The Witness Chronicles November 22, 2023
I rant about fair and balanced, Biden and Xi, and if we’re vermin, who are the bad guys?
The truth is not always fair and I’m fed up with equal coverage where it is not justified (looking at you, New York Times. Shame). Xi Jinping seemed to thaw a little when he met Biden last week. Did he realize that with the Chinese economy in the toilet, they might need the biggest market on the planet? And Trump hits a new low with the language of Hitler and Mussolini as he calls more than half of Americans vermin.
There is apparently no new low when it comes to this monumental jerk, but really, Nazism?
Well. Change is in the air despite those polls that every media hack in the country cites as authoritative (they’re not). I hold out hope that we will not elect our own little Hitler.
But it’s Thanksgiving week! One of my favorite holidays, maybe my only favorite. Because, though I don’t write about it, I love to cook, could even be called a little obsessive about it. And since I quit drinking like a fish I can stop eating. Turkey coma here I come.
The Truth Isn’t 50/50
Enough with this fair and balanced crap
I write opinions. Sometimes they are observations. I’m not a journalist and I have taken no oath to be 100% fair and balanced, nor am I sticking to a single point of view. I skew liberal, sometimes progressive, but I draw a line at the idea that we need to give equal time to both sides of every story.
Life and the truth are not fair, especially when it comes to my favorite topics, politics and climate change. For example, I’m not being fair to oil and gas companies who bought congress to accomplish two things: to create denial and doubt about the biggest disaster in human history and to pretend that fossil fuels are not the cause.
Because those two things are true. Our consumption of oil, gas, and coal caused global warming and the fossil fuel companies have known this and covered it up for our entire lives. For profit, money, executive bonuses that go to people with grandchildren who sold their grandchildren’s future for cold hard cash.
Is there another side to that right now as we watch practically every nice place on the planet becoming inhabitable? Why would we pretend there is, in the face of overwhelming scientific consensus and evidence?
And why does an obviously mentally ill person have the support of an entire political party regardless of what he says or does? The man has run penny ante scams for his entire life. He’s a con artist and not even a very good one.
Remember Trump University? How about Trump Vodka? We elected a shill for shoddy products with his name smeared all over them. That’s on us. But knowing just how horrible this guy really is and how far he will go to get back in office, why does anyone give him equal time?
CNN tried it with that Town Hall broadcast and even pandered directly to him by loading the audience with diehard MAGA nutcases. And Trump ran right over the host, breaking every rule of civility. Rules which, thanks to him, no longer apply in America.
He gets a fair shot? Not from me. Moderate GOP members of Congress may be able to see the emperor’s new clothes but I don’t and I’m not going to pretend what I do see is anything but a hideous old fat guy wearing orange makeup and lying through his teeth at every opportunity.
Those on the right love fair and balanced, because they know it gives them a platform to say and do awful things and get publicity for them, good publicity. Because ‘any publicity is good publicity’ is now a real thing.
In matters like the Israeli/Hamas conflict, we do need to look at both sides because the issues on both sides are serious and real, deadly real. I won’t take sides in this debate because it’s too damned complicated and a lot of innocent lives on both sides are paying the price for two forms of extremism battling it out.
That’s an issue that requires fair and balanced reporting. But the other issues I’ve raised do not require artificial attempts to introduce justification for raping the planet or turning the American people against each other, violently, for personal gain. They are bad things done by bad people for bad reasons.
Because those people have vast resources or charisma doesn’t make their actions any better. Yet much of our media acts as though there are two sides, even when that contradicts all logic and facts.
There is nothing fair and balanced about that. It just sells eyeballs to advertisers and keeps the serious mental cases at bay. Most of them anyway.
The notion that everything needs to be weighted equally is turning into a major problem in this country. Children brought up believing everyone is a winner are not being prepared for reality, and too many of them turn into adults who still cry ‘unfair’ anytime something too real happens to them.
Mother Nature is pretty fair. But that means a lot of things get eaten by bigger things, not that unicorns prance and elves sing about cookies and every sky is blue.
We are all born with built-in bullshit detectors. But too many of us are taught to turn them off by men like Donald Trump. To blindly believe, because of fair and balanced reporting, that a man like that has something good about him.
He does not, and that is reality. Listen to that BS detector- it will tell you the truth. I can’t and won’t turn mine off.
Will Biden Win? Ask Xi Jinping
Radical wind shift in China this week
Xi Jinping, leader and dictator of China, read the tea leaves this week, met with Joe Biden, and just like that things changed in China’s attitude towards the US. It’s a remarkable thing and the Biden campaign people need to figure out how to talk about it.
They are not very good at tooting his horn, but that’s a whole different rant.
The short version here is that media attitude in China shifted abruptly from anti-US to friendly, literally overnight, after Xi met with the President this week.
This is a huge deal because the Chinese are very tuned into the subtleties of diplomacy. They’ve had thousands of years of practice. But this change is not subtle. However, it does build on a series of events in China and the world that should have been signals that a thaw might be coming.
Their economy is in the toilet after their draconian response to the Covid Pandemic paralyzed the country. The huge real estate bubble that had been inflating for years finally burst. It was an estimated 30% of their economy.
Unemployment is around 24% and many college educated youth are not even bothering to try to find a job.
Senior leaders representing harsh policies towards the West started disappearing without explanation. But the big shift may have been about Putin.
It appears that Xi has realized that his alignment with Putin’s disastrous Ukraine war and autocratic policies was drastically unbalanced. Yes they are both autocratic leaders of large totalitarian economies. But Putin’s economy has been shattered by his inability to admit he made a huge miscalculation, a miscalculation that has made him a global pariah.
The reality is he brings nothing to the table for China. Yes, he has oil, but as his economy fails further he will become a more and more desperate seller, and the Chinese know exactly how to exploit that.
But their economy needs them to be a major global player and the alignment with Putin just makes that more difficult. So they are abandoning him, or so this weeks’ action are signaling.
They cannot recover without the US and the free West. Their vaunted manufacturing excels at products that poor economies cannot afford. Things like advanced electric vehicles and electronics.
Which require massive amounts of semi-conductor chips that Biden has moved to corner the global market in. And because Taiwan Is the source for most of these chips, the US must defend it.
I’m guessing that Xi is rethinking his aggressive threats against Taiwan in light of this and the reality that Putin’s war on a sovereign state without justification is not sitting well with the strong western economies.
And we have learned that China has loans to poor countries totaling over one trillion dollars as part of their Belt and Road outreach efforts, loans that are not working out. Those poor countries are not becoming markets for Chinese products.
That strategy of establishing footholds in third world countries may prove powerful ideologically in the future but it is not solving problems today for the Chinese. And Xi’s authority.
The average American is notoriously uninterested in foreign policy. Isolationist movements like America First have reinforced the myth that we can exist without the rest of the planet, a myth that failed spectacularly when the supply chain from China was interrupted by the pandemic.
Without that flow of goods, our economy stalled and inflation soared. But Biden’ extensive foreign policy experience and ability to find bipartisanship where none seemed possible have changed everything.
First, his shepherding of NATO to show a hard wall of support for Ukraine stopped the Putin myth in its tracks. The feared Russian dictator was revealed to be a man insulated from reality and living in a fantasy of an imperial Russia.
Then Biden passed economic development bills, with bipartisan support, that invested huge sums in US infrastructure and did a critical thing: he shared that money across political lines, not showing favoritism to Democratic states and instead passing out the goodies across the spectrum.
Generous Joe Biden in contrast to divisive Donald Trump, a move that is gradually bearing fruit as the economy improves in an election year.
The second huge domestic move by Biden, which is actually a foreign policy directive, has been bringing the moribund US semi-conductor industry back to life through more investment. This has been both a defense policy (weapons systems need a lot of chips) and an economic one as manufacturers pile on to build new plants and train workers.
It’s working spectacularly. And Xi is no fool. He can see all of this and the changes we are seeing this week are the result of this perfect storm bringing China and the US together, at least for now.
I’m guessing that Xi has also made a calculation regarding the Biden vs Trump election and he is betting on Biden, despite the polling which American media have blown far out of proportion in their quest for the appearance of fairness.
The Biden campaign, though unimpressive so far, has been chipping away at Trump’s lack of vision and single-minded focus on supporting his oversized ego. Not to mention the endless coverage of Trump in court and his former lackies turning on him when faced with prison.
Xi, and China, see all of this and have not been captured by the inexplicable Trump charisma. They are looking at the numbers and calculating that Biden is necessary to their economic turnaround.
This may sound like a lot to infer from a change in tone in Chinese media and a restrained meeting in San Francisco this week. But those events are the culmination of a web of change that Biden and Xi can see and that do not interest Donald Trump because he cannot profit from them.
I’m no China hand, but you don’t have to be to weave these threads together into a relatively logical theory. And I don’t discount the resistance of many Americans to any form of logic these days.
But I can see how a shift in China’s attitude towards the US in 2024 could be a huge factor in the election. I’m just old enough to remember how, when Nixon was faltering, his famous China trip and rapprochement turned things around for him. Xi is aware of this, and so is Biden.
Trump? Not so much, I’m guessing.
Who Are the Bad Guys? I’m Losing Track and That’s OK
Apparently, we’re all vermin
I’ve got some news for those of you who are not big fans of Donald Trump, a pretty big chunk of Americans. According to him, we are vermin, you know, rats and bugs and crawly things, not humans.
It’s one of his new favorite words, which brings his vocabulary up to second grade level. And when the ex-president learns a new insult, he gets mileage out of it.
I remember a million years ago when our grade school bully learned a new word, fag, and anyone who looked at him wrong was called a fag. But I’m pretty sure he had no idea what that meant and neither did the rest of us. But it sounded insulting. And cool, too.
Just for perspective, this is long before gender identity terms even existed, and the culture wars were well hidden. We had no fat people, no gay people, and definitely no black people in my little school.
But now we have a whole spectrum of people to hate, so much so that I have lost track of who I am supposed to be mad at this week. Palestinians and Jews seem to be at the top of various people’s lists along with perennials like immigrants and anyone who lives in a bad neighborhood. You know, those people.
But now we get to celebrate the rise of the vermin, courtesy of the chief hater of America. There was woke, which a lot of people could not define when pressed. That was Mr DeSantis’ hate cry, along with anything implying there was nothing wrong with non-heterosexuals.
He defined woke as cultural Marxism. Huh?
Etc., etc., etc. Why is it cool to have a laundry list of those we can’t stand, are threatened by, look down upon, or say terrible things about? Whatever happened to the Power of Positive Thinking? You know, thinking the best of each other until proven wrong?
Now a good portion of us have a default of hate and fear when it comes to strangers, and it has poisoned our country. And I’ll argue that the poisoning is entirely intentional, a strategy of the Republican Party, practically carved in stone.
They want Americans to live in fear of others, to only talk to clones of themselves, to be shielded from life, not unlike the shield a wealthy brat like Donald Trump grew up with, swaddled in money and taught entitlement from an early age.
You can’t be entitled without there being scum to look down on. And now half the country is defined as scum, vermin, by a man seeking the Presidency of a democracy where, in theory, all people are created equal.
Nice theory by the way.
If I, as a Democrat, defend the rights of others to be different than me, I am woke, despite being an older white straight man, just the kind of guy the Republicans know is one of them. You can tell by the cut of his jib that he is a good chap, on the right side.
Where I come from there is no right side. You either grew up seeing everyone as wops, Jews, pollacks, spics, and a host of other words I don’t even want to type. Or you saw people and looked for their humanity.
We need, more than ever, to see humanity as our fellow travelers, not vermin, not things to hate and crush and exterminate.
There is something Republicans and their leaders don’t want you to know. Other people are pretty interesting, usually friendly, and often bring other ideas to the table. I don’t start conversations with strangers by categorizing them politically, racially, by sexual preference, or religion.
In fact, when I meet someone from another part of the country, or my city, or who dresses and looks different from me, I’m curious. What do they think? What can I learn?
Right now America is divided as never before. The terrorism and war in Israel and Gaza have otherwise rational people threatening neighbors. In Florida no one knows what to accept anymore as DeSantis piles the hate policies up.
In Texas and much of the southwest, where the majority population may be Latino, the white haters are faced with either hating all their neighbors or converting the ‘good’ ones to hate the bad ones, mostly immigrants.
Here in my northeastern city, we liberals don’t want to hear that our town is on the books as one of the most racially segregated in the country. But when you draw lines on maps, it’s obvious, and when we go out, it’s obvious.
White people and black people seldom hang out together. Don’t say that to the white people who consider themselves enlightened and open-minded. A lot of them, in the privacy of the voting booth, voted for Trump back when he won something.
We can go through life blaming everything on forces out of our control or we can take responsibility for driving our own life choices. We have a political party that sees value in division and hatred, even when it is unjustified or ridiculous, like Trump’s description of anyone who disagrees with him as vermin.
But words have power and he knows it. Fear has power and fear is the motivator for much of the country.
Are you familiar with the concept of courtesy? Of kindness without prejudgment? Of bipartisanship when it is the best way to get things done? Of listening?
If you are, apparently a man running for leader of the free world thinks you are vermin. I guess I’m vermin, scum. I’m ok with that.
Nice to meet you.
With three newsletters, and four or five Medium articles weekly, I’m keeping pretty busy. Holidays don’t slow me down, this is just what I do and I love it. Unfortunately the money stinks, so if you’d like to support my ranting and loving, please consider a paid subscription.
Every one makes a daily difference and is a real shot in the arm motivation-wise. I don’t underestimate the value of that. I feel the same about comments, because my topics really are about dialog at a time when at least one political party would rather we did not talk amongst ourselves.
Ok, discuss amongst yourselves…
Did you write today?
3186 words (that might be a personal record for this newsletter!)
~ I write The Grasshopper, a letter for creatives, The Witness Chronicles, a weekly digest of three of my articles on politics and climate, and The Remarkable, a recovery letter, about my addiction and reentry experience. All are weekly and free with a paid option to share support. Please check them out.
If you want to show support but don’t want to commit to a subscription, you can always buy me a coffee!
Believe me, it makes my day. M