Sunday, September 13, 2020
I picked this up on Facebook, forwarded by a couple of friends.
I thought it might do more good here:
If you're active in the BLM movement (or even if you're just Black),
you're getting posts on your feed about Biden and Harris's pro-police
If you're an environmentalist, you're getting posts on Biden's
past support of fossil fuels.
If you're LGBT, you're reading articles about Harris defending
California's policy of not providing gender reassignment surgery to
If you want universal health care, there's a post on your page
about how Bernie was robbed and Biden is in Big Pharma's pocket.
If you're for immigrant rights, there is an article in your top
20 right now about Obama being the "deporter in chief."
This is especially true if you live in Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania,
Michigan, Wisconsin, or Arizona.
None of these articles are wrong. Most of them lack context, and
may err by omission, but they're not fake news. The organizations
paying Facebook to show them to you, on the other hand, or paying
"influencers" to share them . . . those are fake. They don't care
about Black lives, or the environment, or trans people, or health
care, or immigrants. They only want one thing.
They want you to not vote in November. Or vote third party, which
is the same thing.
Whether it's a troll cubicle farm in Novgorod or a right wing
think tank in Richmond, microtargeting allows them to aim directly at
your feels and feed your outrage, disgust and sense of powerlessness.
They can't get you to vote for Trump, but they might get you to not
vote against him.
Don't fall for it. Elect Biden. Flip the Senate. Then get back to
work in 2021. Elect more Bernies and Warrens and AOCs and Jamaals in
the primaries. Keep moving the Overton window. Scare the lukewarm
Democrats you've just elected into doing the right thing. Hold Biden
to the platform commitments he made to Sanders delegates, and push
him to go beyond.
Because unlike Republicans, Democrats CAN be steered, persuaded,
shamed, flattered, or convinced to take action. Obama didn't start
out favoring gay marriage, or cannabis legalization. Hell, LBJ wasn't
for desegregation, until he was.
Put Trump where he belongs, in the hands of the SDNY attorneys.
Let Ruth Bader Ginsberg retire. Vote. And wear your mask. Thanks.
Copy. Paste. Speak the truth to the world.
We're less than two months away from the election. An insane amount
of money is being raised and spent to sway that election, and it will
be used to try to manipulate you in all kinds of ways. Beware that most
of the money comes from rich people with their own private agendas --
indeed, a lot of it is coming through "dark money" fronts intended to
avoid transparency and accountability. Misinformation and dirty tricks
are likely to come so fast and furious you'll never be able to sort
them out. On the other hand, you really only have to know a few things
to decide this election: we live in a very complex world which requires
expertise and trustworthiness to function; trust depends on respect
and empathy for other people; a democratic government ("of, by, and
for the people") is essential because it is the only basis for fair
and just management of this complexity. Republicans have repeatedly
failed to run competent government, partly because they are hold many
people in contempt, and partly because they see political power only
in terms of their ability to reward their donors and lock in their
own power. While conservatives have failed for many years, they have
rarely exposed their own incompetence as blatantly and hopelessly as
they have under the leadership and direction of Donald Trump. He is
a disaster and an embarrassment. He and his party deserve to be driven
from the halls of power, and the only way to do that is to elect
Democrats: Joe Biden for president, and the other Democrats running
for Congress and state and local office. The more complete the rout,
the better. It's easy to say this is the most important election of
our lifetimes, but it may be more accurate to say that if we fail to
take our country back this time, this may be one of the last chances
Some scattered links this week:
The flawed genius of the Constitution: "The document counted my
great-great-grandfather as three-fifths of a free person. But the
Framers don't own the version we live by today. We do. The document
is our responsibility now."
Nancy J Altman:
Trump really does have a plan to destroy Social Security. The linchpin
here is eliminating the payroll taxes that fund Social Security. Trump has
already suspended collection of those taxes until the end of the year,
producing a short-term stimulus and a slightly longer-term liability.
The idea is that when the bill comes due, people will feel the pinch,
and demand relief from the tax. As half of the tax is deducted from
workers' checks, they would see a slight increase in take-home pay,
but few would manage to save enough to make up for the eventual loss
of retirement income. The other half is paid by companies, who could
use the savings to pay workers more, but more likely will pocket the
profit. Franklin Roosevelt thought that the regressive payroll tax
would protect the program against predatory business efforts, but he
didn't anticipate the short-sighted nihilism of Trump's generation.
By the way, Glenn Kessler tries to argue that Trump has no
such plan: see
Biden campaign attacks a Trump Social Security 'plan' that does not
exist. The gist of Kessler's argument seems to be that Trump says
so many incoherent things, and does so little to clarify them, that
you can't attribute anything as deliberate as a plan to him.
Trump's fire sale of public lands for oil and gas drillers: "The
Bureau of Land Management is rushing to auction off sites ahead of a
potential Biden presidency."
More than ever, Trump casts himself as the defender of White America.
Trump emerges as inspiration for Germany's far right.
'A tale of 2 recessions': As rich Americans get richer, the bottom half
struggles. This goes far in explaining why the Republicans have no
interest in another stimulus bill, while the Democrats see the need for
something much more dramatic:
Recent economic data and surveys have laid bare the growing divide.
Americans saved a stunning $3.2 trillion in July, the same month that
more than 1 in 7 households with children told the U.S. Census Bureau
they sometimes or often didn't have enough food. More than a quarter
of adults surveyed have reported paying down debt faster than usual,
according to a new AP-NORC poll, while the same proportion said they
have been unable to make rent or mortgage payments or pay a bill.
And while the employment rate for high-wage workers has almost
entirely recovered -- by mid-July it was down just 1 percent from
January -- it remains down 15.4 percent for low-wage workers, according
to Harvard's Opportunity Insights economic tracker.
Police riots and the limits of electoral solutions.
Trump says Pentagon chiefs are accommodating weapons makers. Once
in a while he goes off on an antiwar lark, without recognizing any
discrepancy from his actual record.
Donald Trump, constitutional grift, and John Yoo: An overly long
review of Yoo's Defender in Chief: Donald Trump's Fight for Presidential
Power. You may remember Yoo as the lawyer in GW Bush's White House
who came up with the most incredible legal rationalizations for Cheney's
torture policy. "There isn't a lot more to Yoo's argument than his
insistence that executive energy is a good and constitutional thing."
Still, he usually waits until a Republican is in the White House before
deciding for dictatorship.
The pro-Trump, anti-left Patriot Prayer group, explained.
Our long, forgotten history of election-related violence: "President
Trump has sparked dangerous lawlessness, but killing and destruction
linked to political antagonisms are nothing new for this country." Still,
I don't find it very reassuring that his first example dates from 1856.
Trump officials interfered with CDC reports on Covid-19: "The politically
appointed HHS spokesperson and his team demanded and received the right to
review CDC's scientific reports to health professionals."
Trumps on the couch: Review of Mary L Trump's Too Much and Never
Enough: How My Family Created the World's Most Dangerous Man. Sooner
or later, Donald Trump will no longer darken our doors, and from that
point on I'll have no desire to ever read about him again. Indeed, the
only one of a dozen books I've read to date that reveals much worth
knowing about Trump is TV critic James Poniewozik's Audience of
One: Donald Trump, Television, and the Fracturing of America,
and that's because he bothered to sort out the meaning of so-called
"reality TV" -- something I've never had the slightest interest in
actually watching. The only other book that seems like it might be
enlightening is his nieces's psychobiography, and that's largely
because she takes a broader and deeper view of his family.
Biden says stay in Mideast, increase military spending: Well, that's
not exactly what he said -- the only exact quote here is "forever wars
have to end," but he isn't acknowledging that what makes them "forever"
is America's military footprint in the Middle East. Ditz's subhed is
also an exaggeration: "Biden wants to refocus on fighting Russia." He
said that NATO has been "worried as hell about our failure to confront
Russia," which could be ominous but is probably just a reflection on
Trump's passive-aggressive stance. Still, statements like this give
Trump some room to paint Biden as the warmonger in the campaign --l
admittedly less credible than the same charge against Hillary Clinton,
but the track record is that both have supported wars and the military
pretty much in lockstep.
Neighbors are gathering online to give and get things they need right
now: "In 'Buy Nothing' and gifting groups around the country,
communities are connecting over free stuff." This is something I'd
like to see happening, not least because I'm one of those guys (my
wife calls us hoarders) who can't abide the idea of throwing things
away that might be useful to other people, but who's too lazy to
find people to give them to. I could imagine a neighborhood online
exchange for browsing and ordering, with delivery so you don't have
to go in to shop, and pickup of anything you care to pass on. You'd
need a warehouse, a computer system, some sorters and deliverers,
and someone would have to make decisions about recycling or trashing
items that nobody wants. An open source software project could service
many of these, and possibly add higher level interchanges to move
surplus items into other locations with more needs. You could skim
some stuff off to sell on the free market, and possibly finance some
of the operation that way.
Steve Early/Suzanne Gordon:
Under Trump, military veterans and service members have been 'losers':
Trump's Secretary of Defense Mark Esper wants "to trim $2 billion
allocated for direct care for 9.5 million active-duty personnel,
military retirees, and dependents over the next five years." Gordon
is the author of a book, Wounds of War: How the VA Delivers Health,
Healing, and Hope to the Nation's Veterans.
Police shot Portland slaying suspect without warning or trying to arrest
him first, witness says. Michael Reinoehl was a suspect in the shooting
of a pro-Trump "Patriot Prayer" counter-protester in Portland, making it
hard to determine whether the shooting had been in defense (of self or
others). By the way, Aaron Rupar quotes Trum on this: "This guy was a
violent criminal, and the US Marshals killed him. And I'll tell you
something -- that's the way it has to be. There has to be retribution."
The thread I pulled this from disputes that federal marshals were the
ones who killed Reinoehl. Dean Baker comments further: "I guess courts
and trials are too complicated for little Donnie Boy to understand."
As Richard Silverstein summed up this story,
Trump urges summary execution of protesters.
The great, great fall, or American carnage from a pandemic President.
Trump and the troops: "The alternative to Trump is not the
glorification of military service. It's promoting the kind of service
that gets fewer people killed."
We need to reclaim populism from the right. It has a long, proud leftwing
history. Excerpt from Frank's recent book, The People, No: A
Brief History of Anti-Populism, which I recently read, and generally
liked. As a Kansan, I've spent a fair amount of time reading about the
People's Party, and for that matter the Socialist Party (which one had
a significant foothold in southeast Kansas). I appreciate Frank's brief
history of the 1896 and 1936 elections. I do, however, think that there
is a significant difference between the "liberal anti-populists" Frank
attacks in the modern Democratic Party and the "anti-populism" of 1896
and 1936, and that difference matters going forward. I'll also note
that part of the problem in 1896 was that silver wasn't a very good
answer to the deflationary pressures of the time -- the Greenback
Party of the 1870s was actually on a better track.
Andrew Freedman/Timothy Bella:
Western wildfires break records as devastating toll on lives and homes
begins to emerge.
Stanley B Greenberg:
How Trump is losing his base: "Focus groups with working-class and
rural voters show the deep health care crisis in America, and trouble
for Trump's re-election." Makes sense, but the polls are showing Trump
has a very consistent level of support, so if he's losing base votes,
how is he compensating? Alexander Sammon argues that Trump's
making up his losses among seniors with Latino votes -- see:
The Biden-Trump demographic switcheroo.
How the Trump campaign's mobile app is collecting massive amounts of
voter data. I didn't even know such a thing existed, but of course
it does -- Biden has one, also, and the contrast is revealing:
By contrast, the new Biden app still collects data on users, but it
outlines the specific uses of that data and doesn't automatically
collect the e-mail and phone numbers of users' friends and family.
"Unlike the Biden app, which seeks to provide users with awareness
and control of the specific uses of their data, the Trump app collects
as much as it can using an opt-out system and makes no promises as to
the specific uses of that data," Samuel Woolley, the director of the
propaganda research project at the University of Texas's Center for
Media Engagement, told me. "They just try to get people to turn over
as much as possible."
The policy also notes that the campaign will be collecting information
gleaned from G.P.S. and other location services, and that users will be
tracked as they move around the Internet. Users also agree to give the
campaign access to the phone's Bluetooth connection, calendar, storage,
and microphone, as well as permission to read the contents of their
memory card, modify or delete the contents of the card, view the phone
status and identity, view its Wi-Fi connections, and prevent the phone
from going to sleep. These permissions give the Trump data operation
access to the intimate details of users' lives, the ability to listen
in on those lives, and to follow users everywhere they go. It's a
colossal -- and essentially free -- data-mining enterprise. As Woolley
and his colleague Jacob Gursky
wrote in MIT Technology Review, the Trump 2020 app is "a voter
surveillance tool of extraordinary power."
I learned this firsthand after downloading the Trump 2020 app on
a burner phone I bought in order to examine it, using an alias and a
new e-mail address. Two days later, the President sent me a note,
thanking me for joining his team. Lara Trump invited me (for a small
donation) to become a Presidential adviser. Eric Trump called me one
of his father's "FIERCEST supporters from the beginning." But the
messages I began getting from the Trump campaign every couple of
hours were sent not only to the name and address I'd used to access
the app. They were also sent to the e-mail address and name associated
with the credit card I'd used to buy the phone and its SIM card,
neither of which I had shared with the campaign. Despite my best
efforts, they knew who I was and where to reach me.
Right-wing media thrives on Facebook. Whether it rules is more
Fire destroys most of Europe's largest refugee camp, on Greek island of
The orange skies and smoky air from Western wildfires, explained:
"Air pollution may be the most dangerous element of the massive fires."
"Unprecedented": What's behind the California, Oregon, and Washington
Eliza Barclay/David Roberts/Umair Irfan:
California's recurring wildfire problem, explained: "The state's
weather is becoming warmer and more volatile due to climate change.
And there are more people and buildings." I saw something in my
Facebook feed insisting that the fires were not related to climate
change, but it's hard to find much less believe articles claiming
that. (Indeed, searching added to the load of articles asserting
the link below.)
This one has a chart showing that wildfire frequency and
intensity has doubled due to climate change. This one also notes
the building boom in areas prone to fire. That certainly increases
the dollar cost of fires, just as building in flood and hurricane
surge zones does. Maybe that makes the economic costs of climate
change seem larger, but that's because they are.
Drilling for oil while California burns.
As the West burns, Trump appoints a climate science denier to
Oregon's firefighting helicopters are deployed in Afghanistan as the
Chas Danner/Matt Stieb:
Wildfires: The West Coast crisis continues.
Does Trump care that the American West is aflame?
Photos: Wildfires generate apocalyptic skies across West Coast.
Diana Leonard/Andrew Freedman:
Western wildfires: An 'unprecedented,' climate change-fueled event,
The West is on fire. It took Trump 3 weeks to mention it.
John Schwartz/Lisa Friedman:
The 'straightforward' link between climate and California's fires.
California's dark, orange sky is the most unnerving sight I've ever woken
Jeffrey St Clair:
Roaming charges: Under furious skies.
Wildfires: More than 10 percent of Oregon residents evacuate.
Yes, climate change is almost certainly fueling California's massive
California can't afford to wait for climate action.
The crisis in the skies of San Francisco.
At least 37 million people have been displaced by America's War on Terror:
A new report from Brown University's Costs of War project. "That figure
exceeds those displaced by conflict since 1900, the authors say, with the
exception of World War II." Also:
The Battle of Portland: "How mass protests against racist police
brutality sparked a historic federal crackdown on dissent." Extensive
The responsibility to de-escalate the conflict lay on the side that had
the guns, rather than the side that was hurling eggs by the carton. But
the feds were being directed by officials who were ranting at Congress
about violent anarchists and a president who was calling the dweebiest
city in America a "beehive of terrorists."
Is America in the early stages of armed insurgency? Counterinsurgency
strategist David Kilcullen thinks so. I think there is a lot of potential
for isolated violence from the right, certainly if Trump loses, perhaps
as likely if he wins. The big uncertainty is how Trump, Republicans, and
their propaganda network responds to the violence -- the full-throated
support given for Kyle Rittenhouse is chilling, even hard to imagine a
mere four years ago.
5 takeaways from Rage, Bob Woodward's new book about Trump:
Bob Woodward's second book on Trump drops on Sept. 15, so the press is
awash with publicity leaks. Like 2018's Fear, was based on personal
interviews, its title reduced to a four-letter word the subject can relate
to. This seems like the piece to start with. The big revelation appears
to be that Trump was able to speak knowledgeably and coherently about the
coronavirus threat in early February, at a time when he was downplaying
it publicly and doing nothing to reduce the threat. Many people blame
Woodward for not reporting what he knew at the time, suggesting the news
might have helped save lives. Of course, saving lives isn't Woodward's
idea of good journalism. Selling books is. Here are Kavi's 5 takeaways:
- Mr. Trump minimized the risks of the coronavirus to the American
public early in the year.
- Two of the president's top officials thought he was "dangerous"
and considered speaking out publicly. Jim Mattis and Dan Coats.
"Ultimately neither official spoke out."
- Mr. Trump repeatedly denigrated the U.S. military and his top
- When asked about the pain "Black people feel in this country,"
Mr. Trump was unable to express empathy.
- Mr. Woodward gained insight into Mr. Trump's relationship with
the leaders of North Korea and Russia.
Offhand, I wouldn't rate any of these are breakthrough insights,
but that's about par for Woodward, who regularly gets too close to
his subjects to see them clearly. Other Rage pieces:
2 big problems with Kayleigh McEnany's Bob Woodward response.
The 5 wildest revelations in Bob Woodward's new Trump book:
- "I wanted to always play it down."
- "Putin had something on Trump."
- "I'm not feeling any love" from Black people.
- "I have built a nuclear -- a weapons systems that nobody's ever had
in this country before."
- "I'm the only one he [Kim Jong-un] smiles with."
Why Trump's secret weapon isn't so secret and not much of a weapon.
As Trump put it: "I have built a nuclear -- a weapons system that nobody's
ever had in this country before. We have stuff you haven't even seen or
heard about. We have stuff that Putin and Xi have never heard about before.
There's nobody -- what we have is incredible." What is incredible is the
"thinking" of the bomb builders:
The weapon, the W76-2 warhead, is the brainchild of nuclear war fighters
who want to make nuclear weapons more usable. They fear that military and
political leaders are "self-deterred" from using nuclear weapons because
of the huge destruction they cause. Instead of a weapon that would destroy
all of New York, for example, they wanted a weapon that would destroy just
midtown. Instead of killing hundreds of thousands of civilians, a smaller
weapon would kill thousands. This, they believe, makes it more acceptable
and could break the nuclear taboo that has held for 75 years.
Robert Costa/Philip Rucker:
Woodward book: Trump says he knew coronavirus was 'deadly' and worse
than the flu while intentionally misleading Americans. Lots of
writers jumped on this point. Somewhere I should note that Obama knew
that the Great Recession was much worse than he let on, and that the
stimulus package he signed was far short of what was needed, but kept
up a charade of projecting confidence in the recovery, even after it
became clear that Republicans were trying to slag the economy to make
him look bad. So this notion that projecting confidence is part of
the president's job runs deeper than Trump's vanity. On the other
hand, if Trump really did understand the gravity of the pandemic
threat when Woodward quotes him, there is a lot he could have done
behind the scenes to better prepare, and when it did become public
how serious the pandemic was, he could have addressed it directly
and competently. He did neither of those things. Indeed, the only
data point that is out of line with our understanding that he has
been an utter moron at every step is Woodward's quote. I'll also
note that many knowledgeable people believe (erroneously, I think)
that confidence is an important factor in an economic recovery, no
one thinks that positive thoughts can ward off a pandemic. On the
other hand, I doubt that Trump ever worried about the pandemic per
sť; only about how it affected his reŽlection chances. And in a
pinch, it shouldn't be surprising that he reverted to techniques
that had seen him through past crises -- mostly bankruptcies and
divorces (but then this was a guy who described avoiding STDs as
Trump's lies on Covid were pretty transparent.
First of all, Bob Woodward sitting on information about presidential
lies until he has a book to promote is . . . well it's the difference
between being a hungry reporter in 1973 and a palace courtier in 2020.
The staggering consequences of Trump's coronavirus lies.
Susan B Glasser:
Bob Woodward finally got Trump to tell the truth about Covid-19.
Rage review: Will Bob Woodward's tapes bring down Donald Trump?
Bob Woodward's accidental scoop: "Once an investigative journalist,
Woodward is now just a court historian."
Here's one of the most disturbing details from Woodward's Trump book
that people are missing:
One of the most disturbing revelations in Rage, which hasn't
gotten enough attention, is how seriously Mattis feared a nuclear
confrontation with North Korea. Mattis was so worried, Borger writes,
that he "took to sleeping in his gym clothes and having a flashing
light and bell installed in his bathroom in case a missile alert
happened when he was in the shower."
Mattis, discussing that possibility, told Woodward, "You're going
to incinerate a couple million people. No person has the right to kill
a million people, as far as I'm concerned. Yet that's what I have to
There shouldn't be a debate about who is the greatest monster in the
Timothy L O'Brien:
Of course Trump couldn't resist Bob Woodward: "Once again, he
mistakenly trusted in his own ability to steer the story."
Heather Digby Parton:
Is Donald Trump mostly evil or mostly ignorant? Bob Woodward's book
offers an answer: Both.
Bob Woodward on a nightmare presidency.
Why Woodward's book won't break through. Interview with Alex Carp.
Bob Woodward's critics are missing the point: "Yes, the legendary
reporter's methods can be unscrupulous. But the latest findings speak
Joan Didion, in a scathing review of Woodward's account of the 1996
presidential race, referred to Woodward's method as a "scrupulous passivity"
that results in "political pornography" -- an apt description of Fear.
Trump's lawlessness barely factored into Woodward's account. . . .
In Rage, however, he arrives at a very un-Woodwardy place: "I
can only reach one conclusion: Trump is the wrong man for the job." It is,
by far, the most damning portrait of a sitting president that Woodward has
delivered in a long, long time.
Criticizing Woodward is fair game, always. But a different criticism
has taken hold, that Woodward harmed public health and the national
interest by failing to report on his conversations with Trump sooner. . . .
Woodward is no one's idea of a public interest journalist, but the
notion that he played a significant role in the pandemic by not publishing
his interview sooner simply doesn't track. The fact that the president was
intentionally downplaying the danger of Covid-19 was both apparent and well
documented in the spring; Trump himself admitted that he was privileging
politics over public health. If Woodward had published this information
in February (or May, when he says he confirmed it), would it have made a
difference in fighting the virus? Back then, the president's unscientific
approach and general dismissiveness was the story. Indeed, there
are compelling reasons to believe that this information is more powerful
now, with the election around the corner.
Sonam Sheth/John Haltiwanger:
'I saved his a--': Trump boasted that he protected Saudi Crown Prince
Mohammed bin Salman after Jamal Khashoggi's brutal murder, Woodward's
new book says.
Bob Woodward has let himself become Trump's human shield.
The no lives matter president.
Should Bob Woodward have reported Trump's virus revelations sooner?
Here's how he defends his decision.
There's nothing shocking about Bob Woodward's new book.
Ibram X Kendi:
The violent defense of white male supremacy.
Trump keeps bragging about imaginary auto plants in swing states.
The UK threatens to renege on the Brexit deal it signed with the EU just
a year ago.
Black Republicans, Donald Trump, and America's "George Floyd moment":
Interview with historian Leah Wright Rigueur, author of The Loneliness
of the Black Republican.
Police and racist vigilantes: Even worse than you think.
'We're no. 28! And dropping!': "A measure of social progress finds
that the quality of life has dropped in America over the last decade,
even as it has risen almost everywhere else."
The newest Social Progress Index, shared with me before its official
release Thursday morning, finds that out of 163 countries assessed
worldwide, the United States, Brazil and Hungary are the only ones
in which people are worse off than when the index began in 2011. And
the declines in Brazil and Hungary were smaller than America's.
"The data paint an alarming picture of the state of our nation,
and we hope it will be a call to action," Michael Porter, a Harvard
Business School professor and the chair of the advisory panel for
the Social Progress Index, told me. "It's like we're a developing
The index, inspired by research of Nobel-winning economists,
collects 50 metrics of well-being -- nutrition, safety, freedom,
the environment, health, education and more -- to measure quality
of life. Norway comes out on top in the 2020 edition, followed by
Denmark, Finland and New Zealand. South Sudan is at the bottom,
with Chad, Central African Republic and Eritrea just behind.
What Brazil and Hungary have in common with the US is far-right
government. That they've suffered a bit less than the US is probably
because those far-right governments have been hegemonic for shorter
times: the US has been controlled by conservative Republicans (and
the occasional ineffective neoliberal Democrat) since 1980, so
inequality has progressed further, especially in eating into the
social fabric. Porter is wrong to say the US is like "a developing
country." Developing countries are developing -- making progress,
even if fitfully. The US is a devolving country, its industries
devoured by predatory capitalists, its workers marginalized, its
society wracked by fear and loathing. It's still in the top quarter
of the list, because it was once on top, but declining steadily --
maybe never to the point of the bottom rung, of countries that
aren't even developing. They are mired in war, which is even more
corrosive than private equity. On the other hand, the right's
fascination with guns and private militias suggests that too
could befall us.
The Justice Department is reportedly trying to shield Trump from a rape
lawsuit. E Jean Carroll claims that Trump raped her in a department
store dressing room 25 years ago. She sued Trump for libel, and a court
ordered him to provide a DNA sample and deposition. The DOJ intervention
has stopped the case, at least for now.
A quick guide to what is going on with the economy: A pretty substantial
review up through July.
The conservative case for organized labor: Interview with Oren Cass,
a former Mitt Romney adviser who runs the think tank American Compass.
Occasionally you run across Republican operatives who think that the
Party needs to provide some economic aid for its working class voters,
but those aren't the conservative ideologues who control the party. On
the other hand, I don't see labor leaders abandoning their agenda to use
government to extend worker rights -- unlike Samuel Gompers, who before
the New Deal opposed laws regulating things like child labor because he
felt they disincentivized workers from joining his union. One can imagine
a few conservatives accepting unions as preferale to government regulation,
but only the most elite-oriented unions are willing to overlook masses of
non-union workers dragging the labor market down. And most conservatives
are so invested in the notion that owners should wield absolute power that
they're unwilling to consider any kind of power-sharing arrangement.
The GOP is no longer the pro-business party. Levitz is one of New
York most dependable left-wing writers, so he's on a rather strange
kick now. But sure, business has actually done much better with Democratic
presidents than with Republican ones. Clinton was especially proud of that
fact, and that's probably why they feel so good about raking in all those
lucrative speaking deals. It's also true that Obama, Hillary Clinton, and
now Biden have been raising more money than their Republican opponents.
On the other hand, Republicans still have a lot of business support,
especially in old, reactionary and/or predatory industries, especially
among capitalists who are more focused on power than wealth.
To be sure, Trump has done a great deal to benefit corporate America's
incumbent executives, especially those looking to maximize their own
wealth in the run-up to retirement. Through his regressive-tax cuts and
deregulatory measures, the president has saved major U.S. firms and their
shareholders a bundle. The nation's six largest banks alone have pocketed
$32 billion as a consequence of Trump's policies. And for America's most
socially irresponsible enterprises, this administration has been a true
godsend. Since taking power, the Trump White House has, among other things,
expanded the liberty of coal companies to dump mining waste in streams,
pushed to preserve the rights of retirement advisers to gamble with their
clients' money, freed employers from the burden of logging all workplace
injuries, and ended discrimination against serial labor-law violators in
the bidding process for government contracts.
But the Republican Party is too corrupted by rentier and extractive
industries -- and too besotted with conservative economic orthodoxy --
to advance the long-term best interests of American capital. . . .
Contra ruling-class reactionaries' self-flattering dogmas, private
enterprise is -- and always has been -- reliant on competent statecraft.
Conservatives recognize capital's reliance on "big government" in the
realm of military defense. But in the Anthropocene, emergent diseases
and climate change pose at least as large a threat to capital accumulation
as any hostile foreign power. Meanwhile, in a globalized economy beset by
chronic shortfalls of demand and periodic financial shocks, the GOP's
resilient skepticism about economic stimulus renders the party an uncertain
friend to corporate America in its times of need. Granted, the party has
largely fulfilled its duty to reflate asset prices and shore up credit
markets this year. But the strength of the recovery (such as it is) is at
least partly attributable to policies that originated with Democrats, and
which the GOP accepted only grudgingly in March and has since refused to
renew. As is, there is every reason to think that American businesses
(especially small ones) would be better off if Pelosi's caucus could set
fiscal policy by fiat.
We can't endure much more bad leadership. He starts with some examples
of how little decisions by leaders add up, for some reason starting with
Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky and tracing from there through 9/11 and
the Global War on Terror -- things which indeed reflect bad leadership
but really have more proximate causes. Trump gets several mentions later
on, but his real example is SD governor Kristi Noem's decision not to
cancel the annual motorcycle rally in Sturgis. The result:
Nineteen percent of the 1.4 million new coronavirus cases in the U.S.
between Aug. 2 and Sept. 2 can be traced back to the Sturgis Motorcycle
Rally held in South Dakota, according to researchers from San Diego
State University's Center for Health Economics & Policy Studies.
That's more than 266,000 cases, with a public health cost of $12.2
billion. As for Trump, he's not just a bad leader in the sense that
Clinton, the Bushes, and even Obama were -- by following conventional
political "wisdom" into one cul de sac after another. He's bad on an
absolutely cosmic scale. He's seeded the government with mini-versions
of himself: pompous, arrogant, corrupt, vain, and stupid, and led them
to believe that they are protected from legal and political consequences
(even though he's ultimately had to fire many of them). One can imagine
an inept leader surviving on the competencies of his staff, but Trump
precluded that possibility both through his staffing -- sure, Pence
was responsible for most of them, but over time Trump has managed to
weed out most of the ones who weren't sufficiently sycophantic (or for
that matter psycho) -- but also by insisting that nothing is real but
in terms of its us-vs-them political impact. Trump's instinct was to
look only at the political implications of coronavirus, to see how he
could use it as a tool of divide and conquer. As such, he inevitably
politicized things like mask wearing that most leaders would have taken
pains to depoliticize. Longman stresses that many times he's argued
that we need better leaders. What's more clear is that we need less
bad leaders -- leaders who can put aside their political angles when
the events dictate otherwise. However, Trump has gone way beyond such
concepts as good and not bad. The problem with Trump's leadership is
not just that it's bad; it's that he's so embarrassingly incompetent
he's a distraction from everything.
How fantasy triumphed over reality in American politics. Author
has a new book, History Has Begun: The Birth of a New America,
from which this is adapted. He is stuck with the idea of a "new world
order," and flat out declares "the proposition that the whole planet
is on a course to embrace Western liberalism is no longer credible,"
but doesn't seem to have any better suggestions. He is right that in
voting for Reagan in 1980 America turned away from the limits of the
real world and decided to live in a fantasy -- one that's become
progressively desperate as evidenced by Trump's "make America great
Trump, you're no FDR or Winston Churchill -- but you're a lot like
Charles Lindbergh: "Trump defends coronavirus lies to comparing
himself to wartime leaders -- but he's closer to the Nazi apologists."
This doesn't mention Nick Adams's recent book, Trump and Churchill:
Defenders of Western Civilization, which is ridiculous enough (on
both counts) to need no review, nor does it mention Fred Trump's
attachment to Lindbergh's "America First" movement (although it does
note Donald Trump's use of the slogan and penchant for evoking fascist
Perhaps the difference between the two men is that Lindbergh, as
despicable a person as he may have been, became famous for doing
something that required courage, intelligence and skill, which was
to become the first person to fly an airplane across the Atlantic
Trump, on the other hand, has spent his life bouncing from one
failed venture to another, cheating and grifting to create the
illusion of enormous wealth and great success. And so while Lindbergh
eventually had to concede reality, Trump will never quit believing
he can flim-flam his way through this crisis, no matter how many
corpses pile up in his wake.
Nolan D McCaskill:
Trump team says history will vindicate him on coronavirus: "Top
advisers blame everyone but the president for the nation's plight
during the pandemic."
Media Matters: This group watches Fox News so you don't have
to. I'm convinced that nothing affects politics more these days than
Fox's hermetically sealed alternate universe. I saw Matt Taibbi complain
recently that MSNBC is "even more partisan" than Fox, and that nearly
everyone who says they trust the New York Times for news identifies as
a Democrat, but the latter at least doesn't try to lock their readers
in a bubble of misinformation. (I watch so little MSNBC I can't really
speak of them.) Some recent headlines give you a taste both of what
Trump says and (more importantly) what he hears:
This Republican Party is not worth saving: "No one should ever get a
second chance to destroy the Constitution."
Trump's OSHA is fining companies pennies for pandemic violations.
There's still a reason for Trump rallies, for Trump at least: "The
MAGA rallies -- which aren't technically MAGA rallies -- are helping
the president workshop his campaign message in real time."
The rallies are a salve for the Tinkerbell syndrome that afflicts the
president. He is first a showman, and his connection with an audience
is life-sustaining -- a source of dopamine and a form of catharsis more
powerful than any grenade-throwing exercise of a tweet. And they provide
him with a sort of spiritual poll: a sense of how things are going, based
on his animalistic crowd-aura-reading abilities.
On the other hand, you have to wonder about the quality of feedback
he's getting from the small minority of Americans who adore him enough
to risk their lives to gratify his ego.
Listening to him, it can sound like he's been unable to make sense of
what has happened in America under his watch.
"This is the most important election in the history of our country.
I wouldn't say that lightly," he said. "And frankly, I thought the last
one was, and I said it, but they've gone to a level that nobody even
thought possible. These people have gotten stone-cold crazy."
Antonio Olivo/Nick Miroff:
ICE flew detainees to Virginia so the planes could transport agents to
DC protests. A huge coronavirus outbreak followed.
Are we on the cusp of an era of radical reform that repairs America's
broken democracy? Alternate title:
America's plastic hour is upon us.
Beneath the dreary furor of the partisan wars, most Americans agree
on fundamental issues facing the country. Large majorities say that
government should ensure some form of universal health care, that it
should do more to mitigate global warming, that the rich should pay
higher taxes, that racial inequality is a significant problem, that
workers should have the right to join unions, that immigrants are a
good thing for American life, that the federal government is plagued
by corruption. These majorities have remained strong for years. The
readiness, the demand for action, is new.
What explains it? Nearly four years of a corrupt, bigoted, and
inept president who betrayed his promise to champion ordinary Americans.
The arrival of an influential new generation, the Millennials, who grew
up with failed wars, weakened institutions, and blighted economic
prospects, making them both more cynical and more utopian than their
parents. Collective ills that go untreated year after year, so bone-deep
and chronic that we assume they're permanent -- from income inequality,
feckless government, and police abuse to a shredded social fabric and a
poisonous public discourse that verges on national cognitive decline.
Then, this year, a series of crises that seemed to come out of nowhere,
like a flurry of sucker punches, but that arose straight from those ills
and exposed the failures of American society to the world.
What if Democrats just promised to make things work again? "It's
actually a rarity to hear a politician explicitly promise to govern
effectively." "Most Americans, like most people, simply want things
Trump uses Fox News interview to accuse Biden of taking drugs.
Sez Trump: "That's what I hear. I mean, there's possibly drugs. I
don't know how you can go from being so bad where you can't even
get out a sentence . . ." Article continues: "Trump did not finish
his own sentence."
Roger Stone to Donald Trump: bring in martial law if you lose election.
Seems a bit fanciful, but David Atkins provides some context:
The GOP is staging chaos on the way to a coup. Atkins also wrote:
To save democracy, Democrats must hold Trump officials accountable.
One should take care not to appear vindictive, but I've long felt that
Obama's decision to let the Bush administration off the hook for their
numerous errors, corruptions, and even crimes, was a strategic mistake.
It is even more important now that people realize how mendacious, how
malign, how corrupt, and how stupid not just Trump but his whole
administration have been. I'm not sure they need to be locked up,
but they certainly need to be exposed and shamed.
Trump boasts about getting 'Bay of Pigs Award -- which doesn't exist:
Tony Karon challenged this: "while it was certainly never awarded to
Trump, Cuba has long had an Order of the Bay of Pigs medal for leadership
in the struggle against imperialism."
Trump's Nevada rally was an exercise in delegitimizing voting -- and
denying reality: "Trump keeps holding probable superspreader
events in the middle of a pandemic."
Why Mike Bloomberg plans to spend $100 million boosting Biden in
Florida. Nothing to get excited about here -- no one has done more
to discredit the idea of money's ability to influence elections than
Bloomberg, but the main thing his spending couldn't overcome was the
inherent weakness of the messenger. On the other hand, one could argue
that his spending was very effective at getting people to vote for Joe
Biden, who not only handily beat Bloomberg but won a bunch of states
he didn't seriously campaign in. Florida was one of those states --
a particularly important one. Personally, I have no faith Florida will
ever do the right thing, but it offers Bloomberg an opportunity to
earn some favors with Biden. One thing about Bloomberg is that his
motives are pretty transparent: he hates the left much more than he's
bothered by the Republicans, and sees centrist Democrats as a much
more effective prophylactic against popular revolt threatening his
class privileges. If billionaires like Bloomberg can't deliver the
presidency to Biden, their future in the Democratic Party will be
as tarnished as Hillary Clinton's. Also see: Dexter Filkins:
Who gets to vote in Florida? One reason Florida disappoints so
often is that Republican jiggering of the election process there
is often decisive. While there is little doubt that Republicans will
try to cheat everywhere they can this year, North Carolina, Georgia,
Wisconsin, and (of course) Florida are exceptionally vulnerable.
China has quietly vaccinated more than 100,000 people for Covid-19
before completing safety trials. China was the first nation hit
by Covid-19, and from that point seemed (to me, at least) likely to
be the first nation to get a grip on the disease, possibly gaining
some sort of strategic advantage vs. other countries (especially
given the US obsession with "intellectual property" rents). Looking
back, China was remarkably effective at containing the virus, with
per capita infection rates so low one wonders if they've fudged the
numbers. But also, unlike the US, the Chinese government retains
the ability and will to direct private industry to further public
goals, so they can pursue things like vaccine development much more
aggressively than others can. Also, given their closed political
system, they have little motivation to publicize developments before
they are known to work -- compare to Trump's promises on a vaccine
before the end of the year, or his touting of a plasma treatment
that hadn't been cleared. So it's not a surprise that China seems
to have jumped into the lead on vaccine development -- just news.
Also, this should give you pause when thinking about Trump's plans
for an "America first" vaccine controlled by corporate behemoths.
From its inception, Covid-19 was a world pandemic, which demanded
full international cooperation. Trump has repeatedly sabotaged
that, and the US has suffered a lot as a result, and we're likely
to suffer even more.
Paul R Pillar:
Putting America on the wrong side of war crimes.
How the evangelical movement became Trump's "bitch" -- and yes, I know
what that word signifies: "As an evangelical myself, I can see how
far the movement has sunk -- even to betraying its own ideal of
Senate report shows what Mueller missed about Trump and Russia.
What's causing climate change, in 10 charts.
Nathan J Robinson:
The case for degrowth: When the shutdowns happened back in March,
a friend asked whether they would force us to start thinking about
degrowth. The concept has been floating around for a while. Indeed,
it's almost inevitable once you consider the impossibility of infinite
economic growth, but it also builds on critiques of GDP -- turns out
that measuring all economic activity fails to recognize any difference
in value between activities (like building a house, or blowing one up
and having to build another -- the latter produces more GDP, but one
less house). Robinson reviews Jason Hickel's new book: Less Is More:
How Degrowth Will Save the World, and also spend considerable time
with Mariana Mazzucato's The Value of Everything.
Philip Rucker/Josh Dawsey/Yasmeen Abutaleb:
Trump fixates on the promise of a vaccine -- real or not -- as key to
Robert J Samuelson:
Goodbye, readers, and good luck -- you'll need it: "What 50 years
of writing about economics has taught me." Not much. He's been a hedgehog,
his one big idea that inflation is bad. I read his book, The Great
Inflation and Its Aftermath, where he insisted that the inflation
of the 1970s was even worse than the depression of the 1930s. My parents
lived through both, and while they may have been luckier than some in
the 1970s, their view was the exact opposite. Perhaps because they learned
to avoid debt and save in the 1930s they saw nothing but benefits from
the 1970s: their costs were manageable (no debt, not even a mortgage),
my father's wages grew substantially (thank God for unions), and their
savings reaped pretty high interest (without having to become criminals).
Samuelson's last piece before this one was
Don't forget about inflation. I thought about complaining about
it at the time but didn't, so when I saw this one, I figured I'd
best get my last word in. I was pointed to this one by Alex Pareene,
who tweeted: "this guy sucks and in incalculable but significant ways
has made the future worse for all of us with his bad ideas and arguments
dating back decades." Pareene also referred me to Brad DeLong:
Carbon blogging/Robert J Samuelson is a bad person.
The right-wing worldview is one of scarecrows and scapegoats.
Argues that conservatives obsess over three "scarecrows": They will
take out safety; They will take our liberty; They will
take our culture. He doesn't offer a list of "scapegoats";
presumably they is all you need to know.
3,000 dead on 9/11 meant everything. 200,000 dead of Covid-19 means
nothing. Here's why. "To America's leaders, our lives have value
only insofar as they can be used to create a desired panic." Schwarz
gives a number of examples of what were called cassus belli events --
excuses for launching wars. He mentions, for instance, the "Tonkin
Gulf Incident" where US ships were fired on by North Vietnamese, but
no one was injured. He doesn't mention Israel's sinking of a US ship
during the 1968 Six Day War, where all Americans on board perished,
but that wasn't a cassus belli, because the US had no desire to fight
Bush wanted a pretext to do a lot of things that were unnecessary,
while Trump wanted an excuse to do nothing when, in fact, a lot
really needed to be done.
Trump's execution spree continues at federal killing ground in Indiana:
"More federal executions have been carried out in 2020 than in the past
57 years combined."
Will the United States belatedly fulfill its promise as a multiracial
Surveying the protests, Trump saw a path to victory in Nixon's footsteps:
The uprisings of 2020 could rescue him from his catastrophic mishandling
of the coronavirus pandemic. The president leaned into his own "law and
order" message. He lashed out against "thugs" and "terrorists," warning
that "when the looting starts, the shooting starts." Ahead of what was
to be his comeback rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in June, Trump tweeted, "Any
protesters, anarchists, agitators, looters or lowlifes who are going to
Oklahoma please understand, you will not be treated like you have been
in New York, Seattle, or Minneapolis" -- making no distinction between
those protesting peacefully and those who might engage in violence.
In this, Trump was returning to a familiar playbook. He was relying
on the chaos of the protests to produce the kind of racist backlash that
he had ridden to the presidency in 2016. Trump had blamed the 2014 protests
in Ferguson, Missouri -- a response to the shooting of Michael Brown by
a police officer -- on Barack Obama's indulgence of criminality. "With
our weak leadership in Washington, you can expect Ferguson type riots
and looting in other places," Trump predicted in 2014. As president, he
saw such uprisings as deliverance.
Then something happened that Trump did not foresee. It didn't work.
Trump was elected president on a promise to restore an idealized past
in which America's traditional aristocracy of race was unquestioned. But
rather than restore that aristocracy, four years of catastrophe have -- at
least for the moment -- discredited it.
Christianna Silva/James Doubek:
Fascism scholas says US is 'losing its democratic status': Interview
with Jason Stanley, author of How Fascism Works: The Politics of Us
and Them. I've read that book and think it's pretty good, finding
a middle ground between accounts which take a overly strict historical
definition (like Robert Paxton's The Anatomy of Fascism) and
leftists (like myself) who instantly smell fascism in every form of
right-wing reaction. The NPR article links to Elias Bures:
Don't call Donald Trump a fascist, which reviews Stanley's book and
others (including one of Dinesh D'Souza's most ridiculous ones, accusing
the left of fascism -- a trope Jonah Goldberg beat to death in Liberal
Fascism). I think it depends a lot of who you're talking to. Many of
us older folk on the left have a deep understanding of fascism, which
provides a ready framework for recognizing much of what Trump and other
conservatives say and do. Moreover, some Trump artifacts (like his ads
where all the "bad guys" are Jews) echo fascist memes much too closely
for comfort. On the other hand, more (mostly younger) people don't, in
which case this quickly devolves to name-calling (which is all it ever
was to Goldberg and D'Souza). Were I to construct a 0-10 F-Scale for
how fascist politicians are, I'd peg Reagan and the Bushes in the 3-5
range, and Trump more like 7-8: too low to be a precise definition,
but high enough one can't help but think about it. For a taste, here
are some recent links that use the F-word:
Why Trump's invasion of Portland is textbook fascism.
Can we call it fascism? Trump's voter suppression project, 2020.
Stephen F Eisenman/Sue Coe:
Scoring Fascism: Offers 11 questions, scored 1-5 points. FWIW, I'd
score Trump at: 2-1-1-2-4-3-2-1-5-2-2 = 25, which falls in the "quite
fascist" range. If Trump had more power, or was more competent at wielding
the power his office has, he'd rate higher, as most of the categories
are things he'd like to do. Also note that the bottom rung of scoring,
5-10, is "just another asshole." You can be an asshole without being
a fascist. That category is reserved for a special kind of asshole.
Lawlessness in Trump's fascist state: Bill Barr and the ghost of fascism.
The specter of a fascist coup by Trump haunts the US, but there's worse
to worry about. Harris previously wrote:
Trump, racism, and fascism: More than just personality disorders.
Call Trump's tactics what they are: Fascist.
I've resisted calling Trump a fascist. Not anymore. Trump's huzzahs
for 17-year-old murderer Kyle Rittenhouse was the straw that broke this
particular camel's back. Note link here to Scott Bixby:
Trump's new adviser Steve Cortes thinks he hasn't been 'fascist'
Alexander Reid Ross:
Trump the fascist: Note this is old [2015-08-25], or prescient.
Fourteen martyrs in the struggle against racist terror and
Trumpism-Fascism. Street previously wrote
"Time to say the F-word"? Why now? He cites increasing use by
relatively mainstream authors:
Robert Reich, and
The US is borrowing its way to fascism.
Oregon is on the cusp of a major drug reform: Decriminalizing everything.
It's likely that the number of states where marijuana is legal will increase
this year, as it has nearly every election since Colorado voters approved.
It's an easy call, given that it's arguably more benign than already legal
alcohol and tobacco. Other drugs are a harder call, but prohibition hasn't
worked any better with them than it did with alcohol or marijuana. I would
go further than this proposal, but it's still much better than any state
has yet done.
Tucker Carlson: "If we're going to survive as a country, we must defeat"
Black Lives Matter: Excuse me, but what the fuck does this mean?
What can "defeat" possibly mean? Arrest all the leaders and supporters
of BLM? Wouldn't that just incite more people to pick up the struggle?
What about anyone who even sympathizes with the notion that black people
deserve the same rights and respect enjoyed by whites? Even if somehow
you managed to do that, what kind of country would you have left? One
with more people in jail than out? One the rest of the world -- which in
case you haven't noticed is mostly non-white -- regards as an unspeakably
vile rogue nation? Or maybe Carlson would be satisfied just to acquit all
the cops who kill unarmed blacks, and beat back every effort to "defund"
or otherwise reform the police? Wouldn't that just make BLM seem more
important and more necessary than ever? The only way movements rooted
in a fundamental quest for justice go away is when they achieve all or
at least a significant chunk of their goals. Racist rants, even from
perches like Fox News, just add to the conviction that movements like
BLM are necessary.
Give everybody the internet. I agree, and would go a bit further. We
also need public options to compete against all of the major commercial
aps on the internet.
Boats keep sinking at the Trump boat parades.
The 2020 Trump campaign is reportedly a financial mess. More on the
7 details from new exposť on financial turmoil -- and bitter backstabbing --
in the Trump campaign. Cites Shane Goldmacher/Maggie Haberman:
How Trump's billion-dollar campaign lost its cash advantage. The 7
- The big takeaway: Trump has poured $800 million down the drain
with little to show for it
- Parscale, meanwhile, is trying to spread the blame around
- Trump is a big part of the problem
- The campaign spent nearly half of its spending on more
- A lot of money is covering campaign-adjacent legal bills
- The pandemic -- and Trump's refusal to adapt to it -- has repeatedly
thrown a wrench into the gears
- Much of the money remains mysteriously unaccounted for
David A Graham:
Trump is running his campaign like he ran his businesses: "The president
is again profiting handsomely at the expense of those trusting enough to
give him money."
Death Star blows itself up: Trump ran his campaign finances like his
businesses -- into the ground.
Trump campaign ad misspells "Nobel" -- while touting Trump's nomination
for the peace prize. Given that all a nomination took was one idiot
with connections, this hardly seems like something to brag about. On
the other hand, this does remind one of the structural divide between
Republicans and Democrats on war and peace. Obama was embarrassed when
he was given the prize, not because he hadn't done anything to deserve
it (other than give a speech against Bush invading Iraq back when he was
an Illinois state legislator), but because he was Commander-in-Chief in
two active wars (Iraq and Afghanistan) and in a dozen or more obscure
conflicts (including the still-unsettled 1950 Korean War), and he was
afraid the Nobel Peace Prize would make him look weak. As a Republican,
Trump never has to worry about appearing weak (or, evidently, crazy).
He can even point to the first American (Republican) president to win
the Nobel, Theodore Roosevelt, who championed the Spanish-American War
in 1898 and US entry into World War I, in between practicing "Gunboat
Diplomacy" in Central and South America. Roosevelt got the prize for
settling the 1905 Russo-Japanese War -- a good deed, but one that
greatly favored his friends in Japan. For more, see Steve M:
Racist serial nominator nominates Trump for a Nobel Prize.
Short on cash, Trump campaign appears to be hiding large-dollar payments
to top staff.
Whistleblower alleges DHS head tried to alter intelligence to fit Trump
rhetoric: "A DHS official claims that acting director Chad Wolf told
him to downplay Russia's election interference threat because it made
Trump 'look bad.'"
Federal report warns of financial disaster of climate change:
It's about time for the party of oligarchy to own up to the fact that the
rich have much more to lose to climate change than the middling or poor.
For starters, who owns all that oceanfront property about to drown? (This
article puts the value of such property at
$1 trillion.) This report comes from the CFTC (Commodity Futures Trading
Commission), which mostly deals in agricultural produce (well, it mostly deals
in money, but speculating about agricultural produce). Right now, agriculture
has been finely tuned to produce the most profitable crops any given area
can, but a changing climate will wreck all that optimization.
Everything we learned from Michael Cohen's book: Trump's former
lawyer/fixer's book, Disloyal: A Memoir, is out now. Stieb's
- Jerry Falwell Jr.'s Trump endorsement was related to his fear
of "personal" photos being released
- Trump's coordination with the National Enquirer was more
extensive than previously known
- The Trump children wanted their father to end his campaign
- Cohen details more allegations of racism
More on the Cohen book:
How William Barr is weaponizing the Justice Department to help Trump
In memoriam: Kevin Zeese is irreplaceable. Zeese, an activist
lawyer, died last week. Includes some links, including two pieces
co-authored by Margaret Flowers:
We're in a recession, and it's likely to get worse (Mar. 19), and
We don't have to choose between our health and the economy (May 19).
The end of the university: "The pandemic should force America to
remake higher education."
How Trump could win: "The President consistently trails Joe Biden in
polls, but political strategists from both parties suggest that he still
has routes to reŽlection." On the one hand, they're fucking with you.
On the other, we have so little faith in our fellow voters, in the media
that feeds them misinformation, and in the arcane system they have to
navigate in order to vote, that we're full of doubts, and the fear of
getting this wrong can be all-consuming.
Covid patients are receiving eye-popping bills. It's not all Trump's
fault. "even a well-crafted plan would have been no match for our
inept health care system."
The two Joe Bidens: "One talks of an 'FDR-size presidency,' the
other works to calm Wall Street nerves. Which one will create the
post-pandemic future?" The one that gets elected? Otherwise, do we
even have a future?
America's callous indifference to death: "The Covid-19 pandemic serves
as a reminder that even in an election year, our politics are ideologically
predisposed to a malign neglect."
Just two years ago, a hurricane in Puerto Rico killed at least as many
people as died on 9/11, and our government's response was pathetic. The
help provided has never come close to matching the need: As of July, the
"first major program to rebuild houses hasn't completed a single one even
though tens of thousands of homes still have damaged roofs nearly three
years after Maria," according to NBC. Such neglect might be familiar to
people in North Carolina or Texas, where people who had not yet recovered
from one hurricane were upended again by another just a year or two later.
The implication here is that government responded to 9/11 but not
to "natural" disasters. True that victims of 9/11 received relatively
generous compensation, but the overwhelming majority of what was spent
following 9/11 did its victims no good whatsoever, and most of it
created further problems -- even the toll of American soldiers killed
in the subsequent wars far exceeded the number killed by terrorists,
and the money spent, which gained us nothing, could have been put to
good use at home. Politicians respond to deaths when it suits them,
in ways that suit them.
Is Russian meddling as dangerous as we think? "The spectre of foreign
manipulation looms over the coming election. But in focusing on the tactics
of the aggressors we overlook out weaknesses as victims."
Jia Lynn Yang:
Are we more divided now than ever before? Review of James A Morone's
new book, Republic of Wrath: How American Politics Turned Tribal,
From George Washington to Donald Trump. The two-party system has
always been tribal, and always polarizing, but what's happened recently
is that since 1980 the division has become increasingly right vs left.
Before it was not uncommon to see greater diversity within a major party
than between presidential candidates, but that started to change in 1980
when conservatives took over the Republican Party and won the presidency,
using that success to sweep up all conservatives among Democrats. That
was a winning formula for a while, but eventually turned GOP moderates
into Democrats, and pushed the Democratic Party leftward (although so
far you cannot say the left has come close to capturing the Democratic
Yglesias, by the way, has a new book, One Billion Americans: The
Case for Thinking Bigger. For a review, see:
The Senate just failed to pass more stimulus amid a struggling economy.
Here's why. "Republicans were simply using the vote to send a
Sahil Kapur: It is remarkable how thoroughly "repeal and
replace Obamacare" has been exposed as a policy mirage, after hundreds
of millions of dollars poured into an assault that shaped countless
elections and helped define U.S. politics in the 2010s.
Mike Konczal: A bugaboo of mine: there is no noteworthy
insider-access or policy-friendly conservative reporting, research,
or books on why this collapsed in 2017. There's no Jacob S Hacker's
Road to Nowhere[: The Genesis of President Clinton's Plan for
Health Security] equivalent. Just nothing.
There are dozens of reports on why cap-and-trade failed in 2010,
marquee ones that break into schools of thought of where to go next.
It's just silence on the Right. The two major recent initiatives,
Social Security privatization and ACA repeal, gone as if they never
Jacob Hacker later tweeted:
For what it's worth, Paul Pierson & I did write out own post-mortem --
though it's definitely not an insider-access or policy-friendly conservative
The Dog That Almost Barked: What the ACA Repeal Fight Says about the
Resilience of the American Welfare State.
From Michael Hull, on Twitter:
OTD 49 years ago the State of New York murdered 39 people at Attica
They planned the brutality, tortured the survivors, and began
destroying evidence the same day.
They've denied it for decades, but
I got pictures.
The video will be posted to my Vimeo page and available for
download by anyone who wants it.
That's the goal - we want writers, artists, thinkers, people of
all disciplines and representing every pocket of society to use this
material as a vehicle to talk about their town.
It's time for the rebellion and retaking at Attica prison to be
reconsidered through the lens of the modern abolitionist movement.
It's time for more people to have their say on this brutal event.
It's time for New York to stop hiding this evidence.
Mike also has a
Facebook page on the archive and his movie based on the archive,
Surrender Peacefully: The Attica Massacre, with a link to the