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Musings from the shed.

Rob Elshire

'Very worst of the pandemic' ahead in US with no apparent strategy, experts say | World news | The Guardian

Between the calling of the election and the installation of a the new president, it looks like there will be no plan for dealing with the pandemic from the Trump administration. Not that this is new or anything. It is cold and flu season in the US and there are the Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years holidays on top. Those holidays typically involve travelling around the country, gathering in large groups, and sharing meals. There are a lot of people acting as if it is over. Ugh.

Reddit discussion.

Rob Elshire

Trump is the loser.

1 min read

For the last 4 mornings, I have woken up wondering if the US presidential election had been called. This was the morning. Joe Biden won. Donald Trump Lost.

In an end fitting such a surreal election, Rudy Giuliani was holding a press conference making shit up about election theft at the time the announcement came through. The press conference was held at Four Seasons Total Landscaping. Perhaps the venue was chosen because the only place there was going to be a happy ending possible for Rudy is at the Fantasy Island adult book store next door.

Rob Elshire

Donald Trump vs. Democracy

2 min read

My old friend Trent Shepard from Urbana Illinois / Stephen's Bay NZ spent a few days with us this week. We watched much of the PBS coverage of the election yesterday. Too much really. We took a pause to bbq and have a really nice dinner sitting outside on our deck. When we finished, Trent, Robyn, and I went back out to the shed where the TV is a few minutes before Trump took the stage to speak. It was 2:30 AM Eastern time, but 8:30 PM here.

It was the most surreal thing I have ever seen. The president of the United (sic) States claimed that his voters were being disenfranchised by counting other peoples' votes. He declared that as far as he was concerned he already won the election and the voting must stop. He said he would take it to the supreme court.

We were in shock. The PBS commentators where in shock. Even though we had been warned about this scenario by Bernie Sanders a few weeks ago. Now the count goes on as does the dumpster fire that is 2020.

For me, the biggest take home lesson from this election, is that there are millions of selfish, bigotted Americans who agree enough with Donald J Trump to vote for him. Like nearly half of the people who voted. At the same time, the Democrats put forth an old, centrist, neo-liberal as the alternative. This makes me so, so sad.

The COVID-19 pandemic will rage on in America due to these selfish, bigotted people. Regardless of the outcome of the presidential election, Ya'll Queda, under the leadership of Donald Trump, are racing headlong to Pyrrhic victory -- "Give me liberty and give me death". This is not fun to watch.

Rob Elshire

Coalition to cut $2 billion a year from university research | The Saturday Paper

Over in Australia they are getting ready to cut back on the feedstock of the economy. According to Nobel Prize winning economist and former world bank president Joseph Stiglitz, historical evidence shows that basic research underpins wealth creation.  A reduction in research funding is the wrong direction for an economic recovery.

In other words, you shouldn't eat your seed corn.

Rob Elshire

Home | Vote NZ

So it is an election year in both of the countries where I am elegible to vote: Aotearoa New Zealand and the United States of America. 

Here, in Aotearoa, the government wants you to vote. They make it easy for you to be informed about the processs. They make it easy to be registered (actually, it for anyone elegible to vote, registration is compulsory but voting is not). They provide weeks of polls being open so that everyone has an opportunity to vote.

This stands in stark contrast to the United (sic) States of America. There, the republican led federal government has been making it really hard for people they don't like to vote. This includes political decisions damaging the postal service's ability to do what it is supposed to do: deliver mail. At the state level, poll placement, hours, numbers of voting boths, purging of voter rolls, etc. make it difficult to vote. Not to mention, that election day is on a Tuesday. WTF America?

Yesterday I cast my votes in Aotearoa. One for the local parlamentary candidate, one for a political party, and one each on two referendums. Easy, peasy. With contact tracing, hand sanitizer, and social distancing. All very safe and sensible -- even when we have not had any new community cases of COVID-19 for over a week.

This morning, I got an email from Tompkins County New York. It let me know that my absentee ballot had been received and would be counted in the Federal election.  It could be that the safest place to cast your ballot for US president is in New Zealand...

I've written previously about my vote for US president. What I had not thought about at the time was that I would have a vote for the vice president as well. I chose AOC.

The outcome of the federal elections will still leave the wealthy running the country, regardless of which party prevails. It is not a matter of if most people will be screwed, just a question of by whom and how badly. Time will tell.

Rob Elshire

Why I Won't Vote for Biden or Trump

I'm a Gen Xer that became politically aware in the 1980's. My understanding broadened and matured in the 90's when it was very clear that neoliberal economic based politics (whether from Democrats or Republicans) was hurting most people. Racism was used as a tool to divide the working class. Sexism, just a normal part of the way the world works. It just got worse from there.

In 2016, for the first time since I became eligible to vote for president, I decided not to vote. Given the choice between two members of the "Fuck you, I've got mine" ruling class, I wasn't going to lend my support to a corrupt system. In 2020, we've got the same choice, again. Another "Fuck you" from the boomer ruling class. This is the last time that I will be eligible to vote in a U.S. presidential election. I will write in my vote for Bernard Sanders.

Rob Elshire

PhD candidate says some post-grad students should be let in as essential workers | RNZ News

Back in 2016 there was talk of international education as NZ's 5th biggest export industry. Growth was forcast to be $5 Billion per annum by 2025. This year we are reading about losses in that industry. More about University Funding.

So here, in 2020, we find ourselves in a neoliberal dystopia where everything is a business, using just-in-time methods, commoditizing everything, and just making a general mess of things. The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed the lack of resilience in this very, very brittle system. Nearly no one is winning here. Possibly some highly paid management types (using titles borrowed from the church centuries ago). Maybe they are still making bank and have secure positions.

So, maybe, just maybe some post-grad students should be let back in as essential workers. Well, we have been told they are students, not workers. Surely, if they were workers, they would be paid at least minimum wage like our other essential workers (e.g. supermarket checkout staff). Oh, but that would muck up the finances of the universities (not to mention the CRIs). So, we can not call them workers.

With everyone talking about the tertiary education export industry, might we suggest a rebrand to a very popular industry segment? Tertiary education is clearly a primary industry which milks and fleeces the students while externalizing the expenses to those early in their careers. What a beautiful example of neoliberal economics in action. Well done Tertiary Education Industry!

Rob Elshire

In the Wake of George Floyd’s Murder, the Image of Colin Kaepernick Kneeling Goes Viral Again | Vogue

Heartbreaking this SNAFU. The Vogue article below shows that America should be ashamed of itself.

 

Lebron James Instagram

Lebron James via Instagram

Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.

-- President John F. Kennedy

 

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey from an NBC interview.

"What we've seen over the last two days ... is the result of so much built-up anger and sadness," he told reporters. "Anger and sadness that has been ingrained in our black community, not just because of five minutes of horror, but 400 years.”

 

Minneapolis riots after George Floyd's murder.

Minneapolis riots after George Floyd's murder by police officer.

 

Just spoke to Governor Tim Walz and told him that the Military is with him all the way. Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts.

-- President Donald J. Trump via twitter

 

Trump offers gasoline as a solution. We know what to expect from his supporters. The ruling class benefits from pitting groups of people against one another. Social justice movements work for everyone. Black Lives Matter is a social justice movement. So is the Palestinian led BDS (Boycott, Divest, and Sanction) movement.

To the Christians who talk about what 'those people' should and should not do, maybe you could consider this:

And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

King James Bible Mathew 25:40

and

Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.

King James Bible Galations 6:2

This person, with a clear understanding of what systemic oppression does , who for decades has put these words into action was my best hope for change in the United States.

 

Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders arrested while protesting housing discrimination.

Would that life in the US in 2020 reflected the words of the Rolling Stones.

You can't always get what you want
But if you try sometimes you just might find
You get what you need

Unfortunately, it is NWA's music that is appropriate, still.

Rob Elshire

there are moments in time when people need to live their convictions | MetaFilter

This metafilter post was 18 months ago. Now the president has been impeached. His trial in the senate is looking to be a total sham(e).

The same man who callusly put children in cages was a speaker at the annual march-for-life rally just a few days ago. From their website

The right to life is a human right. Our defense of that right is a joyful witness to the beauty and dignity of every human person.

Tell me again how caging children and calling them animals supports the 'dignity of every human person.' It seems to me that having Trump speak at this rally reveals exactly what these people think of children. It is not pretty.

And no, Jeffrey Epstein did not kill himself.

Rob Elshire

'An anguished question from a Trump supporter: "Why do liberals think Trump supporters are stupid?"

4 min read

The following is by Florida writer Adam-Troy Castro, shared by a friend on FB: 'An anguished question from a Trump supporter: "Why do liberals think Trump supporters are stupid?" The serious answer: Here’s what we really think about Trump supporters - the rich, the poor, the malignant and the innocently well-meaning, the ones who think and the ones who don't...

That when you saw a man who had owned a fraudulent University, intent on scamming poor people, you thought "Fine." That when you saw a man who had made it his business practice to stiff his creditors, you said, "Okay." That when you heard him proudly brag about his own history of sexual abuse, you said, "No problem." That when he made up stories about seeing muslim-Americans in the thousands cheering the destruction of the World Trade Center, you said, "Not an issue." That when you saw him brag that he could shoot a man on Fifth Avenue and you wouldn't care, you chirped, "He sure knows me."

That when you heard him illustrate his own character by telling that cute story about the elderly guest bleeding on the floor at his country club, the story about how he turned his back and how it was all an imposition on him, you said, "That's cool!" That when you saw him mock the disabled, you thought it was the funniest thing you ever saw. That when you heard him brag that he doesn't read books, you said, "Well, who has time?" That when the Central Park Five were compensated as innocent men convicted of a crime they didn't commit, and he angrily said that they should still be in prison, you said, "That makes sense." That when you heard him tell his supporters to beat up protesters and that he would hire attorneys, you thought, "Yes!"

That when you heard him tell one rally to confiscate a man's coat before throwing him out into the freezing cold, you said, "What a great guy!" That you have watched the parade of neo-Nazis and white supremacists with whom he curries favor, while refusing to condemn outright Nazis, and you have said, "Thumbs up!" That you hear him unable to talk to foreign dignitaries without insulting their countries and demanding that they praise his electoral win, you said, "That's the way I want my President to be." That you have watched him remove expertise from all layers of government in favor of people who make money off of eliminating protections in the industries they're supposed to be regulating and you have said, "What a genius!" That you have heard him continue to profit from his businesses, in part by leveraging his position as President, to the point of overcharging the Secret Service for space in the properties he owns, and you have said, "That's smart!"

That you have heard him say that it was difficult to help Puerto Rico because it was the middle of water and you have said, "That makes sense." That you have seen him start fights with every country from Canada to New Zealand while praising Russia and quote, "falling in love" with the dictator of North Korea, and you have said, "That's statesmanship!" That Trump separated children from their families and put them in cages, managed to lose track of 1500 kids. has opened a tent city incarceration camp in the desert in Texas - he explains that they’re just “animals” - and you say, “well, ok then.”

That you have witnessed all the thousand and one other manifestations of corruption and low moral character and outright animalistic rudeness and contempt for you, the working American voter, and you still show up grinning and wearing your MAGA hats and threatening to beat up anybody who says otherwise. What you don't get, Trump supporters in 2019, is that succumbing to frustration and thinking of you as stupid may be wrong and unhelpful, but it's also...hear me...charitable.

Because if you're NOT stupid, we must turn to other explanations, and most of them are less flattering.'