DC, the Republican lead Congress is definitely part of them. And to that end, he should remove the healthcare issue from their hands.  And how to do this?  Form a Presidential commission to put together a health care plan, a “terrific” one which meets Trump’s criteria for a healthcare replacement bill.  Nothing of Trump was reflected in the Congressional bills but this is being viewed as Trump’s failure.  Taking the issue from Congress and giving it a Presidential commission removes the issue for this year, and allows both Trump and the Congress to move onto other issues.  What happens when the commission finishes a Trump approved health care plan is another story, but it moves the issue from the failed column to “pending.”

 

 

 

 

Four Theories on Trump vs Sessions

My general thoughts and feelings on Trump’s constant attacking of Jeff Sessions is that it’s disgraceful and shows poor leadership to be attacking a loyal subordinate in such a passive aggressive (and sometimes not so passive) and very public way.  Sessions isn’t in some random cabinet post; he’s the Attorney General, and almost everything that Trump wants in domestic policy depends on Sessions.  That’s doubly true when you’re talking about issues like immigration.  Sessions is really the only “Trumpist” in the cabinet.  Everyone else could care less about Trump’s ideas.  So without Sessions; there is no logical replacement (or at least one that the Senate would confirm-Sorry Kris Kobach) to carry on Trump’s policies.  Regardless of what happened to the rest of Trump’s Presidency, Trumpism would be over.

So why would Trump be acting in such a crazy way?  CNN has beclowned itself trying to puzzle that one out, but going through the interwebs, I’ve seen 4 theories that might explain Trump’s attack on his only ally, Jeff Sessions.

One.  Trump’s a madman.

In this case, Trump is just as he appears to be.  He’s gone into a rage because of the Mueller investigation, and can’t stop himself from sniping at Sessions because he doesn’t really want to fire him but wants him gone and hopes if he is humiliated publicly often enough, Sessions will just resign.  Who Trump gets to replace him and how that takes care of his Mueller issue are just problems for another day.  The main thing is to get rid of someone who Trump feels failed him.  That this will damage him with a large section of the conservative base doesn’t matter.  Trump angry now!

Two.  Trump is Mr. Magoo.

This is the theory of the Lion of the Blogosphere.  According to the Lion, Trump is just bouncing around from situation to situation, but through sheer luck and happenstance; he winds up smelling like a rose. Trump’s speech in which he mentioned the effects of immigration in Sweden is a good example. After making a comment about the problems being caused in Sweden by immigrants, Trump was roundly mocked on social media and the weekend political shows, only to have immigrant riots break out in Sweden days later.  Was Trump a prescient social scientist, or did he get lucky on counting on Muslims being Muslim?  My magic 8 ball says “signs point to yes.”  In any case, Trump one; Media smart-asses zero.

Three.  Trump is pulling a professional wrestlingwork.” Having worked with professional wrestling before, Trump is well aware how wrestling is much more like a soap opera for dudes than an athletic contest.  There is a lot of drama in the wrestling story lines and sometimes a heel can get into a feud and then it turns out he has a secret alliance with the babyface!  Yeah!  The day is saved!  In this scenario, Trump and Sessions are working together to draw out and crystallize support for Sessions by having Trump attacking him.  Suddenly, every media person and Democrat (I know, same thing) who hated Sessions suddenly rush to his support. This gives Sessions freedom of action for things that will be unpopular to the Democrats/Media because if Trump is mad at Sessions, that must be good.

Four.  5D Chess. In the Scott Adams version, Trump is like Spock, if Spock were a New York real estate developer and hotel and casino owner.  Actually, that’s not a bad idea for a Star Trek spin off:  Star Trek: Las Vulcan.  Where pleasure is logical… In this scenario, Trump is running all of the various media scenarios through his mind palace, war gaming the responses of the various media networks and politicians to insulate Sessions from future criticism similar to theory three; set a public distance between Sessions and Trump to give Sessions a free hand.

Which do I think is the mostly likely?  Well I think we’ve seen signs of all four over the course of the Trump campaign and Presidency, although there could well be a lot of overlap.  When Trump tweeted the punching CNN gif, did he know what the media reaction would be and that it ultimately would make the media look extremely stupid, or did he Mr Magoo his way into that situation?  It’s hard to say.  There is a lot of overlap between theories one and two and theories three and four.  But when it comes to Sessions, I hope it’s a theory three & four scenario, but I fear it may be a theory one & two.

 

What Do We Get in Trade for Joe Scarborough?

Breaking news from the who-the-hell-cares department, but MSNBC token Republican Joe Scarborough, of the Morning Joe show, has left the Republican Party. . .   I’m shocked, shocked I say!

Actually I really was shocked.  I thought Scarborough left the Republicans years ago.  He didn’t vote for the Republican nominee not just last year, in 2016, but the last go around, in 2012.  If you never vote for Republicans, on what basis do you call yourself one?   Well maybe he was an “MSNBC Republican.”  If someone’s primary political issue is gun control and their most hated senator is Texas Senator Ted Cruz, you are either Senator Diane Feinstein or… “Conservative” MSNBC host Joe Scarborough.  But Joe’s left leaning positions aren’t new.  I used to think Joe was trying to just keep his job.  MSNBC did fire Pat Buchanan for driving while conservative, so I figured, if you like those nice paychecks, you have to sing their tune.

When the network takes an editorial position, they can count on Joe to follow along loyally. The key to that is to join, or as is often the case, lead, the mob. Joe is the first one to pick up the torch and pitchfork and begin to emote, throwing logic and reason to the wind and just feel. He did it with Newtown, with Joe calling for tight gun control regulations (they did this daily on the show for almost 6 months after the shooting). If there is any incident that generates a purely emotional mob response Joe is there for it.

The Gabby Giffords shooting? He was there to warn the right to stop targeting innocent lefty politicians. He joined in blaming Palin and the Tea Party for the shooting.

Trayvon Martin? He joined the network in emoting about tea and skittles over and over again, even while his network was editing 911 calls from the shooting.

Ground Zero Mosque?  He demanded that be built too.

So the reason why Joe Scarborough can make it on MSNBC as a Republican is because he has been a faithful team player.  But now that he’s come out of the closet, he doesn’t need that.  It turns out that he can now to be free to be himself: A confused guy undergoing a mid-life crisis.  How else to explain first the affair, then divorce, and now engagement to co-host Mika Brzezinski?  And now a ridiculous “music” career, including Manhattan gigs and music videos.  Videos mind you, that he, without the least bit of shame, airs on his show.

As for Joe’s affair and divorce, each marriage is a mystery, so maybe I shouldn’t judge that, but I feel perfectly free to judge falling into the arms of Brzezinski.   Without claiming any psychic powers, I can tell you that on his deathbed he’ll regard his affair and engagement to Brzezinski as his biggest mistake (assuming he didn’t kill that intern in his office in Pensacola).

And yet I’ve been a long time viewer to Morning Joe.  For all the flaws of its hosts, it’s been different than any other dull and dumbed down morning show.  It’s provided some drama, such as when Mika and Joe got into a fight when she called him a chauvinist (I didn’t know at the time it was flirtation), and Yuval Levin discussing the Burkean and Paine traditions of American political thought.  You can’t get that on the Today Show. And Joe Scarborough did great work in eviscerating Paul Krugman on a debate on the Charlie Rose Show.  It’s always entertaining when a University of Alabama grad, ex-Politician, and TV host, gets the better of a New York Times columnist and Professor of Economics in his own field.

So while I’ve enjoyed the longer conversational style aspects of Morning Joe; the show’s #nevertrump descent into pure snarkfest had ruined what was formerly a useful show, and turned it into a 3 hour morning long Cobert Show, only without the attempts at humor, all the while the main host acts out his mid-life crisis on live TV.

But as Joe pursues establishment approval that will never come, no matter how much he debases himself, he won’t be missed on the right, even if he takes all 12 or “Joe Scarborough Republicans” with him.

So bye Joe.

But, do we get anything in trade?  If we’re trading Joe to the left, does the left have anything to offer us?  Well as a matter of fact…

You may not have heard of Laci Green, particularly if you’re over thirty and don’t follow Social Justice Warrior intersectional feminism (and who does?) but in the world of YouTube, she’s a big star. Her feminist blogger YouTube channel has a million and a half subscribers and 146 million views.  That’s a big audience for a lot of feminist yammering about Planned Parenthood and pansexuality.  But then something weird happened earlier this year…

Suddenly Laci was talking about meeting some anti-feminist video bloggers and listening to different perspectives.  “Listening to different perspectives” is exactly the opposite of what’s typical on the left these days, and particularly among the SJW set.  Why oh why would she suddenly be interested in “different perspectives” that run counter to not just her world view and politics, but her business model?

You guessed it, she met a guy.  And the guy she met is an anti-feminist you tuber who goes by the name of Chris Ray Gun.  If you were a publicist, you could hardly craft a better Romeo & Juliet storyline.  The MTV movie practically writes itself. In the world of you tube, Chris Ray Gun is a much smaller commodity than Laci Green is, but at almost half a million subscribers, he’s still a pretty big deal.  But Chris shows no signs of reconsidering intersectional feminism, Laci is the one with her worldview shattered.

But that shattering is a long term process and as Laci struggles to deal with other perspectives on feminism than the ones she picked up at Berkeley, she’s dealing with the blowback of rethinking her worldview.  One can’t predict where that will lead.  With Joe Scarborough, once he began the process of status seeking among the establishment, the conversion was only going to go one way.  But a move to the right is a different story.  That’s usually with the understanding that, as Whitaker Chambers thought, that it’s a defection to a losing side.  And you lose everything else as well, your old friends and your old, respected position.  In Laci Green’s case, it could cost her a business.  So the process of conversion isn’t assured.  On the other hand, trading Joe Scarborough; for even a feminist who is willing to have a conversation; is more than a fair trade in my opinion.