It’s Going To Get Uglier

Last weekend, my husband and I attended the Phoenix Theatre’s presentation of Sweat, a prize-winning play based upon an episode of union-busting and outsourcing that took place some years ago in Reading, Pennsylvania. As with all Phoenix productions, the acting was superb, and the set evocative. But it was the play’s message that really resonated.

As workers in the local factories lost their jobs, social bonds frayed. Self-esteem suffered. Longstanding interracial friendships surrendered to suspicions that promotions had been awarded on the basis of “diversity” rather than merit. As with all powerful art, the play illuminated a human truth: in times of economic and/or social uncertainty–especially when  livelihoods are threatened– people turn on each other.

Political scientists have varying explanations for the election of Donald Trump, but those explanations all include, to varying degrees, economic insecurity and racial resentment. A significant number of Americans are struggling to put food on the table. Automation is threatening the jobs of many others. The pace of social and technological change can seem dizzying. And rather than working to tackle these and other problems, the President and his henchmen are telling us to blame the Other: immigrants, Muslims, minorities.

A recent headline from the Guardian tells us that anti-Semitic incidents soared in 2017.

Antisemitic incidents in the US surged 57% in 2017, the Anti-Defamation League said on Tuesday, the largest year-on-year increase since the Jewish civil rights group began collecting data in 1979.

Close to 2,000 cases of harassment, vandalism and physical assault were recorded,

Another report tells us that we are in danger of reversing the civil rights advances of the last fifty years.

Civil rights gains of the past half-century have stalled or in some areas gone into reverse, according to a report marking the 50th anniversary of the landmark Kerner Commission.

Child poverty has increased, schools have become resegregated and white supremacists are becoming emboldened and more violent, the study says…..

Fred Harris, the last surviving member of the Kerner Commission, told Tuesday’s conference at George Washington University: “We made progress on virtually every aspect of race and poverty for nearly a decade after the Kerner report and then that progress slowed, then stopped and in many ways was reversed, so that today racial and ethnic discrimination is again worsening. We are resegregating our cities and our schools, condemning millions of kids to inferior education and taking away their real possibility of getting out of poverty.”

Harris, a former Democratic senator from Oklahoma and co-editor of the new report, added: “There are millions more poor people today than there were then. There’s greater child poverty; poverty’s harder to get out of. More poor people are in deep poverty than was true 50 years ago and income inequality is worse now and worsening.”

Last week, the Supreme Court heard a case that is very likely to eviscerate public-sector unions–the culmination of a decades-long, largely successful effort by the Koch brothers and their allies in the GOP to destroy workers’ ability to bargain. It is an effort that has gone hand-in-hand with their consistent and very effective attack on government programs that help needy Americans.

As Sweat vividly illustrated, poverty and powerlessness beget bigotry and social discord.

If voters don’t turn this country around in November, America will illustrate something else–Hobbes’ description of life outside society: solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.


  1. I teach in a public school on the east side of Indianapolis; an area that has declined rapidly from it’s heyday in the 60s and 70s. The neighborhood school is rated an F by the state of Indiana, and teachers and administrators are being made responsible for the poverty and economic struggle of the children and their families of our school. Every bit of the problems associated with the economic decline of the area can be directly linked to the rule of the GOP in Indiana government. The assault on unions, dismantling of public education, and deep cuts to social services such as food stamps and medicaid have have taken a huge toll on the lives of the children in my classroom. The GOP in this state should be held directly responsible for the misery they have created with their legistlation that has plunged urban areas of the state into deep poverty and they should be voted out of office.

    Sheila once wrote that some in the GOP don’t want to govern, they want to rule. We will be paying for that destructive rule for decades.

  2. “It’s Going To Get Uglier”

    If this past week with Trump’s own people admitting he came “unglued” is not proof of the truth in the title of today’s blog; what is it going to take. If our unions has been salvaged from Republican destruction during the past very few years; would it be the reality it has become today? I come from a union family and am well aware that there were those union leaders who worked outside the law to increase pressure on their areas of unionization but…the millions of union workers strove only for all members to be treated fairly, respectfully, be provided safe working conditions and fair pay. I doubt we will ever see those days again; I doubt we will see the return of beneficial unions again. Trump’s highly acclaimed “trade war” may well be the deadliest shot he has fired at this country because retaliation from around the world is inevitable, we have already seen the beginning from Canada’s Prime Minister Trudeau. The job market and economy in in this country will fail, and fail miserably, sending us into a repeat of the “crash of 1929” and the “dust bowl” conditions will encompass our cities but American migrants in today’s world will have nowhere to migrate for better conditions let alone salvation.

    The production of “Sweat” was based in the reality of union-busting and outsourcing of a number of years ago when there was a large number of unions to bust and businesses to outsource…we no longer have that level of starting place to rerun “Sweat” conditions. “…we are in danger of reversing the civil rights advances of the last fifty years.” We are already at least one decade beyond being in “danger” of reversing our civil rights advances; the money behind the Republican party began that in earnest with the formation of that committee determined to stop President Obama from making progress based only on his race and the “dog whistle” of Trump’s logo “Make America Great Again” campaign. His encouragement of violence to oust those “others” attending his rallies and his immediate illegal attempt to block Muslims from entering this country was the beginning of his racial discrimination in addition to Pence’s pseudo-christian base.

    “If voters don’t turn this country around in November, America will illustrate something else–Hobbes’ description of life outside society: solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.”

    This past week of chaos and Trump’s own people stating he became “unglued”, resulting in his declaration of the “trade war”, may be proof that it is already far too late to be looking forward to the November elections for salvation. I view it as documented proof that the founding fathers were remiss in writing the Constitution with no way for the population of this country to protect itself from our own government who sit idle as one mentally incompetent fool vents his frustration on the entire United States and the world at large as he surges out of control through the White House, once the home of American democracy.

  3. JoAnn,

    “This past week of chaos and Trump’s own people stating he became “unglued”, resulting in his declaration of the “trade war”, may be proof that it is already far too late to be looking forward to the November elections for salvation. I view it as documented proof that the founding fathers were remiss in writing the Constitution with no way for the population of this country to protect itself from our own government who sit idle as one mentally incompetent fool vents his frustration on the entire United States and the world at large as he surges out of control through the White House, once the home of American democracy.”

    That’s called POLITICAL REALITY folks. The members of this blog including Sheila need to face up to this unfortunate reality NOW, not later. JoAnn has the necessary “SKIN IN THE GAME” to see the REAL TRUTH we’re all facing.

    We ‘re facing a LIFE OR DEATH PROBLEM. The Democratic Party doesn’t have the capacity or the LEADERSHIP to face-up to that reality.

    We better find another way, before we’re going to be taken down a ROAD OF NO RETURN. We might be already on it.

  4. The Koch Brothers and their organization (Amer. Legislative Exchange Council – ALEC) have worked for decades to eliminate environmental laws, public education, unions, the social safety net for those needing it – including children and those in nursing homes, pensions, workplace safety, collective bargaining, product safety, consumer protection. They also support privatization of public functions and tax cuts on their immense wealth so that they can buy more TV time to elect those who think like them. (The Kochs’ PAC is funding the current ads criticizing Joe Donnelly for voting against the tax cuts that made the Kochs billions richer.)

    It’s Koch Brother legislation that seized legal authority from elected mayors and city councils in Michigan and poisoned the Flint Michigan water supply. Their chief proponents in Indiana (State Rep. Bob Behning, R-Indpls among them) have been trying to accomplish the same replacement of democracy here in Indiana with appointment of non-resident school boards and emergency managers – eliminating accountability to the local community.

    If the Kochs want to foment revolution, they’re going about it exactly the right way.

  5. Marv; thanks for your support, I am “on the outside, looking in” and to quote you, “We better find another way, before we’re going to be taken down a ROAD OF NO RETURN. We might be already on it.” I see no crossroads or forks in the road ahead; do you?

    Being deaf; we must depend on vision in ways those with hearing don’t always notice. We read body language, facial expressions and not only expressions in speaker’s eyes but where they are looking when “listening” or at least allowing others to speak. This is especially true for me with Trump; he most often appears to be staring off into space while “listening”. His massive ego swept him through the nomination process and his campaign as well as his earlier days in office with expansive gestures and waving arms as well as those stubby little finger motions. Recently he is frequently sitting at the conference table with officials with his arms tightly crossed over his chest; the others sitting with hands folded and arms resting on the table. This led me to Google that specific statement in body language.

    “When someone crosses their arms, it usually means that they’re closed for arguments. By crossing the arms, a barrier is put in front of the body, as some sort of protection. Putting an object in front of you may be the same signal.

    Another reason for crossing arms may be that you’re feeling vulnerable or insecure. The crossing of arms may then be interpreted as a sort of “self-hug”, to comfort yourself.”

    “closed for arguments” and “vulnerable or insecure”, it is apparent that he is aware of losing control; but of himself or the power of his office is the question? He also sits with visitors with legs spread, elbows on knees and hand clasped between his legs. One can only guess what he is protecting with that language. It is also “readable” in his becoming “unglued” after the departure of one of his closest and one of his most beautiful advisers. His actions and changeable decisions; often daily, from morning to night or hour to hour is his greatest indication to all of us that “It’s Going To Get Uglier”. And he has sped up this threat; again daily, from morning to night or hour to hour. Be afraid, be VERY afraid!

  6. Nancy Papas,

    “If the Kochs want to foment revolution, they’re going about it exactly the right way.”

    They want just the opposite…..Fascist-like control and they’re getting it much earlier than expected thru the machinations of Trump/Bannon.

  7. The writers of the Constitution foresaw ALMOST ALL bad situations that could face the governing system they were putting in place. One terrible situation, which they overlooked, appears when an evil, ignorant, incompetent, insane person becomes president. The founding fathers were naive enough to believe that could be overcome with impeachment. But that remedy presumes that the arrival of a pestilent president would not coincide with the presence of an evil, ignorant, incompetent, insane and equally pestilent congress. Thus, we, who likely do not possess the wisdom and courage of our founding fathers, are faced with completing their mission. Have you heard of Mission Impossible?

  8. I’m waiting to see what happens with the tariff. Trump declared the tariff, but he also declared that transgender personnel would no longer be allowed to serve in the armed forces. He still doesn’t get that there is a process. Just because he says it doesn’t make it so. If we must be led by the devil, it helps that our devil is incompetent.

  9. One of the things that parents seem to realize nowadays is that it’s essential to teach their kids resilience. The best laid plans go astray and people need to be able to problem solve with a minimum of negative emotion and recover; move past; focus on what resources they have, not what they wish they had.

    I’m afraid that our tragic ballet box blunder of 2016 has led to a much less resilient country just at the time we may well need to be more.

    We of course can’t know exactly when and how that will become evident but I think that we’ll be shocked by the consequences. Solvable problems will unravel and spin out of control as people realize nobody has their backs, it’s every person for themselves.

    Much of the Republican agenda is property up now and damn the future consequences.

    They will bite back.

  10. Peggy,

    “If we must be led by the devil, it helps that our devil is incompetent.”

    That’s the only advantage we have. We must act on it now. Impeachment is not our only alternative. We have to reconstitute an effective PRO-DEMOCRACY FRONT or equalizer in order to make the conflict more symmetrical. It’s now all one-sided and becoming more so every day that we delay fixing the problem.

  11. Lynn Rothschild condemned Barack Obama during his campaign against Hillary for “using the image of class warfare.”

    It is class warfare, but Barack sure as heck didn’t start the war, nor did he do anything to correct it. He failed miserably. He talked about the right things to get progressives interested then he abandoned his words once elected. He was handed the most significant opportunity during the 2008 financial crisis, but he failed the people. He never clarified the problem nor did he hold the responsible parties accountable.

    His allegiance and DCCC’s connection with donors from Wall Street coopted any social movement. In fact, his work to destroy the Occupy Movement after they denounced Obama and the DNC is well documented. Chris Hedges was at ground zero during that fight.

    It’s hard to protest the class war when the oppressors have the game rigged. However, the people will find a way, and the young people are already moving down that path. Look at what happened in West Virginia with the teachers union. Look at the young kids in Florida.

    It will get worse as the far right has been conveniently misled and provides the votes needed for quick destruction. The Democratic Party has no answer other than they don’t support Trumpism. How convenient for the Donor Class – Wall Street firms, lobbyists, and billionaires.

    The Democratic Socialism organization provides hope as does the People’s Party. The Democracy Collaborative is working on new economic concepts which are very promising. They will have to continue while censorship of the internet increases and anybody supporting the class war is called, “Putin’s puppet,” “Kremlin stooge,” or “Russian sympathizer.” I’ve been called all those in the past several weeks on Twitter.

    Our intelligentsia has concocted a red scare to provide a smokescreen for state-sponsored censorship. Corporate media is used to maintain the smokescreen 24/7. The difference between real journalism and the free press and what’s on our television is almost comical. Anybody not touting the corporate-state narrative will be marginalized so the organizations fighting back against class warfare will have a more difficult time.

    Trump’s administration is doing more for social movements and progressive causes than we could have ever hoped for under a Clinton administration. We’d already be at war with Russia over Syria by now.

    From all accounts, Russian organizations spent $46K on Facebook before the election. The Koch brothers spent $1 billion. Who should our Democratic politicians be at war with – Putin or Charles Koch? They should all be clamoring for term limits and the end of Citizen’s United. Instead, .

    Indianapolis and Washington is a cesspool of corruption. Our current stage of government is a Kleptocracy. Dollars are being extracted from communities all around the USA funneling into the hands of fewer and fewer players.

  12. Actually, Larry, the founders DID put a brake in place to prevent a madman like Trump to be president. It’s called the ELECTORAL COLLEGE.

    Automation has been with us since the invention of the plow. Robotics is just the latest iteration, and has also been around for decades. The difference between then and now is that there were jobs for displaced workers to find in the past. Those “mobile” jobs have been sent to other countries in order to quell unions. ALEC certainly has played a role in the treaties and laws that allow that off-shoring of jobs.

    Trump was elected by the failure of the Electoral College and by tapping into those very things seen in that play, “Sweat”. Of the few things he knows, he knows how to sow hate and exploit discontent. This allows him to strut in as the savior. Remember, “I alone can cure our problems?”

    Trump is a con man and a con man knows his mark. His marks, in this case, cover the gamut of our short-comings as a society. The sixty-two million suckers who voted for him are the ultimate sucker/mark. The ninety-two million fools who didn’t vote, allowed us to be subjected to the worst person in the world as our president. The Electoral College proved itself to be outmoded.

    No, we’re not going to allow this forever. Yes, the Democrats appear to be not engaged, but only because they aren’t on Fox News screaming their heads off. But the Democrats are beginning to vote. Even in Texas, the voter turnout among Democrats is up 65% from their best ever turnout.

  13. The corporate state is making progress with Trump’s attempt. Koch’s systematic approach of controlling local politics & schools thru out the country, is a thorough way of retaining support of their agenda. Unless it becomes more evident to more Americans as to what is going on, the momentum toward Authoritarianism will increase. Trump’s coming unglued is probably the pressure of the Mueller investigation closing in on him. Will the result be more Americans seeing that their interests were not being served, and would that make a difference?

  14. Thanks to JoAnn for her Trump body language assessment. I always wondered what people who can read body language thought of him. Never thought his words and movements matched up quite right myself. I’m always shocked at what comes out of his mouth.

    I wish that Obama had some of Trump’s… willful ignorance about policy change. People forget that the president doesn’t always get what he wants once he makes it into office. There are many others that must be persuaded. Trump doesn’t seem to persuade as much as he dictates.

    Perhaps it’s my ignorance of how politics and government actually work, but I assumed Trump would be hit with the same realization when he took office… the president doesn’t just get what he says. Sadly, he seems to have circumvented process somehow. I don’t truly understand why the rest of the government is just letting it happen?

  15. Vernon; but States Rights overrode the brake of the Electoral College when the majority of them put in place the requirement that ALL members of their Electoral College vote for that state’s party affiliation rather than casting their preference. That right was not against any provision in the Constitution…think we can get the Republican states to give up that right as well as ending gerrymandering? Was this overlooked, forgotten or ignored by the Democratic party when Rudy Guiliani bragged repeatedly prior to the election that the Republicans “have something up their sleeve and the Electoral vote is guaranteed”? Whatever; that proved to be the case so why was Trump surprised to win the presidency – didn’t the GOP forewarn him he was getting the job?

  16. MFoxx,

    “Sadly, he seems to have circumvented process somehow. I don’t truly understand why the rest of the government is just letting it happen?”

    He and Steve Bannon hijacked the Republican Party Movement. What do you want them to do after all these years of orchestrating a slow-motion TAKE-OVER, commit suicide? That’s why there is no answer through partisan politics. The Republican Party with its longtime move toward WHITE SUPREMACY is locked in with no way out.

  17. Thanks, JoAnn. You are right about the subsequent events that turned the EC into a rubber stamp. That said, it underscores the need to abolish it…along with Citizens United v. FEC and the Gramm-Bliley Act that overturned Glass-Steagall. All of these things, plus the gerrymandering are Republican ploys to rig the election system. We are in absolute agreement on that, and the only way all this will get fixed is with a dominant Democratic Congress.

    Get out the vote this year.

  18. Republicans have one tiny hope for redemption even considering the help they will get from Putin. To split the Democratic Party.

    That I would predict will describe this political year. They will double down on their propganda carpet bombing as they did to Obama and Clinton but this year the scapegoat will be the DNC.

    BTW, it’s already started.

  19. Pete,

    “Republicans have one tiny hope for redemption even considering the help they will get from Putin. To split the Democratic Party.”

    The Democratic Party is already split. They didn’t need the Republicans to do it.

  20. Blaming minorities for our problems doesn’t solve our problems but rather diverts our time and energy to finger-pointing rather than to their solution. Thus blaming Obama for his failure to solve some of our problems during his stint ignores the fact that he didn’t create the problems; we can attribute such creations to Bush, Jr., the “born again” WMD liar, murderer of thousands and the second worst president we have ever had, eclipsed only by this thing we have sitting in the Oval Office these days. (I hesitate to call him human.)

    Republicans of the Watergate era were much better Americans than the ones we now have in that they supported an impeachment process that drove a drunken fraudster from office, whereas current Republicans are silent to the point of treason against our polity. It’s almost as though they are knowingly and willingly engaged in the destruction of our democracy in order to get a few pieces of legislation through for their donors before the blue tsunami engulfs them this fall, which from a practical point of view is a short-sighted vision in that such legislation is subject to repeal or other limitations of its effects in time.

    It can thus be argued that Trump is only part of the problem; that his ignorance, demand for loyalty over competence, and major policy decisions out of the blue (see tariffs sans internal discussion) can be harnessed by Republican leadership, but where are McConnell and Ryan?They are cowering in the political corner, afraid of their shadows, hoping they can make their donors happy before the ax falls. In a real sense they are worse for America than Trump because they are not mentally ill as is the blob of protoplasm in the White House – they know better and are making a conscious choice to risk losing our democracy for their own private gain, so it is not only Trump who has to go.

  21. Pete,

    “Marv, then there is no hope.”

    I didn’t say there wasn’t any hope. Historically, partisan politics are not the only venue for change within the body politic. What about the successful Civil Rights Movement? Congress was forced to act before there was any election. They were worried about heavy Russian involvemen in Africa. We couldn’t afford to lose our controlling presence to the Soviet Union because of our extreme racial policies.

  22. Todd @ 9:12 am – I agree with your comments. The Corporate Democratic Party and their big donors does permit some elements of Liberalism. There is no challenge to the Neo-Liberal economic plan of Wall Street permitted. The Clinton’s cashed in rather well with their big speaking fees. The Corporate Democratic Party failed to support a Single Payer or Universal Health Care Plan, instead we received ACA which was a convoluted method to maintain the For Profit Health Care system. As you noted the Corporate Democratic Party failed to support the Occupy Movement.

    If the recent history of the Corporate Democratic Party is any guide the young people, supported by the older generation that is demanding gun control now, will hear lip service but no action. See below link.

    I read comments here about the Electoral College system being unfair. The Corporate Democratic Party has their own version of the Electoral College called Super Delegates.

    New Campaign Challenges DCCC’s “All-Out War Against Progressives”
    Petitions from CREDO, Justice Democrats, and Our Revolution cite a flurry of recent revelations about the DCCC, which is the campaign arm of Democrats in the U.S. House.

    To wit:

    The Intercept reported this week on polling documents presented to House Democrats last April which suggested that the messaging Democrats push on healthcare in no way discuss how Medicare for All cold be a solution.

    Also this week, the Huffington Post reported on how the DCCC told House candidates the day after the mass hooting in Las Vegas “Do NOT POLITICIZE IT TODAY.” The candidates were instead directed to offer “thoughts/prayers.”
    The DCCC repeated that message to candidates following the mass shooting in Parkland, Fla. last month.
    The DCCC also attacked progressive candidate Laura Moser, a progressive Democrat who is running to represent Houston, Texas in the U.S. House. Its effort, however, seems to be backfiring.
    BuzzFeed also reported last month on how a group of black Democrats, Collective PAC, is asking the DCCC why it has not included any black candidates in its “Red to Blue” program.

  23. Patience, Patriots, this Administration is in its death throes.
    Worry, Patriots, about its replacement.
    Pray, Patriots, that it will run for office again in 2020.
    That’s when, if you will, you can turn this disaster around.
    You can pave the way in November, Patriots, by cleaning the GOP out of the Congress.
    You know it, Patriots, but will you do it?
    Or will you wring your hands, gnash your teeth and self-destruct again?
    Patriots! Will you be complicit in the demise of USA world leadership?

  24. Very well put OMG.

    Problems are solved a step at a time and everyone attacking a different problem typically leads to stasis. That’s why the status quo sows discord.

    We have enough problems and opportunities to last several lifetimes but they need to be addressed in the most effective order.

    Step one is to stuff all of the enemy back into their hollow horse and get it outside the gate.

  25. Todd,

    Your dissatisfaction with Obama and anything Democrat shows that you are seeing everything through own particular lens of perfection and idealism. It’s never as simple as pass/fail. If you read my books, you’ll learn the litany of obstacles that the Obama administration encountered from Democrats as well as the obstructionist Republican Party. The Republicans have jumped on the express train to fascism, while the Democrats are trying sort things out.

    Pay attention to ALL that’s going on.

  26. Vernon, 2016 and Russia gave us all of the evidence needed of the propaganda power of sowing discord.

    Apparently the entire Russian strategy was to appear to be group A and make inflammatory remarks about group B. In today’s world that prompted retaliation and the conclusion was always cast in concrete extremism and intractable positions for both sides.

    It really didn’t matter who A or B was as long as the opening insult was inflammatory.

    The mess reminded me of “family honor” tensions among semi primatives.

    Remember the Hatfields and McCoys of West Virginia infamy?

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