April 28, 2016
What Is to Be Done?

This from Professor Wolff at The Philosopher’s Stone:

The time has come to ask, What is to be done? I am going to argue that each of us must do whatever possible to ensure that Hillary Clinton wins the election, and also whatever possible to transform Bernie’s campaign into a genuine movement.

I ask a favor of each of you: spare me the impassioned and accusatory list of reasons why Clinton is horrible. I know them all, and agree with them all. What is more, I am older than almost everyone who reads this blog, in many cases fifty or sixty years older. If Clinton is elected, and if her Wall Street soulmates will refrain from again crashing the American economy, she is likely to be re-elected, which means that I will be ninety-one when she leaves office. Don’t talk to me about despair!

Don’t talk to me either. I’m even older than the professor. Instead, go to the full posting from which this excerpt comes. It says everything I would have written on the subject, only better. I too voted for Bernie on Tuesday, and I too gave money to his campaign. Only a whole lot less. I’m not a rich professor.



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Hope for the Future | Presidential Hopefuls
April 27, 2016
Can You Spot The Authentic Friedman Quote?

Two of the excerpts below are fakes from the Thomas Friedman Op/Ed Generator and one is an authentic Friedman. Can you identify which is which? The winner gets a cheap black turtleneck sweater from a Bangladeshi sweatshop. Second prize is a vial of mustache clippings. Here we go:

Yesterday’s news from Cambodia is earth-flattening, and it raises questions about whether there might just be light at the end of the tunnel. What’s important, however, is that we focus on what this means to the citizens themselves. The media seems too caught up in spinning the facts to pay attention to the important effects on daily life. Just call it missing the myths for the lie.
Here’s number two:
Imagine if industrial giants sat down with ordinary people like you and me and ironed out some real solutions to our transportation crisis.
And here’s number three:
You can learn everything you need to know about the main challenges facing Africa today by talking to just two people in Senegal: the rapper and the weatherman. They’ve never met, but I could imagine them doing an amazing duet one day — words and weather predictions — on the future of Africa.
Which one is the real deal?


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April 26, 2016
In Search of the Least Flawed

Son Ted didn’t attend Trump’s Hartford rally, but here’s his takeaway from son Mike’s takeaway from the event in the previous post :

The problem is, fine, Bernie is flawed; but compared to what?

Hillary is extremely similar to two well-known historical presidential candidates: Hoover and Bush Sr. The similarities are eerie. All three have résumés that made Beltway insiders and no-mind pundits assume, and tout, that the candidate was among the best-qualified and best-prepared candidates in the country’s history. All three have some degree of personal magnetism that has enabled them each to generate incredibly devoted and quite large coteries of personal friends who are nearly maniacal about helping the candidate get to the White House. All of these core groups of friends are also defensive and thin-skinned to the point of paranoia.

And very relatedly, the candidates are all similar in terms of decades within the bubble in terms of personal finance. They all also have a distasteful fascination with personal wealth, though Hillary’s graspingness is orders of magnitude more unattractive. They also all three suffer from a truly surprising level of utter failure to appreciate the challenges and opportunities of the moment the country is in as they approach the White House.

Hillary will for instance do everything she can to get a Geithner or a Summers in as Treasury secretary, and will also launch whatever land war she has the first opportunity to. Both her domestic and foreign policy inclinations will result in historic disasters, and my fear is that based on Hillary’s personal lack of skill, the Democratic party will be tarred with failures at home and abroad that are really creations of the pivotal George W. Bush Administration.

Like Hoover and George Herbert Walker Bush, Hillary has “one-termer” written all over her.

…Read on

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Historical Perspectives | Presidential Hopefuls
April 25, 2016
Once Berned

While you were in church yesterday my son Mike was feeling the Bern. Here are his takeaways:

Bernie came to town yesterday, a day after Hillary worked a few events. I dropped off Georgia and a few of her friends and watched from a distance. It was fascinating.

— It was a pretty white crowd, particularly for New Haven. Not nearly as diverse as the normal free events we have at the Green. But totally filled the Green, so certainly over 8,000 folks.

— He’s a cult figure to many of his fans — even though he’s basically lost the race, the folks around me were saying things like “we are in a revolution, and Bernie will save us...” It will be crushing to these folks when they realize that their revolution can’t even win the Dem. primary.

— He is a pretty poor speaker. No change in tone, the same hand gestures over and over, doesn’t respond to the crowd vibe at all.

— But clearly his anger and grumpiness are really doing it for his supporters. He’s really benefited from a double standard here, I think. I tried to imagine if Hillary employed the same angry grandpa style — didn’t pay particular attention to how she looked, etc. — and realized that she’d most likely be pilloried/ridiculed for it. But the audience clearly loved it.

— His message in some ways is the flip side of Trump’s. No hope agenda. Asking nothing of the audience. Just hammering on all the problems and saying that the entire government, GOP and Dem alike, have completely failed. And the answer is to let him handle it and the rich and corporations will pay for it. No mention of anyone working together to solve problems. Most of all, he came across as someone who is absolutely convinced that he’s right, and doesn’t have time for anyone who disagrees with him.

— And while he didn’t say it directly, he had very little good to say about Obama. No mention that anything positive happened over the last 8 years. The clear implication was that Obama’s vision is not much better than the Republicans'.

— Harshly attacked income disparity in New Haven, and no mention of Mayor Harp, our popular black woman progressive mayor or the fact that New Haven itself is actually a very union friendly town (maybe sometimes too union friendly). Of course, Harp is supporting Clinton.


Obviously a red meat event for the faithful, but I found myself wondering what comes next for him. This didn’t seem like a guy who’d be at all interested in helping the larger Democratic effort if/when he loses. And his rigidity and the fact that he’s proud that he’s never changed his core beliefs for his entire life is what the audience found very appealing, so I’m not sure whether he will be able to figure out a way to encourage at least some of his supporters to support Hillary, or even wants to try.

If I were a Clinton person trying to figure out what to do with Bernie at the convention, I’d be very worried. I certainly wouldn’t want him to deliver his stump speech as is in a prominent spot. Before I was feeling like Sanders had performed a really important function by forcing Hillary to be a better candidate. I still think this is true, but now I’m pretty worried that he might undo some of this positive effect and end up hurting Dem prospects in the general.

Yours, Mike

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Elections | Political Commentary | Presidential Hopefuls
April 24, 2016
Today’s Must-read

From Fox News:

“It’s my first time ever recovering a monkey from a prostitute,” Detective Rick Lowe told FOX12.



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Animal blogging | Reveling in the Weird
April 23, 2016
Beautiful Naked Blonde

Going through old files just now, I came across one called “Jokes.” Why did I keep them? Did I think they might come in handy some day? When, though? Oh, what the hell, why not? Here’s a couple:

Eva Peron mocked by hecklers at some public event, they calling out, “Prostitute, prostitute.” An elderly man on the platform comforts her: “Don’t let them bother you, my dear. I retired from the army seventeen years ago, and people still call me general.”


Mickey Spillane, at Mystery Writers of America Edgar banquet, April of 1995, being honored as a grand master, says after he wrote, I, the Jury, people kept coming up to him and saying, “How could Mike Hammer possibly have shot that beautiful naked blonde in the navel with a forty-five?” “Simple,” I’d say. “He missed.”



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Arts and Literature | Crime Fiction
Satire is Dead

From The Onion:

In the case of the Baltimore shooting, however, the bureau took the unusual step of deeming part of that case a “bad shoot” in agents’ parlance. But the group did not fault the two agents who killed Mr. Harrison. Instead, it chastised only the agent who shot the tire, recommending that the agent be suspended for a day without pay, according to documents obtained by The Times in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit.

The review group’s reasoning was that the bureau’s policy on using lethal force forbids firing a gun to disable a vehicle, and it concluded that this had been the agent’s motive in shooting the tire. But the same policy permits firing a gun to protect people from danger, and the panel decided that the two agents who shot Mr. Harrison were trying to keep him from driving into bystanders.

Only it isn’t, sadly, from The Onion at all. It’s from The New York Times.



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Civil Liberties | Legal Absurdities | Police State
April 19, 2016
Judge Spares Jury’s Feelings

From The Associated Press:

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Prosecutors at Pacific Gas & Electric Co.'s upcoming criminal trial cannot show jurors a segment of a pipeline that exploded in a San Francisco Bay Area neighborhood or discuss how many people were killed and homes were destroyed, a federal judge ruled…

Viewing the pipe could create an emotional response in jurors, U.S. District Court Judge Thelton Henderson said Monday…Henderson also barred prosecutors from saying how many people died [ed. note: 8] and how many homes were destroyed [ed. note: 38] in the 2010 San Bruno blast as well introducing images of the explosion site. He said that information could unfairly prejudice jurors.

I was about to snark something along the lines of “Would it surprise you to learn that Judge Henderson is a George W. Bush appointee” when I figured I’d better check. Might have been Ronzo who saddled us with this winner.

Turned out it was my old boss, Jimmy Carter. Oh, well…


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Legal Absurdities
April 17, 2016
Donald Luck

“For some reason, many think of me as lucky. When I walk down the street, people come up and start touching me. At first, I wanted to hide. I’ve gotten used to it over time. Recently, while I walked down Fifth Avenue with a group of visiting international bankers, at least 10 people came up to me, tapped me on the shoulder, and said, ‘Thank you.’ The bankers had these looks of dismay on their faces as strangers rubbed my overcoat like a rabbit’s foot.”

(Written ‘with’ Jobert E. Abueva ‘by’ Donald J. Trump for the New York Times of February 7, 2001)



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American Heroes | Idiots | Presidential Hopefuls | Rich White Trash
April 16, 2016
Just So You Know

From Fortune:

Using an air dryer might feel more sanitary than paper towels, because you don’t have to actually touch anything. But apparently that couldn’t be further from the truth…

A recent study in the Journal of Applied Microbiology has compared how viruses disperse from the hands of users of three different drying methods — paper towels, standard “warm air” dryers, and so-called “jet dryers” like the Dyson model.

The lower-power warm air dryers spread contaminants further than paper towels, but the jet dryers were by far the worst culprits. They spread up to 190 times more of a noninfectious test virus used in the study than the other methods. The material was dispersed up to three meters away — nearly 10 feet—and a closer look at the study by Ars Technica found that about 70% of the dispersed material was at the height of a small child’s face.

And according to the CDC, effective handwashing takes about 20 seconds with warm water and soap. Anything short of that — say, just a quick rinse — will leave things like norovirus and influenza virus on your hands. And viruses are hardy little things — the new study found virus in the air even 15 minutes after someone used a jet dryer, at levels 100 times higher than after a paper towel was used.



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Public Health and Welfare | What Actually Matters
Trump Thinks I’m a Very Bad, Sad Person

So what does Donald Trump think of you? Take the Trump quiz and see, and be sure to scroll down to see what fate awaits you under a Trump presidency. I’m a white heterosexual male, born in the United States, and I only scored a measly 649, which in Trumpspeak makes me a “very bad person, sad!” On the other hand, I would get a free subscription to Trump Magazine and stand an 80% change of becoming ambassador to Mexico, which consists of demanding money to build the wall, so I’ve got that going for me.

(Hat tip P.M. Carpenter)


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April 14, 2016
You’re Right…

…I won’t. From the New York Times:

This week, Mr. Trump has sought to soften his image — or, in his words, “I will be so presidential you won’t believe it.”



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Idiots | Presidential Hopefuls | Rich White Trash
April 12, 2016
Second Thoughts

Not sure I’m totally convinced, but I pass this along in the interest of keeping an open mind. Did Hillary do the right thing in Libya no matter what critics like me have argued? Take a look at this from Vox.com.

Of course, Libya, as anyone can see, is a mess, and Americans are reasonably asking if the intervention was a mistake. But just because it’s reasonable doesn’t make it right.

Most criticisms of the intervention, even with the benefit of hindsight, fall short. It is certainly true that the intervention didn’t produce something resembling a stable democracy. This, however, was never the goal. The goal was to protect civilians and prevent a massacre.

Critics erroneously compare Libya today to any number of false ideals, but this is not the correct way to evaluate the success or failure of the intervention. To do that, we should compare Libya today to what Libya would have looked like if we hadn’t intervened. By that standard, the Libya intervention was successful: The country is better off today than it would have been had the international community allowed dictator Muammar Qaddafi to continue his rampage across the country.

Critics further assert that the intervention caused, created, or somehow led to civil war. In fact, the civil war had already started before the intervention began. As for today’s chaos, violence, and general instability, these are more plausibly tied not to the original intervention but to the international community’s failures after intervention.



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Presidential Hopefuls | Warmongers
April 11, 2016
No Place to Chill

From The Unz Review:

There’s Bombay Pizza, “Home Of The Curry Pizza,” but that’s no place to chill. In such a bedroom “community,” you’re lost if you’re not plugged in to school or work. There is nothing and no one to resocialize you, so for a young man, this means that Grand Theft Auto, Minecraft and YouJizz will be your best companions. Since Jay already had a nervous breakdown, his dad doesn’t want to push him. “What should I do? What will he do when I die?”

A third of Americans under 35 now live with their parents, and half of them spend half of their incomes servicing debts. You’re not likely to get married if you’re living with mom and dad, that’s for sure, but soon enough, we will see three generations under one roof again, out of economic necessity. We will also see more couples with their kids all in one room. Poor people worldwide already live this way, and we are poor…

Do read the whole essay from which this comes. It goes a good ways toward explaining, among other things, Bernie Sanders’ appeal. I hadn’t heard of its author, Linh Dinh, or read anything by him. I intend to change that.

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America is Doomed | Class Warriors | Economics and Society | Historical Perspectives | The Real World
April 09, 2016
Just Sayin'





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Presidential Hopefuls | Reveling in the Weird
April 07, 2016
Slow Learners

Fifty-five years ago today the sainted John F. Kennedy almost blew up the world. It was on this day in 1961, that he launched his unconstitutional, unnecessary, stupid, incompetent, and insane invasion of Cuba.

I wasn’t totally surprised by this top-secret CIA invasion, and Castro might have had an inkling too. This is from I.F. Stone’s Weekly of January 16, 1961:

Near Guatemala’s Pacific Coast, 35 miles from the Mexican border, lies a new solidly paved, closely guarded airstrip … Could it be the base for a cooperative U.S.-Guatemalan-Cuban exile airborne military operation against Fidel Castro? Los Angeles Mirror Aviation Editor Don Dwiggins heard about the strip and broke a story reporting it had been built with U.S. funds in a mysterious ‘crash’ program .… On the subject of U.S. participation, no official in Washington had a word to say.”

—Time Magazine, Jan. 6.

“Each week a plane leaves Miami International Airport with 50 to 60 young Cubans bound from local staging areas for one of three secret training camps … As a part of the same operation, veteran fighter pilots, recruited from among defectors from Castro’s own air force and from Latin American countries, are training at what was once a dilapidated airstrip in Guatemala.”

New York Daily News, Jan. 9.

U.S. Helps to Train Anti-Castro Forces
At Secret Guatemalan Air-Ground Base

New York Times, page 1 headline, Jan. 10.

President Kennedy’s finest hour is generally considered to be his role in subsequently cleaning up his own bloody mess, the Cuban missile crisis. Fortunately for mankind, Premier Khrushchev chose to withdraw his missiles to avoid nuclear war. The choice cost him his job, but saved the world.

It has taken our nation more than half a century to end — or at least begin to end — the folly of the Cuban policy that Kennedy left us. At that rate it we won’t be able to shake ourselves loose of Bush’s unconstitutional, unnecessary, stupid, incompetent, and insane invasion of Iraq until 2051.



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Historical Perspectives | Iraq | Our Longest National Nightmare Ever | Violations of the Constitution | Warmongers | World Affairs
April 03, 2016
Such an Interesting Answer

From The Guardian:

Maureen Dowd referred to Trump’s suggestion this week that women who have abortions should be punished – a comment he swiftly retracted – when she wrote: “Given his draconian comment, sending women back to back alleys, I had to ask: When he was a swinging bachelor in Manhattan, was he ever involved with anyone who had an abortion?

‘Such an interesting question,’ he said. ‘So what’s your next question?’



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American Heroes | Rich White Trash
April 02, 2016
Scared to Death

Bertrand Russell on cowardice, from Unpopular Essays, published in 1950:

Collective fear stimulates herd instinct, and tends to produce ferocity towards those who are not regarded as members of the herd. So it was in the French Revolution, when dread of foreign armies produced the reign of terror. The Soviet government would have been less fierce if it had met with less hostility in its first years. Fear generates impulses of cruelty, and therefore promotes such superstitious beliefs as seem to justify cruelty. Neither a man nor a crowd nor a nation can be trusted to act humanely or to think sanely under the influence of a great fear. And for this reason poltroons are more prone to cruelty than brave men, and are also more prone to superstition. When I say this, I am thinking of men who are brave in all respects, not only in facing death. Many a man will have the courage to die gallantly, but will not have the courage to say, or even to think, that the cause for which he is asked to die is an unworthy one. Obloquy is, to most men, more painful than death; that is one reason why, in times of collective excitement, so few men venture to dissent from the prevailing opinion…

But it is to be feared that the dreadful alchemy of the atomic bomb will destroy all forms of life equally, and that the Earth will remain forever a dead clod senselessly twirling around a futile sun. I do not know the immediate precipitating cause of this interesting occurrence. Perhaps it will be a dispute about Persian oil, perhaps a disagreement as to Chinese trade, perhaps a quarrel between Jews and Mohommedans for the control of Palestine. Any patriotic person can see that these issues are of such importance as to make the extermination of mankind preferable to cowardly conciliation.



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America is Doomed | Historical Perspectives | Our Longest National Nightmare Ever | War on "Terror" | Warmongers
March 29, 2016
Worse Than Odd…

…it’s insane:

Isn’t it rather odd that America’s largest single public expenditure scheduled for the coming decades has received no attention in the 2015-2016 presidential debates?

The expenditure is for a thirty-year program to “modernize” the U.S. nuclear arsenal and production facilities. Although President Obama began his administration with a dramatic public commitment to build a nuclear weapons-free world, that commitment has long ago dwindled and died. It has been replaced by an administration plan to build a new generation of U.S. nuclear weapons and nuclear production facilities to last the nation well into the second half of the twenty-first century. This plan, which has received almost no attention by the mass media, includes redesigned nuclear warheads, as well as new nuclear bombers, submarines, land-based missiles, weapons labs, and production plants. The estimated cost? $1,000,000,000,000.00—or, for those readers unfamiliar with such lofty figures, $1 trillion.

Critics charge that the expenditure of this staggering sum will either bankrupt the country or, at the least, require massive cutbacks in funding for other federal government programs. “We’re . . . wondering how the heck we’re going to pay for it,” admitted Brian McKeon, an undersecretary of defense. And we’re “probably thanking our stars we won’t be here to have to have to answer the question,” he added with a chuckle.

This nuclear “modernization” plan violates the terms of the 1968 nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which requires the nuclear powers to engage in nuclear disarmament. The plan is also moving forward despite the fact that the U.S. government already possesses roughly 7,000 nuclear weapons that can easily destroy the world. Although climate change might end up accomplishing much the same thing, a nuclear war does have the advantage of terminating life on earth more rapidly.



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America is Doomed | Idiots | Warmongers
March 28, 2016
Fun Facts About Guantánamo Bay

From Jacobin:

Castro also urged the US to return the Guantánamo Bay Naval Base to Cuban hands, drawing focus to an oft-ignored obstacle to the normalization of relations between the old enemies. Castro’s request is nothing new: Cubans of all political stripes have long demanded the base’s return, and since 1960, Havana has refused to cash the $4,085 lease payment Washington sends each year, alleging the lease is illegal.

While we’re at it, you will have noticed the wonderful lack of self-awareness demonstrated by all those Republics who were outraged that Obama would visit a country that locked up its political prisoners. Were they under the impression that Guantánamo was a summer camp?


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Historical Perspectives | Idiots | Republicans | The Fall of the Roman American Empire | Warmongers
The Result Achieved is…

…more often than we think the result desired. Here’s Professor Wolff:

So at 4 a.m. this morning I got up and did a little Googling [this will give you some idea of the depths of my obsessions.] In-state tuition at Berkeley is currently $14,460 [this may be a trifle off, as I think this figure is a year or two old.] In 1968, it was $300, which in 2016 dollars is $2044. Although $2044 is not free, it is an amount that a serious student could earn with part time jobs. If California establishes a fifteen dollar an hour minimum wage, as it appears poised to do, that would work out to about five hours of burger flipping a week during term time. That still leaves room and board, of course, and also books and lab fees, but the point is that it would be possible, as we used to say when I was young, to “work your way through college.”

I have written elsewhere on this blog about the reasons for the soaring costs of college. I believe it is no accident [the favorite line of old-time Marxists] that costs began to rise exponentially roughly during the tumultuous Sixties [i.e., in the early Seventies.] The social function of student debt is to compel college graduates to take safe, trouble-free jobs in order to pay off their debts, rather than opting for community organizing or other forms of social disruption.


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Education | Historical Perspectives | Weakening America
March 25, 2016
Trump Talk

The other day, listening to the Republican front-runner read one of his few prepared speeches, I was brought up short to hear him say “perpetuate.” It was like spotting a turd in the punchbowl, only the other way around. A punch in the turd bowl?

After all Trump, as has been well documented, normally speaks in the vocabulary of a fourth-grader. Or does he? Take a look at this, from a college professor who blogs at Gin and Tacos:

For example, I have had entire classes — and it's not just that they don't want to speak in class, since I call on them and try to make them come up with an answer — unable to define the following:

– Deference
– Meritocracy
– Contentious
– Bicameral
– Substantive
– Precipitate (as in to cause an event)

Of those, only bicameral could be considered a Term of Art unique to the subject. The others are just..words. They’re words that I use without conscious thought and the idea of any adult high school graduate being unable to make sense of them doesn’t occur to me. And without getting into specifics, this is merely a sample of words I have to stop and define routinely and for which entire classes are unable to divine the meaning. On an individual basis I get asked to define words on an exam or in a lecture all the time, some of which…I mean, if a student does not know I’m glad that he or she asks to have it defined, but…I’ve had to stifle the “Are you serious?” reaction a handful of times. You would too, trust me.

These days the short-fingered vulgarian would seem to be more than ready for college-level work.



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Idiots | Rich White Trash
March 20, 2016
Why They Go For Trump

Here’s a good analysis of Trump’s appeal from Ian Welsh, one of my favorite writers on the Internets:

So, for damn near 48 years, poor whites have done terribly. For forty-eight years, ordinary politicians have promised to do something about it, and nothing has improved.

Do not tell me, or them, that they are “privileged.” Yes, it is better to be poor and white than poor and black, and better to be a poor white man than a poor white woman, but people who are in pain do not react well to some smug, upper-middle-class jerk telling them they are privileged when their lives are clearly terrible.

It is a FACT that working class whites will not see any improvement worth mentioning under any normal politician, including Clinton. They may see an improvement under Trump, they certainly would under Sanders.

They are voting for what they see as their interests, and they are not necessarily wrong. Certainly, Trump is more likely to help than Clinton, as the chance of Clinton helping them is zero. Zip. Nada.

It is insanity to expect poor white males to accept 48 years of decline and not get angry. It’s perfectly reasonable for them to respond to a man who offers them a better life in a way that is different from all the politicians who have failed them in the past.

Trump does not feel or campaign like an ordinary politician. Poor whites read this as: “He might not betray us like all the normal politicians do.”

At the least, it is worth a try.
It’s really pretty simple, but that won’t stop the onward march of “free trade.” That won’t stop the Mandarins of the Beltway, secluded in their bubble of neoliberal groupthink, from doubling down on the policies that brought us to this dismal state of affairs. As Welsh points out, they have no one to blame for Trumpian fascism but themselves. They produced the conditions that made it inevitable.

Nor will President Hillary save us. She won’t think twice about jamming TPP-style deals down our throats, creating even more pissed off lumpenproles to feed into the Trump machine (as well as alienating progressives, who will abandon her in the midterms, producing yet another shellacking for the Democratic party). Even if Trump doesn’t win this time, he or someone like him will after four years of Hillary’s stale, tone-deaf, unimaginative, business-as-usual Third Way New Democrat (i.e., Republican) “leadership.”


Posted by OHollern at 10:21 PM | Permalink & Email Post | Comments (0)
Thank You, Donald Trump, Now Piss Off

We thank Donald Trump for performing a vital civic duty that must needs bring joy to all patriotic Americans: He utterly vanquished Jeb Bush. He didn’t just defeat him. He crushed him. He humiliated him. He whipped, beat and bludgeoned him like a red-headed stepchild, and in the process showed he Bush family to be the stuttering dullards they are. He sent them limp and bleeding from public life for years to come.

This was the most viscerally satisfying event in American politics since George Bush Sr. puked on the Japanese Prime Minister (while Barbara daubed his chin with a wet-nap and murmured, “That’s great, love, get it all up,” or when their dope son asked the Brazilian President, “Do you have blacks, too?”

Until last summer, I was convinced that 2016 would witness the blandest, most insipid and most demoralizing general election in American history, pitting Hillary Clinton against Jeb Bush. I thought this would lead to record low turnout, and regardless of who won there would be more free trade, more tax cuts at the top, more Very Serious and Responsible entitlement cuts for the middle, and a colder, wetter dog ditch for the coloreds and the poors at the bottom. In short, four more years of the same slow motion poison known as the “Washington Consensus” that is going to turn us into a third world slum before killing us off all together.

Then, inevitably, there would be another bank crash, another bailout, another terrorist attack and another failed war. It was at THIS point that I expected some proto-fascist Trumpian strong man to emerge, rising like some creature from a swamp, one part Mussolini, one part Andy Griffith, waving the flag and promising the folks he was going to make America great again (all the while playing slap and tickle with the banksters behind closed doors, who would be delighted to bankroll his movement if it meant getting rid of that fucking democracy once and for all).

Anyway, the Bushes are gone, and we must be fair and give credit where credit is due. Thank you, Donald Trump,and while I’m at it, let me thank you for fracturing the Republican party. It’s a pity the Democratic party can’t come up with anyone except another godammned Clinton to take advantage of this unique political opportunity. But then, the Democrats are just has hapless and pathetic as the Republicans whom you are destroying. We are going to find this out if Hillary should win, in which case the dismal scenario outlined above will, I believe, still hold true.

There. I said it. That’s the only nice thing I will ever say about Trump. Now piss off, Donald, and take your prick sons Uday and Qusey* Eric and Donald Jr. with you.

(*Stole that line from Thom Hartmann.)


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GOP to Topple?

Interesting argument from Corey Robin today. Unfortunately he’s mostly right about Carter; let’s hope he’s all the way right about the rest. Read the whole thing here.

This does not mean that Republicans or conservatives can’t get elected now. Jimmy Carter got elected in 1976. But his presidency signaled not a resurgence of liberalism but its end: his deregulation was an early warning signal of the morphing of Democratic liberalism into Reaganite neoliberalism; his funding of the Salvadoran regime, building of the MX Missile, and support for the mujahideen in Afghanistan, were the first act of Reagan’s Second Cold War. So will there be elections—perhaps one, maybe more—of Republicans and conservatives that signal not a resurgence of conservatism and the GOP but their end…

When I tried to make some of these points on Facebook last night, a reader thought I was insane. He pointed out that Republicans are today in control of 31 governorships and 30 state legislative chambers; have total control (the “trifecta” of the governorship and both houses of the legislature) of 22 state governments (to the Democrats’ 7); and control both branches of Congress (54-44 in the Senate—it’s really 54-46 because the two independent caucus with the Democrats—and 247-188 in the House). How could I possibly think conservatism or the GOP is not a wildly popular banner under which Trump will march into the White House?

For this simple reason: In 1972, the Democrats were in control of 31 governorships and 23 state legislative chambers (to the GOP’s 16; the rest were split); had total control of 17 state governments (to the GOP’s 9); and controlled both branches of Congress (54-44 in the Senate, 255-180 in the House). Not entirely dissimilar from today, only in the opposite direction. And what happened? The largest landslide in American electoral history. In favor of the Republican candidate.



Posted by Jerome Doolittle at 4:32 PM | Permalink & Email Post | Comments (0)
Historical Perspectives | Hope for the Future | Presidential Hopefuls
March 18, 2016
Naked Quiddity

An art critic for The New Yorker is rendered so nervous as to become the ground zero of the lack and the possibility:

Beautifying asphalt would seem to be no cinch, but the naked quiddity of the stuff, after the third or fourth look, turns charitable. It’s typical of works by Hammons to repel at first glance and weave a spell on successive viewings.

Hammons’s strategic independence is inescapably self-conscious. It’s a quality he accepts for keeping his several identities — artist, cosmopolitan, American, African-American — in continual play. Infrequently some of what he does is throwaway slight or arch — take, please, “Standing Room Only” (1996), a taxidermied cat curled up on a West Africa style drum — but he is always original and never wanting in point or in purpose. Each piece intervenes in the normal course of art and society, creating a turbulence. He makes people nervous. Some white critics — such as me, when I first encountered his work — have reacted defensively, purporting to roll their eyes at the obviousness of the references and provocations.

But even if you understand a joke it can still be on you. The test is authenticity. The proof of Hammons’s art is his life, and vice-versa. His double-rootedness in demotic culture and in patrician sophistication brackets a social zone that he leaves void, anticipating polarized responses. Whatever you are, at this biting and elegant show, you become the ground zero of the lack and the possibility.



Posted by Jerome Doolittle at 3:37 PM | Permalink & Email Post | Comments (0)
Reveling in the Weird
March 17, 2016
Heil, Columbia

Bet you thought an 88 was a German World War II anti-aircraft gun. Well, that too. But in some circles it signifies Heil Hitler, H being the eighth letter of the alphabet. Circles like the Fayetteville headquarters of the Trump campaign.



Posted by Jerome Doolittle at 4:35 PM | Permalink & Email Post | Comments (1)
Elections | Fascism in America | Idiots
March 14, 2016
All Right, I Give Up…

…how do you explain this?

Hours later, with the evening’s phone banking session over, the Trumpites trickle off into the warm Tampa evening. Among the last to leave are Andrew and Juliana Cherry, both 35, who together operate a small real estate firm in Clearwater Beach. Mrs. Cherry, who came to the United States a few years ago from Peru, still struggles with English, though she spends hours each day defending Mr. Trump on Twitter. Mr. Cherry describes himself as a political pragmatist who will vote for Mrs. Clinton if the Republican establishment denies Mr. Trump the nomination.

Before 2008, Mr. Cherry made his living flipping property in Florida, in part using lessons he learned by taking a course from Trump University. The Great Recession wiped Mr. Cherry out. “I ended up owing more than $1 million,” he said. He wound up homeless, sleeping on his office couch for six months.



Posted by Jerome Doolittle at 5:51 PM | Permalink & Email Post | Comments (1)
Idiots | Reveling in the Weird
March 13, 2016
How Dead Can You Get?

From the Oxford Dictionary, “dead letter”: A law or treaty that has not been repealed but is ineffectual or defunct in practice.

From the U.S. Code,Title 18, Section 960:

“Whoever, within the United States, knowingly begins or sets on foot or provides or prepares a means for or furnishes the money for, or takes part in, any military or naval expedition to be carried on from thence against the territory or domination of any foreign prince or state, or of any colony, district or people with whom the United States is at peace, shall be fined not more than $3,000 or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.”



Posted by Jerome Doolittle at 6:46 PM | Permalink & Email Post | Comments (0)
Crime Fiction | Legal Absurdities
March 12, 2016
Poor Little Donnie

From Reuters:

U.S. Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump on Saturday blamed organized “thugs” for protests that shut down his Chicago rally and said the incident had “energized America.”

Trump, who will be at a campaign rally in Dayton, Ohio, on Saturday, canceled the Chicago event on Friday after it turned chaotic, with scuffles breaking out between protesters and backers of the real estate magnate.

“The organized group of people, many of them thugs, who shut down our First Amendment rights in Chicago, have totally energized America!” Trump said on Twitter…

His rallies often attract small groups of protesters, but Friday’s was the first at which there may have been as many protesters as supporters…

At the University of Illinois-Chicago stadium rally the two sides shouted at each other until a Trump staffer appeared and said the event would be put off until an unspecified date for security reasons.

Trump pretty much got away with this brilliant piece of theater. Only Rachel Maddow, as nearly as I could see, understood that it was as pre-planned as a pot of beef stew: all the ingredients carefully assembled, heated to a boil, simmered for hours, and then served piping hot to the hungry lamestream media.

Trump plainly had no intention of setting foot in the steaming mess he had cooked up at the University of Chicago. That was never the point. The point was to cast him as the victim of all those “thugs,” although once again most of the actual thugs seemed to be his own besotted zealots.

He was a victim of political correctness just as much as they were — political correctness being understood by all as the Un-American embrace of equality and tolerance. And if a man as rich and well-endowed as Donald Trump can be denied his first amendment rights to hate speech by a mob of violent nigger-, spic- and raghead-lovers, what hope can there be for the republic?



Posted by Jerome Doolittle at 3:08 PM | Permalink & Email Post | Comments (0)
Rich White Trash