September 30, 2016
Remind You of Any Voting Demographic?

This from Bertrand Russell:

Animals, machines, thunderstorms, and all forms of manual work, arouse the curiosity of children, whose thirst for knowledge puts the most intelligent adult to shame. This impulse grows weaker with advancing years, until at last what is unfamiliar inspires only disgust, with no desire for a closer acquaintance. This is the stage at which people announce that the country is going to the dogs, and that “things are not what they were in my young days.” The thing which is not the same as it was in that far-off time is the speaker’s curiosity. And with the death of curiosity we may reckon that active intelligence, also, has died.



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Elections | Idiots | Republicans
September 26, 2016
You Can’t Make This Shit Up

From Gabriel Sherman’s excavation of Roger Ailes in New York magazine:

Still, the whispers about Ailes and women were growing louder. Karem Alsina, a former Fox makeup artist, told me she grew suspicious when Fox anchors came to see her before private meetings with Ailes to have their makeup done. “They would say, ‘I’m going to see Roger, gotta look beautiful!’ ” she recalled. “One of them came back down after a meeting, and the makeup on her nose and chin was gone.”



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Animal blogging | Idiots | Rich White Trash
September 25, 2016
Ding Don Twump?

Long ago I noticed the insignificant fact that dozens of words beginning with ‘sn’ have something to do with the nose: sniff, snuffle, snore, snout, snarl, snaffle, snicker, sniffle, snot, snigger, snivel, snoot, snub, snuff, et, no doubt, cetera. It turns out this sort of thing has a name:

There is a subfield of cognitive linguistics that studies sound symbolism, where there is pattern in a language linking sound structure of a group of words to what is called an ‘embodied conceptual schema’ that characterizes a significant part of word meaning, though by no means all word meaning. To give you a feel for sound symbolism, consider words ending in –ip: drip, clip, snip, rip, dip, sip, whip. There is a pattern here: the meanings all involve a short path to a sudden stop.
Here is the linguist George Lakoff, showing us how the concept can be used to bring down Widdle Donnie Drumpf.



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Elections | Idiots | Presidential Hopefuls | Reveling in the Weird
September 23, 2016
From Filth to Filth

From Alternet:

Still, the new study gives one pause and suggests a bottle of sanitizer might not be a bad glove compartment staple. It’s not just the number of germs present on gas pump handles, but the quality of those germs. The earlier Kimberly-Clark study, led by a University of Arizona microbiologist named Charles Gerba (whom colleagues know as “Dr. Germ”), found that 71 percent of the pumps were highly contaminated with germs associated with disease. The new survey, conducted by Busbud, studied samples from three different gas stations, as well as three different charging stations, to see what we may be exposing ourselves to. The sample size is small, but the results mirror the larger earlier study and are eye-opening.

Based on laboratory results from swabs from the sample gas pumps, handles on gas pumps had an average of 2,011,970 colony-forming units (CFUs), or viable bacteria cells, per square inch. Worse, the buttons on the pumps (where you select the grade of gas you want), had 2,617,067 CFUs per square inch. To put that in perspective, money, which is considered quite dirty since it changes hands often, has only 5.2 CFUs per square inch. A toilet seat has 172 CFUs per square inch. That makes a gas pump handle about 11,000 times more contaminated than a toilet seat, and a gas pump button 15,000 times more contaminated.

The new study doesn’t give me pause, nor does it suggest a bottle of sanitizer. We are constantly and unavoidably surrounded by germs. They are a part of us, a part of life. For germs thou art, and unto germs shalt thou return. Relax, people. If gas pump buttons could kill you, you’d be long since dead.



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Animal blogging | Hope for the Future
September 22, 2016
Presented Without Comment

From the New York Times:

Punctuating his view, Judge Elliott cited the testimony of a bank employee who told the court: “I’m not here as a human being. I’m here as a representative of Wells Fargo.”

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Graft, Corruption and Malfeasance | Our Long National Nightmare | The Problem with Capitalism
September 17, 2016
Reaching Out to the N-words



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American Heroes | Idiots | Presidential Hopefuls | Republicans
September 16, 2016
Cleaning Up the Mess in Washington

This from The CT Mirror:

Bekavac also met Hillary. “There weren’t that many women at the law school, so we were thrown together,” she said. Bekavac said she had heard about Hillary before she had met her, because of the national stir she made with her Wellesley commencement speech and through Reich, a mutual friend.

“She was diligent and outspoken, but almost all the women were outspoken,” Bekavac said.

She and the Clintons traveled to Washington, D.C., to protest Richard Nixon’s inauguration and were dismayed at the mess the other protesters made at the Lincoln Memorial. They asked the National Park Service officers if they had any brooms, were directed to a janitor’s closet, and started sweeping up the debris, Bekavac said.

“I can still see Hillary cleaning up the Lincoln Memorial. She came to protest and ended up pushing a broom,” she said.


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Presidential Hopefuls
September 07, 2016
Looking Presidential?

From the New York Times:

“Well, I just don’t think she has a presidential look, and you need a presidential look,” Mr. Trump told ABC’s David Muir in an interview broadcast on Tuesday.
…For instance:



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Idiots | Presidential Hopefuls | Reveling in the Weird
September 06, 2016
88 Reasons Not to Vote for Trump

From Politico, brought to you by a former private in the U.S. Army:

Donald Trump earned the endorsement of 88 retired generals and admirals in an open letter released Tuesday, as the Republican nominee looks to solidify support in the military community against Hillary Clinton in November.

Posted by Jerome Doolittle at 1:43 PM | Permalink & Email Post | Comments (0)
Idiots | Warmongers
August 29, 2016
Dumb and Dumber

Just when you thought the murderous idiocy of our permanent wars couldn’t possibly get worse, it gets worse. Take a look at this lovely specimen of 1960s eugenics from The Modern War Institute. The review is by Arnold R. Isaacs. I came across it on Vietnam Old Hacks, an on-line forum for aging war correspondents who can’t seem to let the damned thing go. Judging from the comments, “McNamara’s Folly” comes as news to most of us.

On the day in 1967 when Hamilton Gregory reported to a Tennessee induction center to begin his service in the U.S. Army, a sergeant presented him to another young man who was also headed to Fort Benning, Georgia, to start basic training. The other new soldier’s name was Johnny Gupton, or so Gregory calls him. “I want you to take charge of Gupton,” the sergeant told Gregory. Before they boarded the bus to the airport, the sergeant handed Gregory Gupton’s paperwork along with his own, to carry on the trip.

In the next hours and days, Gregory discovered why the sergeant had put Gupton in his care. Gupton could not read or write. He didn’t know his home address or what state he was from, so he could not send the pre-stamped postcard the new recruits were given at Benning to tell their families they had arrived. He didn’t know his next of kin’s full name, didn’t know that there was a war in Vietnam, and couldn’t tie the laces on his combat boots.

How did a man so obviously unfit for service get drafted? A slipup? Far from it. Gupton was one of more than 350,000 other young men drafted during the Vietnam war under a deliberate policy requiring that nearly a third of all military recruits should be drawn from men with general aptitude test scores at the bottom or for a certain percentage below the minimum standard. This while draft boards around the country made it shockingly easy for middle class, better educated men to avoid serving — just ask Bill Clinton or Donald Trump or Rush Limbaugh. The policy was known as Project 100,000. Its principal promoter was Lyndon Johnson’s defense secretary, Robert McNamara.

Hamilton Gregory — who was not drafted but enlisted voluntarily — was troubled and outraged by his experience with Johnny Gupton and subsequent encounters with other low-IQ draftees. During his Army service he raised questions about the policy with various superiors, and after his discharge, while making a career as a journalist and author, he kept on tracking down official documents and seeking out personal accounts. The evidence he accumulated over more than 40 years makes the story he tells in McNamara’s Folly not just convincing but ironclad. Its conclusion is ironclad too: U.S. draft policy during the Vietnam war was a moral atrocity.


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America is Doomed | Class Warriors | The Fall of the Roman American Empire
August 26, 2016
What If the Crested Donald Trump…

were to take a selfie?

A few years ago in an Indonesian forest, a crested macaque monkey named Naruto picked up an unattended camera and took several photos of himself. The resulting monkey selfies have become the center of a debate concerning the overlap of intellectual property law and animal rights.

The owner of the camera, photographer David J. Slater, has been selling copies of the pictures for profit. He and his company, Wildlife Personalities, both claim copyright ownership of the photos, even though Slater admits that Naruto took the photos himself in 2011. PETA has filed a lawsuit on Naruto’s behalf, asking the courts to recognize Naruto as the owner of the copyright to the photos…

Research supports PETA’s claim that Naruto satisfies the basic requirements for authorship. Macaques are distinctive—even among monkeys—in their high degree of intelligence and complex sociality. They are particularly characterized by an extremely well-developed capacity for object manipulation, and a strong tendency to engage in tactile behavior. They understand the correlation between cause and effect, such as that by hitting a snail shell with a rock, they can crack it open and retrieve the snail. They also have individual personalities, and their unique characteristics lead to their capacity for idiosyncratic, self-oriented, highly intentional social behavior.



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Animal blogging | Idiots | Presidential Hopefuls | Reveling in the Weird | Rich White Trash
August 19, 2016
Obama Rethinks America’s Capabilities

Obama realizes he overestimated the American people and has readjusted his priorities accordingly.


Posted by Jerome Doolittle at 5:34 PM | Permalink & Email Post | Comments (1)
Unpermitted Erection

As a former spokesperson myself I stand humbled before Sam Biederman, quoted here by The Gothamist:

Update 4:29 p.m.: Parks Department spokesperson Sam Biederman provided us with the following statement regarding the Trump statue:

NYC Parks stands firmly against any unpermitted erection in city parks, no matter how small.



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American Heroes | Idiots | Reveling in the Weird | Rich White Trash
August 18, 2016
On Second Thought…

I have just discovered, probably later than many of you, a blog called Fred On Everything from which the following comes. In nearly every post Fred Reed makes you rethink your preconceptions, which is something you don’t come across every day. Actually hardly ever.

So bookmark him, okay?

A good reason to vote for Trump, a very good reason whatever his other intentions, is that he does not want a war with Russia. Hillary and her elite ventriloquists threaten just that. Note the anti-Russian hysteria coming from her and her remoras…

It is easy to regard countries as suprahuman beings that think and take decisions and do things. Practically speaking, countries consist of a small number of people, usually men, who make decisions for reasons often selfish, pathologically aggressive, pecuniary, delusional, misinformed, or actually psychopathic in the psychiatric sense. For example, the invasion of Iraq, a disaster, was pushed by the petroleum lobbies to get the oil, the arms lobbies to get contracts, the Jewish lobbies to get bombs dropped on Israel’s enemies, the imperialists for empire, and the congenitally combative because that is how they think. Do you see anything in the foregoing that would matter to a normal American? These do not add up to a well-conceived policy. Considerations no better drive the desire to fight Russia or to force it to back down.

I note, pointlessly, that probably none of America’s recent martial catastrophes would have occurred if we still had constitutional government. How many congressmen do you think would vote for a declaration of war if they had to tell their voters that they had just launched, for no reason of importance to Americans, an attack on the homeland of a nuclear power?

There are lots of reasons not to vote for Clinton and the suppurating corruption she represents. Not letting her owners play with matches rates high among them.


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Glimmers of Sanity | News/Current Events | Political Commentary | Presidential Hopefuls | The Real World
August 16, 2016
Watch This Or I’ll Kill You

I laughed. I cried…

Okay, I hope the participants in this focus group are actors. But I’m terribly afraid they aren’t. Tell me I’m wrong. Please.



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America is Doomed | Idiots | Reveling in the Weird | The Real World
August 13, 2016
Hold On a Minute…

…corporations are people, too. From Naked Capitalism:

Their paper closes by examining the notion that right wing politics in America has been driven by donations piling up from eccentric entrepreneurs like investor and conservative mega-donor Foster Friess — the sort of people who are widely imagined to populate the Forbes 400 list of wealthiest Americans — rather than mainline big business corporations, such as those on the Fortune 500 list.

On the contrary, the researchers find that “a simple count of firms and investors on Forbes show that the largest American corporations support Tea Party Congressional candidates and organizations supporting the movement, such as Freedom Works, at much higher rates than Forbes 400 members. Even making due allowances for Dark Money, the difference is substantial.”

Evidently American big business firms are not centrist, as many pundits would have it. As Ferguson and his colleagues put it:

Stories that the steady rightward drift of the American political universe is somehow the work of exceptionally ideological individual entrepreneurs are huge over-simplifications. If the center is not holding in American society — and it rather plainly is not — America’s largest companies are as implicated as anyone else; indeed, perhaps more so.



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Economics and Society | Legal Absurdities | The Problem with Capitalism | Weakening America
Ha, Ha, Mine is Smaller Than Yours!



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American Heroes | Presidential Hopefuls | Republicans | Rich White Trash
August 10, 2016
Go Away Donald, You’re Boring

I read the most boring headline today: “Trump’s Comment Sparks Outrage.” Yawn. Another day, another ridiculous Trump comment. At what point do we cease to be outraged by this buffoon? At what point does he suffer the fate of all reality TV stars — obscurity. I'm thoroughly sick of Trump and all of his bullshit. He’s a tiresome boor and I just want him to go away. He’s become less interesting than the Olympics, which is saying a lot.


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August 07, 2016
A Person Would Have to Be Sick…

…to post something like this:



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Animal blogging | Arts and Literature | Reveling in the Weird
August 06, 2016
Robber Bank

From Shadowproof:

Federal prisoners are provided with a trust fund upon their incarceration, into which they can put any money they have. Friends and family can make deposits as well. If a prisoner obtains a job while behind bars, any money they make is placed into the account. When they are released, any money they had in their trust fund is placed on a non-reloadable Chase debit card.

Plaintiff Jesse Krimes, who was released from the Federal Correctional Institution at Fairton in New Jersey in September 2013, was given a Chase debit card containing the balance of his trust fund. It came with a one-page sheet explaining how to activate the card, as well as a “card fee schedule.” The words “NON-RELOADABLE” were stamped on the back.

Former prisoners like Krimes were charged 45 cents for balance inquiries and 10 dollars to withdraw money at a bank teller window. They were charged two dollars for using a non-network ATM.

Chase told cardholders the ATM fee would be waived once for each deposit they made, however, the cards were non-reloadable, rendering the fee-waiver moot. If a releasee didn’t use their card, they incurred an “inactivity” fee of $1.50 each month. As the lawsuit notes, these fees bore no relation to any costs incurred by Chase.



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Graft, Corruption and Malfeasance | Rich White Trash
August 03, 2016
Racist Replay

This footage was put together by The New York Times. It’s bad enough to read about Trump’s mobs. To see them and hear them is far more disturbing. Nothing new, though, to anyone old enough to remember the vicious desegregation struggles of the Fifties and Sixties. We’ve come a long way since then. Or not.


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Historical Perspectives | Idiots | Our Long National Nightmare | Race | Republicans | Weakening America
August 02, 2016
Reading and Writing and Politics…

From The Los Angeles Times:

A school-age child at a Donald Trump rally on Tuesday stood up and yelled “Take the bitch down” after the candidate mentioned Hillary Clinton…

The child, who looked no more than 10, was sitting next to his mother in the media section. The mother identified herself in a brief interview with a small group of reporters as Pam Kohler of Mount Vernon, Va., but she would not name her son or say how old he is … Asked where he learned to speak that way, she answered, “Democratic schools.”



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Education | Idiots
Kopkind On Clintonism

The late Andrew Kopkind nailed the essence of Clintonism way back in 1992, when it was brand new under the American sun, sort of. Reading this filled me with deja vu and deja entendu, malaise and despair. Nothing has changed.

It’s difficult to convey the feel of the Clinton culture. Like the Kennedy culture thirty years ago, it is a stir-fry of blatant self-promotion, unexamined idealism, cynical sophistication, suspect intellectual certainty and an arrogant race and class snobbery that can be oppressive to those without the necessary credentials. It comes off as hip and liberal, but it panders to the right and abhors any person or movement to its left. It is suffused with a gestural sentimentality about racial harmony, but its commitment is to white power and privilege.
And it is “ever-willing” he continues, to sell out any principle for the sake of achieving “political viability within the system.”

And here we are, forced to choose between these calculating yuppy slicksters and Donald Trump. What a world. Does this rise to the level of a crisis of democracy yet, or are we to take this as politics as usual in a country that’s become thoroughly corrupt and mediocre?

Posted by OHollern at 2:31 PM | Permalink & Email Post | Comments (1)
July 31, 2016
Attacking Trump’s Racism Won’t Be Enough

Last week’s pep rally was a big success. It showed that the Democrats are fundamentally decent people who won’t blow up the world or throw Muslims into concentration camps, and they did a fine job highlighting the contrast between themselves and the bigoted cave trolls in the Republican party. This is a good thing and Hillary’s surrogates should continue to do it.

But we already knew all of this. We already knew that Democrats aren’t racist and won’t mock the disabled. We already knew they’re nicer people, listen to better music and are more fun to be around than Republicans. And we already knew that Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine are, in contradistinction to Donald Trump, sane, level-headed professionals who won’t rock the boat and spook the markets. Believe me, we know this. We know this all too well. It is as familiar to us as that first stabbing pain in the bowel that unmistakably signals an attack of diarrhea. But it won’t be enough.

“We’re nice people and Donald Trump is an evil racist” just won’t get the job done.  After the warm and fuzzies from last week’s multicultural love fest wear off, we’re left with the unsettling fact that Republicans control Congress and a majority of state houses, and they’ll probably continue to do so after the election. The ugly truth is that the racist, xenophobic, fear-mongering, Bible-thumping, modernity-hating, knuckle-dragging troglodytes who goose step in Trump’s torchlight parades are, as far as the election goes, half the country. Hillary needs to attract the fence sitters, and demonizing Trump while offering nothing but business-as-usual probably won’t do it.

Frank Bruni discusses this problem today, and mentions some interesting poll results:

In a Gallup poll two weeks ago, just 17 percent of respondents said that the country was on the right track, while 82 percent said it was on the wrong track. In an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll shortly before that, the corresponding figures were 18 percent and 73 percent.
A poll is a poll is a poll, it’s true, but I think these results accurately reflect the mood of the country. Things are not good and they’re going to get worse. I bring this up, yet again, because it’s exactly the kind of thing that the smug neoliberals in Hillary’s pampered inner circle will completely misunderstand or ignore. They’ll view it as a mere messaging problem and combat it with spin, double-talk, and statistics. They won’t acknowledge the reality of the problem or address it in a substantive way.

My hunch is that there are a lot of closet Trump supporters out there, a lot. I think there are a great many people who won’t admit in polite society that they support him but will, in the secrecy of the voting booth, pull the lever for him just to shout “fuck you” to an establishment that is so corrupt, so unresponsive, so utterly worm-eaten and foul, that they’re willing to watch Trump dynamite it all to hell regardless of the consequences. These people aren’t going to be reached by calling Trump a racist meanie.


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July 30, 2016
The Ultimate Selfish Act…

…may be suicide bombing. Obvious once you think about it, which I hadn’t. From The Intercept:

Only the few Syrians who appear in the film speak at length about their grievances over the crimes of the Syrian government. In contrast, the foreign volunteers appear largely driven by personal motivations. Liberating the local people from oppression appears at best a secondary concern. Perishing in the conflict and reaping the existential rewards of such an end takes precedence. Both Abu Qaswara and Abu Basir gave up comfortable lives to come to Syria, knowing that certain death would be the outcome of that decision. But rather than deterring them, the prospect of a rewarding death was a primary factor motivating their decision to fight.

This impulse toward self-destruction is actually seen as selfish by some fellow insurgents. In his co-authored 2014 memoir The Arabs at War in Afghanistan, Mustafa Hamid, a former high-ranking Egyptian volunteer with the Afghan mujahideen in the 1980s, described his own frustration with many of the later waves of volunteers arriving to that conflict. “One of the negatives that emerged from the jihad, and which continues to have severe consequences today, was the tendency for the youth to focus not on success and achieving victory and liberating Afghanistan, but on their desire for martyrdom and to enter paradise,” Hamid wrote. This overriding preoccupation with becoming a martyr meant that participation in the conflict, “became individual instead of for the benefit of the group or the country where the fight for liberation is taking place.”


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Idiots | War on "Terror"
July 28, 2016
A Tale of Two Platforms

Tony Piel summarizes the environmental policies in the Democrat and Republic platforms, to save you the trouble:
Now that the exuberant Republican and Democratic National Conventions in Cincinnati and Philadelphia are over, with their flag-waving appeals to patriotic fervor, and their affirmations of the virtues of favored candidates for high office, the time has come for more sober reflection on the policies which the two Parties represent, and which the candidates “up and down the ballot,” once elected, will be called on to realize.

This, of course, presumes that we know what the overall policy issues and specific positions actually are. A good way to get an overview of this is to compare line-by-line pronouncements of the two Party platforms actually adopted during their respective Conventions. What does the Democratic Party platform say, and what does the Republican Party Platform say, about major policy issues of concern to you? For most of us in the Northwest corner of Connecticut, a major issue is the environment. Both Parties promise “Environmental Progress,” writ large, but let’s review their respective proposals in a bit more detail…

…Read on

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July 27, 2016
A Perfect Democracy

Sister Pat sends along this 1920 prediction from H.L. Mencken, who would have been not even a little bit surprised by last week’s GOP convention:

When a candidate for public office faces the voters he does not face men of sense; he faces a mob of men whose chief distinguishing mark is the fact that they are quite incapable of weighing ideas, or even of comprehending any save the most elemental — men whose whole thinking is done in terms of emotion, and whose dominant emotion is dread of what they cannot understand. So confronted, the candidate must either bark with the pack or be lost … All the odds are on the man who is, intrinsically, the most devious and mediocre — the man who can most adeptly disperse the notion that his mind is a virtual vacuum. The Presidency tends, year by year, to go to such men. As democracy is perfected, the office represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. We move toward a lofty ideal. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.



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American Heroes | Fascism in America | Idiots | Presidential Hopefuls | Republicans
July 26, 2016
If Clinton Loses, It Won’t Be Sanders’ Fault

I’ve been worried that if Clinton loses the general election her supporters would have a ready-made scapegoat: the Bernie Bros. This meme has been transparently taking shape throughout the primaries, and I thought it reflected the deep and well-earned insecurities of the Clinton campaign. The primaries weren’t even half over and you could already see Bernie being set up to be the new Nader.

This would conveniently shift blame from their nominees own gargantuan flaws while giving the Dems an excuse to move even further right, which is what they want anyway: See, progressives always cost us the general election. America is a center-right country!

(Don’t let last night’s Potemkin Populism fool you. The “most progressive platform in the history of the Democratic party” will be luxuriously shat upon and rejected bell, book and candle the second Hillary Clinton is sworn in. The Clintons simply do not agree with it. It is not who they are.)

Anyway, somebody phone up the DNC with the latest: Ninety-percent of “consistent” Sanders supporters “favor Clinton over Trump.” It’s all hers to lose from now on, and I’ve no doubt her insular, lead-footed political team will find plenty of ways to do so between now and November.

Of course, if Clinton loses we’ll have much more important things to do than bicker over who was to blame, like scrambling to find which countries will accept a flood of desperate American refugees (as opposed to those who are going to slam their doors in our faces and throw a great big schadenfreude party).


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July 25, 2016
Krugman Takes A Jog Through Versailles

Paul Krugman took a jog through the Upper West Side and concluded America’s just peachy again:

If you want to feel good about the state of America, you could do a lot worse than what I did this morning: take a run in Riverside Park. There are people of all ages, and, yes, all races exercising, strolling hand in hand, playing with their dogs, kicking soccer balls and throwing Frisbees. There are a few homeless people, but the overall atmosphere is friendly – New Yorkers tend to be rushed, but they’re not nasty – and, well, nice.

Yes, the Upper West Side is affluent. But still, I’ve seen New York over the decades, and it has never been as pleasant, as safe in feel, as it is now. And this is the big bad city!

He took a jog through a rich part of Manhattan and it was, well, nice! There were happy couples holding hands and strolling in leafy glades, and people playing Frisbee and soccer. Some of these people were even brown, and yet they didn’t mug or assault a rich white academic as he was out getting his cardio!

There were a few homeless people, to be sure, but not enough to change the overall picture. You might say they were statistically insignificant and hence easy to disregard. Of course, economists make a living disregarding variables that don’t fit their models. That’s how they win Nobel Prizes and earn enough money to live on the Upper West Side, where they can deplore the evils of inequality without ever having to actually smell a poor person.

But there is a problem. If things are so good, why do so many people think they’re terrible? Why do so many people drink Trump’s Kool-Aid and agree with his dark description of America? The professor gives us his answer:

A lot of Republican-leaning voters apparently believe that the economy is terrible in the teeth of their own experience – that the pretty good job market they see is a local aberration. And “crime” may not really mean “crime” – it may just be code for “brown people.”

In other words, they’re just dumb racists who don’t know how good they’ve got it. They are willfully ignoring good economic news —presumably all those new jobs at Wal-Mart — and insisting things are rotten in the teeth of their own experience. Thus saith the rich man to the proles.

I think it’s true that many, if not most, of Trump’s supporters are ignorant racists, but Trump’s appeal goes much deeper than that. Many of these people are driven to racism and xenophobia because of genuine economic despair. Krugman does not acknowledge this. Instead, he paints a misleadingly rosy picture of the economy that enables him to ignore their legitimate grievances and characterize them as mere bigots.

It’s impossible not to notice that this is the same tactic Krugman used against Sanders and his supporters. Sanders — a demagogic narcissist by definition — pitched a falsely dystopian view of the American economy that his followers mindlessly lapped up, because his followers were, as all the grown-ups knew, just dupes, fanatics and possibly sexist “Bernie Bros.”

This condescending dismissal of people with real problems and legitimate complaints will lead to electoral defeat. If policy makers and influential thinkers maintain this attitude in the face of growing discontent it will lead to much worse.

Krugman was one of the few bright lights during the Bush dark age, and it’s disheartening to see an intellectual of his stature stoop to this kind of partisan hackery. More importantly, he’s displaying precisely the kind of elitist liberal arrogance that bolsters Trump’s appeal (and will also drive independents away from Hillary). When influential public intellectuals engage in this kind behavior, it lends credence to the notion that our elites are corrupt, dishonest, and completely out-of-touch.

Stop telling part-time Walmart workers with no prospects for a better life that the economy is pretty good and they have nothing to be angry about. Stop telling retail clerks and baristas who pay more than two-thirds of their income towards rent and student loans that they should be doing cartwheels because the unemployment rate dropped one percent. Stop pissing statistics down people’s back and calling it rain!

But if you must, don’t do it from the Upper West Side, for God’s sake. Are you bloody daft, man? This is let them eat cake territory. This is an attitude that will catapult Donald Trump straight into the White House.


Posted by OHollern at 12:22 PM | Permalink & Email Post | Comments (5)
July 22, 2016
Original Sin

You always knew this, of course, but still it’s nice to see it confirmed by an expert. From Harper’s Magazine, by Dan Baum:

In 1994, John Ehrlichman, the Watergate co-conspirator, unlocked for me one of the great mysteries of modern American history: How did the United States entangle itself in a policy of drug prohibition that has yielded so much misery and so few good results? Americans have been criminalizing psychoactive substances since San Francisco’s anti-opium law of 1875, but it was Ehrlichman’s boss, Richard Nixon, who declared the first “war on drugs” and set the country on the wildly punitive and counterproductive path it still pursues. I’d tracked Ehrlichman, who had been Nixon’s domestic-policy adviser, to an engineering firm in Atlanta, where he was working on minority recruitment. I barely recognized him. He was much heavier than he’d been at the time of the Watergate scandal two decades earlier, and he wore a mountain-man beard that extended to the middle of his chest.

At the time, I was writing a book about the politics of drug prohibition. I started to ask Ehrlichman a series of earnest, wonky questions that he impatiently waved away. “You want to know what this was really all about?” he asked with the bluntness of a man who, after public disgrace and a stretch in federal prison, had little left to protect. “The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. You understand what I’m saying? We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.”



Posted by Jerome Doolittle at 1:24 PM | Permalink & Email Post | Comments (0)
Historical Perspectives | Our Longest National Nightmare Ever | Republicans | Weakening America