2016.06.27 news digest and assortment

Tuesday 2016.06.28

I’ve posted a few notes in a short period after a long break. I’m thinking that I might approach this space a little differently for a little while, and post some much shorter digests of news items and a grab bag assortment of short comments.

More news has come up.

Yes, the UK had their referendum vote on the question of whether to remain as part of the European Union, or leave, and the vote, the last I checked, was 52% in favor to leave.

That sort of throws a slight disturbance into the works of taking a quick skim of current news and affairs.

I actually got the news late in the evening, in the eastern time zone in the US, as dawn was breaking in the UK starting their day after the vote, watching the talking head yammering on the BBC News. Now, I’m finding all kinds of drama about it. It isn’t just among the British.

There is no crystal ball clairvoyance needed to predict all sorts of noisy commentary from all and everywhere about this. One thing that strikes me very clearly is the way that it already is clear, and was before the vote, that this particular issue and decision has been made into something that reveals the very same phenomenon here in the United States that I’ve been calling bipolar political disorder. Dropping the particulars specific to the US, of the “two party system” duopoly dominance of Brand R and Brand D, the entire matter seems to have turned out to reveal simplistic tribalism involving what you’re supposed to think about it revolving around whether you are “Left/Liberal” or “Right/Conservative”. In this case, the general noise says that to choose the UK leaving the EU is a “right-wing” thing, even a radical/far right-wing thing. There’s a load of noisy histrionics and bloviation about how choosing to leave the EU is really all about racism and xenophobia and hate and fear and general madness, never mind what anybody else says.

It’s more on the pile of amazing, but not surprising, sitting back and watching the way that so many people, often otherwise very bright people, seem to have no sense at all of how much they are steered by propaganda and manipulation.

It was notable to watch the way US President Barack Obama made statements beforehand about how terrible it would be for the UK to leave, “Brexit”, declaring dire consequences for Britain if they bailed out of the EU, practically declaring that the UK would be relegated to being some sort of Third World outcast land of misery and poverty shunned by advanced civilization everywhere. Interesting.

Also interesting is the way that “Liberal” Barack Obama joined “Conservative” British Prime Minister David Cameron in more or less the same campaign. Now, this is worth some thought. It’s utterly predictable that there would be people who look at that item and simply conclude that this is a fine example of what here in America is usually called “bipartisanship”, a noble example of sensible minds coming together from across the divide of political spectrum to do the good right thing. I think I might be generally overlooked that at least here in the US, “bipartisan” is seen as a wonderful positive term that, unfortunately, more often than not actually involves “both parties”, “both sides”, in a wonderful warm positive act of reaching across the aisle and coming together to do something really bad, sold to us peasant consumers (formerly known as “citizens”) as a great thing.

It certainly does not help any objective sense of reality and reason to see the creature called Donald Trump weighing in, with news reports saying that Herr Drumpf is actually in Scotland, visiting a gold course he bought (which, inevitably, then had the Trump name applied to it), and has hailed the “leave” vote as a great thing, even knocking out a Twitter belch saying that the Scottish were going wild with enthusiasm over the “leave” vote and were taking their country back. A regional breakdown of the referendum vote showed that the majority of Scottish voters actually voted to remain part of the EU. It has been entertaining to see some of the reactions to the comments from the visiting Trump among the Scottish, who, it appear, are not impressed by the statesmanship of The Donald, or, for that matter, his basic grasp of current events.

Unintentional comedy is added by the fact that Trump joins in with his support of the idea of the UK leaving the EU along with British politician and former London mayor Boris Johnson, forming a pair of politicians with hilariously odd hair. This is trivial, but it sure adds to The Bizarre.

So, here we are with all kinds of noise about how the “leave” choice is some sort of victory for Right-Wing nutball idiot fascists, hate, racism, and general xenophobia. It definitely seems like a point will be lost in the noise, which is the idea that what it might really be about is a great number of British citizens who look at their country and see the government of their country being subservient to a larger European government that also happens to be a massive bureacracy, with a mysterious structure with “democracy” not really being involved, with no accountability, no democratic control of any sort for British voters over the government that oversees their government.

We’re now a couple days into the aftermath of the UK vote, and it really is extraordinary to watch the reactions and online commentary, especially among my fellow Americans. It isn’t only Americans, as people scattered around the globe have their bits to say. I’ve been struck by the way that even when this story arises, across the Atlantic, people here in the US chime right in about it, and often display a process of falling right into the ruts of bipolar political disorder. It’s just amazing.

This probably calls for a whole note of its own. It really is pretty extraordinary, though, to watch this kind of magnetic pull in action about affairs across an ocean, sucking people into falling in line with what they perceive to be the proper thinking of their tribe, with no shortage of statements of grand melodrama.

One possibly suitable marker to indicate something to us is something that I saw on the web that seemed as if it had to be a joke ruse, a screen shot of a television showing Fox News Channel with a text banner at the bottom with “breaking news” that the UK had just voted to leave the UN. It was the kind of thing that makes the mind recoil, thinking this has to be a joke, but it looked genuine, the image was such that it would have extremely difficult to concoct a fake by graphics editing trickery. If this was real, it would be a pretty good indication of things at the “news” operation of Fox News, and also says a lot that it’s a reasonable assumption to think that a significant portion of the FNC audience would take it at face value to be true.

As the bipolar political disorder plays out, among people holding themselves up to the world as “Right/Conservative” here in the US there has been a fair amount of cheering for the “Brexit” vote to leave the EU, with a general appearance of things being that some of them have vague notions of striking a blow against Big Gummint and the EU as being some Socialist Liberal concoction, or, whatever the hell it is they think. Among the noise, I’ve seen chatter about how next, it will be Texas, voting to leave the United States, and, in another item of the sort that makes you think it almost has a joke, but, these days, is believable as somebody actually being serious, something about a bill being introduced to Congress to have the United States leave the United Nations. That, sadly, forces, for me anyway, thoughts about how many people here really, seriously, honestly might think that the European Union and the United Nations are the same thing. That, unfortunately, also cracks open a can of worms in the form of questions about what some people think the United Nations is, and what it does and how that works. I’ll have to skip that for now, as I think about what a chunk of absurdity that subject would be.

Meanwhile, as I’ve already touched on, among persons wearing the nametags of “Liberal/Left”, there has been a kind of conformance and repetition of moaning and wailing laments about the Brexit vote being a tragedy of epic proportions, a horrendous folly with all kinds of general catastrophy, and taken as being all about racism and xenophobia, and probably no small amount of people squawking about it being a gross mass demonstration of hating haters with their hating hate.

More sensible minds, over the weekend, have written their own commentaries that get more to the truth of things, that there are many things to be derived from the UK vote, but arguably the biggest item is that this presents a glimpse of many people in the UK being simply fed up with what I already mentioned, a massive bureacracy elsewhere that overrides the government of their own country, with democracy having nothing to do with it.

This is a complex story, and, as much as it’s tiresome to repeat this, the mass madness of bipolar political disorder manipulating people into neat squabbling bins of Right/Conservative/Republican Party or Left/Liberal/Democratic Party serve nicely to play people for fools to split people up into opposing sides of dodgeball squabbling and dogma and cliches, while people sucked into it have a really hard time just seeing anything as it is, rather than as they’re told to think.

One recurring theme about the squabble in the UK and the vote to leave the EU is that it’s supposedly all about racism, which is another running misnomer, as the more accurate word describing what’s partially involved would be xenophobia. There’s no doubt that there is some of this, and some of what might be unfair and exaggerated distortions to label as zenophobia (or even racism), but rather a genuine and serious concern in England about problems related to immigrants. Of course, even that seems to often overlook one basic factor, in that the subject of immigrants in the UK comes right back around to the factor of a great deal of immigration to England being related to the long history of the British Empire and colonizing as much of the world as they could lay their hands on and hold for as long as possible (“the sun never sets on the British Empire!”).

What clearly seems much more important than that historical detail is the current situation where it is apparent that an awful lot of people in the UK are seriously concerned about is an influx of people from the middle east, some of them, unfortunately, behaving badly. We’re talking about a situation where it’s not so much about immigrants as it is about refugees, and it seems evident that there are a lot of decent people in terrible circumstances with an unfortunate mix of goons. What might get lost is the basic reality that all of that situation comes down to being a repercussion of a set of disasters in the middle east that trace back to the whole neocon insanity of worldwide megalomania and “regime change”, with the UK and Europe playing a part, bowing and obeying the Washington bunch, and being stuck with dealing with people coming out of that region due to basic geography.

First, Iraq was effectively destroyed, then came Libya, then the target became Syria, where the government there has inconveniently fought back, with the extra complication of the fact that Syria has an ally in Russia, who sent military backup, an obvious factor in the sudden and puzzling swing in Washington officialdom to incessant portrayals of Russia in general and Russian President Vladimir Putin in particular as a sudden menace to world peace and security and villains at large.

 

In a broad category of noise that might begin with “… in the wake of the Orlando shooting…”, one of the items of current political squabbling involves a group of Brand D members of the House of Representatives conducting a “sit-in” protest over inaction about gun control in their chamber of Congress. Normally, the chambers of Congress are shown live on television on the C-Span network, but apparently, a move was made to stop that.

Now, while this is happening, over on the other side of the Capitol, Invoking Orlando, Senate Republicans set up vote to expand FBI spying.

Not a surprise.

Also, Senate Votes to Require Women to Register for the Draft – The New York Times.

It just piles up, and it’s constantly and continuously amazing to watch what falls through the cracks.

Shifting to “infrastructure”, it was fairly grim to see an item pop up about the condition of the public transit rail system in the nation’s capital city of Washington DC. Now, I suppose that normally, this kind of thing would be classified as “local politics”, but of course this has a unique characteristic to it because of the nature of the city, being a separate entity of the District of Columbia, not a normal city, not a state, but a place defined as a unique kind of municipality as the seat of national government of the United States of America.

There is just so much to gather from this blip in the noise, especially when combined with all the other stories of what actually happens in the halls of government in DC.

 

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